Headsets serve a particular need: to receive or make calls while hearing well and being perfectly audible yourself, even in a hectic noise environment, whether surrounded by busy colleagues or surrounded by children and wild dogs. Wireless headsets connect to your phone or computer and allow you to get away from the office. Wired headsets are more economical and save you the worry of battery power and possible Bluetooth interference or outages. After four months of testing fifteen headsets, we found the Jabra Evolve2 65 to be the best wireless model and the Jabra Evolve2 30 to be the best in the wired category. Both offer the sound quality, comfort and “active noise cancellation” that telecommuters or employees who spend their days on the phone in open-plan offices are looking for.
The Jabra Evolve2 65 headset is easy to connect to a computer or smartphone via Bluetooth. It offers the longest range and battery life (37 hours) of any wireless headset we tested, thanks to its Bluetooth 5.0 connection. This headset will also enhance your tone: during our blind tests, experts noted the clarity of voice reproduction. Compared to other models, one of our judges gave it the highest score for overall sound quality from its microphone, while the others ranked it second overall. The memory foam ear cushions isolate the ears in a soft airlock that passively blocks out surrounding noise and makes it comfortable to wear, even for hours. Note that the Evolve2 65 doesn’t offer active noise cancellation, which reduces low frequencies such as the hum of an air conditioner or the whirr of a paper shredder (if that’s your goal, you’re better off with the Jabra Evolve 75).
If you prefer a headset with active noise cancelling technology to isolate you from your surroundings as much as possible, the Jabra Evolve 75 is the one for you. For the second time in three years, our testers ranked it first for voice quality, calling it “extremely clear,” and voted it the best of the bunch “without exception. Active noise cancellation comes at a price, though. And while the Evolve 75 is comfortable to wear over time, with 17-hour battery life, you’ll need to recharge it twice as often as the Evolve2 65.
Of all the wired headsets we tested, the Jabra Evolve2 30 offers the best balance between excellent audio quality (for incoming and outgoing calls), lightweight, and comfortable. In addition, the Evolve2 30 performed better in our ambient noise cancellation tests while delivering clear, warm voice waves compared to less expensive products. The control buttons, located on the right earcup, are rather small but are easy to get used to.
If Jabra’s Evolve2 30 is out of stock, or if you prefer controls located on the cord rather than on the headset, look into Logitech’s Zone Wired at a similar price. The mic quality of both models is comparable, as is their noise-cancellation performance (although we prefer the slightly warmer, less compressed tones of the Evolve2 30 and 40). The controls lined up on a high-quality braided cord are the Zone Wired’s most appreciable feature. The volume is easier to adjust than with the Evolve2 30, and the mute, unmute, answer and reject functions are more accessible. You can also mute and unmute your voice by manipulating the microphone stem in front of your mouth. The headset and its thick-cushioned earpieces are comfortable. Then again, the Zone Wired is also the heaviest of all the wired headsets we recommend.
The audio recordings we made with the Jabra Evolve2 40 were the best of the lot: distinct and natural-sounding, even against a busy background. The headband padding is thicker than the Evolve2 30 and Logitech Zone Wired. Add to that the foam padding of its larger earpieces and this headset is a bit heavier than the Evolve2 30 (lighter than Logitech’s Zone Wired, though) while still being comfortable. To activate and deactivate the microphone, you can use the earpiece’s controls and lower or raise the microphone stem. The Evolve2 40 costs a bit more than the other wired headsets we recommend, but it’s still considerably cheaper than the best wireless headsets.
The complete test
Why you can trust us
Who are these headsets for?
How we selected the headsets
How we tested them
Our first choice for a wireless headset: the Jabra Evolve2 65
Also very good: the Jabra Evolve 75
Our first choice of wired headset: the Jabra Evolve2 30
Our second choice of wired headset: the Logitech Zone Wired
A top-of-the-line wired headset: the Jabra Evolve2 40
A budget wired headset: the Logitech H540
Why you can trust us
For more than a decade, our editor Melanie Pinola has covered technology, especially telecommuting technology, for sites like Lifehacker, PCWorld and Laptop Magazine. She’s been analyzing and testing this category of products for Wirecutter for five years, including work-at-home basics like webcams, USB microphones and even office chairs. She’s been to enough online meetings and video conferences to know that it’s important to be able to hit the mute button quickly and easily when needed, and she knows the feeling when the battery dies in the middle of a sentence.
