My work here on Gear Diary has given me opportunity to try a wide variety of Bluetooth headsets. The biggest common denominator with all of them is the degree to which they have improved in recent years. They have, for the most part, become more comfortable, easier to pair, and they have much improved sound quality. Most recently I’ve had the opportunity to be using the Plantronics Voyager Pro UC. Plantronics describes it as “the most advanced noise canceling Bluetooth headset available”. In my experience over the last week and a half I can’t argue with that statement. It’s comfortable, easy-to-use, and offers superb sound quality.
Hey… it is good enough that it it is front and center on 24 this season
along with the Plantronics 975 Judie continues to rave about…
Let’s take a look-
Designed for mobile professionals in the office or on-the-go, this single headset lets you seamlessly switch between calls received on your PC and those received on your mobile phone. Wideband technology sharpens PC audio and delivers rich, natural-sounding voice and multi-media transmissions. The Voyager PRO UC headset offers dual noise-canceling microphones on the boom, AudioIQ² technology, and three layers of WindSmart® technology to ensure that you hear every word and that your voice is heard clearly despite the noise around you or what you are connected to: your PC, mobile or smart phone. Voyager PRO UC is available in the Plantronics UC standard version and the Optimized for Microsoft® Office Communicator 2007 version.
Take calls from both your PC or mobile device
Class 2 Bluetooth® range with up to 33 feet of range
Simple, one-touch call control
Wideband technology for crisp PC audio
Integrated PerSono® Suite software for one-touch call answer/end with supported softphones and wide range of customization features
UC standard version supporting one-touch call control with softphones and UC applications from Cisco, Avaya, Microsoft, IBM and more.
Optimized for Microsoft® Office Communicator 2007 version, supporting one-touch call control with Office Communicator
When I first opened the box I wasn’t all that impressed. It’s in recent years I’ve become a fan of Bluetooth headsets that have a low profile and don’t have any sort of a boom. The exception in this regard has been the Etymotic etyBLU which offered superb sound quality and included a removable boom. This headset breaks the trend that I’ve been seeing recently. Not only does it have a boom but it also has an “over the ear” design that includes a rather large portion of the set that sits over and behind the ear. In fact, the best way to describe it is that it looks like an old-fashioned hearing aid that fits inside the ear but had the electronics in the section that sat just behind it. In addition, it also has a rather large boom which is quite noticeable. Compare and contrast this to the short-lived Apple headset or the SoundID headsets I reviewed a few months ago and last year and the difference is quite apparent.
My concerns about the size and the design of the headset disappeared once I put on, however. Even though it’s rather bulky it is one of the most comfortable headsets that I have worn. And because of the over the ear design, once it’s in place it doesn’t go anywhere. There’s no concern with it falling out thanks to a quick movement of your head. It’s also light enough that after wearing it for a while I found that I really wasn’t aware it was on. That’s impressive under any conditions, but especially with a large over your headset such as this.
The boom microphone easily swings up and out of the way. When you want to use the headset it’s as simple as pulling it down so that it’s in line with your mouth. Buttons on the device are rather minimal.
At the back and toward the bottom of the piece that fits behind the ear is the power button. When you press and hold it for a few seconds it places the headset into pairing mode.
On the top of the headset or the volume up and down buttons. And use this location makes it easy to quickly adjust the headset. That’s a nice change from much of the bumbling around that is required by most headsets to change the volume.
According to the company to headset is…
a soft and flexible, extremely comfortable headset that is durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of today’s mobile professional.
That has certainly been my experience.
The headset ships with a pre-paired Bluetooth dongle that works with the headset. If your computer has Bluetooth you don’t NEED it, but it does add a degree of simplicity to the setup and brings added functionality when in use. It allows the end-user to simply plug in the dongle and start speaking via a large number of VOIP softphones. The include Avaya, Cisco, IBM, and Microsoft, and other popular services, such as Google Talk and Skype. In addition, the headset features the ability to switch between use with a cellphone and a softphone at the touch of a button. This adds significantly to its functionality.
In addition the headset ships with the PerSono Suite. This adds the ability to answer/end calls, control the volume and mute a call when used with a variety of supported softphones. It also allows the user to manage the computer’s audio, notifies the user when calls come in while listening to audio and answer and calls right from the headset. In PerSono Suite software also includes feature setting capabilities so users can personalize the system with choice of ring tones, volume levels, and media management, such as pausing music when taking a call.
The included software works with the dongle but is currently Windows only. As a result I ended up using the headset paired directly with my iMac and avoided the dongle entirely.
The headset also features what Plantronics’ refers to multipoint technology, which lets you pair and answer calls on two different Bluetooth devices. This means you can connect the headset to two phones, such as a Smartphone and a personal phone, or a phone and a Bluetooth-enabled device, such as a laptop and quickly move from one to the other.
Of course what matters most when using a Bluetooth headset is the sound quality. In this area it holds up beautifully. The company has employed its special noise canceling technology and it refers to as “WindSmart”. I’m not so sure about the name but this I CAN tell you… it is one of, if not the, best sounding headsets I have used.
Reflecting Plantronics’ nearly half a century of obsession with achieving headset perfection, the Voyager PRO represents the epitome of Bluetooth headset technology and design. No other headset has the combination of two noise-canceling mics on a boom to best capture your voice, three layers of WindSmart technology to outsmart the wind, and an adaptive 20-band equalizer tuned to maintain rich, balanced audio at comfortable listening volumes despite the noise around you.
The advanced AudioIQ² noise-canceling technology in the Voyager PRO, with its finely tuned adaptive 20-band equalizer, makes you sound like you’re in the same room as your caller, not miles apart. To achieve this, AudioIQ² makes use of two microphones–one that’s focused on your speech and the other that picks out distracting background sounds, such as road hum and construction noise–then compares data from the two mics and eliminates the unwanted sounds, leaving your unique voice free to be heard clearly and naturally, as it was meant to be.
The dual microphones are also stacked with three layers of WindSmart technology–stainless steel mic screens, acoustic fabrics, and an electronic filter in the mic circuitry–that aggressively block intrusive wind noise. The adjustable boom, which allows you to wear the headset on either ear, positions the mics where they can best capture your voice, further enhancing the sound quality. So regardless of whether it’s the din of traffic or the whipping wind that you’re up against, the Voyager PRO will ensure that you and your caller will be heard clearly and sound natural.
I can’t argue with any of this. The headset is super comfortable and sounds fantastic on both sides of the conversation. It… it… fantastic!
The headset also has a fast-charging battery that provides up to six hours of continuous talk time and five days of standby time on a single charge.
The PLANTRONICS VOYAGER PRO UC has an MSRP of 199.95 and can be purchased directly from Plantronics.
What I Like – Sounds great, super comfortable, cuts down wind noise better than any headset I have used, can be paired with two devices simultaneously.
What Needs Improvement – One of the pricier headsets, software is Windows only