For the longest time I used the Sennheiser DW Pro2 DECT Cordless Headset with my Polycom VVX desk phone. They seemed a natural pairing. The Sennheiser having been originally recommended to me by an acquaintance at Polycom.
Looking back, my review of the DW Pro 2 was written way back in 2011! I used it a staggering long time. It was that good! In fact, I replaced its battery twice over the years. While it was a originally costly device, it was a very good investment.
The DW Pro 2 remains available, but in 2018 Sennheiser introduced newer models, the SDW5000 Series (pictured above.) I was immediately interested in these as they claimed to support a new, super-wideband mode, supporting audio up to 12 KHz.
Just this week I realized that I’ve been using the SDW5016 as my daily driver for over two years. Further, it has met my every need, but I have yet to share my experience with it. In writing this, I aim to correct that oversight.
Sennheiser vs EPOS
First, there’s some housekeeping to be considered. There’s been a corporate transition of sorts. Sennheiser Communications was actually a joint venture between Sennheiser of Germany and a Danish company. Toward the end of 2018 that joint venture came to an end.
From that point, some enterprise UC and gaming products, including the SDW 5000 Series, transitioned to be offered by EPOS. Sennheiser, still a global leader in audio, continues to offer an extensive range of Pro Audio, Business Communications, and Consumer Electronics.
So, the SDW5016 that I have, which bears the Sennheiser name, is in fact an EPOS product. In their parlance it’s known as the Impact 5000. Even today, a brand new headset would bear “EPOS | Sennheiser” branding.
The DECT base/charging stand provides three modes of connectivity.
1. Desk Phone & EHS
Since I had previously used the DW Pro 2 I already had the requisite EHS cable for my Polycom desk phone. Thus it was very simple matter to swap headsets. My VVX600 works great with the SDW5000.
The headset base is also USB connected to my desktop for use with the ZipDX web phone, Google Meet, Jitsi Meet, Zoom, Webex, etc.
Finally, the SDW5016 comes with a small Bluetooth dongle. The dongle connects to a USB port on the side of the base, allowing the headset to be paired with a mobile phone or laptop. The current mode in use is indicated by status LEDs on the base.
Incidentally, the DECT base can be powered from the included AC adapter or the micro-USB connection to a host computer.
There are days that I spend hours wearing a headset. This is why the DW Pro2 had been such a favorite. It’s light and very comfortable. The SDW 10 is likewise very comfortable.
In making this transition I went from a dual-ear model to a single-ear design. This was not by design. It merely happened that the single ear model was initially the only one available.
There are several ways to wear the headset; with an ear clip, behind-the-head band, or traditional over-the-head band. I prefer the later.
When on a long conference I tend to walk around the room. So I may not be near my desk, phone or computer. This makes having controls on the headset itself quite important, and there are several.
- There’s a hook-switch control button on the center of the earpiece.
- A volume rocker on the bottom.
- Pushing the volume rocker invokes the mic mute/unmute.
The current state of the headset is indicated by a multi-color LED on the earpiece. It also came with a wired status light that can be mounted around your desk. In an open office space, this light atop your monitor informs nearby associates when you’re on a call.
Perhaps the greatest convenience provided by a cordless headset is the ability to roam. This is where the DECT link shines. I can roam from my office in the garage apartment to the house to refill my coffee without issue.
The trek to the coffee machine would have me walk outside, which is where the noise cancelling property of the microphone comes into play. Others on the call don’t need to hear my change in circumstance. They’d not know at all except for the doors.
I was extremely happy with the DW Pro2 and it’s newer kin is without question a suitable replacement. In every way.
However, I was intrigued by the claim of a new super-wideband mode, so I set out to evaluate this on my own. EPOS claims the microphone delivers “100 Hz all the way up to 11.5 kHz.”
It happens that I recently had to create a series of short screencast videos. In the process, I recorded some short bits of dialogue using the SDW 10 and VoiceMeeter Banana. The resulting WAV file was edited in Adobe Audition, which gives a clear view of spectral content.
The spectral view plainly shows the presence of voice energy almost all the way up to 12 KHz. This point is indicated by the faint white line in the image. So it appears that their claim is valid. It truly delivers superior microphone performance. It goes beyond the legacy “HDVoice” standard defined by 16 KHz sampling and 7.5 KHz passband.
As a practical matter, I know that when I am on a conference I am almost always the one who sounds best. This fact has been born out over many conferences training professional conference interpreters to use ZipDX Multilingual interpretation.
In the past, the use of wideband mode was known to result in shorter battery life. It simply takes more power to using the more capable radio link. That said, the SDW 10 outlasts me most days. On the very busiest of days, putting it back on the base for just a short while tops up the battery while I take break.
On my desktop I run the EPOS Connect software. This ensures that the device firmware is kept current. It also provides integration with common enterprise soft phones, including; Skype For Business, Zoom and Microsoft Teams. That means things like the busy light can be trigger by the soft phone state.
I was especially happy to see that the headsets voice prompts can be disabled. I don’t generally need to be told that the call has ended. A simple beep will suffice.
EPOS has a nice series of short tutorials in their YouTube channel. These bite-sized videos detail some of the more interesting things that are possible, without overwhelming. For example….
This is a bit esoteric, but worth a mention. It’s possible to host a multi-way conference on the the base of the SDW 5000. For example, a second (or third!) SDW 10 headset can be added to an ongoing call. It can also conference connect to a USB or BT headset .
Where these devices are adopted in an office setting, this makes it easy to add an associate (or two) to a discussion without resorting to a transition to a speakerphone.
This simply does not apply to my use case, but I like it! It shows just how thoughtful the manufacturer has been about creative ways to add value.
For years I have told anyone who would listen, the best way to ensure that you can both hear and be heard clearly is to use a headset. That said, being tethered to a desk can be terribly inconvenient. Bluetooth headsets are ok, but for an office dweller, a DECT headset can provide better range, connectivity and battery life. The EPOS Impact 5000 Series has found a home in my office. It’s a worthy addition to your telecom toolkit. Highly recommended.