A Polycom VVX-600 and Sennheiser DW Pro2 headset are my workaday tools of choice. They have been for years. Polycom VVX remains best-in- class. The DW Pro 2 gives me hands-free flexibility and cordless mobility, sufficient to reach the coffee machine, which is clearly a critical issue.
This pair addressed my quest for practical tools leveraging HDVoice. They explain why I’ve not put much effort into reviews of new desk phones in recent years. The matter has been largely settled hereabouts.
However, they not perfect. There’s room for improvement. In particular, the advent of WebRTC brought a tide of Opus-capable services that would benefit from full-bandwidth audio. The 16 KHz sampling required to support G.722 was great in 2010, but nearly a decade down the road it seems more than a little limiting.
It may be that in my old age I’m becoming forgetful. Or perhaps I’m just too enthused about what I’m doing, and little things get forgotten? I write this in the hope that it helps me to remember.
For years I’ve used a Sennheiser DW Pro2 DECT headset in my home office. It connects to a Polycom VVX-600 and my desktop computer. This trio serves me very well, but occasionally I reach for the headset and find that its battery is dead.
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.
Headset/Headphones: I prefer the term headphones. I think headset implies a voice microphone and headphone implies audio or speakers only. Those distinctions are obsolete. Modern microphones are small, cheap, and sensitive. They no longer need to be in front of the mouth, so can be placed invisibly on headphones. Since most devices now support speech or voice, it’s just silly to get headphones without a microphone. Now that we’ve cleared this up, I am only using “headphone” below.
I take issue with his simplistic view of microphones, and especially the significance of microphone placement. If you truly care about how you are conveying your voice then a boom mounted microphone is a must! Accept no substitutes.
If, on the other hand, you are more concerned about not looking geeky…go whatever path tickles your fancy. Enjoy those Beats By Dr Dre Hey, he’s a Doctor right? They must be great.
A couple of weeks ago, over at the Broadband Reports forum on VoIP Tech, there was a question posed about selecting the best low cost microphone for VoIP applications. This is a topic that I’ve considered at length. It has much in common with my background in recording and broadcasting. On that basis I weighed in with some opinion. As I my way, I probably provided a longer answer than anyone anticipated, or even wanted. After re-reading it a few times I thought it worth sharing here as well.
The original question:
I realize many problems people experience are due to a lousy mic that isn’t noise canceling or picks up sounds from a anywhere in the room. There are many ways to improve this. I like the idea of a pickup pattern that is very isolated in front of the mic and within a finite range so I don’t have to wear the mic but maybe this is asking too much. If the mic only picks up sounds very close to it, wearing it can sure avoid a lot of problems. Don’t know if firewire or USB3 is better than USB2 or if its better to run the mic directly into your mic input of your motherboard or audio card or something else. Latency is not our friend! VOIP is so sensitive to extraneous noise so this needs to be addressed and is dependent on the ambient noise of the user. Any recommendations? Few of us work in a soundproof 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.
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.