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A headset is a pair of headphones and a microphone, combined into a single, wearable device. When connected to a smartphone or computer, headsets can help you to hear and be heard clearly on phone calls and video calls.
The biggest motivation to use a headset is that they can improve your audio quality. This is thanks partly to the quality of their components, as many headsets boast better-sounding speakers and more sensitive microphones than your average smartphone or computer. The other key factor is that a headset’s headphones and microphone are usually very close to your ears and mouth, which allows for clear communication both ways.
What should I look for in a headset?
One of the key differences between headsets is how the mic is incorporated into the design. Some models have a narrow arm known as a ‘microphone boom’, which holds the microphone close to your mouth. This is the classic type of headset you might associate with a pilot or a call centre operative.
Other models have microphones built discreetly into the earcups or earbuds. Headsets with an in-built mic are less obtrusive, but this may come at a slight cost in terms of the microphone’s effectiveness.
How does my headset connect?
Some headsets have a wired connection via a 3.5mm headphone jack; some connect wirelessly via Bluetooth; and others have both wired and wireless connectivity. The best type of connection to choose depends on how you plan to use the headset. Wireless headsets reduce clutter and allow you to move more freely, while wired headsets provide a simple connection that doesn’t require you to charge the headphones. For frequent users, a headset with both types of connection could be the best bet.
In this guide, we test a variety of headsets ranging from traditional wired models with microphone booms, to audiophile earbuds with in-built mics. We've highlighted options that cater for a wide range of price points and preferences.
This professional headset from Jabra is our top recommendation for people who expect to make a high volume of calls while working from home.
First off: it does the basics exceptionally well. The audio output and microphone are both excellent, and we appreciate how the microphone boom can fold away neatly into the headphone design when you’re not using it. It's as good for listening to music as it is for fielding Zoom calls.
The Jabra Evolve2 65 Stereo Headset also excels in terms of comfort. The headphones are equipped with memory foam ear cushions, which we found very helpful during long-duration use. The 37-hour battery life also ensures we weren't caught short half way through the work day, and it comes with a charging stand which is both handy and stylish.
Crucially, the headphones don't leak sound, which means that if you are sharing your WFH space with anyone else they will not be disturbed. Their noise cancelling function is good, as well.
Further benefits include do-not-disturb lights and a choice of Bluetooth and wired connectivity. The Evolve2 65 UC are an ideal headset for professional use.
Simple, effective functionality is the order of the day with Sennheiser’s office-grade SC 60 headset.
We found this to be one of the very easiest headsets to set up: just plug the cable into a USB port on your computer, and away you go.
The audio quality – both via the headphones and the microphone – is good considering the headset’s reasonable price, and the volume control on the wire could come in handy if you happen to come across a particularly quiet or excessively loud caller during your working day.
A great cost effective option.
First and foremost, the Trust GXT is a gaming headset. However, we reckon this device is well worth your consideration for professional use, too.
Bearing its reasonable price in mind, the Trust GXT 307offers impressive performance and design. The mic is sensitive, capturing the voice of the speaker (and also some ambient sound) in great detail. We particularly appreciated the headset’s foldaway mic.
Although the Trust GVT 307 is relatively understated, as far as gaming headsets go, this is still very much a gaming headset. It can be used with consoles including the PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox Series X – perfect for unwinding after a working day filled with virtual meetings.
As above – we tested the superior Trust Zamak GXT, too, which is a cut above on sound and clarity, available for £59.99, here.
The Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro is one of the best new audio products we’ve seen in 2021 so far. They’re light, they charge efficiently in a smart-looking charging case, and they have great sound quality when used as stereo headphones.
While you’re on work calls, you’ll want to use the headphones’ handsfree headset mode, which focuses on reproducing speech crisply. In our testing, the earbuds’ array of six noise-cancelling microphones did a good job of capturing our reviewer’s voice as he spoke.
The sound produced is undoubtedly less direct than what you’d typically get with a mic on a boom, but we found it to be impressively clear, considering that the Liberty Air 2 Pro is an earbud-style headset.
If you’re a music lover in need of a headset for remote working, we strongly suggest you check out the Meze Audio 99 Classics.
In recent years, headphone manufacturers have put a lot of emphasis on supporting features such as Bluetooth connectivity and noise cancelling tech. The Meze Audio 99 Classics breaks with this trend, with a wired-only design that prioritises exceptional, audiophile-quality sound.
The resulting headphones are, without question, one of the best-sounding pairs our reviewer has ever had the good fortune to use – the ultimate gift-to-self for workers who enjoy listening to music between calls.
What works for music seems to work for phonecalls too, as we found that the Audio 99 Classics could provide excellent call quality over a phone or internet connection. The microphone on the 99 Classics is a simple inline mic, built into the cable. While this isn’t necessarily the most reliable solution for capturing your voice on a call, it did a perfectly good job during our testing.
The Avanti Air does a great job of handling calls. The headphones have excellent audio performance, and the headset’s in-built microphone picked up our reviewer’s voice with great clarity.
The only potential downside to the Avanti Air is that it doesn’t have a wired connection, so you’ll need to make sure the headset is charged up and ready to connect via Bluetooth whenever you need it.