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Any decent USB headsets?

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Any decent USB headsets?

Postby audio_jungle » Thu Aug 09, 2018 5:22 pm

Don't laugh too hard, but is there such a thing as a decent USB headset (i.e. mic and earpiece)?

When I do podcasts I plan on using my professional Sony headphones and an XLR mic, but for things like phone calls, I need the ease-of-use of a USB headset.

I am playing around with things now, and when I listen to the playback of me recording myself in my Logitech H340 USB headset, it leaves a lot to be desired!
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Re: Any decent USB headsets?

Postby James Perrett » Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:18 pm

Well Sennheiser make decent headphones and microphones so they would be my first port of call for a USB headset. Plantronics are another brand that seem to be often used commercially.
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Re: Any decent USB headsets?

Postby audio_jungle » Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:07 pm

James Perrett wrote:Well Sennheiser make decent headphones and microphones so they would be my first port of call for a USB headset. Plantronics are another brand that seem to be often used commercially.

What I don't understand is why my headsets seem to die after maybe 6 months of use.

That is insane!!

It seems like the cabling breaks and either the headset becomes faint or it dies entirely?!

When I was trying to learn how to set things up to record phones on my Macintosh, a faulty headset really caused me a lot of heartache, because it turned out my software settings weren't wrong, it was that my headset wasn't working and I didn't know it!!

I looked at some "professional" headsets by Sennheiser and others, but I wonder if they will break as often as my Logitech H340 USB headset breaks.

There is also the issue, that I don't want a big, bulky, over-the-ears headset for work. (It would become quite uncomfortable to have to wear something like some of the headsets I looked at for 6 hours a day at work listening to Skype calls!! Maybe DJs and sound engineers are used to it, but I'm not sure how practical that is for work...)

Any ideas why my headsets die so frequently - other than they are poorly made?

Thanks,


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Re: Any decent USB headsets?

Postby blinddrew » Sun Aug 12, 2018 5:22 pm

It could just be a run of bad luck, but there are a couple of things you can do (and may well have done already) to improve your odds.
1) See if you can find a product with replaceable leads. Ideally with the option or either straight or coiled - this plays into point 2.
2) Spend a bit of time to make sure your workspace is set-up correctly for the headset. Make sure you've got a clear cable line with nothing for it to snag on. Use the right lead (see above) to make sure that the weight of the cable itself isn't causing too much of a drag on the headset and doesn't have too much slack to catch on things.
3) Don't let your colleagues use it! ;)
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Re: Any decent USB headsets?

Postby James Perrett » Sun Aug 12, 2018 5:50 pm

audio_jungle wrote:What I don't understand is why my headsets seem to die after maybe 6 months of use.

That's doing well compared to some of our studio users. Some headphones we tried broke within a couple of weeks of studio use. If you want headphones that are going to last you are going to have to accept that they are going to be heavier and bulkier than some of the alternatives as there's no way you can build in strength to something thinly built. The only manufacturers that I would consider for studio headphones would be Sennheiser and BeyerDynamic - everything else we tried in our studio broke within a few weeks.
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Re: Any decent USB headsets?

Postby audio_jungle » Sun Aug 12, 2018 5:54 pm

blinddrew wrote:It could just be a run of bad luck, but there are a couple of things you can do (and may well have done already) to improve your odds.
1) See if you can find a product with replaceable leads. Ideally with the option or either straight or coiled - this plays into point 2.
2) Spend a bit of time to make sure your workspace is set-up correctly for the headset. Make sure you've got a clear cable line with nothing for it to snag on. Use the right lead (see above) to make sure that the weight of the cable itself isn't causing too much of a drag on the headset and doesn't have too much slack to catch on things.
3) Don't let your colleagues use it! ;)

The problem is probably that it is a cheap-ass headset!

Since this is for work, I have to wrap up the cord each night and place it in my laptop bag before I come home.

I just make one or two big 10" loops the size of the headset itself, but apparently over time the cable breaks internally. (Have never seen cabling this fragile, but it is what it is.)

I like the lightweightness of these headsets, but apparently it comes at a price.
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Re: Any decent USB headsets?

Postby audio_jungle » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:00 pm

James Perrett wrote:
audio_jungle wrote:What I don't understand is why my headsets seem to die after maybe 6 months of use.

That's doing well compared to some of our studio users. Some headphones we tried broke within a couple of weeks of studio use. If you want headphones that are going to last you are going to have to accept that they are going to be heavier and bulkier than some of the alternatives as there's no way you can build in strength to something thinly built. The only manufacturers that I would consider for studio headphones would be Sennheiser and BeyerDynamic - everything else we tried in our studio broke within a few weeks.

Sadly, you are probably right.

BTW, I want to call attention that the "headset" I am talking about is a USB headset with earpiece speaker and microphone since this is what I use for VoIP calls.

So it is not just for listening, but moreso for speaking.

Is there such a thing as a phone headset that has two earpieces, does not cup entirely over the ears, and has a heavier coiled cable?

I think the Sennheiser one mentioned above was over-the-ear.

Well, at least these headset I use are cheap to replace, but I feel bad for the environment throwing one in a landfill every 6 months... :shock:
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Re: Any decent USB headsets?

Postby zenguitar » Mon Aug 13, 2018 12:07 am

In the call centre business Plantronics are one of the big players, and they have been in the consumer sector just as long. In 5 years in a call centre I had just two Plantronics headsets.

They have plenty of USB offers. I can't offer a personal recommendation, but they have a large range and something at the top end should offer good quality and durability.

https://www.plantronics.com/gb/en/product

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Any decent USB headsets?

Postby ef37a » Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:19 am

Ok so, take your spanking new headset and carefully drape and cable-tie the cable around the top of the headband, making sure to secure the USB socket by its case NOT the cable.

