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I counted more than 200 headsets on this
website. I want to get one, but I'm overwhelmed. How do I pick the right
headset for my office phone?
Out of the hundreds of choices, you should be
able to narrow the possibilities down to a reasonable number with a little
thought. Basically, you have to consider the person who will use it, the phone
it will be used with, and the environment it will be used in. Specific
questions would be: Do you want wired or wireless? Do you want the headset to
go over your head or over your ear? (Or do you want to be able to change
wearing styles?) Are you in a quiet or noisy environment? Does the phone have a
headset jack, and, if so, what kind of jack is it? Do you want to use the
headset with a phone AND a computer? If you want a specific recommendation, just give us a call at 1.888.225.3999.
I use a Panasonic KX-T7453 phone at work, with a headset and separate
amplifier box. The box flops around, is always getting in the
way, and now I hear static whenever I adjust the volume control. I'd like to
replace the headset with one that doesn't need the amplifier, but my phone
doesn't have a direct-connect headset jack like the newer Panasonic phones
tha tsome of my co-workers use. My boss doesn't mind buying a new headset
since mine is really shot, but she really doesn't want to pay for a new
phone, too, since mine is fine. Any suggestions?
The situation is has recently gotten a lot
better. Sennheiser makes some great headsets (monaural and binaural) that will
plug right into your handset jack, and work without another box on your desk
top. Your phone has a simple programming sequence to make the jack live even
when the handset is hung up. Press Program, 99, 9, 2, Hold, Program. If you do
this, you can just tap the SP-PHONE button to answer or hang up the phone, and
save desk space.
CLICK to see the Sennheiser headsets for your Panasonic phone.
There seem to be two different kids of
wireless headsets, Bluetooth, and whatever the other kind is called. What's
the difference? Which is better?
Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard that
uses a short-range (up to about 30 feet) radio link to carry voice and data
between two Bluetooth compatible devices. The technology was named for the
Danish king Harald Blåtand (Bluetooth) who unified Denmark and Norway in the
10th Century. There is no specific name for non-Bluetooth wireless headsets,
but they generally offer considerably more wireless range than Bluetooth -- up
to 300 feet horizontally, and up and down several floors in a building. These
headsets operate in several radio frequency bands, including 900MHz, 1.9GHz and
2.4GHz. If you have a wireless computer network, it's probably best to NOT get
a headset that works at 2.4GHz. Bluetooth does work in the 2.4GHz band, but
uses a variety of electronic techniques to avoid interference.
This website shows two
wireless binaural headsets. What's the difference between the Chameleon
3010B and the Plantronics SupraPlus binaural?
quality, range, and weight are comparable. The Chameleon is less expensive
than the Plantronics (including the remote handset lifter). Its base has a
connection for recording conversations. The Plantronics has a noise-canceling
microphone, which is better for speaking in noisy places, and a bit more talk
time. The Plantronics is better-looking (purely a personal judgment). The
Plantronics comes with both foam and leatherette ear pads, the Chameleon has
I don't understand why expensive wireless
headsets need those clunky-looking remote handset lifter thingees to pick up
a call. With all of our advanced electronics, why do we need mechanical
kludges to answer or hang up. This seems like something from 1950. Why are the
headset makers so stupid?
really not the fault of the headset makers -- it's the telephone makers (and
they're not really stupid). When you are sitting at your desk, and you want to
pick up or hang up while using your headset, the newest phones let you do it by
just tapping a button, which makes the phone "live" and sends signals through
the headset jack. Unfortunately, there is no industry standard for the
headset button, so there is no way for the headset makers to emulate their
function remotely. The only almost-standard functions on phones, is the
physical picking up and hanging up of the handset, so that's what the headset
makers have to work with. To get beyond the kludges, would take a major effort
by one or more major phone makers, and it probably won't happen any time soon.
Fortunately, today's remote lifters are far beyond 1950's technology, and are
quiet, quick and reliable.
What's the difference between binaural and
It's not a simple answer:
Are you really a doctor? How does someone become a headset therapist?
- When music is recorded, somewhere between two and a dozen or more
microphones are in front of or in the midst of the performers. The sounds picked up by the microphones are fed to a mixer and are combined and
ultimately recorded as left and right channels, to approximate what you'd
hear with your left and right ears in a live performance. This is stereo,
(which used to be called "stereophonic sound") in contrast to the
original one-channel mono ("monophonic sound"). With mono, all of the sounds are lumped together and listened to through one speaker, like a
traditional table radio. The word "stereophonic" is derived from the Greek
stereos, meaning "solid" and phōnē, meaning "sound."
- Some recordings, of music and movies, are designed for playback through six or more channels, with speakers spread around the theater or listening room.
- In the 1950s and 60s, there were some geek-oriented recordings made with microphones placed in the "ears" of a dummy head, with the assumption that the resulting binaural recording, when listened to through headphones, would be more realistic than a stereo recording made with more-widely-separated microphones and listened to through speakers. Binaural recordings are still produced today, but are not very popular.
- In headset terms, binaural just means that there are two separate speakers, one for each ear. Since the person on the far end is talking into a
single microphone ("transmitter"), the sound is monophonic, but heard through both ears. It can be thought of as multiple-speaker monaural, but no
one but Dr. Wendy uses that term.
- Some new computer headsets work as binaural (again, really multiple-speaker monaural) for phone calls, but can also work as stereo (two
different audio channels) for music, movies or games.
I didn't expect to be answering personal questions, but here goes:
Is it safe to wear a Bluetooth wireless headset?
Isn't it like putting a radio station on my head? I'm concerned about the electric rays
affecting my brain.
