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Mobile Phone Headsets 

Mobile Phone Headsets: specifications, types

Device

The general type that the device belongs to. Note that this section contains three specialized types of accessories: bluetooth headsets, car kits and speakerphones. Devices that have two headphones and a microphone are closer to traditional headphones and are assigned to another section, although formally they are also headsets.

Each type of specialized accessories has its own signature features:

— Bluetooth headset. Small headsets for one ear, connected to a phone or other gadget (for example, a tablet or laptop) via Bluetooth (see "Connection"); the second ear remains free during use. Designed mainly for situations where, when talking on the phone, you need to keep your hands free and hear the sounds around. Such situations often arise in the business sphere — for example, a Bluetooth headset can be useful to an office employee who does not sit still all the time, a forwarding driver who spends a lot of time driving and out of the car, etc. Another example of application of such devices — situations where it is inconvenient or undesirable to get the phone to answer a call (for example, crowded transport). The range of Bluetooth communication can vary markedly from model to model, but even in the most modest devices it is usually at least 10 m; see "Range" for details

— Car kit. Devices designed for convenience when...talking on the phone in the car — so that the driver does not get distracted from the road and does not take his hands off the steering wheel. In fact, they are specialized hands-free systems: the user's voice is perceived by the microphone on the main unit, and the interlocutor's voice is output through the car kit's own speaker. There are models that also allow sound transmission to the car radio or standard car speakers. In addition, car kits often provide features that further enhance convenience and/or security: voice dialing (see “Features”) and answering/canceling calls by voice command, displaying the number/name of the caller on the display or speaking this information, voice notifications about important things (like battery level), etc. Some models can also be used as an external Bluetooth speaker for listening to music, notifications from a navigator, etc.

— Speakerphone. Hands-free devices designed primarily for group communication. Typically, such a device combines a speaker, an omnidirectional microphone (allowing several people to participate in a conversation), and call control buttons in the design. Most modern speakerphones connect via USB and are designed for use with computers or specialized communication systems; however, some models allow the connection of several devices with each other for sharing.

Design

The design of the earpiece used in a Bluetooth headset.

Earbuds. A small earpiece located in the auricle outside the auditory canal (as opposed to in-ear). The unequivocal advantages of inserts are simplicity and low cost. The sound insulation of such devices turns out to be rather weak, which can be both a minus and a plus: the earbud is not suitable for a noisy environment, but it almost does not interfere with hearing. But the sound quality of the earbuds is somewhat lower than that of the in-channel counterparts. In addition, such an earpiece is less securely held in the ear and is more difficult to adjust to the individual biological nuances of a person (although interchangeable nozzles of different sizes are available for the earbuds).

In-ear. An earpiece that, during use, is inserted deep into the ear canal and held there by a soft cap made of silicone or other similar material. These headphones are considered more advanced than earbuds: at lower volume (and less power consumption), they provide more powerful and rich sound. The unequivocal disadvantages of in-ear models include a higher cost. In addition, a high degree of sound insulation can create inconvenience: when using such headsets, ear is almost completely closed. On the other hand, it allows you to hear the sound well even in a rather noisy environment.

Behind the ear

A device designed to fix the device on the auricle; most often represents a signature shackle. Such a shackle is very popular among Bluetooth headsets — this is the easiest way to hold a relatively large device on your ear. At the same time, ultra-compact models can be fixed directly in the ear and do not need a behind-the-ear hook. And for car kits and speakerphones (see "Device"), such a mount is not required.

Note that the shackle is most often made swivel, which allows you to reposition it from the left to the right ear and vice versa.

Connection

Mini-Jack (3.5 mm). Mini-Jack is one of the most popular wired connectors. However, it is not used in Bluetooth headsets, and it is extremely rare in other specialized accessories and predominantly is an auxiliary feature. So, in speakerphones, mini-Jack is usually responsible for connecting several devices to each other, and in car kits, for outputting sound to the radio or standard car acoustics. Note that in this case, the headphone jack is not considered a 3.5 mm jack, although it is most often performed in this format.

— USB A. The classic USB A computer connector, which is gradually being replaced by the USB C connector. The meaning and application of this connection depends on the type of device. So, USB in speakerphones is a standard port for wired connection — both to computers and to specialized communication systems. And in Bluetooth headsets, this means that it is equipped with a USB adapter for connecting to a PC without a Bluetooth module.

— USB C. A port similar in purpose to the one described above, but with a different, more modern, symmetrical shape that does not require specific connection, and correspondingly increased speeds.

