Bluetooth Headphones for WFH with an ACTUALLY Good Mic?

Anyone know? I will be Bluetoothing regrettably to my spare laptop for VOIP calls.
I think my mac BT version is 4.2, does a BT5 device do backwards compatible?
Is BT5 somehow amazing as heck for voice calls?

I just want a headset that people can CLEARLY hear me on.
I have these, which are genuinely great for listening, for the money
https://www.amazon.com.au/Photive-Wireless-Bluetooth-Sweat-P...

But I want one for speaking, back to people. What have any of y’all found?

Comments

  • +2

    These are well regarded around here. Take a look if it's within your budget. I use them for calls everyday without any issues.
    https://www.amazon.com.au/Cancelling-Headphones-TaoTronics-B...

    • They are a little large (I’m more a bud guy) and pricey but I will keep in mind.
      Any of these any good?
      https://www.amazon.com.au/s?i=electronics&bbn=7058119051&rh=...

      • I don't have experience with those but these buds are great too. Currently at $56.
        https://www.amazon.com.au/TaoTronics-Bluetooth-Headphones-Te...

        • +3

          Those would likely be terrible for calls because the mic is near the ear and not the mouth.

          Anything TWS isn't great for calls.

          • +1

            @John Kimble: Yeah I keep seeing a few like that well rated but it seems logical to me, the ones I originally linked with the dangling mic down at mouth level at least has to be a bit better.

            I would consider some kind of weird ugly Jabra style thing which has an arm which leans out to the mouth. But def prefer full stereo and the rubber in ear tips to cut off noise.

          • @John Kimble: A friend of mine has it. I can hear him fine. There are some call tests and reviews on youtube if OP is interested in call quality.

          • +1

            @John Kimble: Technology has overcome the mic needing to be by the mouth. Simple buds on pre-smartphones did well just by having a mic in the wiring that went to one of the buds. It’s the perception of not being near the mouth that is the problem. Some people just can’t get used to the idea and imagine most of the issues. The person at the other end usually can’t tell the difference unless you tell them. Apple AirPods are a case in point. Over priced but very effective for phone calls. When somebody says they can’t hear you tell them to check their volume on their phone. There would NOT be a plethora of possibilities on the market if the technology was floored simply because Nobody would be buying them. My 2c

          • +2

            @John Kimble: True, I wouldn't use TWS for work meetings. Good for listening music, not so much for calls! They barely work for even casual calls, unless you are in a silent room!

            I have tried various different brands (including taotronics) and the feedback I get is that caller hears the background noise louder than my sound (eg: train) - as if the mic noise cancellation suppresses my voice! If you are in a silent wfh environment, may be ok! My company usually provides Plantronics, their USB headsets are awesome, BT is not bad too.

        • +1

          I've been using the same ones for the last 5 months, and everyday after WFH started in March. The buds have been very good, with the other side able to hear very clearly.

        • I use this version from the same company, never had an issue with them.
          https://www.amazon.com.au/TaoTronics-Bluetooth-Headphones-Ca...

  • +4

    BT 5 is backwards compatible, just ensure you get anything 4.2 or above (pretty much the default these days) as it avoids Wi-Fi to reduce interference/ increase audio quality (source: me - wireless engineer by trade). It’s not foolproof though, nothing BT will be better than a good set of wired mic/ headphones.

    • So no major voice benefit in picking up a $20 USB3, BT5 dongle and a particular BT 5.0 set?
      I know they keep improving the codecs and compression and stuff - but what I need, I imagine, is just a decent quality and sized, microphone in it, right?

      • Some brands are definitely better than others. Jabra & Plantronics had good names when I bought a headset ~2 years ago. Mine luckily can be wired or wireless (BT) which is a nice bonus. I’d definitely set yourself a price & criteria & check Wirecutter, YouTube video reviews, etc. Go from there.

      • I notice a huge difference in music quality using my phone which is APTX capable vs my PC with a generic bluetooth dongle. I would definitely get an APTX capable bluetooth dongle if I was using those headphones with my PC on a regular basis.

        Since you are using a Mac this article might be relevant:
        Mac: How to force aptX/AAC on supported Bluetooth headphones

        However, from what I read, the advanced codecs are for applications where you are listening only - they don't apply when you are doing two way communication. In those situations headsets drop back to the standard codec.

  • +5

    Plantronics or Jabra both have great mics.

    • +4

      Jabra t65 have been excellent for WFH for me - can pair to 2 devices (e.g. work and personal phone, or phone and bluetooth on laptop) to save switching

  • BT on Mac sucks. My MBP, and wife’s MBA, both have BT dropouts all the time

    • I’ll be BT from HP laptop, BT 4.2 or an iPad, no Mac.

  • These have very good reviews on amazon and claim to do cancelling ??

    https://www.amazon.com.au/s?i=electronics&bbn=7058119051&rh=...

  • +10

    So, this is not a bargain but I cannot recommend my headset enough. The Poly/Plantronics Voyager Focus UC. It's freaking amazing. This was supplied from my employer but everyone in my team use it and we all love it. The noise cancellation from the microphone is AMAZING. As in, even if the movable microphone arm is slightly up/away from your mouth, people can only hear a distant murmur. Or if my 7 year old is speaking right next to me, they can't hear what he is saying.