To help us determine the criteria for evaluating headsets for work, we consulted with nine experts in different industries who use headsets every day to communicate with their teams and clients. To evaluate the mic quality of all our headsets, we enlisted expert-level testers, including Wirecutter colleague Lauren Dragan (she’s tested over a thousand headsets!) and Charles A. Martinez, a Grammy-winning audio engineer and music producer.
Who are these headsets for?
Let’s face it; a working headset is a compromise: it won’t offer the audio quality of great headphones designed to produce the best sound, and it won’t magnify your voice like the best USB microphones. If you’re only remotely involved in remote meetings or video conferencing, you don’t need these. Any decent quality earbuds with a microphone or your computer’s (or phone’s) microphone and speaker should suffice. In this case, there’s no need to invest in a headset specifically for work.
But if you often receive business calls on your computer or smartphone, a wired or wireless headset promises a big advantage over makeshift solutions – much better sound quality, even when you’re away from your desk. Our wired headset recommendations come with 1.5m cords. Bluetooth headsets keep you connected even when you’re several rooms away. All this is thanks to the microphone, which is usually located at the end of a small boom in front of your mouth, where it captures your voice more accurately and suppresses surrounding background noise. This is something that your computer’s microphone will never do.
Headsets with a microphone boom transmit your voice infinitely better than earbuds or a conventional headset with a built-in microphone. All the headsets we tested, for example, passed the automatic voice input test better than our favourite model of headphones with active noise reduction. So if you’re currently using earbuds or simple headphones for your daily meetings with colleagues or clients, switching to a headset can dramatically improve the sound quality you hear, as well as the way your conversation partners on the other end hear you. Just keep in mind that these headsets are designed to communicate vocally, not to produce professional-quality recordings. The voice recordings from the headsets we tested all sounded compressed (the gap between the loudest and lightest sounds is smoothed out, making the voice flatter), compared to the results from an external microphone (which you should get if you’re producing podcasts or any other recording where voice quality is important).
With wireless models especially, you also have to be prepared for the vagaries of Bluetooth, which can become irritating. Depending on your work environment and equipment, it’s impossible to guarantee that you won’t run into an incident when connecting and disconnecting your devices. Sometimes a wireless headset will resume playing a song on its own when you hang up… and sometimes it won’t. We’ve learned the hard way that switching between a headset and computer speakers can reactivate the voice during a video conference without you noticing. Bluetooth still has its mysteries: during our tests, all headsets proved to be temperamental when their connector was connected to a USB splitter along with an external hard drive, and the latter had to be disconnected to resolve the malfunction. USB-connected wired headsets never have these problems, but they do keep you on a leash, hooked to the computer, and most can’t connect to a smartphone.
Either way, if you want to hear and be heard as clearly as possible during your business calls, you’re in the right place.
The headsets we recommend offer the best combination of incoming and outgoing call audio quality, comfort and (for wireless models) battery life. If they’re not immediately available, don’t rush out and buy the first headset you see: we recommend being patient and, in the meantime, sticking with your regular headset or earbuds with a built-in mic (AirPods, for example, will do just fine for the occasional video conference with your smartphone). A wireless gaming headset is another option, but they’re designed for immersive gaming sessions, not voice communication. Sometimes they are only compatible with PCs and gaming consoles. Plus, they tend to be heavy and bulky and decorated in garish colours that might clash in a business environment.
How we selected the headsets
We started by looking at headsets released by major manufacturers since this guide was last updated in 2021 and combing through reviews on industry sites, including PCMag and ZDNet. The professionals we interviewed, as well as customer reviews on Amazon, helped us determine the top criteria consumers use when looking for a wireless headset to use at home or in a small business:
- connection to a mobile device and computer
- High-quality sound
- long battery life
- suppression of ambient noise by the microphone
We used the same criteria for wired headsets (except for battery life).
We investigated stereo headsets with two earpieces and not one since they partially muffle ambient sound without active noise cancellation. As a result, we did not consider Bluetooth headsets attached to only one ear and are designed to be discreet when making a call while on the move. We looked at most of the headsets with a microphone stem to capture your voice better and have a more comfortable headband than earbuds for extended periods. We didn’t find many over-ear headsets (with those huge pads that sit on your head without touching your ears). The ones we did find, such as the Evolve2 85 from Jabra, cost 350 to over 400 euros.
