The 9 Best Headsets of 2021
Make work calls without disruptions
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A good headset is a necessary part of the modern office; it enables clear and productive communication with colleagues and customers. As a home office essential, a headset usually offers a higher quality microphone and better audio output than those features built into your computer, smartphone, or other device. It will isolate your voice and make it easier to hear other people on a call when working in noisy environments or shared office spaces.
We selected the best headsets from among those we have personally used, and those which have a sterling reputation. Whether you’re looking for a headset to make hands-free phone calls on the go, or one with great noise cancellation, here are the best headsets available right now.
Best Overall: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
When it comes to sound quality, noise canceling ability, comfort, and style, the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 come out on top. This headset offers both wonderful sound reproduction and excellent noise canceling, allowing you to hear and be heard even in loud environments.
The Bose 700 is remarkably comfortable and easily adjusts to fit a wide range of head sizes, and yet it retains a sleek, minimalistic profile. The headset also includes a unique gesture control scheme where volume and other settings are adjusted simply by swiping and tapping on the smooth surface of the headphones. It comes with a superb leather case that befits the admittedly expensive price point. The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are easily the best overall headphones on the market.
Best Budget: Mpow 071 USB Headset
From webinar presentations to conference calls, this Mpow headset delivers decent sound quality for a budget-friendly price. The construction is simple but effective—the headset has a 3.5-millimeter jack for phone and tablet connection, as well as a USB plug for computer connection. It also uses a flexible unidirectional microphone that picks up your voice effectively, and the 40-millimeter diver delivers high-definition audio with a balanced tone.
Even more, the fit is comfortable, thanks to the memory foam-padded ear cushions and adjustable steel slider headband. It may be tight depending on specific head and ear shapes, so if that is the case, remove the headphones every one to two hours. Colorwise, you get a selection of black, silver, white, and blue.
Best for Loud Offices: BlueParrot B450-XT
Offices can get loud, and the noise of everyone communicating with one another can make it hard to have conversations. The BlueParrott B450-XT is a top-notch solution with its ability to cancel out 96 percent of noise and keep your calls clear and uninterrupted. What's more, it can do so for 24 hours of call time, and is heavily padded to make those long phone calls less of a pain. Additionally, with 300 feet of wireless range, you aren’t tied to your desk and are free to move about without losing connection.
Although it has a decent range of physical controls on the headset, the B450-XT can also be conveniently controlled using voice commands, and a customizable button lets you choose other custom features to be accessible with a single touch.
Related: The Best Office Phones
Best Style: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8i
Sometimes style counts as much as substance, and the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8i has both in spades. This on-ear headset oozes high-end style, and in this case function matches form, as the H8i delivers excellent audio and call quality. It also offers excellent noise cancellation, and the lightweight leather design is luxurious and comfortable. You don’t need to worry about running out of juice either, as it has an impressive play time of up to 30 hours thanks to intelligent battery saving functions; one, for example, automatically pauses audio when you remove the headset.
Best Noise Cancelling: Marshall Mid ANC
If you need to shut out distracting noise and concentrate on work, the Marshall Mid ANC is highly effective at minimizing outside noise. Its effective active noise cancelling system paired with also impressive passive noise cancelling provides a welcome relief from the distracting buzz of an office environment. This highly compact, durable on-ear headset offers top-notch build quality and possesses a highly attractive aesthetic that emphasizes Marshall’s long history in the music industry. Its prowess as a manufacturer of high end guitar amps is reflected in the superior audio quality this headset delivers.
The Mid ANC also offers phenomenal battery life with 20 hours of playback time with active noise cancelling turned on and over 30 hours with it turned off. The headset folds up to be remarkably compact, and comes with an extremely attractive carrying case.
Related: The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones
Best Gaming-Style: Sennheiser GSP 370
Despite the fact that this one was designed with gaming in mind, the Sennheiser GSP 370 possesses an elegant and professional aesthetic that is just as at home in the office as it is in a gaming den. It lives up to Sennheiser’s reputation for excellent audio quality and robust design at a reasonable price point. It features a low latency wireless connection and up to 100 hours of battery life, so even if you use it constantly throughout the work week, you’ll only need to recharge it about twice a month.
