Headsets Recommended For Interpreters Using ZipDX Multilingual

In the process of training interpreters in the use of ZipDX multilingual conferencing we often get asked to recommend headsets. In response to such requests, we have been evaluating headsets and compiling this list of recommended models.

What makes a good headset?

In evaluating a headset we consider the following criteria:

  • It must have a wired connection to the computer.
  • It must have two earpieces. This is sometimes called “stereo” or “binaural.”
  • It must have a boom-mounted microphone.
  • It should have a noise-reducing microphone.
  • It must consistently deliver high-quality audio, in both directions, at the same time.
  • Any controls, settings or adjustments should be simple and intuitive to use.
  • It must be comfortable to wear.
  • It must be durable.
Where can I buy a good headset?

It would be most ideal if we could recommend an affordable, high-quality headset that was conveniently available in shops everywhere…but this simply hasn’t been the case. Retail stores currently cater to two distinct markets; very low-end models aimed at “online chat” and more expensive, often complicated models designed for gaming.

While such headsets may suffice in a pinch, neither are ideal for interpreters. As a result, we recommend interpreters shop online for a headset. Specialty online resellers offer a huge range of headsets better suited to use with ZipDX multilingual. In fact, the sheer number of models available online highlights the value of some specific recommendations.

Where possible, we include links to broadly available online sources, like Amazon.com.

Which is better...an analog or USB-attached headset?

While both types of headsets can be satisfactory, in practice we have found USB headsets to be preferred for several reasons:

  1. There’s only one type of connector used by USB-attached headsets, so there’s little chance that it won’t connect to any particular computer.
  2. When connected a USB headset is usually identified by the computer. It’s listed clearly by name, making it easy to select as the active audio device.
  3. Since it’s designed explicitly for voice applications, a USB headset may include advanced audio processing not provided by the built-in sound card.

Each of the following headsets has been tested to ensure that it meets the requirements of interpreters working on ZipDX multilingual conference calls.

 

1. Sennheiser SC60 USB

Family-owned and based in Germany, Sennheiser is a recognized world leader in audio equipment for the stage, studio, aviation and telecom. Their Culture Series includes the SC60 USB ML, which is a great choice for an interpreter using ZipDX. It’s extraordinarily light and comfortable to wear.

 

2. Koss GMR-540 Series

The Koss name is legendary in Hi-Fi. They invented stereo headphones way back in 1958. While still a leader in headphones, they have also made communications headsets for professional applications. In 2017 they introduced the GMR-540 Series, a line of headsets for gaming that are well suited to the requirements of interpreters using ZipDX.

 

3. Plantronics Encore Pro 520 & DA70

This Plantronics headset is the latest model from their professional range, which targets office and call center applications. The headset itself is light, comfortable, sounds good to the listener, and delivers very good sound to your audience.

It’s a modular headset that features a short cable that ends in a “Quick Connect” fitting. You must add the Plantronics DA70 USB adapter cable to create a complete solution. The optional 3.5mm adapter cable delivers the flexibility connect via USB or a standard mini-plug, allowing the Encore Pro 520 to be used with a computer or smart phone.

 

vxi passport 21 headset4. VXi Corp Passport 21V

This is a durable, professional headset from a company that only makes headsets. It’s light, comfortable, durable and sounds great. It’s available in single or dual-ear models. VXi sells refresh kits that include new foam for the earpieces and microphone, which points to it’s durability.

The headset cable ends in a “Quick Disconnect” (QD) fitting. You must add a suitable lower cable, of which there are three:

 

vxi passport 21 headset5. VXi Corp Passport 21P

This is the same headset as above, but equipped with a Plantronics type Quick-Disconnect connector. This allows it to be used with a less expensive Plantronics DA40 USB adapter cable.

 

Jabra Biz 2400 Duo USB Headset 6. Jabra BIZ 2400 Duo USB

This business class USB headset is light, durable and sounds very good. The round control in the cord has a rotary volume control with mute function.

 

Plantronics Blackwire C720 headset 7. Plantronics Blackwire C720

This USB headset from Plantronics is comfortable and delivers good audio performance. It folds flat to fit into a hard-sided zippered case, making it suitable for travelling.

  • The Plantronics Blackwire C720 is available from Amazon for $115 (January 2016.)
  • Note: Plantronics Blackwire 300 & 500 series headsets should be avoided.
 

Logitech H650e Stereo8. Logitech H650e

This business class USB headset from Logitech is available in single or dual-ear models. Offered by a major manufacturer of computer accessories they may be available in some stores.

 

VXi Envoy Office 2031U Stereo USB Headset for UC 150px9. VXi Envoy Office

An affordable, entry-level USB headset from a company that specializes in professional headsets. The most affordable model on our list, it manages to sound good, and be comfortable to wear, without sacrificing reliability.