Since good connectivity is essential, we decided to limit ourselves to Bluetooth headsets and not include DECT wireless headsets in our selection: this standard (digital enhanced cordless telecommunications) does have a longer range than Bluetooth, but it only allows you to connect to a single device, i.e., the base station connected to the telephone network, like the cordless landline phone in your home. On the other hand, Bluetooth headsets can pair with up to eight devices (two or three simultaneously).
After researching twenty wireless headsets, we selected seven to test: the Jabra Evolve2 65 (our current top pick), Evolve 75 (our current second pick), and Evolve2 85; the EPOS Adapt 360, Adapt 560, and Adapt 660 (EPOS co-produces Sennheiser headsets); and the Avantree AS90TA. Unfortunately, wireless headsets are such specialized products, with such specific specifications (combining microphone, headphones and wireless connection in a single device) that there simply aren’t many good products. It’s the opposite with Bluetooth headsets, where we had to choose from over 200 models, with quality audio output as our primary criterion.
Most work headsets connect via USB, not a 3.5mm jack. USB headsets use their own sound processing system instead of relying on the computer’s sound card. As a result, they are better at suppressing noise and can offer more features than analogue headsets with 3.5 mm jacks.
We looked at fifteen USB-connected headsets and tested eight of them: the Jabra Evolve 40 (our previous top pick), the Microsoft LifeChat LX-6000 (our previous low-cost pick), the Logitech H390, the Logitech H540, the EPOS Adapt 165T, the Jabra Evolve2 30, the Logitech Zone Wired and the Jabra Evolve2 40.
How we tested them
The Jabra Evolve 75 (left) and the Evolve2 65 (right).
The Jabra Evolve 75 headset (left) and the Jabra Evolve2 65 (right). WIRECUTTER / MICHAEL MURTAUGH
During this new round of testing, conducted in late 2020 and early 2021, I tested the wired and wireless headsets in two separate batches. The methodology was similar for both: use each headset for at least one full workday, taking an hour or two breaks between sessions. On subsequent days, swap headsets during the day to make a parallel comparison. I talked and listened throughout countless remote meetings, called my family and friends, invited them to call me as well, and left an embarrassing number of voicemails for myself. I also recorded the exchanges with each headset in a quiet environment and the hubbub of a coffee shop, using the Coffitivity app. In total, I tested these fifteen models for four months.
Here’s how we gauged the headsets, based on the basic requirements:
Mic quality: since call quality is the first criterion for choosing a headset for work, I made several audio recordings to test the mic. In particular, I noted how clear and intelligible my voice was and judged whether the mic picked up too much ambient noise, such as air conditioner blowing, computer keyboard clicking or background conversations. In a previous round of testing, I also used the Speech to text feature of Google Docs to evaluate how well the software understood my voice. All headsets performed the same, around 98% accuracy, compared to around 90% for the headsets.
Noise cancellation and headphone quality: Again, I evaluated how distinct my listeners’ voices were under the headsets and how accurate the sound details were when listening to music on my computer or phone (I played several Regina Spektor songs because I know them by heart, down to the note, and Regina’s vocal range and orchestral scores are a challenge for any headset). I also conducted my listening in swirls of natural noises: train whistles, leaf vacuums, aeroplanes flying overhead, and the television being watched in the background by my family. Finally, I conducted a listening test with this incredibly immersive virtual barbershop sound environment (video) to determine how much sound detail each headphone could reproduce.
Comfort: comfort being a very subjective notion, I scrupulously noted my personal impressions of the different helmets, sometimes worn for hours at a time, then I asked my husband, who has a larger head than mine, to try each of the models. My teenage daughter (who has a smaller head) also volunteered for this step. Finally, we ranked the headsets based on how heavy they felt on the head, how comfortable the headband padding was and the earbud cushions.
Controls: I judged the volume, mute and unmute controls on how easy they were to reach and use because no one wants to be trapped by the long, awkward seconds of searching for the unmute button during a Zoom meeting. All headsets should offer a quick way to accept or reject a call, yet few do.
For wireless headsets, two other criteria were selected as important:
Connectivity: I paired each headset with my Mac, an Android smartphone and an iPad. When I walked away from my computer during a piece of music, I took note of any micro-cuts, how far the headphones disconnected, and whether they reconnected smoothly once I was back in the covered area.
