Hearing loss statistics are staggering: 30 million Americans age 12 and older has hearing loss in both ears. The Better Hearing Institute says that a large number of people wait up to 15 years from the time they know they have hearing loss until they purchase their first hearing aid, usually around the average age of 70 years old.
It is easy to blame loud music, headphones and ear buds as the cause of hearing loss; in fact, it is more complicated than that. According to Healthy Hearing, illnesses, head trauma and tumors, prolonged exposure to excessively noisy environments, genetic factors, and some medicines, can all play a part.
Aging is another factor that contributes to hearing loss. Currently, we are seeing an aging workforce: Workers are staying in the workforce past age 65. This is the highest it’s been in 55 years. And, by the year 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 36 percent of 65-to-69-year-olds will be part of the labor force.
Regularly, we are asked for headset recommendations for hearing aid wearers, and people who are having difficulty hearing calls. Through testing of our own, and daily use of the professional high quality headsets that we sell, we have some tips that will help you find the best set-up for clear calls.
Tip #1:Headsets must be designed for phone calls, not music or gaming. Taking phone calls all day on a headset not designed for human voices can cause problems. And with all-day wear, hearing fatigue can occur over the course of long work days. Beware of consumer-grade
headsets that are tuned for music, rather than speech. Proper acoustic tuning in high quality, professional headsets removes noise that
is not audible to the human ear, and simultaneously boosts higher frequencies that make
fricatives* easier to discern.
Tip #2:We always recommend a dual ear headset. A mono headset covers one ear, leaving the other ear exposed to background noise. With a dual ear headset, both ears are covered, providing Passive Noise Canceling. The amount and degree of Passive Noise Canceling depends upon the shape and size of the ear cushions, and we recommend headsets with ear cushions that completely surround the ear.
Tip #3: If you choose a corded headset, we recommend the purchase of an amplifier, too. Amplifiers are designed to enhance voice quality and call clarity for headset users, boosting the headset's performance. They make sound louder. This technology enables headsets to be used with corded phones and phone systems. In addition to amplifying sound, amplifiers usually include additional features to enhance communication, including mute and volume controls.
Tip #4:Active Noise Canceling headsets may be an option. Active Noise Canceling technology uses one sound to reduce another sound, and is the latest office headset trend. We have compiled a comprehensive list of the ANC headsets from all of our brands: read the ANC Headsets blog post for more information.
We look forward to working with you on finding the best headset for your hearing needs. Our headset experts can be reached at 1-866-998-9991, or by email. After all, Communication Is Our Business!
*Fricatives are consonants that are formed by impeding the ﬂow of air somewhere in the vocal apparatus so that a friction-sound is
produced. For instance, the "f" in fine or the "ch" in Bach.
High-noise work environments can be intense. Whether it’s driving down the road in an 18-wheeler or working in a noisy warehouse – and other similarly loud environments – error-free communication and collaboration is challenging. Most of us are faced with colleague interruptions that impact productivity, but workers in high-noise environments are also faced with interruptions from equipment, or unconventional surroundings. Safety regulations in the workplace are progressively more restrictive and workers in high-noise environments have indicated that easy, hands-free group communication is of the utmost importance.
BlueParrott mobility-focused headsets are solving these challenges for people in a variety of industries: professional drivers, utility technicians, retail floor help, hotel housekeepers and concierge staff, and warehouse order pickers. BlueParrott, a leader in intelligent and rugged headsets, offers microphones with unrivaled noise-cancelling technology and deliver superior call quality in high-noise environments. These headsets connect to rugged smartphones, tablets and mobile computers, land mobile radios, handheld scanners, and other mobile devices.
Professional Truck Drivers
Professional truck drivers have preferred BlueParrott headsets for years.Strong and stable enough for life on the road, the wireless Bluetooth headsets feature long battery life and up to 24 hours of talk time (depending upon the headset). With hands-free call and text bans in effect around the U.S., drivers of all kinds – from local delivery drivers to Over-the-Road truckers – must use headsets for communicating.
Another recommended headset is new to the market: the B550-XT, the world’s first 100% hands-free headset. Simply by saying “Hello BlueParrott,” tell your headset to “Call” contacts within your phone’s Address Book. In addition, the C400-XT is a great choice for people who prefer a choice in wearing style: the C400-XT can be worn behind the neck (over the left or right ears), and over-the-head.