    The stereo speakers are actually really good as well. I used to wear it on the bus with the mic arm up, until I saw someone else do it and realised it looked a bit silly so I went back to my wireless headphones for the bus trip in.

    https://www.poly.com/au/en/products/headsets/voyager/voyager...

    The base is very handy as well but comes at a significant premium. The downside is it's only Micro USB and it isn't the newest device on the market. But still the best for me.

    Not sure why people are so eager to get away from a headset with dedicated microphone arm when the sound quality is so much better.

    Without base:
    https://www.amazon.com.au/Plantronics-B825-M-UC-Microsoft-Bu...

    With Base:
    https://www.amazon.com.au/Plantronics-Voyager-Binaural-Head-...

    Edit: A lot of focus is often placed on the version of bluetooth a device is. But if the Microphone is poorly designed, then you are just relying on software to take the background noise out. Skip all that rubbish and just get a headset with an arm with a high quality, short range microphone so it only picks up what you're saying.

    • +4

      I have these from work too, and can second pretty much everything about it. For work/productivity, you can't get any better, they're comfy, the noise cancellation works well, and the mic is unbeatable.

      But if you're buying them for yourself, then I honestly don't think it's worth $300 delivered. For half the price they'll be way better off with the Jabra Elite 65T, better form factor and the mic is only slightly worse for indoor calls.

      • edit sorry!

    • +1

      Yep I have an earlier model and it's a ripper. Actually a really good set for music too, lots of low end and awesome ANC.

    • +1

      I appreciate th recommendation of a legit product - but it is pretty steep. If work was paying, no worries but in my case :/ I just wanna stump up something under $60 to my door which is actually half ok. I /guess/ I don't even need it to be good at music, more just decent enough for voice calls.

      These any good? https://www.amazon.com.au/s?i=electronics&bbn=7058119051&rh=...

      • I just get 808 results from that link. My advice would be find a decent brand with a boom mic and it will be ok.

      • +1

        $60 with "an ACTUALLY Good mic"?
        Tell him he's dreaming!

    • Agree. I use the usb dongle on my mac for enhanced range and stability and then pair BT with my phone.

      Perfect.

    • +1

      My only issue with the Focus I have… well 2 problems.

      1 - Battery - if im on calls most of the day, it;s going flat by 2/3pm. Worse that that, since im lazy and use the same headset for gaming later in the evening, if I forget to charge it, come raid time at 8pm im screwed :(
      2 - the Design. The plastic bits on the side that the metal adjustment slides into is super weak - out of 300 we bought for the office have had over 40 sent back under warranty for replacement as they snap due to being so weak, and when people lift the "muffs" off their ears in an outward fashion, they flex and crack.

    • +3

      You really can't go past plantronics.

      I use an old legend at home and a voyager 5200 on the road and they're so good.

      I've held a call on the 5200 with the roof down in a convertible, top down on the freeway with no issues. Absolutely insane noise cancelling. I think the 5200 can be had for <$150 on ebay.

      I also have a few pairs of plantronics BB600s that I got free with computers via work and they do the job. I've been told I sound more distant / echo-ey than on the legend / voyager though.

      • +3

        Yep. Tbh either Plantronics/Poly or Jabra are good choices, just make sure you do the research I suppose. I've had some great Jabra headsets in the past. But really, buying a "headset first, music second" device will give you a much better voice experience.

        Other people in this thread ripping on Bluetooth headsets isn't rational. They work perfectly fine if you choose the right model.

        Sounds like a great experience to have a call on a 5200 with the roof down!

        • Yep, I was very surprised the quality wasn't total crap with the roof down. Guess that's what….I think 6 microphones will do. By comparison the head unit in the car has some pretty shocking road noise at low speeds, which isn't unexpected.

          I've personally had pretty bad luck with Jabra stuff. Returned a very expensive headset that was meant to have ANC + 3 mics for cancelling and both failed to do anything of value. The ANC was unusable as it'd cause the audio to crackle.

          Also had one of those clip on sunvisor ones for an older car, similarly poor mic quality.

  • +2

    The Huawei Freebuds have a great mic.

    • Even version 1.0?? Reviews on Amazon are not great.

      • +2

        Whoops should have mentioned that I have the 3rd gen. They're very good

    • +2

      +1
      Bought my Freebuds 3 specifically for calls and am very happy with them.

      • +2 freebuds 3 very good for calls. They connect super quick too.

  • If you already have good headphones for listening, why not just buy a separate microphone? Something like this?

    • Working from home, high quantity phone calls, need to be able to not be tied to my desk. Audio wise, my existing photonic ones are great, just bad for mic.

    • That microphone needs something called phantom power based on the (many poor) reviews. I don't have any decent recommendations, hell, I still use a 10+ year old $8 mic I bought from BigW.

  • I use the Plantronics Focus. Comfy on-ear (2 ears), good mic, good sounds quality, can pair with 2 sources. Not too expensive i think (maybe ~$200?), but got free from work.
    This was about 3yrs back, so dont know if that model is still around.

