Unexpected Friends: Pixel & Sennheiser DW Pro 2 Headset

Being in the conferencing business, I’m on the phone a lot during the course of my working life. Most of my phone calling happens via a pair of dear friends; my Polycom VVX-600 and a Sennheiser DW Pro 2 DECT headset. This pair has proven itself in literally years of office use. They’re simply tremendous.

vvx-600 & DW Pro headset

In fact, they’re so good together that my mobile phone was something of an afterthought. I only used it after hours, or when someone called me at that number. That someone was most typically my wife. Stella always calls my mobile. She never calls my desk.

In December Stella ended up with a new Google Pixel, the very same model of phone that I’ve carried for the past year. Her new Pixel replaced an aged Nexus 5, a phone that she still adored, but was showing its age very badly. Its not-user-replaceable-battery life had fallen to mere minutes.

When she started to use the Pixel I immediately noticed a improvement in our calls. I believe that the Pixels are leveraging EVS on the T-Mobile network. EVS is a sophisticated codec, capable of full-bandwidth audio, and also interoperable with AMR-WB. T-Mobile announced EVS in April of 2016 as part of the evolution of their VoLTE network.

After I setup her Pixel the little white USB A-to-C adapter floated around my desk for some weeks. Google provides that adapter as part of their strategy for migrating from an older phone. It works reasonably well. The phones are connected via their USB ports, the new Pixel interrogates the old phone for its app load and sets itself up comparably.

I hate to simply toss such widgets, but there’s little real use for them after the Pixel is in service. Or so I thought. Today, as I was on hold with Comcast (yes, really!) it occurred to me that I might be able to put it to use.

I had called Comcast from my mobile phone since I expected that they would want to “reset” the cable modem. That would cause a call placed via the Polycom phone to drop like a rock. So I called from my Pixel. As I was on hold I connected the USB cable from the Sennheiser DECT base to the Pixel via the wee adapter.

The DECT base lit up, indicating a call in-progress. When the Comcast CSR returned from their hiatus, I had them on the Sennheiser headset. I could toggle the call between speakerphone mode and the cordless headset.

The headset does not express hook state control of the phone. That means that I have to accept an incoming call on the phone’s display.

In the past, I have occasionally made use of a USB-On-The-Go cable to leverage external audio devices. This has been possible for quite some time. The OTG cable was not as nice and reliable a solution as the USB C-to-A adapter that comes with the Pixel.

Now that our mobile-to-mobile calls are the best quality channel available, I can see myself making more use of the Pixel with the Sennheiser wireless headset.