Best Headsets, Headphones, and Microphones for Remote Work and More (March 2021)

I wrote another blog post for High Fidelity, and it’s another one that’s a perfect fit for this blog. Below, you’ll find the original post’s text, which offers a buying guide to folks who are interested in a new headset, headphone, or microphone.

We have all sat in our share of voice meetings with that one coworker who uses a microphone that sounds like a tin can and some string. And if you can’t remember that happening, that coworker is probably you.

It’s 2021. Internet voice meetings are here to stay. Music streaming services offering high-bitrate audio are ubiquitous. Video games continue to push the boundary of spatial audio, and gamers with positionally-accurate headsets have a massive advantage. All this means that high-quality audio input and audio output devices are more important than they’ve ever been, for your coworkers’ comfort and your own. Continue reading to learn how to pick out a new headset, headphones, or microphone for your home office at any budget.

Why you should trust us

At High Fidelity, audio quality is our obsession. We improve aural experiences the same way big movie studios improve their visual effects. Each of us spends several hours per week listening to the way other people sound when we meet virtually, and we use that information to drive product features.

The author of this post is musically trained and has spent thousands of hours critically listening to digital audio over many years. He owns “too many” pairs of audio input/output devices and purchased each one after significant research.

The headset, headphone, and microphone options below will serve you well, no matter your budget.

Headsets

The term “headset” typically refers to an all-in-one audio device which contains both speakers and a microphone. Historically, headsets have been designed for full-duplex voice communication – and only voice communication. Remember Bluetooth headsets from the early 2000s?

However, throughout the past couple of decades, consumers have demanded that headsets be capable of simultaneous, high-quality audio output and audio input. One example of that demand comes from online video games, where fast, clear voice communication and hyper-accurate positional audio are both critical to win. In fact, the best headsets of today – for any application – are usually marketed in some way towards people who play video games.

⚠ Before we discuss recommendations, a warning: Using an all-in-one headset will almost never yield the best audio input quality or audio output quality when compared to standalone headphones and a separate microphone. That being said, headsets – especially those that are wireless – are very convenient and often less expensive than buying separate pieces of equipment.

Choosing a Headset

First: Decide if you want a wireless headset or a wired headset. Wireless headsets are significantly more convenient due to their lack of cables, but generally sound worse, have worse microphones, are heavier, must be recharged, and are more expensive for the quality. It’s up to you whether the pros of wireless headsets outweigh the cons. We present several wired options and wireless options below.

Best Wired Headset: Budget

HyperX Cloud Stinger
MSRP $49.99 – Get Latest Price on Amazon

Best Wired Headset: Quality

Drop + Sennheiser PC38X
MSRP $169 – Get Latest Price on Drop.com

Best Wireless Headset: Budget

SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless
MSRP $99.99 – Get Latest Price on Amazon

Best Wireless Headset: Quality

SteelSeries Arctis 7
MSRP $149.99 – Get Latest Price on Amazon

Best Wired or Wireless Headset: Max Quality

Audeze Mobius
MSRP $399 – Get Latest Price on Amazon

Headphones

If you’re interested in maximizing audio output quality, enjoy listening to music outside work, or don’t have much of a need for a microphone, perhaps a set of dedicated headphones is right for you. Some of these options include a microphone, but the microphone may not be as good as those included in headsets above.

Check out the options below:

Best Wired In-Ear Headphones

1MORE Triple Driver
MSRP $79.99 – Get Latest Price on Amazon

Best Wired Over-Ear Headphones: Budget

Samson SR850
MSRP $49.99 – Get Latest Price on Amazon

Best Wired Over-Ear Headphones: Quality

Sennheiser HD 599
MSRP $199.95 – Get Latest Price on Amazon

Best Wireless, Noise-Canceling Over-Ear Headphones

Sony WH-1000XM4
MSRP $279.99 – Get Latest Price on Amazon

Microphones

If you already own a pair of headphones or a headset and want to improve the way your voice sounds to others while in an online meeting, you can’t beat the voice quality of a dedicated microphone.

When you purchase a dedicated microphone, consider also purchasing a microphone stand or boom arm such as this InnoGear Microphone Arm Stand. While using a microphone’s built-in tabletop stand suffices for most situations, the tabletop stand can pick up keyboard noises or other vibrations and transfer them to others, which can be uncomfortable for listeners.

Also consider purchasing a separate pop filter for your standalone microphone, which reduces the popping sounds others may hear when you speak plosives into your microphone (such as the “p” in “popping”). You can make your own pop filter if you’re DIY-oriented, or just buy one

Check out the options below:

Best Microphone: Budget

FiFine K669B
MSRP $35.99 – Get Latest Price on Amazon

Best Microphone: Quality

Blue Yeti X
MSRP $169.99 – Get Latest Price on Amazon

Conclusion

We hope that you have found a headset, pair of headphones, or microphone that fits your needs. We’re certain that upgrading to any of the above equipment will have your coworkers wondering “what microphone do you have?”
Once you have your new gear, why not test it out in the High Fidelity Demo Space? See you there!

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