In truth, the only time that I ran the battery completely down is when I used the DW Pro2 USB connected to my desktop. The management software that Sennheiser provides, a program called “HeadSetup,” includes a function called “Continuous Audio.” When enabled this holds the DECT radio active so that all audio events on the computer are played through the headset. This is most appropriate when participating in a Webex or GotoMeeting session where the audio is not being conveyed by a typical soft phone.
Such applications don’t provide hook state information making it necessary to manually force the radio link to be sustained. If I accidentally left the “Always Audio” function engaged the battery would be completely drained by the end of my office day.[pullquote]Supported Soft Phones & UC Clients
- AOL Instant Messenger
- Avaya IP Soft Phone v4, v5, v6
- Avaya One-X Communicator
- Cisco IP Communicator v2.0+
- IBM Lotus Sametime Connect
The HeadSetup application is aware of various soft phones and corporate UC clients. When used with these applications it’s able to manage the hook state of the headset in a manner similar to using an EHS cable with a traditional desk phone.
In my installation this meant clear, simple integration with Skype. When a Skype call arrived merely touching the button on the side of the headset caused the call to be answered. Touch the button again to hang it up.
The HeadSetup application also allows the USB connection to be used to update the firmware in the headset & DECT base.
Sennheiser also provided an “Electronic Hook Switch” (aka EHS) cable suitable for use with the Polycom Soundpoint range of desk phones. I am a little embarrassed to admit that this was my first time using an EHS connection. The EHS cable allows control of phone hook state with a simple touch of the button on one earpiece, making it easy to answer an incoming call even when away from my desk.
I tried the DW Pro2 along side various Polycom models from my VVX-1500 all the way down to the SoundPoint IP335, and even the new VVX-500. In all cases the same EHS cable worked perfectly as long as I also set the phone to expect DHSG type signaling for hook state control. The DW Pro2 manual was also very clear on this matter.
A slightly different EHS cable supports the use of the DW Series headsets with the entry-level SoundPoint IP 321 and IP 330 models. However, it’s hard to fathom such a fine headset connected to a sub-$100 SIP phone. Of course, Sennheiser also offers EHS cables appropriate for various other enterprise phones.
Desk phones that don’t support EHS connection can still be used with the DW series through the use of the optional HSL 10 handset lifter. I’ve long felt that such mechanical solutions seem like Flintstone engineering, but some will doubtless appreciate the option.
The manual and literature on the DW Series makes many references to the term “Comfort Calling.” When I dug into this a little I found that the term is used to describe a set of features intended to make it easier to use the headset for extended periods.
For example, the DW Pro2 will monitor the audio to the earpiece for transients. When an unusually transient occurs it will quickly act to drop the audio level in the earpiece. This it does so that you don’t get a painful blast in your ear simply because the party at the far-end drops a coffee cup very near the conference phone.
There are other facets to Comfort Calling, including on-the-fly switching between narrowband and wideband modes. If the headset senses that the call audio doesn’t contain appreciable energy above 3.5 KHz the headset will drop into narrowband mode. This action will ensure an optimal noise floor for the call as well as extend the battery life.
This mode switching came as something of a surprise to me. Puzzled by this behavior I inquired with Sennheiser support who told me that this was deliberate, and in fact a feature. They did suggest that it may be occasionally misbehaved in the current firmware.
They further advised that a minor adjustment to the microphone gain would minimize the occurrence of this transition. I made the adjustment suggested and found the behavior largely eliminated.
The manual for the DW Pro2 includes instructions for pairing multiple headsets with the DECT base. It then describes the ability to conference multiple headsets into one call.
Going even further it describes how to pair the headset alone with another manufacturers GAP compliant DECT base. Just for fun I may some day try to pair it with a Gigaset DECT base. Both of these capabilities underscore the flexibility of the DW Pro2, although they are clearly beyond a typical SOHO use case.
A large part of the measure of any headset comes down to two simple factors; Is it comfortable to wear and how does it sound? The Sennheiser DW Pro2 is very comfortable, even when used for extended periods. In addition, it sounds great. It’s easily the best cordless headset that I’ve ever used.
That said, it’s also one of the more expensive cordless office headsets that you can buy. They are available online but not from very many US vendors. The DW Pro2 can be found online in the $380 range, while the single-ear DW Pro1 I found offered for around $360. An earlier model known as the Office Runner appears to be derived from the DW Office but is available for $299.
Does it make sense to spend that much on a cordless headset? That’s a question you must answer for yourself. However, if you’ve invested in a high-quality desk phone should you compromise on a cordless headset? That’s a bit like putting cheap tires on a fine automobile. You may save a bit of money at the outset, but it ultimately limits the quality of your experience driving.
The DW Pro Series is great hardware. I’m certain that if you should try one you won’t want to give it up.