Bluetooth. Nowadays, Bluetooth is actually the standard interface for wirelessly connecting headsets and other audio accessories to gadgets. This technology is not only well suited for audio tra...nsmission, but can also be used for additional functions such as remote control. Features vary by version, the latest being Bluetooth v5. The communication range in this case can reach 10 m, and built-in Bluetooth modules are available in all modern smartphones, most phones, tablets and laptops, they can also be used in PCs and many other types of gadgets.

Range

The maximum distance from the headset to the signal source at which it can be used normally.

Note that this indicator is stated for optimal conditions; the actual communication range is often lower than the claimed one due to obstacles in the signal path and extraneous interference. However, the minimum range for Bluetooth accessories is actually 10 m, which in fact, usually, gives at least 5 – 6 m — and this is quite enough for comfortable use. There are also more "long-range" solutions, with a range of up to 50 m or even more. However, it is worth remembering that Bluetooth is a two-way communication, and the range claimed in the specs must be supported not only by the headset itself, but also by the device with which it is used.

Also note that a long range means not only the ability to communicate over a long distance, but also a good ability to work through obstacles such as thick walls. Therefore, a powerful Bluetooth device may be necessary even at a short distance — if there are obstacles at this distance.

Sound

Audio format supported by the device. Specified only for models capable of working with stereo sound; Let us remind you that Bluetooth headsets (see "Device") use one earpiece, and they do not initially need stereo sound, so this feature is relevant only for car kits and speakerphones.

Stereo is a two-channel sound, the simplest and at the same time the most popular of the formats that give the impression of voluminous sound (due to the difference in sound in the left and right channels). For a normal phone conversation, stereo sound is not needed, it is relevant mainly when listening to music, podcasts and other similar materials. Accordingly, stereo support just means that the device can play music from a smartphone or other gadget. At the same time, when using this format, the speakerphone actually turns into a Bluetooth speaker, and the car kit, usually, broadcasts sound to the radio or standard car acoustics.

Impedance

The nominal impedance of the earpiece or speaker installed in the device. This parameter is indicated in the specifications extremely rarely, and even in such cases it is purely for reference: the hardware of the device is initially optimized for the corresponding headphone/speaker impedance.

Frequency range

The range of sound that a headset or speakerphone (see "Device") can play through headphones or a speaker, and that the car kit can transmit to external speakers.

The frequency range perceived by the human ear averages from 16 Hz to 20 kHz. In a perfect case scenario, the sound device should also support the same range — this will provide the most complete sound without cutting off in frequencies. On the other hand, in order to reliably convey the human voice, a range of only 300 to 3400 Hz is sufficient. Therefore, if the device is planned to be used exclusively for voice communication, you can ignore this parameter. The mentioned 300 – 3400 Hz cover all modern models, and the extensive frequency range gives a not so noticeable gain in quality. But if you plan to listen to music, it is desirable that the specs of the device be as close as possible to the perfect 16 – 20,000 Hz; this is especially important for models with stereo support (see "Sound").

Sensitivity

The sensitivity of the earpiece used in the headset (see "Device"); for speakerphones and car kits, a similar parameter is not fundamental, and therefore is not indicated.

The higher the sensitivity, the louder the earpiece will sound with the same power of the signal supplied to it. Accordingly, this spec primarily affects the maximum volume. However the actual loudness in models with the same sensitivity may vary slightly, but in general, the difference in sensitivity more or less corresponds to the real difference. However, note that too much sound adversely affects hearing. Therefore, it makes sense to look for a headset with a sensitivity above 100 dB if you often have to talk in a noisy environment such as a busy street, subway car, factory, etc. For relatively quiet conditions, you can take a more modest model.

Speaker diameter

The diameter of the speaker installed in the device. In this case, we can talk about both the actual speaker installed in the speakerphone, and the headphone emitter that the Bluetooth headset is equipped with (see "Device"). Accordingly, the meaning of this spec in both cases will be different.

In general, the large size of the speaker, on the one hand, allows you to achieve better volume and more reliable transmission of low frequencies; on the other hand, it requires more space for installation. This is especially true for headsets, since the types of headphones used in them (see "Design") have severe size restrictions: earbuds are made no larger than 15 mm, in-ear solutions have a diameter of less than 10 mm (only the headphones of the same type may be compared by size with each other). Note that an earpiece that is too large may be uncomfortable, or even not fit in the ear at all. So the perfect option is to try on the headset before buying.

In turn, speakerphones usually use speakers with a diameter of about 50 mm — this size is considered the best compromise between overall efficiency and compactness.

