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.
Do you work in an office where noise levels are similar to those in a crowded football stadium? From colleagues' reality TV discussions to personal phone calls and work-related chatter, noise is all too common in the pervasive open office plan. The open office was designed for collaboration, breaking down walls that could be barriers to information sharing. The unforseen consequences of this office design: a lack of privacy in a noisy, distracting environment.
Did you know that each distraction takes 23 minutes to recover from? This translates into thousands of lost hours each year at organizations, at a significant and costly impact.
In a new study commissioned by Plantronics, Oxford Economics found that 63 percent of employees say they lack quiet space for focused work, which has a negative effect on their productivity, satisfaction and well-being.
•Only 1 percent of employees say they can block out distractions in the office, without taking extra steps. This is a dramatic decline since this study was last done, in 2015; at that time, 20 percent of employees reported that they could block out distractions.
•96 percent of executives see employee productivity as critical to their financial performance, yet just 40 percent understand the link between noise, distraction and productivity.
•A mere 6 percent of executives report having equipped their office with noise mitigating features.
•Employees in the noisiest office environments are more likely to say they may leave their job in the next six months.
The open office plan is so pervasive that epidemic noise levels have now been reached worldwide, but is anyone paying attention? Executives, this is your wake-up call! It's time to fix the problem.
Contact us to learn how to navigate in noisy office environments (Here's a hint: headsets!).
Open office arrangements are conducive to collaboration among colleagues; unfortunately, they are also conducive to distracting background noise! To increase productivity and promote effective sound management, the unique Jabra Noise Guide is a portable device that monitors noise levels in open office environments.
See noise levels fall. Feel productivity rise. Similar to a traffic light, the Noise Guide provides immediate visual feedback on noise levels.
There are three colors: Green: Go! Conversation is at an acceptable level. Yellow: Caution! Noise levels are rising. Red: Stop! Conversation is at an unacceptable level.
Customize sensitivity levels for specific needs. It is pre-set for "Noisy Office" but can be easily changed using the SoundEar 3 software (preloaded on the included USB stick) when the Noise Guide is connected to a PC.
Noise Level Setting Options:
•The device is lit green when the noise level is below 60 dB.
•The device is lit yellow when the noise level ranges from 60 dB to 70 dB.
•The device is lit red when the noise level exceeds 70 dB.
•The device is lit green when the noise level is below 55 dB.
•The device is lit yellow when the noise level ranges from 55 dB to 65 dB.
•The device is lit red when the noise level exceeds 65 dB.
•The device is lit green when the noise level is below 50 dB.
•The device is lit yellow when the noise level ranges from 50 dB to 60 dB.
•The device is lit red when the noise level exceeds 60 dB.
You can also choose Customize Settings, to tailor the Noise Guide to your specific environment needs. Jabra suggests an average coverage area of 50 sq. feet.
Measure underlying noise trends.
Measure and record daily noise levels over a period of up to three months, to help identify and track problem areas in your office.
Download noise data to a PC or a USB stick and analyze it using the special SoundEar 3 software.
The Noise Guide provides you with 2 types of measurements, simultaneously. The ear symbol indicates the state of the current noise level
while the LED panel at the bottom of the device indicates the average noise level over the past 15 minutes.
Ensure you're using the latest software version by clicking on the “Software Update." The "Software Update" button links to the web site where you can find the latest software version. Always remember to update your Noise Guide with latest versions of both software (for your PC) and firmware (for
the Noise Guide device).
What's in the box? The Noise Guide, USB Key with Software, Power Adapter, USB to micro USB cable
In addition to the Noise Guide, a steel cubicle mount or aluminum table stand, (at a cost of $55.00 each), must be purchased. The portability is a great feature! You can move the Noise Guide between departments, areas, or offices to take advantage of the device. The Table Stand has a table grip that secures the Noise Guide to the desk or table. The cubicle mount rests on top of a divider wall and is clamped into the side.
Now through the end of the year, Jabra is offering a FREE Noise Guide with purchase of 35 of any combination of the Evolve 40, 65, and 80 headsets. Contact us to learn more!
Want to amp up your output at work and feel energized? Research suggests that listening to upbeat music can bring higher productivity and overall higher feelings of job satisfaction. Give your people the choice of listening to music and watch the work get done!
Rather than piping music that may not appeal to everyone over office speakers, perhaps a better choice would be individual music players (PC, Smartphones, Tablets)– with corresponding headsets – to personalize the experience. Connecting via USB, Bluetooth, or 3.5mm port, our headsets can handle any set-up. With the same headset, take and make phone calls, and stream your music in between. There is no “one size fits all” environment; providing a variety of headsets to choose from will give your staff the chance to choose the one that’s best for them. Perhaps staying within a brand is recommended, to ensure some type of continuity within your organization.
