When it comes to remote meetings, poor video conferencing audio quality can have a huge impact on the productivity of the group. Issues like background noise, low talkers and speaker identification get in the way of creating a fully immersive and collocated experience for workers attending remotely. And if you haven’t heard yet, this is why we partnered with Dolby Voice.
Using multiple microphones and advanced software, the Dolby device reproduces the entire atmosphere of the conference room right in the earbuds of remote participants. It even presents the voices of the remote participants as though they’re coming from a different space in the actual conference room. But here’s the catch: you only get the full experience if you’re using headphones or earbuds. Why? Laptop speakers are pretty terrible…
It’s official: Laptop speakers are lame
Given where we are in today’s world of technology, you would think that laptop manufacturers would do everything within their power to ensure built-in speakers deliver an appealing sound experience. But apparently they don’t.
Editor and audiophile, James Wright says, “Laptop speakers are designed to fit into a small compartment, so they generally aren’t of the best quality. If your system volume is set too high, any audio you play might sound scratchy or distorted.”
Another reason laptop speakers leave much to be desired is that they are too close to the screen, so sound waves bounce off the display and cause a cluttered sound, which increases distortion and decreases clarity. Of course, you can splurge and invest in a pair of plug-in speakers for your laptop, but depending on the size and layout of the room, these speakers can create as many audio issues as they solve—especially if you are working in an open plan environment, and these days, who isn’t?
Headphones = Ear candy
To ensure you’re able to hear others well whenever you are on the go and connecting via your favorite video conferencing app (Highfive, right?!) we recommend you bypass your laptop’s nonexistent stereo system and hook yourself up with a great set of headphones.
After all, you can’t experience the magic that is Dolby Voice on your laptop; you need headphones for that action. Besides, headphones not only ensure you’re in on every nuance of the conversation, they enable you to all but eliminate workplace drama over miscommunications. Plus, after the meeting is over you can crank up the volume on your productivity by inspiring yourself with some piped in power music that won’t disturb your teammates. Heck, some people swear by the power of headphones to create a distraction-free work zone.
5 Headphones for taking care of business
Made of Kevlar (yes, the same material used for bullet-proof vests) and surgical steel, these sleek and sophisticated headphones are sturdy enough for the office klutz and powerful enough for the office audio-geek. Its noise-cancelling microphone with HD Voice ensures listeners can hear you even when you are connecting from a noisy environment, like a coffee shop or open office space. Jabra also features PeakStop technology which actively protects users from sudden loud noises by automatically keeping the sound level in the safe zone at all times.
An option that is both high-quality and economical, Plantronics headphones hold three of the rankings in our top five list. Amazon describes the C325-M model as “the best-featured headset you never thought your budget could afford.” Among its many features are a noise-cancelling microphone, Digital Signal Processing (DSP) for a richer audio experience, and SoundGuard technology, which is similar to PeakStop in that it protects listeners from audio spikes.
An upgrade from the C325-M, the Plantronics C725-M features a padded headband for all-day comfort, and folds flat for easy portability between video conferences. In addition to SoundGuard technology, these headphones feature Active Noise Cancelling (ACN) in both the speakers and microphone, which helps block out distracting sounds in noisy work environments, whether you are talking or listening. Finally, the headphone’s dual-ear Hi-Fi stereo equips listeners with an authentic immersive audio experience, making it seem like you are in the same room with the people in your video conference.
The most luxurious of the Plantronics headphones, the Voyager Focus has memory foam cushions on the ear-pieces and headband. A wireless option that delivers freedom and hi-fidelity, the Voyager gives users a range of up to 98 feet, which means you can walk and talk without tripping over your headset cord or getting yanked back to your seat when you stand up. Boasting all of the aforementioned features of the other Plantronics headphones, the Voyager takes things to the next level by featuring multi-device connectivity, and intuitive Smart Sensor technology that mutes your voice as soon as you remove the headphones and resumes sound when you place them back on your head. It also pauses music when a call comes in and the smart mic adjusts your volume automatically to ensure your voice is heard.
#5: Jabra Evolve 80
The Evolve 80 delivers an audio experience more immersive than most, thanks to it’s large around-the-ear cups that envelop you in a world of sound. It features both active and passive noise-cancellation technology ensuring you are able to focus on the business at hand regardless of the noise level of the environment you work in. Like its list predecessor, the BIZ2400 DUO, this Jabra offering includes a noise-cancelling microphone, HD Voice, and PeakStop technology.
Now hear this
We hope our recommendations have helped you identify the best options for your listening pleasure during video conferences and other office activities. Like all of the contenders on our list, Highfive’s all-in-one video conferencing solution boasts HD video and audio, which enable you to see and hear everyone in your video conference with crystal clarity. For the ultimate audio/visual experience, give your team a great set of headphones and a Highfive.