Showing posts with label VoIP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label VoIP. Show all posts

Choosing The Best Headphones For Developers


Headsets are an often overlooked hardware component, yet many remote workers spend hours glued to the screen, on a conference call, screen sharing session, or any of a myriad different activities that necessitate the use of headsets, microphones, and other audio hardware.
While the Toptal blog is a place for very technical, niche content, we also serve our community. Guess what, since our community is a huge, distributed team, we hear a lot of chatter dealing with all sorts of hardware, including headsets. That’s why we decided to compile a few community suggestions and take a closer look at some industry trends that could help our community members choose the right tool for the job (and stop talking about headphones and microphones on Slack all the time).
Since we are not in the business of professionally reviewing hardware, we can’t create the ultimate guide to headphones for developers, but thanks to community input, we can offer a few words of advice and some suggestions.

The Five Don’ts Of Professional Voice Calls

So, where do we begin? Let’s take a look at the basics, let’s see what you definitely shouldn’t do if your job involves a lot of voice calls. Oh, we won’t talk about etiquette, just hardware.
  • Don’t rely on stock hardware.
  • Don’t buy the cheapest hardware; if you’re a developer, you can afford good stuff.
  • Don’t forget about your environment.
  • Don’t use low-cost wireless solutions.
  • Don’t be satisfied with “good enough” audio quality.
You have to work like a pro, talk like a pro, and sound like a pro.
Even if you have a brand new notebook and a flagship smartphone, you should not rely on stock hardware for professional voice calls. It’s simply not good enough; otherwise there would be no aftermarket audio industry to begin with. Sure, laptop microphones get the job done, but they also pick up a lot of background noise, making them unsuitable in many circumstances. Since this is a tech blog, I don’t think I need to list all the cons of using an integrated microphone for a voice call. So, how about your new smartphone and the included wired headset? In a pinch, they can be useful, but most bundled headsets are relatively short, which may be a problem from an ergonomic point of view.
Headphones for developers
You may be tempted to simply order a cheap headset with a long cable, but bear in mind that the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten. There is really no need to pinch pennies here, folks; we are talking about headsets, even good ones are relatively inexpensive.
But what if you already have top notch hardware, yet you still hear complaints from the other end of the line? Well, you may want to take a closer look at your environment, whether it’s noisy, prone to echoing, or too windy (if you are one of those people who like to take their work outside).
Wireless headsets look like a great option for home office workers. In theory, they would allow you to do some basic housekeeping while discussing a project, maybe pop into the kitchen for a drink if you are in a long call, or check up on your kids or pets. The problem is that a lot of wireless headsets tend to be quirky, especially if you get cheap ones. Another obvious issue is battery life; if you take a few calls a day and spend hours talking to your teammates, it’s a good idea to use a wired headset, or at least have a wired backup ready to go.
OK, if you have quality hardware set up in a good environment, you should probably get decent audio quality. However, is decent sufficient? If you hear complaints from your colleagues every now and then, that’s surely not a big deal. Wrong. If you need to talk with clients on a regular basis, any recurring issue will just make you look unprofessional. Sort it out for your own good.

What Do You Really Need?

There is no one-size-fits-all hardware solution, otherwise this would be a very short post titled, “This is the best headset for developers, period.” Everyone has different needs and working habits, so here are a few questions you need to ask yourself:
  • Do you handle all voice calls from one place, such as your home office?
  • How often do your travel and work on the road?
  • Do you tend to work outdoors, in cafes, on a terrace, in your yard?
  • How frequently do you take part in voice calls, conference calls?
  • How much time do you spend on calls on a daily and weekly basis?
  • Will you use the headset on multiple hardware platforms?
  • Do you work alongside other people and need to talk to them while on a call?
  • Do you need a binaural or monaural headset?
If you do the majority of your work, or all of it, from your office or home office, chances are you won’t have to spend a fortune or look for high-quality hardware to meet your needs. You control the environment, you always use the same hardware, there’s not a lot of background noise, so there is not much that can go wrong. You probably don’t need a noise cancelling headset or microphone, or anything fancy for that matter.