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Sound Advice for Choosing a Headset

Check out our advice for getting the perfect headset that can meet diverse your needs, whether you're at home or in the office.
7 min read

Updated on March 30, 2022

Published on December 13, 2021

Choosing an image

It's 8:06 am. Your meeting started at 8:00 am. Fumbling to hide the coffee you just bathed your shirt in and hoping it looks more like a pattern. You're stressed out and still trying to join the morning meeting. You're unsuccessfully trying to look awake and hide the doughnut you're inhaling. Then the unthinkable happens — you need to join the conversation. This is the critical moment, the one you told yourself you couldn't miss. Then you notice your audio isn't set up. Hand gestures and more spilled coffee abound and repeated inquiries asking if you are having audio issues flood in. Sound familiar?

Meetings are animated GIFs without audio

Dialing in your audio solution ahead of the meeting really helps, but choosing the right solution is just as critical. Audio headsets and headphones come in every size, type, and price range, so start by answering a seemingly easy question, "what style do I prefer?" 

There are actually a lot of options. Over-ear, which typically offers superior noise-canceling capabilities. On-ear, which could be considered the default design. Headsets with a boom are popular solutions for contact center agents and gamers. 

There are also products that take the weight off the user's ears and place it on a neckband. Single ear headsets with a boom allow for easy transitions between talking over the device and talking in person. In-ear, also called earbuds, are the smallest and easiest to transport. Nearly all these options come wired or wireless, while some offer charging or docking stations.

Headset types

Once you figure out the wearing style that fits your needs it's high time to choose functionality.

Noise-canceling headsets

Noise-canceling encompasses two distinct approaches for keeping unwanted noise from reaching your ears. Passive noise-canceling relies on the design of the earcup or earbud with over-ear headsets covering or insulating the ear while in-ear headsets are meant to tightly fit in your ear to block out external sounds. 

Active noise-canceling uses tiny microphones to pick up ambient noise and emit the exact opposite signal to effectively "cancel out" both sets of sounds when the sound waves collide. Noise-canceling headsets greatly reduce the transmission of background noise during a call. And when you're not on a work call, you can use these headsets to listen to music.

Wired headsets and wireless headsets

Wired headsets connect directly to your computer via a cable and let you start talking in seconds. Connectivity is simple and reliable and wired headsets never run out of battery. Wireless headsets, on the other hand, connect to your device using a signal such as wifi or Bluetooth.

They offer varying ranges, letting users leave their desks while on a call to pick up printouts or find documents. Most models connect to multiple devices at the same time, making it easy to switch between making calls on a smartphone or computer. 

Call control (inline controls)

Call control is the ability to answer and end calls remotely using the multifunction button on a headset. This functionality can be obtained both with physical desk phones and with softphone applications. On wired headsets, it's often a control on the cord and likely offers volume and mute functions as well. 


Abbreviation for "Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications." A radio technology for voice data applications, DECT is ideal for warehouses, manufacturing facilities, or anywhere a user may be some distance from a base, charging, or docking station.

Talk time

Talk time is the number of hours you can talk on your headset before it must be recharged. This typically refers to wireless headsets that use some form of charging station. 

Microphone noise reduction

A noise-canceling microphone is a microphone that is designed to filter ambient noise, using two or more microphones to pick up sound from different directions. The primary microphone faces your mouth, while secondary microphones pick up background noise from all directions. The headset targets your voice and electronically reduces the background noise.

Mono vs binaural vs stereo

Monaural sound reception means you receive sound in only one ear, while binaural headsets provide sound to both ears. Stereo sound refers to sound that sends different signals to the left and right sides of the headsets, as opposed to mono sound, which sends just one signal. Stereo headsets also support stereo sound.

Connection types

There are numerous connection methods for headsets, including 2.5mm, 3.5mm, 6.3mm, USB-A, and USB-C, as well as proprietary connections (such as Apple's Lightning cable). Wireless connectivity is accomplished through radio or infrared signals, with Bluetooth® and DECT being the most popular wireless connection methods.

Busy light indicator

A busy light indicator is a polite, effective way to let people know the user is on the phone or in a meeting. Typically integrated into the side or sides of a headset, the indicator turns red when on a call and switches off or turns green when the call ends.

Common use cases

Using the headphones meant for music or gaming is not going to deliver an optimal experience for business. Meetings, virtual events, answering and making calls, giving or attending presentations, training, and other use cases require headsets that were designed for these functions. 

In this section, we'll look at several business use cases that should further define what headset is best for your specific needs.


What you'll need: High-quality audio, ability to mute quickly, busy light indicator


What you'll need: Comfort, professional, high-quality audio, call control, busy light indicator, noise-canceling, talk time


What you'll need: Comfort, wireless, noise-canceling, talk time

Contact Center

What you'll need: Comfort, professional, high-quality audio, call control, busy light indicator, noise-canceling, talk time, boom microphone

Presenting, training, recording, demos

What you'll need: low profile, wireless, high-quality audio, noise-canceling, boom microphone

Professional (also known as enterprise-grade) headsets are engineered to streamline operations in fast-paced hybrid work environments where we work increasingly between the office, home, and co-working spaces. These headsets enable us to transition seamlessly between places and tasks to maximize our productivity and flexibility. You can make office calls in the morning, attend a webinar during lunchtime, and deliver that important presentation from your home office in the afternoon, all with one headset.

58% of knowledge workers on UC platforms today are not using an enterprise-grade headset.

Source: Jabra Hybrid Working Knowledge Worker Report, 2021

How can Zoom help you choose the right headset for you and your team?

Zoom does not manufacture or sell headsets, but our team does work alongside established third-party labs and with leading hardware partners to extensively test and recommend headsets. Every headphone or earbud we list as Zoom Certified has undergone comprehensive testing to ensure it meets our rigorous requirements and can deliver an enterprise-grade communication experience. 

We’ve selected the top products from the leading headset manufacturers and compiled them for our Zoom Recommended Headsets. Use these tools in conjunction with your desired fit and wearing preference, then check off the functions for your specific needs to help you find the perfect headset that allows you to connect from anywhere.

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