Battery life: After rejecting two of the selected headsets for poor audio performance, we experimented with three Jabra models. To test their battery life, I ran a 27-hour audiobook, as well as a song repeated on an endless loop on Eternal Jukebox, with each headset. Then, I set the microphone on each headset to play this soundtrack through my computer’s speaker until the battery died.
But why so many Jabra headsets?
Over the years, we’ve tested dozens of headsets from major manufacturers, including Jabra, Microsoft, EPOS, Poly, Sennheiser and Logitech. Wirecutter does not publish any sponsored content. No company can pay us to have their products tested or featured in our guides. We recommend references regardless of compensation or partnership (for more information, read how Wirecutter works).
So how did we end up with all these Jabra headsets? As with the preparation of our other cases, we did a lot of research and testing. In the most recent round of testing, our jurors overwhelmingly preferred the sound of the Jabra headsets once again. After wearing them for days on end, sometimes without interruption, we also found them far superior in comfort and build quality.
Jabra also makes some of our favourite headphones (so much so that our headphone expert Lauren Dragan wrote an ode to Jabra’s Elite 75t earbuds). The company is known for investing heavily in audio technology and comfort, so it’s no surprise that they came out on top of our criteria.
Our first choice for wireless headphones: the Jabra Evolve2 65
The Jabra Evolve2 65 is the best headset for professionals who spend all day on the phone: it doesn’t sacrifice voice quality for battery life or vice versa. Of all the headsets we tested, this one has the longest battery life (37 hours), and its microphone was second only to the Evolve 75. Add to that the large, comfortable ear cushions that help muffle ambient noise, and the Evolve2 65 has the most features of any wireless headset in its price range.
Pairing the Evolve2 65 with my computer, phone, and tablet was simple (but keep in mind that the USB-A or USB-C Bluetooth dongle that came with the headset is required for pairing with a computer). I was able to swap between different connected devices seamlessly. For example, when an incoming call came in on my phone, the headset automatically muted the music on the computer. At the same time, I answered before instantly resuming music playback when I hung up. In addition, I really enjoyed being able to pick up the phone, mute or unmute my voice simply by manipulating the microphone stem.
This headset is a reworked version of the Evolve 65 (one of our picks in a previous guide), whose important new feature is the switch to Bluetooth 5.0, which explains its very long battery life. The BT 5.0 standard forces all audio connections to use low-power Bluetooth. Bluetooth headsets have become all the more energy-efficient, much less greedy than with previous versions of Bluetooth.
To be honest, I quickly got tired of trying to drain its battery by imagining real-life power-hungry scenarios: making multiple 60-90 minute calls or conferences each day, running audiobooks nonstop, or leaving it on, alone and neglected, for days on end. Nothing has been able to get the battery gauge from full to half full. If the headset ever informs you that the battery is running low, you can charge it for 15 minutes to get eight hours of calls or for 90 minutes to fully charge it, all while continuing to use the headset via USB. In short, this headset and its battery should survive the longest, most meeting- and call-filled days, and if you’re really stuck, just use it on USB. For added convenience, an optional charging station is available.
Call quality with the Evolve2 65 is excellent compared to its competitors. This model captured my voice clearly, and my callers confirmed that it was clear on their end as well. One of our testers noted that the Evolve2 65 produced less interference and less “pop” than other headsets. Another said he preferred the sound of the mic in general, rating it as the best. However, it should be noted that the mic did transmit background noise such as air conditioning, whereas the Evolve 75 and the older Evolve 65 did not. This can become a distraction for manic callers if they are listening carefully. This leads me to remind you that these and similar headphones are suitable for calls but not for professional recording.
The Evolve2 65’s oval earpieces swivel at a wider angle than those of other headsets: this is a design intended to accommodate different head sizes. I prefer headphones that cover the ears well (instead of resting on them), but their large, well-padded earpieces are comfortable even after a long day of use. They rest on the ears without getting in the way, and since the headphones are lightweight, I barely noticed the pressure of the headband, which is also well padded.
The shape and size of the headphones help isolate you from ambient noise without eliminating it. These headphones did eliminate the noise from my printer and reduced the hum of my computer’s hard drive to almost nothing. But I could still hear the clicking of my keyboard, even while listening to music.