Field Service Workers
Construction workers, foremen, linemen, and others who work on job sites would all benefit from the use of these same headsets.
Retail and Hospitality Staff
The C400-XT is the perfect hands-free, Bluetooth-enabled headset for those who clean hotel rooms, concierge staff, and retail sales floor workers. Its discreet profile, and trio of wearing style options, offer some flexibility and customization.
Warehouse Operators and Order Pickers
The headset needed for these workers depends upon the picking device that’s being used, and so there are 2 categories for the warehouse worker: Corded or Bluetooth Wireless.
Corded headsets include the VR11, VR12, and VR12F, a freezer-rated headset for environments down to -22 degrees. These headsets have been “drop and tumble tested,” having been dropped 8.2 feet onto concrete across the operating temperature range, and tossed 500 times across approximately 3 feet for 1,000 hits.
If the connection type needed is Bluetooth, then these wireless headsets are recommended: B550-XT, B450-XT and C400-XT.
Supported by the latest in headset technology
Keep BlueParrott headsets updated (via USB) with the free software program, BlueParrott Updater. Install the BlueParrott Updater on your computer (either PC or Mac), and ensure your BlueParrott headset always has the latest features and functions. The BlueParrott Updater download is available free, here: BlueParrott Updater.
The BlueParrott App is available in Apple and Android versions, at no cost. If your headset has a Parrott Button, customize the operation of the Button within the app. The headset is configured out-of-the-box with the Parrott Button configured to mute, and will mute the microphone while both off or on a call.
There is a walkie-talkie feature as well. For all Parrott Button questions, refer to the Help page: Parrott Button How-To
Each headset is protected with a one-year warranty for peace of mind.
Contact our headset experts about BlueParrott headsets, today: 1-866-998-9991.
In its continual effort to advance technologically progressive headsets, Plantronics has announced that the SupraPlus series will be phased out in 2019. SupraPlus headsets will be for sale as long as stock is available.
Recommended Replacement: EncorePro 500 Series
Plantronics suggests the EncorePro 500 series as the direct replacement.
The EncorePro series has continued in popularity, with Quick Disconnect, Digital and USB variants that meet the requirements of contact centers and offices around the world.
The EncorePro headband has 6 degrees of adjustment and a super soft foam ear cushion that covers the ear. Premium leatherette ear cushions are available as an optional accessory.
The EncorePro is the benchmark in headset design, winning an iF Design Award in 2015. The single piece, unibody style microphone boom with tactile and visual positioning is virtually break-free. The aircraft grade structural aluminum joints provide another point of strength.
The Plantronics EncorePro 510 is the next generation of our most popular over-the-head monaural headset. Completely re-imagined for the demands of the modern customer service center and office, the HW510 has soft ear cushions for all-day wearing comfort, metal joints that deliver durability and reliability and a flexible mic with visual and tactile positioning guides for precise positioning and clearer conversations.
The Plantronics EncorePro 520 is the binaural version of the all-new 510 design, covering both ears to provide greater focus and concentration by blocking background noise. The 520 also has soft ear cushions for all-day wearing comfort, metal joints that deliver durability and reliability, and a flexible mic with visual and tactile positioning guides for precise positioning and clearer conversations.
Plantronics is offering a new promotion! Upgrade Like A Pro: For a limited time, customers who buy new EncorePro headsets will become eligible to trade up an equal number of SupraPlus headsets to receive a $15 trade up allowance for each headset. This promotion ends March 31, 2019, and claims must be submitted before April 30, 2019. Claims can be submitted on the Plantronics web site: Upgrade Like a Pro
Jabra has announced that all variants in the Jabra Pro 9400 series of DECT wireless headsets are at their end of life date, and are no longer being manufactured as of October 2018. The Pro 9400 headsets will be sold for as long as stock is available.
Recommended Replacement: Jabra Engage Series
In its place, Jabra is recommending the Engage DECT wireless headsets. The Jabra Engage 65 and 75 Series includes a range of Stereo, Mono and Convertible models to enable an easy migration from the Pro 9400. The Jabra Engage Series is engineered to be the world’s most powerful professional range of wireless headsets. Utilizing new, exclusive technology that gives 3x better wireless density – while still maintaining excellent connection quality – Engage helps deliver better conversations to boost customer satisfaction.
