When discussing the “best Bluetooth headsets,” we have to realize that all answers are subjective. We can compare prices, features and comfort. However, what one person considers an excellent price may be seen as too much by someone else, and the same goes for the other variables. But we’ll try to steer you in the right direction.
There are basically two types of Bluetooth headsets on the market: the simple kind that clips on your ear and is used solely for phone calls, and the stereo headset that can be used for both phone calls and music.
Figure out exactly what your needs are in a Bluetooth headset, what you are willing to pay, and what kind of environment you’ll be using it in.
Best Bluetooth Headset: Quality and Comfort
Bose makes some of my favorite home and car audio speakers. I was out shopping for a new keyboard the other day and I saw their new Bose® Bluetooth® headset Series 2 ($150) and had to give it a try because it looked pretty cool and comfortable. Unlike most other headsets that I’ve tried, this one has a molded earpiece that fits comfortably in the outer ear and doesn’t require the over-the-ear clip to hold it in place.
Even though I have trouble hearing sometimes on my phone without a headset, I had no problems with this one, except for the ambient noise. Granted, I was in a very loud electronics store at the time. The people I called all said that unless I spoke up, they had trouble hearing me clearly. However, when I cupped my hand over the earpiece and put my fingers over my mouth, they had absolutely no trouble, although they could still hear the noise in the store.
Dealing with Noisy Environments
As someone that has spent a number of years in call centers, I am quite familiar with Plantronics. When I was at the store, I also saw their Voyager PRO Bluetooth headset with boom mic ($70).
After pairing this one with my Samsung Galaxy S3, I took it for metaphorical spin. Upon putting the headset on, I immediately noted that it was extremely comfortable. Next, I made calls to the same people I did with the Bose® unit above, with vastly different results.
Every person I called said they could still hear the music and TV noise in the background, but that they could hear me perfectly without my needing to cover the mic at all. In fact, two of them asked if I was on a regular phone or not using a headset at all. The sound quality of this headset for the incoming portion of the call was great. It was actually cleaner and crisper than using no headset.
Also, as I was on the phone with one friend, I handed my phone to another friend and told him to stand still as I went for a little walk. I noticed no decrease in sound quality until I got about 10 feet from my phone. The connection was lost between my phone and the headset when I got to about 15 feet away, which I consider to be pretty impressive for such a low power radio in such an RF-interference rich environment.
Making Calls and Listening to Music
I love music — a lot. I may have just found the perfect headset for listening to music in stereo on my phone, while not having to remove my earbuds, and it’s another Plantronics product. This time it’s the Plantronics Voyager 855 stereo Bluetooth headset ($75 and up).
I’ve tried a few stereo headsets and headphones in the past with my preference being headphones. However, having found the Voyager 855 headset, I’ve changed my mind. I’ll admit, the sound quality didn’t quite reach the quality of my Skull Candy, earbuds but it was more than acceptable. When I made calls using it at the store I was impressed with the sound quality, as were those that I called.
One thing I really liked about this one is that the mic portion extends, similar to a boom mic for use in noisy environments, and retracts for use in quieter environments, giving it more of a “low profile” feel and look. I thought that the controls would be confusing, what with call controls right next to the music player controls, but I was wrong. Also, when you’re listening to music and a call comes in, your song is paused until you end the call.
As I stated above, the “best” of anything is usually going to be very subjective. Take the Bose® headset I mentioned above. I asked a couple people at the store what they thought, and some absolutely despised how it felt in their ear, while others liked it. Some of the people I spoke with didn’t like the idea of a boom mic, saying it felt uncomfortable because it tended to pull downward on their ear-something I didn’t notice.
While I can suggest what I think are the best Bluetooth headsets, you’ll still want to try out a few for yourself before making a decision to match with your smartphone.