If you want to keep an ear out for what’s going on around you (so you can hear the kids’ nonsense right away, for example) or if you can’t stand the pressure of a headband on your skull, the Evolve2 65 is available in a mono version with just one earpiece. Also available: a version optimized and certified by Microsoft Teams, with specific features for this collaboration tool. But we have not tested these variants.
Some defects, but nothing serious
When you turn on the headset, a voice informs you of the battery status. It indicates whether it is full, half full, or almost empty, and not how many hours of use are left, like other headsets. So we do not know exactly when it will be necessary to recharge it. But thanks to the Evolve2 65’s very long battery life and fast recharging, this should rarely be a problem, especially if you stick to a routine of recharging the headphones. You can also download Jabra’s Sound + app to your phone to check the battery’s charge percentage. This application also allows you to locate the headset and change the settings of its frequency equalizers.
Bluetooth 5.0 quadruples the range of previous versions, up to 240 meters indoors. But in our testing, we couldn’t get that far from our devices without losing the connection. The signal from every headset we tried was weakened by thick walls and my armada of Wi-Fi enabled devices in my home. Calls began to drop out 20 feet from my phone, past a hallway and a flight of stairs. A connection can also be compromised by phones and computers that are not equipped to handle Bluetooth 5.0. For example, my Mac computer could only connect to the headsets using Bluetooth 4.1, as that is the standard for its antenna. The range in your home will depend on your setup, but its range should still be wide enough to allow you to answer calls while moving around nearby.
If you walk away from your computer or phone and the headset disconnects, you may have trouble reconnecting. During my testing, the headset sometimes reconnected automatically, but on other occasions, I had to remove and reinsert the Bluetooth USB dongle, turn the headset off and on again. To avoid these inconveniences, it’s best to determine the functional range of the headset in your environment beforehand and stick to it.
More annoying for the perfectionist in me: the volume control buttons (plus, minus, mute) on the Evolve2 65 are very small and located on the edge of the earpiece on the right ear. On other headsets, they are more prominent, and there are more: pause, skip a song, etc. That said, most headset users should easily adapt to the buttons on the Evolve2 65.
Finally, the Evolve2 65 is black, all black, except for the red indicator light that comes on when the microphone stem is lowered, and your voice is no longer muted. Nothing to make your head spin! But in the office, or even at home, it’s not prohibitive. It may even be desirable.
Another great wireless headset: the Jabra Evolve 75
The Jabra Evolve 75 has been our first choice before, and it’s still a perfect wireless headset, especially for those who value a built-in active noise cancelling system. In addition to its excellent isolation, it was rated first for microphone quality by all testers this time, as in previous rounds of testing. Its battery lasts about two full days of work and listening, which is more than enough for many. But it needs to be recharged more often than the Evolve2 65, which has huge battery life by comparison. It’s comfortable to use throughout the day thanks to the lightweight, soft padding on the earcups and headband.
Like the Evolve2 65, the Evolve 75 was very easy to set up and pair with my computer and mobile devices. During testing, it demonstrated a similar range to the Evolve2 65. At the same time, it works with an older version of Bluetooth, 4.2 (supposedly covering up to 30 meters), and it works just as well for switching between different devices.
Active noise cancellation can be useful if you tend to be distracted by surrounding noises and if your eardrums are not sensitive (some people feel, with active noise cancellation, a pressure like when you’re in an elevator going up at full speed). This technology reduces low frequencies such as the hum of air conditioning or the sound of jet engines on an aeroplane. But it won’t suppress high-pitched screams or the doorbell, which we think is a good thing. This headset also has a “return to ambient noise” button to hear better what’s going on when a real-life situation requires it. All this technology also comes at a cost.
The Evolve 75’s primary distinction is the clarity of the voice. In our automatic text-to-speech tests, it achieved 98.8% accuracy, compared to 97% for the Evolve2 65 (the same accuracy as the MacBook Pro’s built-in microphone). For routine phone calls and video conferencing, your voice should come through better with the Evolve 75 than with your device’s built-in computer or phonemic because the mic stem has a unidirectional ECM mic that suppresses ambient noise. This means that the mic primarily captures sound from one direction, not all the surrounding noise.
If this headset has a shortcoming compared to the Evolve2 65, it is the battery life. The latter is supposed to work for 17 hours when listening to music and 18 hours when chatting. That’s half as long as the Evolve2 65. And the Evolve 75 takes two hours to recharge fully, while the Evolve2 65’s battery only takes 90 minutes.