The Engage series boasts better sounding calls, more talk time (up to 13 hours!), and better productivity because of the built-in busylights on each headset. Security features going beyond DECT security Step C providing enhanced protection against eavesdropping. A micro-USB charger in the base makes it easier to dock the headset correctly in one simple action and ensure it is charging. With the fast charge feature, you can power the headset to 40% in just 30 minutes. If the battery gets critically low during a call, Jabra Engage can also be charged using a standard wall
charger while you are still on the call.
What is the difference between Engage 65 and Engage 75? Engage 65 connects to desk phones and PCs, and buttons on the base unit are intuitive and easy to use. Engage 75 headsets can connect to five devices simultaneously: 2 USB devices (softphone and/or desk phone), 2 Bluetooth devices and 1 analog desk phone. The base unit is touchscreen.
New to the Engage series are the Convertible models with a smaller ear speaker and 3 included wearing styles: ear hook, neckband and headband. The Convertible model is available in both Engage 65 and Engage 75 variants.
Within the past year, we have noticed the increased frequency of questions about headsets with active noise cancelling. Many customers are familiar with the consumer brands out there that offer Active Noise Cancelling in headphones used for music and other media and are now asking us, “But what about for office headsets?” The pervasive noisy open office environment, as well as the continuing needs of mobile workers handling important calls on the go, provokes the question. Active noise cancelling technology (ANC) will reduce unwanted noise and eliminate distractions.
From the headset brands that we carry, there are several choices that, depending upon the connection type, may provide the ANC you need.
The Jabra Evolve 75 UC is our top pick for a wireless Bluetooth ANC headset. The large leatherette ear cushions are comfortable and perfect for all-day wear. The speakers rotate to lay flat in the hard-sided case (click here to see the case) that the headset comes in. The noise-cancelling microphone boom arm can be clipped to the headband when you’re not on calls – a magnet secures the boom arm until you’re ready to use it again. Integrated Busylights in the ear cups alert co-workers to your availability – at a glance. ANC is easy to turn on and off with the touch of a button on the left ear cup. The Listen-In feature allows you to keep ANC turned on – yet tuning into the conversation surrounding you – with a simple tap on the left ear cup. There are two certified versions of the Evolve 75: UC and Certified for Skype for Business. The included Link 370 dongle allows you to walk up to 100 feet away from the PC it’s connected to. Talk time is approximately 15 hours. There is an Evolve 75 UC version with the charging stand, which we recommend for those who primarily work at a desk. The stand is a great place to store and charge the headset when not in use. MSRP is $279.00 ($329.00 for the headset and stand).
The Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC is the newest ANC wireless headset, and has a contemporary boomless mic design: dual-paired omnidirectional mics with enhanced Digital Signal Processing. These technologies ensure your voice is picked up and background noise is not the focus of the conversation. Dual mode ANC lets you choose preferred noise-reduction level. Smart sensors allow you to answer calls by simply putting on the headset and automatically mute your calls or pause music by taking the headset off. It offers an almost-unbelievable 20 hours of talk time. A carrying pouch is included. The Voyager 8200 UC is available in two colors: Black and White and MSRP is $379.95.
Plantronics Voyager Focus UC is the first wireless headset offering ANC. The Focus UC is compatible with smartphones, tablets, smart watches, and PCs via Bluetooth. It offers up to 12 hours of talk time (10 with ANC on). This is another intelligent headset: Smart sensors answer calls by simply putting on the headset, mute by taking the headset off and pause/resume music. First-to-market Dynamic Mute Alert feature senses and alerts users when they are trying to talk when muted. The sleek noise-cancelling mic can be worn on either side of the head by rotating the boom arm. A carrying pouch is also included with this headset; MSRP is $279.95 or 299.95 for the version with the charging stand.
Sennheiser’s MB 660 UC has innovative NoiseGard hybrid adaptive ANC that constantly monitors your background environment for noise, thus adjusting the level of noise reduction in the headset seamlessly. Advanced own-voice detector provides optimal speech intelligibility while reducing background noise. SpeakFocus technology, along with the 3 digital microphones, enhances voice clarity in all sound environments. The listening experience can be personalized with the various sound effect modes: Club, Movie, Speech, or Director. The MB 660 UC comes in a hard-sided case for travel convenience. A certified Microsoft Skype for Business version is also available: MB 660 MS. MSRP is $449.95.
