Living With the Tech: The Sennheiser DW Pro2 DECT Headset Five Years On

It’s not often that I can say that I’ve been using a single device daily for over five years. The Sennheiser DW Pro2 DECT headset, which I reviewed in 2011, tops that very short list.

Sennheiser DW Pro 2 & Clients

This past week I’ve paid a little special attention to the headset. It’s long been connected to the Polycom phone on my desk. It’s been witness to my transition from a Polycom SoundPoint IP650, to a VVX-500, and onward to a VVX-600. It’s also connected to my desktop computer.

In general, the DW Pro 2 is still performing well. I have noted some curious things about it over time, including a couple new things just in recent weeks.


Battery Replacement

In five years I’ve only replaced it’s battery once. It’s likely due for another battery as it only seems to be lasting about 4 hours on a charge while in wideband mode. Given my working existence is mostly connected to ZipDX, I’m almost always in wideband mode.

Happily, replacement batteries remain both inexpensive and readily available.

Firmware Updates

This week I realized that it had been a year since I moved my desktop to Windows 10. In that transition I had not installed the Sennheiser software updater. Software updates for the headset have been few. I have only updated it once or twice in the past.

In fact, I somewhat gave up on it’s software updates. I’ve had it simply fail to update many times. Since the headset was fully functional I saw little reason to struggle with an update process that was brittle and more than a little opaque.

That said, this week I installed the updater (pictured below.) Thereafter I was able to migrate the headset from release 63 to the current release 145 firmware.

Sennheiser Updater 145

Post-Update Oddities

Curiously, post-update it now reports itself as an "SD" model. The SD Pro 2 is actually a newer model. As far as I can tell, the SD and DW headsets are identical. The differences between the two appear to be entirely in the the base.

I have also noticed that since the firmware update the headset is behaving a little odd with respect to battery status. If I leave the headset on the base it should charge until full, and stay charged. Running the release 145 firmware the headset charges when initially put on the base. However, if I leave it on the base overnight when I return in the morning it’s completely discharged.

If I remove it from the base for moment, then replace it, it will appear as fully charged in just a few minutes. It’s as if the base goes to sleep, and loses track of the battery status. Reconnecting it to the base forces it to refresh it’s battery status.

I took this matter up with Sennheiser support. They advised me that all support inquiries in the US are handled by Headsets.com. A quick call to them revealed that there are known issues with release 145 and a new release is anticipated in the coming week or two.

In addition, running up the the Sennheiser software updater revealed that the manufacturer has rolled back the release of firmware on the update server from 145 to 133. While the updater reports that an attempt to "update" to 133 has failed, I now see that the headset is running 133.

Sennheiser Updater 133

I should note that the CSR I spoke with at Headsets.com was incredibly pleasant and helpful. While she could not deliver a solution immediately, at least the experience of getting to the facts of the matter was swift and painless.

Sometimes The Dead Battery Is My Fault

The fact that I use the headset with my computer, combined with the manner in which I (mis) manage audio on the computer, can lead to a depleted headset battery though no fault of the device.  This involves consideration of hook state management, or the complete lack of it in some cases.

On my computer I often use VoiceMeeter (pictured) or  VoiceMeeter Banana to provide complex control of audio devices. VMB is the magic that allows me to mix a Hangout, ZipDX conference and my headset in the three-way mix-minus arrangement that makes VUC possible.

Unlike a soft phone, or my desk phone, VMB has no concept of hook state. When it’s set to use the headset, either as a source of destination, it forces the DECT link to go live and stay that way indefinitely. If I leave VMB accessing the headset all day it will will suck the battery dry just as surely as if I’d been talking for 8 hours straight.

To address this reality I had to develop some discipline to always route audio playback to something else once VUC has ended. Similarly, I remove the microphone setting. If nothing is accessing the headset the DECT link goes down and the headset recharges normally.

VoiceMeeter Banana is not the only culprit. If I close VMB and set the headset to be the windows default audio device the same reality holds true. The system will hold the DECT link live until the headset breathes its last gasp.

When I constrain myself to using primarily the desk phone this isn’t an issue. The EHS connection ensures that the headset drops the DECT link whenever it’s not actively in use. Battery life is sustained.

I remain pleased that it recharges quickly. It achieves around 75% of a full charge in around 30 minutes. It’s fully charged in an hour.

A Little Windows Audio Device Hackery

These realizations have lead me to a temporary solution. I close VoiceMeeter Banana when I’m not actually doing crazy audio production tricks. That leads me to manually set the audio devices in use.

Further, I have a script process that ensures that the headset is not the current Windows audio device. This script runs daily, just after the end of a typical work day. It ensures that the DECT link is dropped and the headset gets a chance to charge.

I discovered this approach in a thread on Stack Overflow. The script is actually a batch file that leverages a free utility called NirCMD. The batch is just two lines as follows:

start /min "" nircmd.exe setdefaultsounddevice "Chat 50" 1
start /min "" nircmd.exe setdefaultsounddevice "Chat 50" 2

NirCMD allows many different commands to be run without creating a console window. It has dozens of different commands. It’s really powerful.

In my case it simply specifies the default sound device for multimedia (1) and the default sound device for communications (2) to be the little Chat 50 USB speakerphone that sits on my desk. That little device, long ago recommended my Michael White at 8774E4VOIP, is quite adequate for my daily duties.

In recent weeks this batch runs every day at 8pm. It ensures that the headset is refreshed overnight, regardless of what I was up to at the end of my workday.

I suppose that I could create a single batch or macro that would both close VoiceMeeter Banana and set the Chat 50 as the default audio device. That might be a nice idea.

To Close

I have done, and will continue to do, some unusual things with this Sennheiser DW Pro 2. The very fact that I’m still using it five years on is testament to the fact that it’s a solid product. It was costly, but it was a good investment.