When I was a child, a neighbor was badly injured in a car crash, and I was amazed at the work done by her doctors. I decided to become a plastic surgeon, to specialize in facial reconstruction, and got a BS degree in biology, with a specialty in human anatomy. I changed plans, and earned a PhD degree in psychology, and initially worked as a marriage counselor. Frankly, most of the couples I worked with, seemed hopeless. Many of my patients were people who should never have married each other, or maybe should have never married anyone; and no amount of counseling was going to save their marriages. It would have been better if they sought counseling before getting married. It seemed like I was wasting my time and their money, and I went back to college and got certified in audiology. I thought I could help people communicate better by prescribing hearing aids. Maybe technology could do more than counseling. I couldn't force my patients to listen to each other, but at least I could help people to hear each other. I eventually got a Masters degree in acoustical engineering, and worked for companies that made hearing aids and hi-fi speakers, and a company that did basic research in microphones and speakers. All this background apparently qualifies me to be a headset therapist.
The transmitting power is tiny, and there is no evidence of any damage. A
few years ago, there were some lawsuits about supposed radiation damage from
cellphones, but nothing was proven. Frankly, we don't really know the long-term
effects. We receive minute doses of radiation from many sources, including the
sun, but human beings seem to be very resilient creatures. I think you have
more to fear from sunburn. I'm not afraid to use a wireless headset in my car
or at work, and I know many other doctors who also use them. If you're
uncomfortable about using a wireless headset, use a wired headset -- it's
certainly safer than holding a phone in one hand while you try to control you
car with your other hand.
Here's some information from the Federal Office of Public Health, in
Bluetooth devices are assigned to one of three power
classes: 1, 2 and 3. The radiation energy emitted by class 2 and 3 Bluetooth
devices is weak and limited in range. Most of the Bluetooth applications
used close to the body belong to one of these two power classes. Bluetooth
transmitters in the most powerful class 1 can cause exposure to radiation
similar to that emitted by a mobile phone if they are operated in the
immediate vicinity of the body.
The radiation exposure caused by Bluetooth devices in
all three power classes is below the international recommended levels. The
information currently available does not suggest that this radiation
represents an immediate threat to health.
Precautions are unnecessary for Bluetooth devices in
the lower power classes 2 and 3. Some mobile phones that use Bluetooth to
access the Internet have class 1 transmitters. It is advisable to switch off
the Internet connection when making phone calls with such devices to reduce
the additional exposure of the head to radiation.
My husband just got an expensive headset to use at work. He says he loves
it, because he can use his hands for his keyboard and mouse or to move papers around, while on the phone; but I have trouble hearing him. He insists that no one else
Nowadays Bluetooth hands-free headsets are also used as a precautionary
measure to reduce exposure to radiation from mobile phones. Instead of the
mobile phone, a Bluetooth transmitter that emits a far lower level of
radiation, is held to the ear during phone calls, thus reducing exposure of
the head considerably.
Just because no one else complains, doesn't mean there isn't a real problem. Maybe others don't know what his voice should sound like,
or maybe they don't want to risk offending him. Tell him to call the tech support department at the headset manufacturer. They'll hear how he sounds, and can suggest an adjustment. Headsets that use switchboxes (sometimes called amplifiers), to connect to a phone require a simple calibration to make them sound right with a particular phone. It's possible that your husband, or whoever installed the headset, did it wrong. If the headset is a direct-connect model that doesn't use a switchbox, it's possible that the headset is defective, or the wrong model for the phone he is using. Some
direct-connect headsets are sold with cords for specific phones; and even if a cord fits a phone and sound comes out of the headset, it could still be the wrong cord, and the headset is not working as well as it should.
Why should I care?
Neodymium is a metal used to make magnets for transducers such as microphones and speakers, and the receivers in headsets and headphones. They're also used in computer hard drives. Neodymium magnets are very powerful, which means that headsets that use them can be smaller and lighter than headsets that use other magnetic materials. They are more commonly used for stereo headphones, and computer headsets used for music and gaming, rather than for voice-only telephone headsets.
I've noticed some office headsets with parts like
little nipples that actually stick inside the ear. That seems uncomfortable,
unsanitary, and maybe even dangerous. Why would anyone want a headset that
sticks inside the ear?
In-ear headsets are generally used in noisy environments (which could be an
office or an airplane cockpit), as an alternative to bulky circumaural
ear cups that cover the entire ear, like an earmuff. They can be quite small
and light, and provide great isolation from outside noises, since they are
essentially ear plugs. The Plantronics Starset is a good in-your-ear
model, but (speaking as a someone who used to examine ears) people who use
them, shouldn't share them, and it's important to keep the tips clean.
This warning also applies to the earbud headsets that people use with iPods
and other MP3 players, and for the popular pint-size telephone headsets, both wired and Bluetooth wireless models, that use ear tips.
I've seen teenagers on trains sharing a pair of iPod earbuds. Each kid gets
to hear half of the music, and after the sharing, whatever waxy crud that was
in Suzy's ear, goes into Sally's ear. Some cellphone headsets are completely
supported by their ear tips. They look cool, but you have to pick the ear tip
size properly, so it's tight enough to stay in your ear, yet doesn't hurt your
ear. I often use a Bluetooth headset with an ear tip because of its small size
and good isolation from noises while I drive, but I don't just dump it into my
pocketbook when I'm through using it. I have a case for it, and I clean it
regularly. I may be a bit of a hypocrite; because professionally, I really
don't approve of hardware that goes inside the ear. My mother told my brother
and me to never put anything in our ears that's smaller than an elbow. I think
that's good advice (except for an occasional moist Q-tip, or the otoscope used
by a doctor, or a hearing aid).
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