Microphone impedance

The nominal impedance of the microphone used in the device. A purely reference parameter that does not play a role in the choice: only compatibility with amplifiers depends on the impedance. And the hardware of the headset, by definition, is optimized for the specs of the microphone.

Microphone frequency range

The range of audio frequencies that the headset microphone can receive.

The frequency of sound heard by the human ear averages between 16 Hz and 20,000 Hz. However, for normal voice transmission, a much narrower range is sufficient — from 300 Hz to 3400 Hz. It is these frequencies that are the standard for modern telephony, they are supported by all headsets. Therefore, when choosing, you should not pay much attention to this spec — unless you plan to use the device for specific tasks, such as transferring music fragments.

Features

Multipoint. A feature of Bluetooth devices (see "Connection") that allows them to connect to multiple signal sources at the same time. Thanks to this, it is possible, for example, to use one headset both for answering phone calls and for chatting via Skype on a laptop. However, some mobile phones (mostly devices with the simplest functionality, not smartphones) do not support this feature and are not able to work with a headset connected simultaneously to another gadget.

Noise reduction. A feature that allows the headset microphone to "hear" only the necessary sounds (primarily speech) and filter out extraneous noise. The specific implementation of noise reduction can be different: some models provide an additional microphone that tracks noise and "cancels" it from the final signal, while others use purely software methods of sound cleaning. Anyway, such filtering significantly improves the audibility for the person at the other end of the line.

— Volume control. Own volume control built right into the device. Adjusting the sound in this way is usually more convenient than reaching into your pocket for your phone, changing settings on a laptop, etc. On the other hand, an additional control affects the compactness. Therefore, among Bluetooth headsets (see "Device") this feature is not always provided; but for speakerphones that do not have special restrictions on dimensions, it is alm...ost mandatory.

— Auto volume control. Automatically adjust the volume at which the device plays sound. Adjustment is usually carried out according to the level of ambient noise: in a quiet environment, the volume is reduced so as not to create discomfort, and in a noisy environment it is increased, ensuring normal hearing. Many models use the same microphone for auto-adjustment as noise canceling systems (see above), although this feature is not necessarily combined with noise canceling.

— Voice dialing. The ability to dial numbers by voice command, voiced into the microphone of the device. This feature is especially useful if you need to make a call, but reaching for the phone is undesirable or impossible — for example, when driving. Therefore, voice dialing is extremely popular in car kits (see "Device"), models without this feature are extremely rare. This feature is also supported by numerous Bluetooth headsets. However to use voice dialing, it must also be supported by the gadget to which the headset or car kit is connected; however, modern smartphones and tablets have no problems with this, difficulties can arise only with some models of classic mobile phones (non-smartphones). But language support in voice dialing needs to be specified separately: English is available in almost any model, but other languages are not so common.

— Microphone mute. The ability to temporarily mute the device's microphone — usually by pressing a special button. This will be useful in case you need to say something "to the side" and you do not want the person on the line to hear you. Note that the built-in microphone mute function is available in almost all mobile phones, as well as in most programs for voice communication like Skype. However, using the button on the headset is often more convenient than going into the settings of a smartphone or computer.

— A2DP profile. A Bluetooth connection feature (see "Connection") that allows stereo sound to be transmitted. A2DP support is by definition available on Bluetooth accessories that support stereo (see Audio). At the same time, this profile can also be provided in conventional one-ear headsets — it allows such a headset to normally reproduce sound originally recorded in stereo format (for example, podcasts or audio books), and is also used when headphones are connected (see below). Anyway, to use A2DP, it must be provided in both the accessory and the main device. Therefore, if you, for example, are looking for a headset for a simple phone that does not have A2DP, you can choose a model without this feature.

— AVRCP profile. Bluetooth connection feature (see "Connection"), which turns the accessory into a wireless remote control. To be more precise, we are talking primarily about managing audio and video players: start / pause playback, switch tracks, rewind, etc. At the same time, this feature can be provided even in Bluetooth headsets for one ear, which are not intended for music at all — for example, with such a headset you can control the music played from your smartphone through a portable speaker. Of course, AVRCP can only be used if both Bluetooth devices support it.

— NFC. NFC is a short-range wireless communication technology with a range of up to 10 cm. In Bluetooth accessories, the main purpose of this technology is to speed up the connection: instead of digging through the settings, just bring the accessory with NFC to a gadget that has the same chip (smartphone, tablet, etc.) and confirm the connection; and many gadgets allow you to configure and automatically connect when approached. There are other options for using NFC, but in this case they are practically not found.

