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Get a Headset for COVID!

With COVID-19 in full swing, people are spending more time on Zoom and it doesn’t seem likely that things will be letting up soon. But have you ever been on a Zoom call or video chat where you couldn’t quite hear someone? Audio quality can make a big difference, and if you don’t want sub-par sound, your laptop’s built-in speakers and microphone might not cut it. A headset (headphones with a mic) with decent audio quality can make your video chat experience way better! But how do you know what to pick? Here are a couple headsets that I’ve used and would personally recommend.

Logitech H390

The Logitech H390 is the perfect entry-level headset. It’s simple, lightweight, and has pretty good sound quality. People in my video chats said the mic sounded great - a noticeable improvement over most other people in the call. And while the headphones might not deliver amazing bass for listening to music, they do a great job at delivering easy-to-understand voice audio. (And they’ll do OK for music in a pinch.) The headset is very comfortable - it’s so light you hardly notice it’s there. The H390 is a USB-A headset, and didn’t require any special setup - just plug it in and it works.

I don’t have personal experience with other headsets in the same series, but if they’re anything like the H390 I’m sure they’re great. So you might also check out the H600, H540, or H800 if you want something fancier.

SteelSeries Arctis 3

It’s marketed as a gaming headset, but I’ve found the Arctis 3 to be my perfect home office headset during COVID. For me, it was an upgrade from the Logitech H390. Since it’s a gaming headset, it sounds better for music (I sometimes listen while I work) than the H390 does. It doesn’t compromise on voice audio quality either, with a clear noise-cancelling microphone that sounds better (in my opinion) than the H390. For me, however, the most important feature is the comfortable headband. SteelSeries really nailed it with this design, and this is the most comfortable full headset I’ve ever worn. The Arctis 3 comes in a normal version and a Bluetooth version. Both support a 3.5mm headset connection, but the Bluetooth version can operate wirelessly as well. I’ve found the microphone audio quality to be slightly lower on Bluetooth, so I’d just get the normal version unless Bluetooth is important to you.

In general, I think “gaming headsets” really do make great “home office” headsets because of high-quality noise-cancelling microphones combined with good audio output. While you might not want something with crazy flashing lights for your business meeting, a plain gaming headset does the job very well. Take a look at more expensive headsets in the Arctis line if you want more features, or perhaps a similar gaming headset from another company if you want the sound quality a gaming headset provides.

Apple AirPods

AirPods are perhaps one of the most common headsets in the business crowd - particularly if you have a Mac. They’re also one of the most expensive. The sound and microphone quality is very good, and these work great as a chat headset if you’re willing to spend $130+. As an added bonus, these are very discreet so you can sound great while not looking like you’re wearing a big headset.

Whatever you use, I think using any kind of headset makes a big difference in audio quality for all the people listening to you on a Zoom call. Even for just $30 you can get a headset with a noise-cancelling mic that will sound way better than the one built into your laptop. I hope the research I’ve done myself for the headsets above can help you decide what works best for your needs!