Our wireline headset pick: the Jabra Evolve2 30
The Jabra Evolve2 30 is the best USB headset for users who take and make many calls from their computers. It combines excellent mic quality with the comfort needed to wear it all day. In addition, the headphones are excellent for music and voice. This headset is an improved version of our previous top pick, the Evolve 40. And it’s incomparably better than any of the cheap headsets we tested because it reduces ambient noise far more while keeping your voice clear and natural.
Compared to Jabra’s Evolve2 65, our first choice of wireless headphones, the Evolve2 30 even did a better job of eliminating background noise. On the other hand, the voice becomes more compressed. In terms of comfort, the two headsets are broadly identical.
The Evolve2 30 came in second during our sound quality tests, behind the Evolve2 40, our choice of high-end wired headphones. The Evolve2 30’s two in-stem microphones delivered crystal-clear audio without picking up ambient noise or the busy soundscape of a coffee shop. Cheaper wired headsets, such as the Logitech H540 or the Microsoft Lifechat LX-6000 (an old “budget” choice), failed to eliminate ambient noise and muffled my voice. With the Evolve2 30, music, online multi-user meetings, and podcasts sounded great—no sound distortion, no low sound level, unlike the cheap models we tested.
The Evolve2 30 headset is also the most comfortable of the devices we tested, thanks to its lightweight design. The wide headband is easy to adjust, and the memory foam padding on the ear cushions is covered in leatherette (not an irritating material or thin foam, like some). The headphones also swivel, so they can be adjusted to fit a variety of body types.
We like the large, easy-to-find button positioned on the right earpiece used to take or reject a call (or, with the version designed for Microsoft Teams, to open a notification from that app). In addition, a discreet red light on the right earpiece informs those around you that you are on a call, and the headset’s USB key lights up red when the microphone is off. These are two useful details that only Jabra wired headsets offer.
The Evolve2 30 is also available in a mono version (one earpiece). Both mono and stereo versions can have USB-A or USB-C connections.
Some flaws, but nothing serious
When recording in a hectic sound environment, the Evolve2 30 compressed my voice slightly more than I would have liked. However, this is a problem with all headsets (and microphones) that try to reduce background noise. Still, it rendered my voice without sounding overly processed, which often happens with budget models.
The mute/unmute, play/pause and volume control buttons are located on the right earpiece and are very small. As a result, they take some getting used to. They are well spaced nevertheless, and the “mute” button is positioned on the front of the earpiece, well separated from the volume and on/off buttons, which are on the backless risk, therefore, of inadvertently masking or restoring your voice.
Our second choice for wired headphones: the Logitech Zone Wired
If you prefer controls on the cord rather than the headset because you find them easier to locate and use, Logitech’s Zone Wired offers excellent audio quality and noise reduction, like the Evolve2 30. But the Zone Wired is heavier and a little less elegantly made. Also, during our audio tests, its microphone didn’t reproduce voices with the same richness and warmth.
As with the Evolve2 30, call quality with the Zone Wired is incomparably better than with budget headsets, thanks to the microphone built into the stem in front of your lips. It transmits your voice more clearly and loudly than other wired or wireless headsets in our selection, which is important for those who cannot speak loudly. The rest of us – those who have the opposite problem and always speak loudly – should adjust the sound level on their computer’s control panel. The Zone Wired masks the sound environment as well as the Evolve2 30, if not better. For example, the clicking of keyboards in the background in an office was better muffled with it. However, we ended up preferring the recordings made with the Evolve2 30 because they were a bit more natural, less artificially smoothed out, than those recorded with the Zone Wired.
Incoming calls with the Zone Wired were also found to be crisp and clear. Nothing like the results of a cheap headset. Except for that, subtle details in our recordings were less noticeable with it than with the other headsets we tested—for example, the exercise conducted with the immersive sound environment (video). We didn’t hear the slight footsteps or murmurs that the Jabra headset did. That said, we wouldn’t hesitate to use this headset, whether for calls or for listening to music or podcasts.