The GSP 370 is also remarkably comfortable due to the split padded headband and ball joint hinges that ensure a perfect fit. The closed back design prevents sound leakage and noise isolation while the flip-to-mute microphone provides noise-isolating, broadcast-quality audio input.
Best for Phone Calls: Sennheiser Presence
The Sennheiser Presence is best suited for people looking for high-quality audio and microphone components as well as portability and comfort. It features voice detection and optimization technology that single out your voice, optimize it, and reduce background noise. Additionally, it features another bit of smart technology that protects your ears against acoustic shocks caused by sudden bursts of sound. Its 10-hour battery life will get you through a day at work, and a retracting microphone boom arm mutes and activates the microphone.
Best for Streaming: Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE
When streaming, whether for professional or social purposes, it’s important to be heard and look good doing it. The Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE headset is perfect for any time you put yourself out there in a video chat, with its slick gunmetal color scheme and customizable RGB lighting that can switch it from professional to fun at a moment’s notice. Its microphone delivers crisp, high-quality audio to your audience, and its 7.1 surround sound provides an excellent listening experience. This wireless headset will last 20 hours on a charge, or you can use it while plugged in via USB. Corsair is known for making durable gear, and the Virtuoso is no exception; this headset should stand the test of time.
Related: The Best Work-From-Home Essentials
Best Minimalist: Jabra Talk 55
For top-notch sound quality and crystal clear communications in the smallest form factor possible, Jabra Talk 55 is ideal for working professionals who desire the sleekest and most stylish headset possible. This miniscule, single-ear bluetooth headset does away with all the extraneous bulk to offer a lean, lightweight device that looks as businesslike and modern as the cutting edge technology inside it. Noise cancelation makes communication easy even in loud environments, and the petite charging case provides up to 10 hours of call time and lasts a full week on standby. At just 5.5 grams, the Jabra Talk 55 is a minimal presence on your head or carried in your pocket, and its understated design makes it an elegant and professional accessory.
The best headset for any situation has to be Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 (view at Bose). Due to the sleek style, incredible sound quality, desirable comfort, and top-notch noise canceling ability, you won’t want to take them off even after using them through a day at work. If you just need a super light and portable headset for minimalistic communication, though, the Jabra Talk 55 might be a better option (view at Jabra).
Is active noise cancelling right for you?
Active noise cancelling (ANC) can be extremely useful if you need to cut down on distracting noise, but it does have its downsides. ANC works by listening to incoming noise and then outputting a sound pattern that cancels out that noise. It’s important to remember that the sound is still there; you just don’t hear it, so loud noises can still damage your hearing even with ANC. Additionally, you may find that when using ANC, you experience the illusory feeling of pressure in your ears.
Should I buy wired or wireless?
While ditching annoying wires may seem like a no-brainer, there are good reasons to choose a wired connection for your headset. A wired headset doesn’t need to be charged and works with devices that lack the necessary connectivity. However, a wireless option gives you flexibility to use anywhere, anytime, if that's a priority. Ideally, you should look for a headset that offers both wired and wireless connection options.
What kind of headset is best?
If you don’t already know what type of headset you need, consider what you’ll be using it for. If you’re working in an office where you need to communicate with people both on the phone and in person at the same time, or if you need to be aware of your surroundings while commuting, then a single earpiece is probably your best option. If you tend to do most or all of your communication via phone or video call, and if you want or need stereo sound, then a headset with a full pair of headphones will be a better choice.
What to Look For in a Headset
If you want to use your headset with your phone, the headset needs to have Bluetooth capability. Bluetooth will allow you to hook it up to just about any device quickly and easily, and even if your headset has a 3.5mm or USB cable, having Bluetooth as well gives any headset an extra boost in terms of compatibility.
Hours of daily use takes a toll, as do unforeseen accidents. It’s important to look for a headset that won’t fall apart after a month. Look for robust materials, particularly at locations on the headset that are likely to be points of failure, such as joints and the head band.
Just as with the clothing you wear to work, your headset should offer all-day comfort. Look for thick padding on headphones and headbands, and for in-ear headsets that come with multiple sizes of tips to help you get the right fit. Also, think about whether you prefer the feel of cloth or leather.
Meet the Expert
Andy Zahn is a writer specializing in consumer technology. He has accumulated considerable experience testing and reviewing headsets and other technology for Lifewire, including several devices featured in this roundup.