Probably like many of you, I end up using my computer in a lot of different environments and for a number of different purposes. Probably like many of you, I also sometimes want to take my music with me and I sometimes need to participate in a conference call. Probably like many of you, I have gone through a bunch of different sets of headphones trying to get the perfect combination of mic sensitivity, noise cancellation, audio quality, and so on. I haven’t found the perfect pair just yet. Everything is a tradeoff. Here are the models that I’m using currently, and what I like and don’t like about each of them:
These in-ear headphones from Samsung are cheap and simple. I picked up a pair at a Sprint store one day and ended up going back for a second pair. They are my go-to when I’m going out in public, skiing or snowboarding, or anywhere else they may get damaged or stolen. They stay in all day comfortably and have pretty good sound quality for the price. They are not going to blow your mind in any way; they are your basics that you don’t have to care much about, and they just do what they say on the tin. I think if I had to only use one model of headphones for the rest of my life, I’d pick these just because I can abuse them a little bit and not worry if I have to replace them.
I recently decided to try some of these fancy in-ear bluetooth headphones from Bose. They sound great and stay in remarkably well, and the bluetooth aspect is very nice for getting up to walk around if I’m in a remote meeting. I still use these from time to time, but it’s rare that I want to wear them all day because the silicone ear tips exert greater pressure on my ear canal than Bose’s older MIE2 (like these) and start to hurt my ears after a few hours. The next size down just falls out of my ear entirely. For their apparent intended purpose — an hour or two of activity — they work quite well.
When I really need to be in a noisy office environment, so far nothing can compete with the Jabra EVOLVE 80. Your wallet will feel it, but your ears (and your coworkers) will thank you.
The audio quality is very good, and the mic output sounds even better. The headset connects to an optional inline USB-powered digital tactile interface with a mute button, volume up and down, an end call button, and a fourth button which toggles a glowing red light on the headset. This device also provides power to charge the headset and power its noise cancelling feature. There is another invisible button on the right earpiece which allows you to disable noise cancelling and hear what’s happening around you. I find this last feature extremely annoying, as it is easy to push accidentally and gives no indication that you’ve done anything, other than what seems like silence. I’m also not a fan of having a headset that squeezes my head all day, however slightly, but it does have a comfortable fit compared to other full-ear-coverage headphones.
There are a handful of other features that make this headset really stand out in my opinion, as long as you’re prepared for the possibility that you might silence your computer accidentally. If you don’t mind that, and you’re looking to get $300 worth, check it out.
If you’re just looking for audio quality at an affordable price, and don’t need the mic, you can’t go wrong with a pair of Audio Technica. If you don’t have a pair, you probably aren’t much of a music lover. I still remember when I put on my pair of these and started listening to M83… it was like discovering my love for music all over again. You will hear every last detail and you might not want to take them off.
I got the coiled cable, as I’d never tried one before, and it’s quite nice. Although it does limit the range a bit, it’s plenty long for casual use.
I still can’t find the one magic bullet for every situation, but a selection for various purposes seems to do the trick for now. What headset(s) or headphones are you using? Do you have a single pair you love for all purposes? Let me know. I’d like to try it out.