With Zoom meetings on the rise, choosing a good headset for remote work is wise. If you’ve ever listened to a presentation from a colleague with a low-grade built-in laptop mic, you already know how annoying poor sound quality can be.
Don’t be the remote team brat who ruins every call with squeaky feedback; invest in a high-quality headset instead.
Not sure what to buy? We’ve taken the guesswork out of the process by recommending the top three remote work headsets on the market today.
Why You Need A Good Headset For Remote Work
Before we get to our recommendations, you might be wondering whether you really need a headset. After all, the in-built microphone on your laptop does the trick, doesn’t it?
I’m afraid not.
Even if you’re sporting a top-of-the-line laptop with a high-quality microphone, feedback alone is enough to ruin a conference call. As the sound from your speakers bounces between you and your co-workers, it creates a continuous looped signal—A.K.A. feedback or that god-awful screechy noise. Feedback frequently occurs when you chat without a headset, and it’s enough to drive the whole team mad.
What’s more, your in-built microphone just isn’t up to the task. Laptop manufacturers commonly cut corners on the mic—it’s somewhat expected to purchase an aftermarket headset if you make lots of video calls. All of these factors only lead to a single conclusion: you need to get a good headset for effective remote working.
A headset can help drown out background noise, too, especially if you’ve got a noise-canceling capable device. Less background babble lets you focus on the task at hand—a massive productivity plus.
So now you’re probably wondering: what is the best headset for working from home?
Premium vs Budget Headsets
The best headset for remote work depends on how much you want to spend. We’ll give you two different options to consider: one premium and one budget.
Best Premium: Bose 700 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Bose is a big name in the audio-tech industry that’s earned an excellent reputation for its outstanding headphones.
While the Bose QuietComfort line of noise-canceling headphones has gotten impressive ratings over the years, Bose’s newest model takes the throne…
The Bose 700 gives you the crisp audio quality you’d expect for a premium headset, plus an exceptional quad-chip microphone that isolates background noise. Whether you’re in a crowded café or taking a quick work call on the train, your team will hear every word with crystal clear clarity.
Another major plus is the uber-effective active noise-canceling function, which blocks out low-frequency sounds with pinpoint precision. Noise cancellation is awesome, but sometimes you’d still like to hear some level of background noise for environmental awareness…
The Bose 700 provides a 10-level range of noise cancellation levels for your choosing. And with the press of a button, you can temporarily activate Conversation mode to conveniently engage in a quick chat with folks nearby.
The headset sits comfortably over the ears to assist with passive noise reduction and boasts an impressive 20-hour battery life.
Best Budget: Razer Kraken X Ultralight
If you don’t want to splurge on a high-end headset like Bose, you can pick up a decent remote work-friendly gaming headset for a fraction of the cost.
Although the Kraken X Ultralight from Razer is made for gamers, don’t let that turn you off. Razer knows keen players clock hours in a single session, so this feather-light unit affords long-term comfort—perfect for an extended workday.
No-one will think you’ve come straight from a Call of Duty deathmatch because the sleek, subtle design looks just like a normal, non-gaming pair of headphones.
The X Ultralight features 7.1 Surround Sound for immersive audio and a bendable cardioid mic to minimize background sound. You won’t get noise-canceling functionality with these, however, so look elsewhere if that’s a dealbreaker.
Expect good sound quality for the price– more than good enough for conference calls and an occasional Netflix movie. Being a gaming headset, the Kraken is specifically optimized for boosting vocal frequencies. Expect to hear your colleagues loud and clear on Zoom/Skype meetings.
On the flip side– despite being substantially cheaper than the Bose 700– the Kraken boasts one big advantage: the boom mic. With a proper boom microphone that protrudes outward in front of your mouth– the headset is sure to capture your voice from the best position for colleagues to hear loud and clear. No more muffled speech.
Lastly, the users of the Kraken X Ultralight have praised the headset for one peculiar but noteworthy reason: they fit well with glasses. Which isn’t the case for many headphones on the market.
Best Earbuds for Remote Work
The Apple AirPods were the first true wireless earbuds. With a crisp audio delivery and comfortable fit (for the pro model, at least)– it makes conference calls just as pleasurable as listening to music.
Headphones tend to be bulky and accumulate sweat over time. So are AirPods really a better option?
The AirPods Pro is a pretty advanced set of earbuds. For starters, it includes active noise cancelling, which we’ve come to expect from any modern headset or earbuds. The ergonomics are quite comfortable, with soft ear tips that fit snugly into your ear canal for hours on end.
Additionally, the AirPods Pro model includes a feature called “Transparency Mode”, which allows you to clearly hear both the environment, and the digital audio simultaneously. It sounds impossible, but it’s true. Transparency Mode is useful for when you’re on a phone call, but also need to clearly hear your environment while you’re on the go, without sacrificing call quality.
One more thing. The AirPods case is actually a battery. So when you put your earbuds away, they will automatically charge while inside the case. It gives the brilliant illusion of endless hours of battery life. Of course, the case itself will need to be charged occasionally, too.
If you have bought into the Apple ecosystem– consisting of the iPhone, iPad and Mac computers– then you can enjoy seamless audio switching between devices. Your AirPods will automatically detect which device you’re using, and play that audio through the earbuds. No more fiddling with annoying bluetooth settings to pair/unpair devices.
The AirPods are also compatible with non-Apple devices– however the experience isn’t as smooth as it is within the Apple ecosystem.
With the Apple AirPods, it’s like having the audio directly plugged into your brain. After an hour or so, you might forget that you’re even wearing them.
Quiet places to work away from home
A good noise-canceling headset can drown out the noise of an airplane, but probably not the cries of a baby. Why is that? Because noise cancellation technology relies on repeating sound patterns, and human talking or crying isn’t predictable enough to completely block out the sound.
Here’s a list of ideas for quiet environments where you can work remotely:
A library might seem a bit old-fashioned, but it’s hands-down the quietest public place that you can go. It’s literally one of the rules of being in a library! And being funded by the city, libraries usually provide free WIFI access, too. There are likely to be plentiful desk spaces in a chill air-conditioned environment.
It’s no secret that cafes are among one the most popular work-friendly environments are laptop-totting individuals. Starbucks has normalized our expectation of free WIFI and hot coffee (or tea) from any cafe we visit. Yep, cafes are still a great choice for working remotely. A cafe isn’t the quietest place to go, but it will generally be on the less noisy side of the spectrum of public spaces. Your headset will help to block out most of the mumblings while you are remote working.
Coworking spaces have taken the world by storm in the internet age. A corworking space is a shared area where different companies and self-employed individuals share spaces and appliances. Each coworking space may be vastly different from another. Some coworking spaces are huge, lively, and span several floors of a building. Others are tiny, minimal, and silent. One way or another- you’ll find many headset-wearing laptop-totting remote workers just like you at many coworking spaces.
Working at a public park might seem far left-field, but is it really a terrible idea? Many parks are actually quiet and relaxing in the morning, while kids are away at school. A few senior citizens might jog nearby, but you might mostly find yourself in peaceful solitude. If the weather in your area makes it feasible, then check out some nearby public parks and give it a shot. Your headset will do wonders in helping to block out any potentially distracting outdoor noises for a productive remote working experience.