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Review: Four VoIP Headsets

Given the soaring popularity of VoIP services like Skype, Gizmo Project, and Google Talk, it’s not difficult to imagine that, by the end of next year, mic/headphone headsets will be a standard component of any home or home/office PC. (To read more about the ever-increasing competition amongst VoIP services, check out our comparison of Gizmo Project and PeerMe.)

Given the impressive audio quality of these VoIP services, it makes no sense to use bargain-brand headsets that feel uncomfortable or don't sound good. With this in mind, I looked at four different devices specifically oriented towards the VoIP market. Two are traditional USB headsets and two offer appealing alternative solutions to large headpieces and dorky microphones.

Given the impressive audio quality of these VoIP services, it makes no sense to use bargain-brand headsets that don't sound good.

I evaluated these devices through a series of real-world tests. First, I engaged in seven different voice chat conversations over Skype and Gizmo Project with each headset. During each conversation, I noted the quality of sound coming through the headphones and asked the participant on the other end of the line to rate the sound quality they experienced. I also used Gizmo Project’s "record a call" feature to record two calls to gauge the relative sound quality myself. After VoIP tests, I listened to .WMA lossless tracks from a couple of albums: the recently remastered and released Thelonious Monk-John Coltrane Carnegie Hall collaboration as well as The Gorillaz’ Demon Days.

Plantronics DSP-500 PC Headset

The DSP-500 is at the high end of Plantronics PC headset line, and it shows.

The really comfortable earpieces are made of thick cloth, resulting in an immediate soft, snug fit. One advantage this headset has over Logitech’s Premium 350 Headset is that the adjustable mic extends out far enough that it can be placed directly in front of the mouth. In tests, this resulted in the highest quality voice transmissions.

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