What are VoIP Headsets and Why Do We Need Them

What are VoIP Headsets and Why Do We Need Them

VoIp Headset
VoIp Headset. E+ / Getty Images

A VoIP headset is a piece of audio hardware that is worn around the head (hence its name) to offer hearing in the ears and to capture voice from the mouth, optimized for Voice over IP communication. Put simply, it is a pair of earpieces and one microphone built together in one piece. It allows you to communicate through VoIP.

Why Use VoIP Headsets?

To use VoIP on hardware other than phones (VoIP phones, traditional phones or mobile phones), you need to have input and output devices for voice.

You could use your system’s speakers and microphone, but that would make your conversation public. VoIP headsets allow you to communicate discretely. Moreover, you would suffer quality issues since what comes built in your computer is not the best voice component you can have.

Discretion exists with normal phones as well, but with a headset, your hands can be free, unlike with a phone, and you won’t need to dock the phone between your ears and shoulders should you need your hands for something else. Besides, wearing a headset a whole day long, as is the case with call center operators, customer service agents or receptionists for example, is reasonably bearable. This is not the case with phone sets.

Wireless headsets, which are becoming the norm now, allow you motion during communication, such that you can even leave your desk, or even the room or office, while talking.

Types of Headset

Headsets are not made for the looks, and to my taste, it spoils the human landscape.

So beyond the looks, there are certain considerations that govern the nomenclature of headsets. They are:

One ear or two ears. Monaural headsets give voice output to only one ear, and hence only one side of the headset. With this type of headset, you don’t get stereo sound. The other ‘free’ ear is left for whatever noise comes from the environment.

This type of headset is suitable for people who need to be all ears to both people around them and people on the line. It is also nice for those who only want to sound like operators and not look like them.

Binaural headsets give voice output to both the right and left ears. Use this if you want full voice quality, and if you don’t want to be disturbed by surrounding noise.

Style. By default, and by origin, headsets are headbands that are worn around the head. But you have those with only ear buds, having nothing of a headband. You also have those that are flexible and can be used either way.

Connection type. This determines how your headset is connected to your computer. You have the following types:

  • Wired, using 2.5 mm or 3.5 mm wires to connect directly to your computer or to an amplifier before being connected to an IP phone. Some wired headsets use cables that are specific to the manufacturer. This can be a headache and it is a good thing that this kind of restricted cabling is leaving room for standard means.
  • USB cabled into your computer. This type provides more features than the one above since it can carry digital data.
  • Wireless. Headsets free of wires allow you the freedom to move around during communication. This is a tremendous advantage over other types of headsets and is good for use at home but mostly in offices and corporate environments where mobility is inevitable. The downside of wireless headsets is that, firstly they cost two to three times more than cables ones, and secondly you need to bother about recharging the batteries, with all that this implies. Also, give some thought to the possible (but still not yet proved) health hazards associated with the use of wireless communication tools close to the brain. Two standards (protocols) are used for wireless headsets: DECT and Bluetooth. Bluetooth has the advantage of allowing your headset to be paired to your mobile phone as well, but it covers only a range of about 10 meters. DECT covers around 10 times that range.

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