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Buds, headsets or over-ear headphones: The never-ending debate

There are a few non-negotiables when it comes to hybrid work. A caffeinated beverage every morning is probably top of your list, followed closely by a reliable device to get you through the workday. One item that has become essential for every modern worker is a high quality, reliable audio device.

Whether you’re working from the office, your home or somewhere in between, having access to high quality audio and conferencing is critical for success. Speaking from experience, a good audio device will be worth the investment.

The market has become incredibly crowded in recent years though, and it can be hard to decide what type will best suit your work style. The never-ending debate between buds, headsets or over-ear headphones doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Don’t worry though, we’re not going to leave you high and dry. Instead, we’ve done the hard work for you and compiled a list of our top picks from leading vendors including Microsoft, Logitech, Cisco, Jabra, HP, and Poly.

Let’s get started!

For the constant commuters: Buds

Buds can be controversial depending on the company you keep. Any die-hard Apple fans will likely swear by them, while some people still prefer to go with the “old school” stereo or headset options. Regardless of brand loyalties or commitments to an aesthetic, if you’re someone who finds yourself spending hours on public transport, buds may be a good option for you.

Buds are small and portable, making it easy to slip them into your handbag or pocket while on the move. Don’t let their small size fool you though; with every new iteration, buds continue to punch above their weight and provide excellent audio and call quality.

The Surface Earbuds, Jabra Elite 7 Pros and Logitech Zone True Wireless buds offer excellent options for those of you looking for a small, sleek device. The price points of all buds are comparable and fall in the expected range for high-quality buds. You will get a few extra hours of listening time with the battery on the Jabra Elite 7 Pros, but the Surface Earbuds and Logitech Zone True Wireless buds are still competitive with their battery lives.

Surface Earbuds

Surface Earbuds

  • Ultra comfortable and stable fit
  • Responsive touch surface and controls
  • Rich, immersive omnisonic sound
  • Enhanced Microsoft 365 integration
  • 7-hour battery life with 25-hours stored in the case

Jabra Elite 7 Pros

Jabra Elite 7 Pro

  • MultiSensor Voice for high quality calls
  • Active Noise Cancellation or HearThrough audio options
  • 5-minute quick charge feature
  • 8-hour battery life with 30-hours stored in the case

Logitech Zone True Wireless Buds

Logitech Zone True Wireless

  • Active Noise Cancellation or Transparency audio options
  • Omni-directional, dual mics for clear calls
  • Multipoint connection across 2 devices
  • Up to 6-hour battery life with 5-minute quick charge

For the office dwellers: Headsets

Many of us are now transitioning back to the office and this return to a more traditional work style might call for a more traditional audio option. If you find yourself sitting at your desk surrounded by co-workers, or spending most of your workday on calls, a standard headset will be the better choice for you.

Their sleek mic boom arms allow your voice to be heard loud and clear no matter how noisy your office is, and the headbands provide an ergonomic design for long days at your desk. Many vendors also offer flexibility between mono or stereo setups; mono headsets are great if you spend most of your day on calls, while stereo headsets are excellent for blocking out the noise of a crowded open-plan office.

For those of you on a budget, the Jabra Evolve 2 40 or HP Stereo G2 both offer reliable headset options for everyday office use. Bluetooth might be everyone’s best friend, but wired headsets offer a cost-effective option for stationary office work, and they can be connected to almost any device in moment.

Jabra Evolve 2 40

Jabra Evolve 2 40

  • Mono or Stereo options
  • Passive noise cancellation in Stereo
  • Busylight to stop interruptions
  • Ergonomically designed headband and ear cushions for every head shape

HP Stereo G2

HP Stereo G2

  • Excellent budget option for bulk orders
  • Noise cancellation audio
  • Snug, comfortable and flexible design
  • Simple 3.5mm connection for a universal headphone jack

Bluetooth is, understandably, still a very desirable feature in a headset, giving you the freedom to move desks or walk about the office without losing connection. Headsets like the Cisco 562 or Poly SAVI 8200 may be more expensive, but the flexibility and high quality of these models makes the cost worth it. These headsets have battery lives of nine and thirteen hours respectively and recharge whenever they’re clipped in the dock, so you will never have to worry about running out of battery. They also offer flexible connectivity across multiple devices, so you can effortlessly switch between a Teams meeting, phone call and Spotify without issue.

Cisco 562

Cisco 562

  • Dual earpiece, Bluetooth setup with standard or multibase options
  • 9 hours of uninterrupted call time
  • Lightweight and ergonomic design
  • Premium audio and noise isolation

Poly Savi 8200

Poly SAVI 8200

  • Stereo, Mono or Convertible setups
  • 13 hours of uninterrupted call time
  • Flexible connectivity across devices
  • Active noise cancelling
  • Close conversation privacy feature

For the hybrid workers: Over-ear headphones

Buds and headsets both offer high quality audio and conferencing options for your commute or office respectively, but what if you find yourself working somewhere in between? Hybrid work is the new normal, and perhaps the best audio option for this evolving work lifestyle is over-ear headphones.

Over-ear headphones provide the highest quality audio available in the market, offering the best active noise cancellation as well as enhanced Transparency or HearThrough modes to let you customise what you hear and when. Better yet, they also combine the latest in new Bluetooth technology with phenomenal battery lives and ergonomic designs similar to consumer brands like Bose to help you move through your day seamlessly and stylishly.

Cisco are front-runners in the over-ear headphone space. Whether you prefer the award-winning Cisco 730 or the recently released Bang & Olufsen Cisco 980, you’re sure to find a product that suits your hybrid needs well.

Cisco 730

Cisco 730

  • 37 hours of music, 22 hours of calls
  • Adaptive or Manual noise cancelling, or Ambient Mode depending on location
  • Industry first enterprise-grade security
  • Award winning design with breathable leather ear cups and sleek mic style

Cisco 980

Bang & Olufsen Cisco 980

  • 23 hours of Active Noise Cancelling
  • 6 geometrically placed mics that isolate your voice using advanced algorithms
  • Class-leading audio experience, with Adaptive, Active Noise Cancellation
  • Premium materials for all-day comfort

Other competitors such as Microsoft and Jabra also have premium over-ear headphones in the market. The Surface Headphones 2 provide excellent Microsoft 365 integration if that’s what you’re after, whereas the Jabra Elite 85h sets a new standard for intelligent noise cancellation and call technology.

Surface Headphones 2

Surface Headphones 2

  • 5 hours of music, 15 hours of calls
  • Crystal clear omnisonic sound
  • 13 levels of active noise cancellation
  • Dual mics and comfortable ear cups for exceptional audio and call clarity
  • Touch, tap and dial controls

Jabra Elite 85h

Jabra Elite 85h

  • 36 hours of Active Noise Cancelling or HearThrough listening
  • Exceptional audio and call quality from 8 mics and SmartSound analysis
  • Certified rain-resistant durability
  • On-ear detection technology

Decisions, decisions: Choosing your earwear

There is undoubtedly an audio and conferencing product out there for everyone whether you’re working from home, the office, or a mix of the two. The breadth of options on the market can be intimidating though, so hopefully this breakdown by use cases has been helpful in your decision-making process.

Let Data#3 help you choose the right earwear for your work lifestyle regardless of your location, preferences, or budget.

Are you keen to learn more about audio and conferencing devices? Speak to a Data#3 collaboration specialist today to get more information or a quote. Better yet, if you’d like to get hands-on with any of the devices discussed above, you can also request a free demo unit from our friendly team.

Tags: End-User Computing (EUC), headsets, Modern Workplace

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