The Zone Wired is significantly heavier than our other recommendations: it weighs 210 grams, compared to the 125 grams of the Evolve2 30 and the 188 grams of the Evolve2 40. A difference of 25 or 80 grams may not seem like much, but if you have to wear a headset all day, 80 grams is the equivalent of more than ten one-euro coins (which weigh 7.5 grams each) or three AAA batteries. Also, the Zone Wired’s earpieces don’t swivel like Jabra headsets, and its headband doesn’t slide as well for adjustment. The wires that connect the headband to the headphones actually make this headset look funny, Frankenstein-like. But we found it comfortable to wear. The headband doesn’t pinch, and the large, padded earcups are soft and comfortable for a good hour at a time.
The Zone Wired’s buttons are conveniently located on its cord.
The Zone Wired’s buttons are conveniently located on the cord. WIRECUTTER / MICHAEL MURTAUGH
The Zone Wired’s control panel is convenient, with prominent markings for the buttons to accept or reject calls, mute or unmute, play music or pause. The volume dial, located on the side, is also easy to access, if a bit small. All the controls are on the cord, a tightly braided cord, less prone to knots than cords made of rubbery material. A clip is provided to hang the cord and controls nearby, for example, on the lapel of a jacket. You can also mute or unmute your voice by raising or lowering the microphone stem. This handy detail, which the competitor Evolve2 30 does not offer (but present on the Evolve2 40).
This headset has a USB-C connection, delivered with a USB-A adapter.
A high-end wired headset: the Evolve2 40 from Jabra
The Jabra Evolve2 40 outperforms all other headsets we’ve tried when it comes to microphone and audio reception quality. Like Logitech’s Zone Wired (but not like Jabra’s less expensive Evolve2 30), the Evolve2 40 allows you to switch from “mute” to “unmute” with the microphone stem, and that’s handy. The Evolve2 40 is heavier than the Evolve2 30 because its headband and earphones are larger, but we found them quite bearable and comfortable for several hours.
The Evolve2 40 has three microphones (compared to two for the Evolve2 30 and Zone Wired), which may explain its slightly better performance. Our recordings were clear, completely understandable, and warm in tone, even when ambient noise was suppressed. The difference in sound quality between the three headsets may not be noticeable if a user does not pay close attention. For our part, we have a slight preference for voice reproduction with the Evolve2 40. The incoming sounds are also of excellent quality, with the bass and treble blossoming particularly well in songs.
These headphones immediately feel more solid than the Evolve2 30 and Zone Wired, with their much thicker headband and larger earcups. The latter is about the size of a lemon on the Evolve2 30, while they’re closer to a Beefheart tomato on the Evolve2 40. This makes the Evolve2 40 better at passive noise cancellation and more suitable for people with slightly larger ears. In addition, a unique feature of the Evolve2 40 is that the ear cushions can be changed.
Of course, it’s not as light as the Evolve2 30, but it’s remarkably comfortable. One of our testers actually preferred it to all the others, perhaps because its larger ear cups sit on the edges of the ears, not in the centre. These earphones are indeed the largest of the models we tested.
The Evolve2 40 (bottom) has the widest earcups in our selection. The Evolve2 30 (top left) is the lightest of this group, and the Zone Wired (top right) is the heaviest.
The Evolve2 40 (bottom) has the widest headphones in our selection. The Evolve2 30 (top left) is the lightest of this group, and the Zone Wired (top right) is the heaviest and bulkiest. WIRECUTTER / MICHAEL MURTAUGH
The Evolve2 40’s controls are identical to those of the Evolve2 30: small buttons on the edge of the right earpiece to control volume, song playback, hide and restore voice, or open notification for the Microsoft Teams optimized version. The Evolve2 40’s microphone stem also allows you to mute and unmute your voice during calls, which we find very useful in practice.
As with the Evolve2 30, you can choose the Evolve2 40 in USB-A or USB-C connectivity, and there is also a mono version.
A low-cost wired headset: the Logitech H540
The Logitech H540 cost about three times less than Jabra’s Evolve2 30 and was rated the best-wired headset under 50 euros. However, we don’t recommend it unless you absolutely need a cheap headset in a hurry and don’t have an alternative, such as a wired hands-free kit with earpieces or speakers coupled with a microphone. Its microphone transmits voice well but also picks up a lot of ambient noise. With it, we seemed to be talking from an industrial wind tunnel, we were told. With no indicator light, we don’t know if the voice is masked or not. Moreover, its shiny plastic inclines us to predict that it will not last long. To stay positive, this headset is more comfortable than our previous choice of “low-budget” wired headset, the Microsoft LifeChat LX-6000. But we still maintain that it’s better to choose a better quality headset that will last you for years.