The types of music matter, according to this article from The Telegraph.
Problem-solving or proofreading? Dance music is where it’s at. This genre resulted in a higher overall accuracy and fastest performance across a variety of work tasks. Boogie on down to the best accuracy you’ve ever experienced – and faster!
If you’re working with numbers or extremely detailed information, classical music should be blasting in the background. Spelling errors are also most accurately detected when listening to classical music (12% more!).
To keep up your momentum with data entry tasks, pop music is best. Instrumental, ambient music works well for equation solving. The music tempo can affect productivity – a faster tempo may heighten awareness and produce quicker results; a slower tempo can relax and help you focus on tasks. Overall, though, choosing music that you like best to listen to will ensure your good mood, thus raising your productivity. So, if that music is techno, country, screamo, or Gregorian chants, put that record on and groove.
Wearing a headset could be perceived as rude at your organization (depending upon the environment and expectations) – those with public-facing tasks would probably be discouraged from wearing headsets altogether. Taking regular breaks from wearing a headset may be a good idea to encourage camaraderie with co-workers.
Click on the Comments tab, above, and tell us your favorite music to listen to while you work!
In part 1 of this series about the open office environment, we established that open office work environments are pervasive, distracting and generally not conducive for work that requires concentration – in fact, a Plantronics study found that overall productivity is reduced by 40%.
As the saying goes, “the show must go on” and with deadlines to meet (plus the paycheck associated with the expectation of work being accomplished), here are some tips to help you navigate the environment to your advantage:
Establish expectations of a quiet office environment. Talk to your manager and ask if this policy can be implemented. If there is the expectation that the office will be quiet, conversations will be held at low volumes, and those walking through the environment should be quiet, with prolonged conversations held elsewhere. Reminders of this policy can be in the form of signs that are hung up throughout the entire work space.
Ear plugs. While this may look slightly ridiculous, sometimes it can be the only way to find true quiet, especially if you have no obligation to being on the phone. You can pick up ear plugs at any discount store for very little cost.
Headsets. With the variety of active noise cancelling headsets on the market today, and the “cool” factor that wearers of large headphones are enjoying, wearing a headset can provide a solid audial barrier. Active noise cancelling quiets ambient sounds by creating frequencies that block the noise at your ear. Not all sounds are blocked; overall, they will be significantly reduced.
Headsets also serve a practical purpose in your business environment because you can answer phone calls with them. The headsets are equipped with noise-cancelling microphones so that your caller will hear you, and not your noisy neighbor who laughs a bit too enthusiastically.
The Voyager Focus UC from Plantronics is a Bluetooth wireless headset that gives you dual ear coverage, an on/off Active Noise Cancelling switch, and an Open Mic button to tune into the environment when you need to. This headset connects seamlessly across PCs (with the included USB adapter), smartphones, and tablets. When you listen to music (delivered with incredible bass and natural midtones) the Focus UC pauses the music whenever you take the headset off, and resumes play when you put it back on. MSRP is $299.95.
For a corded headset with Active Noise Cancelling, the Jabra Evolve 80 UC has speakers that are built for style and comfort with large leatherette ear cushions, specifically designed to reduce office noise. When combined with active noise-cancelling technology, you get maximum protection against office noise. A busy-light indicator on the headset signals user availability to colleagues. The Evolve 80 connects via 3.5mm and USB for use with smart phones, tablets, and PCs. MSRP is $329.00.
Listening to music in your headset can be a great productivity booster. What type of music is best? Studies show that classical music or music without lyrics (such as an Ambient channel on iTunes Radio) can increase productivity, because it provides a mindless distraction. Music with lyrics can be distracting, especially when writing.
Or, if music just isn't your thing, "white noise" can be a great alternative. The app Noisli (also available to stream at http://www.noisli.com/ provides 16 audio samples of nature, a coffee shop, a fireplace, white noise, and others). There is a special mix for Productivity, available by selecting that choice. Other options include Rainy Mood or Simply Noise. Ultimately, it is an individual preference and something that can be determined through trial and error until you find your concentration zone.
Use busy lights or hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your chair or in your office space. Use this judiciously; it may appear that you are not a team player if your “Do Not Disturb” sign is displayed more often than it isn’t.
Work from home. If this is a possibility, it may be worth looking into; however, a lack of infrastructure at your workplace might not allow for this solution.
Ultimately, we are responsible for how we react in any type of environment. How can we best adapt to this newer concept of open office space? Considering the variety of solutions available to combat open offices, hopefully you’ll find the right solution that helps you along the way. If you have any questions regarding this topic, please reach out to us. We’d love to chat!