— Display. Own display, which can show various service information: battery charge, volume level, connection indicator, etc. The specific capabilities of such a screen may vary depending on the type of accessory (see "Device"). However, most models with this feature are car kits — they can provide a fairly large screen with extensive information options, such as showing the number of an incoming or outgoing call. In headsets, screens are extremely rare: after all, most of the time the device is on the ear, out of the user's field of vision.

— Headphone jack. It's for connecting traditional headphones to the device. Most often, such a connector is a standard 3.5 mm mini-Jack, used in most modern headphones, which provides very extensive connection options. But the purpose and capabilities of this connector depend on the type of accessory (see "Device"). So, most models with this feature are speakerphones, and you can connect both regular headphones without a microphone, and wired headsets with their own microphone; both of them are used mainly to ensure the privacy of the conversation. But Bluetooth headsets are usually only compatible with headphones without microphones, and such headphones are used mainly for listening to music — you can talk privately on the phone using the headset itself.

Power source

The type of power used by the device. This parameter is indicated only for models with an independent power source: these are absolutely all Bluetooth headsets (see "Device"), as well as most speakerphones and some car kits (the last two varieties can also be powered from an external source — for example, from the on-board network of a vehicle or USB port).

Almost all self-powered devices run on built-in batteries, often non-removable ones. Such batteries can be made small and at the same time capacious, and their shape can be different — this makes it easy to integrate such a power source even into a miniature headset, not to mention larger accessories.

Battery capacity

The capacity of the battery installed in the device (see "Power").

Theoretically, a higher battery capacity allows you to work longer on one charge. At the same time, the actual battery life will also depend on the power consumption of the device, and it is determined by a number of technical specs. Therefore, it is better to evaluate battery life not by battery capacity, but by directly claimed operating time (see below). It makes sense to use this parameter if the operating time is not specified; at the same time, it makes sense to make conclusions only if devices similar in specs differ in capacity — for example, 60 and 110 mAh.

Battery life

Time of operation of the self-powered device (see "Power") on one battery charge.

Usually, the battery life in the talk mode is meant, when the device consumes the most energy. In headsets with high-capacity batteries, this battery life can be 9 hours or more. However, talking for several hours without pauses is almost impossible, so in fact the operating time is noticeably longer than in the specifications. So, a headset with an operating time of the same 9 hours is most likely quite enough for a 12-hour work shift, even if you have to constantly make calls through it; and if we are talking about only 5 – 6 calls per day, then the charge is guaranteed to last for several days, or even a week. At the same time, the difference in the claimed operating time is usually quite consistent with the difference in actual battery life, and it is quite possible to compare the real capabilities of different models by it.

USB charging port

The type of connector used to charge the built-in battery of Bluetooth headsets, more precisely, to connect an external charger. The role of such a device can be played by a network or car adapter, a powerbank, or even a USB port on a PC or laptop (if you have the appropriate cable).

— microUSB. A smaller version of the USB connector designed for portable devices. It appeared quite a long time ago, but it does not lose popularity nowadays, despite the active implementation of the USB C port.

— USB C. A miniature USB connector, positioned, among other things, as a potential successor to microUSB. Unlike its predecessor, it has a double-sided design, thanks to which the plug can be inserted into the socket in either direction. It is still relatively rare, but the situation is likely to change in the coming years.

Waterproof housing

Housing protected from dust and moisture. This feature is relevant when the device is often used outdoors and in other difficult conditions — with high humidity (for example, in some types of workshops), dustiness (in construction), etc. Therefore, only Bluetooth headsets are made dust and moisture resistant (see "Device ”) — car kits and speakerphones are not intended to work in an such environment.

Note that the specific degree of protection can be different — from resistance to rain to the ability to endure immersion under water. This point should be clarified according to the official documentation.

Replaceable ear hooks

You can change the ear hook that is used to attach the Bluetooth headset to the ear. This feature allows you to adjust the device to the features of the auricle, which is especially necessary for people with a non-standard size or shape of the ears. Usually spare temples are included in the package, and if necessary, they can be purchased separately.

Replaceable silicone tips

Replaceable silicone tips that come in a box with with the Bluetooth headset (see "Device").

Modern headsets are traditionally equipped with in-ear headphones or earbuds (see "Design"); both of them are held in the ear by a soft attachment, usually made of silicone. The size of such a tip may not be suitable for the user — in this case, the ability to change it to another, more convenient one, will be essential. Most often, there are three replaceable tip in the kit — large, regular and small.
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