Wireless around-the-neck earbud wearing styles are the newest addition to the professional office headset market. The Jabra Evolve 75e has an integrated Busylight and magnetic earbuds that connect to pause your music, or end your call. The neckband is silicon rubber and is sweat and water resistant, however, make no mistake: this business headset is made for work. The three-microphone technology provides crystal-clear calls and creates a unique "talk-zone," making sure you’re heard, while nearby voices are filtered out. ANC is activated by pressing a button on the neckband; to "listen in" to your environment, simply press and hold the same button. The headset comes with a USB dongle, zippered hard-sided travel case, three eartip and three pairs of both EarGels and EarWings, and includes a desktop charging stand. MSRP is $259.00.
The Plantronics Voyager 6200 UC headset features Plantronics clear talk technology, four omnidirectional mics and enhanced
noise cancelling, optimizing your voice and minimizing background noise. ANC can be turned on and off with the flip of a switch. Connect to PC with the included BT600 dongle. Also included: a hard-sided, zippered travel case, desktop charging stand, and 3 sizes of eartips for maximum comfort and customization. The Voyager 6200 UC is offered in two colors: Black and Sand. MSRP is $299.95.
For both of these neckband earbud headsets, the neckband will vibrate when there is an incoming call, so you won't need to keep the earbuds in your ears at all times.
Plantronics Blackwire 725 All-day users of PC softphones will like this headset. This is a corded, all-in-one USB headset with large leatherette ear cushions that rest on the ear. It also features a leatherette padded headband for added comfort. The microphone is noise-cancelling and has a flexible boom arm that can be bent to personalize the fit. The in-line call controller has a built-in clothing clip, soft touch answer/end and mute buttons, a rocker-style button for volume, and on the side of the controller, the ANC on/off switch. Slide the switch toward ANC to activate. Smart sensor technology allows you to answer a call by putting the headset on your head. A zippered neoprene travel pouch protects the headset from damage – either while traveling, or even in the office environment.
Download Plantronics Hub software to gain call control across multiple softphones. A headset control panel allows for customizing settings, including call notification. MSRP for the Blackwire 725 is $179.99.
USB and 3.5mm Connection
Jabra Evolve 80 This corded headset is compatible with devices that have a 3.5mm port and PCs via USB. Oversized ear cup style cushions completely surround the ear and hug the user’s head. It is the heaviest of the 3 choices, weighing in at 11.43 ounces – almost ¾ of a pound. The bulkiness of the headset could prove to be a deal breaker for some users; however, customers who own this headset don’t mind the heft and comment on its incredible ability to block ambient noise. There is a comfort feature to the headset: the headband has a soft rubber cushion that allows it to lightly rest on the head.
Activate ANC at the bottom of the right ear cup. A nice feature of the Evolve 80 is the “Listen In” button: when you have ANC activated, but need to “listen in” to your environment, press the button in the middle of the right ear speaker, to temporarily disable the ANC. Press the button again to resume ANC. The rechargeable battery is charged when the Evolve 80 is connected via USB port.
Other features: a neoprene zippered pouch for travel (the ear cushions rotate to lay flat) and a noise-cancelling microphone that mutes automatically when the mic boom is docked in the headband. MSRP: $329.00.
Hi-fi stereo sound and wideband audio for listening to music and multimedia applications contribute to the luxury feel of all of these headsets.
ANC Headsets for Desk Phones
The very first (and so far, only) DECT wireless headset with Active Noise Canceling is the Plantronics Savi 8220. This headset connects to desk phones, PCs and mobile phones. Conference two of your three devices to collaborate with colleagues or connect up to four Savi 8200 Series headsets for training or call resolution. There are 2 versions available: Microsoft Skype for Business certified, and UC. MSRP is $459.95.
At this time, ANC technology is not available in QD (quick disconnect) headset versions. We have tested a solution here at Avcomm that has proven to be successful for our customers, and lets you use an ANC headset (Bluetooth or USB) with a desk phone!
We recommend the Plantronics MDA220 USB, an audio switcher for PCs and desk phones, along with a USB headset of your choice, to connect your ANC headset to a desk phone. Yes, that’s right: an ANC headset CAN be used with your desk phone! And it's important to note that any brand of headset can be used with the MDA220 USB.