The Jabra Evolve2 85 costs about 200 euros more (at the time of publication) than the Evolve2 65. However, you get active noise cancellation and ten built-in microphones (compared to the three in the Evolve2 65 and four in the Evolve 75). These full-ear headphones are very comfortable, but we didn’t find that the extra mics justified the price during our testing.
The Avantree AS90TA’s mic rod is detachable, which is unusual. This model comes with a charging station and does not require a Bluetooth USB dongle to connect to your computer. Avantree assures that the headset can custom-calibrate sound based on your audio profile, a profile you set by running an audio test with the app. Still, the microphone stem is fragile, and this headset came in last during our ambient noise cancellation tests.
We had problems with all three EPOS Adapt wireless headsets we tested. The Adapt 360 puts a lot of pressure on the head, which is probably useful for passive noise cancellation, but after half an hour, it feels like your head is in a vice. We also noticed interference when listening to music. The Adapt 560’s audio quality is also poor, adding echo to voices and fading them during video conferences. Our recordings with the Adapt 660 produced a robotic, tinny sound, which we believe is due to the “comb filter” (video), an effect produced by different, unsynchronized microphones. Firmware updates can probably solve these problems, but EPOS updates were only available for Windows when we tested these models. We’re willing to give it another shot with installed updates in our next round of headset testing.
The Jabra Evolve 65 costs about 40 euros less (at the time of publication) than the Evolve2 65. However, other than their name and common passive noise-cancellation design, they have nothing in common. The Evolve 65’s headband is not padded, the earphones are smaller, battery life is shorter, and voice quality is lower.
The Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC is the most comfortable headset we tried. Heavier than the others, yes, but its large, ear-encompassing earpieces are surprisingly plush. We also liked the volume, playback and different levels of active noise cancellation buttons. Unfortunately, this headset ranked dead last for mic quality, probably because it doesn’t have a stem. As a result, our experts found the sound “indistinct”, “cloudy”, and difficult to decipher. In short, “unusable”.
Logitech’s Zone Wireless headset has advanced features like Qi wireless charging and the ability to connect to a computer, tablet and smartphone simultaneously. In addition, if you use other Logitech wireless devices at home, a USB-A receiver can connect six of them. Still, let’s point out that it is the broom car of voice audio quality and disconnected from time to time, making us fear the worst during critical business calls.
We tested the Plantronics Voyager 4220 against the Jabra Evolve 75 in early 2019 to conclude that their mic quality was comparable, but the former was less comfortable. In addition, reception quality lagged far behind the Evolve 75 and 65, especially in the high end. As a result, female voices are likely to come out distorted, hoarse.
The Plantronics Voyager Focus UC was one of our recommended products in this guide, first because it was easier to use than its competitors at the time, and second because its headphones already had active noise cancellation and came with a charging station. But in our 2018 tests, the Focus UC’s mic was awful compared to our new favourites. And its Bluetooth was too unstable, especially when trying to connect two devices at once.
In previous tests, the VXi BlueParrott S450-XT lasted at least a full day’s work, as did our two favourite headsets in the previous version of this guide. But it ranked last for outgoing audio quality. Not to mention the fact that it was the heaviest and bulkiest of our selection.
The Jabra Evolve 40 was, for a while, our top choice for wired headphones. It still has a perfect mic and earphones, but the Evolve2 30 now clearly outperforms it in ambient noise cancellation. The control panel is a golf-ball-sized dial, supposed to sit wisely on your desk. Sure, it’s straightforward to use, but we prefer Logitech’s Zone Wired’s more discreet control panel.
Microsoft’s LifeChat LX-6000, our previous choice for a budget headset, has tiny earpieces and a headband that compresses the head. Very uncomfortable, even for a thirty-minute call. The microphone was not outdone, and we experienced some problems during our tests.
The Logitech H390, another low-cost option, is even more head-scratching than the LifeChat LX-6000, and our voice recordings were plagued by interference and volume dropouts.
The EPOS Adapt 165T is a decent headset: lightweight, comfortable, and delivers a clear speech. However, ambient noise is much more noticeable with them. Its build quality is not as convincing as that of its competitors. It sometimes tended to slip around our heads (depending on who was wearing it).