Now buy an A to A USB extension cable and cable tie that to the headband securing both USB plug and cable.

You now have a "sacrificial" USB cable.

People do something similar to save the ports on expensive test gear and audio kit. (the AP test set I used was so equipped)

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Re: Any decent USB headsets?

Postby audio_jungle » Mon Aug 13, 2018 12:07 pm

zenguitar wrote:In the call centre business Plantronics are one of the big players, and they have been in the consumer sector just as long. In 5 years in a call centre I had just two Plantronics headsets.

They have plenty of USB offers. I can't offer a personal recommendation, but they have a large range and something at the top end should offer good quality and durability.

https://www.plantronics.com/gb/en/product

Andy :beamup:

Probably time to step up and get a better quality headset, even though I hate having to spend a ton of money for my employer...

This looks like a nice headset...

https://www.plantronics.com/us/en/product/blackwire-725

Only problem is that I'm not sure if it is worth the money based on reviews.

When I read reviews at that link or off of Amazon, people either say they love it or it is a piece of junk.

So who do you believe?

Hate to spend $200 to find out it is just another over-rated headset that doesn't deliver...
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Re: Any decent USB headsets?

Postby audio_jungle » Mon Aug 13, 2018 12:11 pm

ef37a wrote:Ok so, take your spanking new headset and carefully drape and cable-tie the cable around the top of the headband, making sure to secure the USB socket by its case NOT the cable.

Now buy an A to A USB extension cable and cable tie that to the headband securing both USB plug and cable.

You now have a "sacrificial" USB cable.

People do something similar to save the ports on expensive test gear and audio kit. (the AP test set I used was so equipped)

Dave.

Now that is an interesting idea!! :thumbup:

Maybe I can even find a "sacraficial" cable that is coiled?

I'll have to look around for one.

And while your idea makes sense, the only problem is that I am pretty sure where the cable is failing is at either the end that goes into the headset or where it goes into the USB plug. And that being said, I suspect that eventually - even using your idea - I would have the same failure. The cable is so thin and apparently brittle on the inside, that seems to be the issue.

But your idea would certainly add life to this current headset, so thanks for the suggestion!! :)
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Re: Any decent USB headsets?

Postby Wonks » Mon Aug 13, 2018 12:46 pm

It's not 'brittle' (at least to start with), but it is very thin copper wire. so the more it gets flexed, the more it gets 'case hardened' and the more likely it is to break if pulled. The weakest points are always at the joints where it's connected to the metal pins of the USB connector or the headphone connector, as that's where one end is firmly fixed. Here the effects of any flexing are amplified - the cable can't bend smoothly over a larger radius, so has to bend at a very sharp angle with a very small radius which increases the stress on the cable.

So if you can arrange the cable as ef37a suggests, then you are protecting the most vulnerable parts of the cable, and you will certainly extend its life.
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Re: Any decent USB headsets?

Postby audio_jungle » Sat Aug 18, 2018 9:33 pm

zenguitar wrote:In the call centre business Plantronics are one of the big players, and they have been in the consumer sector just as long. In 5 years in a call centre I had just two Plantronics headsets.

They have plenty of USB offers. I can't offer a personal recommendation, but they have a large range and something at the top end should offer good quality and durability.

https://www.plantronics.com/gb/en/product

Andy :beamup:

What do you think about this one...

https://www.plantronics.com/us/en/product/blackwire-725

How much more durable do you think this would be versus my $40 Logitech headset?

Also, how would the microphone quality for recording phone calls compare to my Logitech set?

Would you pay around $200 for a USB headset?


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Re: Any decent USB headsets?

Postby zenguitar » Sat Aug 18, 2018 9:58 pm

As I mentioned previously, I have no experience of using the higher quality Plantronics headsets. I have used the cheaper ones in a call centre, and that was a decade ago.

Any opinion would just be a guess.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Any decent USB headsets?

Postby Dr R » Sun Aug 19, 2018 5:14 am

Wireless Jabra pro. Standard issue to our offices on every desk from helpdesk to MDs and above. There are various models and prices, I think we use 920s. Light weight, decent call quality, and you can wander about a bit which is a blessing on long conference calls.
If you work at home a lot, consider the cost of getting your office right as an offset on the money you would have spent on travel, but you can use the setup at weekends and evening too :-)
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Re: Any decent USB headsets?

Postby Dr R » Sun Aug 19, 2018 5:18 am

Quick look at the Jabra gear, the 920 won't work for you and isn't what we use, but they do have usb wireless headsets.
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Re: Any decent USB headsets?

Postby audio_jungle » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:12 pm

Dr R wrote:Wireless Jabra pro. Standard issue to our offices on every desk from helpdesk to MDs and above. There are various models and prices, I think we use 920s. Light weight, decent call quality, and you can wander about a bit which is a blessing on long conference calls.
If you work at home a lot, consider the cost of getting your office right as an offset on the money you would have spent on travel, but you can use the setup at weekends and evening too :-)

For the first time in my life I have a job where I can pretty much work from home as much as I want. And, yes, it is a true blessing.

While wireless headsets allow you to roam around, bluetooth is also very easy to hack, and so I prefer wired accessories for my Macintosh.

Why do you prefer Jaber over Plantronics or another manufacturer?

Thanks,


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Re: Any decent USB headsets?

Postby Dr R » Mon Aug 20, 2018 5:09 pm

I didn't spec the standard, it's just what we have. Given the installed base is many thousands, I would imagine it was cost and reliability.
FYI we don't use the Bluetooth one, we have the wireless one with a base. I work for an investment bank, and we only got wireless keyboards last year when the keyboard-base encryption was deemed good enough, so I wouldn't worry about anyone hacking the audio feed between the headset and the base unit. And base to computer is wired usb.
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