  • +4

    I can usually tell if another person on a Teams/Zoom/Blue Jeans/WebEx call is using a BT headset. Maybe the expensive ones are good for calls, but I have found that USB/wired with a mic in front of the mouth is almost always better. I've had to ask a few of my staff to use a plain old USB headset or iphone type of earbud setup because it was very difficult to do group calls.

    What I've noticed is that any time someone with a BT headset is on the call, it picks up way too much background noise and it's quite irritating, with the result being that they have to mute themselves when not speaking. I've also noticed that in the office, those with BT headsets tend to talk louder and are much more annoying to those who aren't on the call, because they appear to need to speak louder as the mic isn't as effective at isolating their voice (I guess) - result being that everyone who's not in the call ends up hearing them. Not great from "good colleague" perspective.

    I'm sure there's good BT headsets out there that work really well though; I just haven't found any nor have any of the people I do calls with (surely there's some decent ones with good microphones and good noise-cancelling?) Hopefully this thread finds the answer!

  • My SoundPeats from Amazon (get posted pretty regularly here) work really well for WFH. I connect them to my phone though, not the computer.

    • +2

      Which one of the 75 different models did you buy?

  • +2

    I have tried a few cheap ones (<$100) and found they all have the same issue - pick up way too much background audio on calls. If you are in a totally quiet room then there are no problems usually (though they can be boomy picking up the reverb sound of the voice in the room, depending on the acoustics of the room itself). I now use the standard wired earphones with the mic in front of my mouth that came with my phone. Plantronics headsets certainly work well, have seen people in my office use them very successfully, and also I have heard people say the upper end airpods work well though can't say I've used them or known when people are using them.

  • +3

    If you want a good quality mic on a wireless device then realistically the best option is to go for a dedicated headset with a boom mic from Plantronics or Jabra. These two companies have been providing headsets to corporates & call centres etc for decades and they know their stuff. Wired of course would be chearper. I've worked from home for 3.5 years. I've got a Plantronics Savi W710. It's a 3 in 1 DECT wireless headset with a charging base that uses BT to my mobile, USB to the laptop and a wired connection to a desk phone if I had one. Not once had a complaint about my mic quality.

    If you want buds look at the Jabra Elite T65's or if your in Apple ecosystem the AirPods. You can't go on the cheap and expect to get a good device, they aren't going to beat a boom mic but are probably good enough. I wouldn't use on public transport for example but at home should be ok. Personally I'd go the Jabra Elite T65's if you really prefer the buds, which you can pickup for $149 now.

  • +2

    I have Huawei Freebuds 3 which are great for calls but probably a bit pricey.

    I have found that most cheaper TWS buds are pretty crap for calls however the QCY T5 are pretty damn good for the price. Not the best outside with wind and noise but inside they are crystal clear, I have bought 3 pairs of them this year for my wife and employees.

    Bought from here:
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000217912364.html?spm=a2g0s...

  • +1

    i use these at work. Pretty good quality but wired
    https://www.officeworks.com.au/shop/officeworks/p/jabra-biz-...

    for wireless, i stick with my bose qc35 which have been decent.

  • Just purchased one of these for the same purpose, IEMs were hurting my ears after 8 hours a day in zoom meetings.
    https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Mpow-Bluetooth-5-0-Headset-Truck...

    Good range and apparently i sound very clear, only downside is the buttons don't seem to work with windows.

  • Most people I see use wired - Apple (3.5mm) or equivalent usb-c product for calls. Their mic quality is fine at my end. Audio earphones will need to be connected constantly to receive calls quickly as pairing will take too long - the battery won't hold up that long and they might sleep if unused. So you're probably looking at a dedicated phone-style headset/boom/docked (for always on battery ready) option.

  • AirPods without a doubt, especially as you have a Mac (and probably an iPhone).

  • I use Anker Soundcore Life P2. Works better than using my phone directly for voice conversation.

    It has 4 mics which is double the number on most other headphones.

    Can be had for $50-75 on Amazon.

    https://www.amazon.com.au/Soundcore-Wireless-Microphones-Red...

    • They're actually good for voice calls?

      I find that surprising (based on the design / mic location!) but … I dunno you're providing evidence -I'll investigate.

      • Using 4-5 hours for last 6 months. Better than any other headphones.

  • +2

    I use Plantronics W740 DECT Wireless

  • +1

    As you can probably have read, lots of people have recommended Plantronics (Poly) or Jabra for business use.
    If you are wanting wireless/Bluetooth functionality, then I suggest that you go with ones that are designed for UC or MS. They have an extra USB dongle that plugs into the PC/Laptop/Mac. They don't use Bluetooth to talk to your PC but can be used with mobiles. Having a mic boom is preferably but this one doesn't have one for mobility. Jabra STEALTH MS UC Mono Bluetooth Headset - Microsoft. It is more than your $60 budget though.
    For your budget, we use at work a wired Plantronics Blackbird series. They have a boom mic and it works very well. I'm sure Jabra will have one too but I don't have any experience with them.
    If you want it to work well with your laptop/mac please don't use bluetooth. You will be disappointed.