Prescribing The Ideal Bluetooth Headset For A Small Office

Recently someone found this site while hunting around for insight about the ideal headset for their small office. Not finding exactly the answer they were looking for they emailed me the following note.

I came across your blog and I love it. I run a digital agency from my home office in Manhattan, and I’m looking for a high quality over-the-head boom mic bluetooth headset to use on my late-model Android phone for client calls. Despite all my research, I can’t seem to find a really good high quality boom mic bluetooth headset. I purely want to use this in my home office, as do several of my freelancers who also work from home. Any suggestions? Cost isn’t the issue, quality is what I care about most.

Thank you,

Zachary

Well, Zachary, thanks for the kind words. I can see that we share a common belief that it’s worth the effort to communicate well. I share your frustration with respect to the kind of tool that you’ve been seeking. The solution isn’t obvious, but I can offer you some guidance nonetheless.

ZelherP20BTHeadset200.jpgIf you look online for a Bluetooth headset with a boom microphone the most common results look a lot like the Zelher P-20 that I reviewed in 2012. That same headset seems to be OEM’d under a variety of brand names.

It’s inexpensive, rugged, clunky and most definitely narrow-band. It does have the right sort of boom-mounted microphone and over-the-head wearing style.

It has a strange, very retro look to it. Except that “retro” is cool and interesting. The P-20 is neither cool nor interesting. I still have it, but I don’t ever use it. Nor would I recommend it.

To be fair, I’m pretty happy with the Plantronics Voyager Legend. It’s the successor to the Plantronics Voyager Pro UC that I reviewed in-depth a while ago.  It does what I need in a mobile headset, and I have used it around the office paired to my Polycom VVX-600.

 

plantronics voyager legend & accessoriesThe one critical flaw with the Voyager Legend is the magnetic charging connector. Clearly this Apple-inspired element is a bad idea. It means the user must have the unique cable to charge the headset. The oddball power connector does make possible the optional Voyager Legend Charge Case and a desktop charge stand.

While the options make for a nice “system” the move away from the standard micro-usb power connector, as was used in the Voyager Pro Series, is in my opinion a regressive move. Also, it doesn’t quite have the boom microphone that I’d like.

Your email was quite specific about an “over-the-head boom mic” and “Cost isn’t the issue.” On the basis of these two points I’d recommend the Jabra PRO 9470. That may be a little counter-intuitive since it’s not a Bluetooth headset.

 

Jabra_PRO_9470_DECT_HeadsetThe Jabra Pro 9470 is a DECT headset with multi-mode connectivity. It can be used with a traditional desk phone, connected to a computer for use with a software phone and paired to a mobile phone using Bluetooth.

The desktop charging stand contains both the DECT base and Bluetooth radios. Thus you can leave your cell phone on your desk and walk around while on a call. The DECT wireless link for the headset itself will give you 150m of walking around range.

The headset can be worn using different headbands, accommodating those who prefer behind-the-head or over-the-ear as well as over-the-head.

The audio quality is outstanding as is the battery life. The battery is end-user replaceable. This fact, combined with the availability of replacement earpads and headbands, suggests that the Jabra Pro 9470 will last a good long while, even under heavy use.

There is one significant down-side to this choice; since the headset itself is DECT-based you cannot use it as a mobile solution. It will serve you well in the office, but not in the car or on the street.

To be honest, I don’t own a Jabra Pro 9470, but someone whose opinion I trust (Karl Fife) swears by them.

If you look around for reviews online you’ll find that most people simply didn’t need such three-way connectivity, making the device, with a street price of around $240, just too expensive. I think that means that the reviewers were not within the target market for such a headset. It’s clearly competitive with similar products from Sennheiser, Plantronics (Savi W710) or VXi.

The desire for a boom microphone and over-the-head wearing style basically puts you into a headset designed for office applications. It happens that some of those devices have Bluetooth connectivity, making them also applicable for use with a cell phone.

  • Zachary Thacher

    Awesome post, thanks for the all the insights. After I emailed you I broke down in frustration and purchased a very cheap over-the-ear boom mic bluetooth headset from Sunnyvalletek, I found it on Amazon. I’m going to demo it out for a bit and hope it does the trick. If not, I’ll consider the more expensive options. For me, the Voyager Pro seems like a good fit despite the annoying charging connector. I’ll mostly leave it at my desk so that might work.

    What I’m most interested in is the fast evolution of Bluetooth. I believe there’s a newer, emerging Bluetooth standard — so I’d like to get a new headset that pairs with devices that have this latest tech. From all that I’ve heard, literally, Bluetooth sounds terrible.

    I’ll let you know how the cheapo Sunnyvalley works out.

    • mjgraves

      Actually, Bluetooth can sound very good. It’s a continually evolving standard. The Voyager Pro and Voyager Legend both sound great when used in an office setting. Where BT breaks down for mew is when I’m using it with a phone that’s on my desk and I wander to the edge of its range. This is where DECT really shines…300 ft of walkabout capability.

      Do let us know what you think of whatever devices you try.

  • thomas peterseil

    hi,
    i would like to jump in to your discussion about BT headsets with one recommendation which might fit your needs. plantronics has the Blackwire C710/C720 headsets, it´s a combination of bluetooth and USB. i think this concept itself is interesting, you can connect the headset via USB to your notebook/computer, but you can also use it via BT connected to your mobile or polycom VVX. but you can use BT also without USB. (Jabra has a similar product with USB and BT, but when you unplug the USB, the BT doesn´t work anymore.) the headset supports wideband and it also has a long beam for the mic.
    i hope my post was helpful.

    best,
    thomas

  • Poonam Purohit

    Hi Thomas Peterseil

    I am using this product not find any problem with this. I
    think you have not in-built BT in your PC that is why when you unplugged USB,
    it’s also automatically disconnect Bluetooth connection.

  • Zachary Thacher

    Hi there, I owed you all an update of what I decided to buy. As a reminder, I was looking for a stereo bluetooth headset over both ears with a boom mic. I wanted to make business calls from home that go on for hours, and I needed something comfortable. I wound up purchasing a few cheapo Amazon.com Chinese brand one ear headsets, and returned them immediately. Terrible sound quality.

    Then I decided to buy the Logitech h800. It’s expensive, but the quality is amazing. It can be USB or Bluetooth, it pairs very quickly with my Nexus 4 phone and the controls are easy. Battery time is a non-issue since my calls are rarely longer than 1 -2 hours. My biggest complaint is comfort. I wear eyeglasses, so the pressure on my temples with these on-the-ear earphones is not at all comfy. I wish there was a better solution out there, but I haven’t found any.

    I’m surprised by the lack of innovation in this space. I think there’s an expanding market for home or office workers who want really comfortable bluetooth headsets that they only use indoors or maybe in the car, but not out and about.

    • mjgraves

      Thanks for the follow-up. The H800 isn’t really that costly considering that it includes the BT dongle. I see is listed for $75 on Amazon. Logitech Wireless Headset h800 for PC, Tablets and Smartphones
      BT dongles are dirt cheap in reality, but business-grade ‘UC” headsets that include them usually cost well over <$100 street price.