As I said the other day, Sennheiser kindly sent us some headsets for testing. Not just the MB 660 though…no, we got several more!
More than I could review on my own. So I passed the others to co-workers. I asked them to use the headsets for a few weeks, and then give me their impressions.
Here are the results. Since I have three devices under review in one post, I’ll compress each review a little bit.
Presence UC ML: The Road Warrior’s Headset
SPECS: The Presence UC ML is a single-ear Bluetooth headset for mobile use. It’s the “pack of gum” type that sits right on your ear. It comes with a USB dongle for plugging into a computer. The ML version is rated for Skype for Business, though the entire Presence line will cooperate with mobile phones.
The Presence UC ML features multi-device connectivity, SpeakFocus (your listener hears your voice instead of traffic sounds), and up to 10 hours call time on 1 charge.
USER’S EXPERIENCE: I gave this to Mike, our Creative Director. Mike tried it on his Macbook, but it didn’t want to work. He could receive calls with it, but his voice never rose above a whisper. I don’t know if this was due to his using a Mac, or a configuration issue. (When I can get him to bring it back, I’ll try the dongle out on my Windows laptop.)
Using it with his phone however was a whole other story.
“Using this [the Presence UC ML headset] was superior to my phone,” he said. “Between holding the phone to my ear and using the headset, the headset was clearer in every respect. Plus I didn’t have any pressure on my ear. I actually forgot I was wearing it!”
Mike rides a motorcycle to the office. I’d called him one day and chatted for a moment about a project. Moments later he walked in the door. He’d put the Presence on inside his helmet and talked to me while riding. I didn’t even know he’d done that until he told me. His voice came through so clearly—while inside a motorcycle helmet speeding down the freeway—that I thought he was still at home!
BEST FOR: The Presence UC ML is very much an on-the-go headset. It’s compact, light, and keeps up good clear sound for hours. Road Warriors, we have your headset.
SP 20 ML: The Speakerphone/Hockey Puck
SPECS: The SP 20 ML is a Skype for Business speakerphone. Like the Jabra SPEAK 410, it’s a large speaker that sits on the desk/conference table. Except it does much more.
The SP 20 contains its own battery, which it charges via the USB cable. It has both a USB connector and a 3.5 connector, which allows it to plug into a computer, tablet, even your phone. The SP 20 has call control and volume buttons on its top surface. Skype for Business will auto-detect the device with no configuration necessary.
USER’S EXPERIENCE: This one I tested myself. I used it for some basic one-on-one calls, three- and four-person conference calls, and even played some music for a while. (Okay, until my co-workers started throwing crumpled-up paper balls at me.)
The SP 20’s sound clarity is stellar. Not just for hearing other people, but for my voice reaching them as well. We had a conference call with a colleague in Illinois, and he sounded so clear I almost forgot he wasn’t in the same room!
I credit the sound quality to the fact that the SP 20 uses more of its surface area for speaker/mic coverage. You see this in the photo above. Not only is the top surface working as a speaker/microphone, so is the underside of the lip.
That said, all this speaker surface does come with one warning: the SP 20 ML is VERY sharp at picking up sound. As such, turn it up to 100% at your own risk. We had a conference call where one of our callers kept leaning into their own speaker when talking. We could tell each time…because their voice got so loud that the sound hurt!
BEST FOR: Small office conferences. The SP 20 ML does one thing, and does it very well. I’d expect sound quality for such devices to improve over time. But they really pushed for clarity with this one.
SD Pro 1: The Call Center Workhorse
SPECS: The SD Pro 1 is a wireless single-earpiece headset which connects to a cradle. It’s part of Sennheiser’s SD series. The SD Pro 1 has a noise-canceling microphone on a boom arm. The headset incorporates call controls directly on it; you can answer or end a call, mute, and adjust volume with a tap.
The SD Pro’s battery gives you 8 hours of talk time (in wideband mode; 12 in narrowband mode) per charge. To recharge, you just put it back on the cradle.
Please Note: There are TWO versions of the SD Pro 1. One is rated ML, one is not. We had the one NOT rated ML.
The wireless range on the SD series headsets ranges from 180-590 feet. As I understand, our tests only took the SD Pro 1 from one part of the office to another, representing about 100 feet. Still, no reported static or dropped calls.
USER’S EXPERIENCE: I gave this headset to Hannah, our Office Assistant. She manages most of our incoming calls, as well as customer follow-up and scheduling.
Perhaps fittingly, Hannah gave me her impressions in a phone call. I’ll record them here in question/answer format.
- “How would you rate the headset in terms of comfort?”
Answer: 8/10. Sometimes it starts sliding off my head and I have to keep readjusting it. Could be I have a weird shaped head. But that’s okay, it’s pretty comfortable.
- “When using the headset with Skype for Business, do callers sound as clear as a regular phone call, less clear, or clearer?”
Answer: As clear as a regular phone call, definitely.
- “If you use the headset with your phone via Bluetooth, do callers sound as clear as holding a phone to your ear, less clear, or clearer? What about another Bluetooth headset – worse or better?”
Answer: I did try this, and it does sound as clear as holding the phone to my ear. I have used another Bluetooth headset before—this one is pretty much the same.
- “How easy are the headset’s controls to learn & use?”
Answer: They are pretty easy to learn. I always forget which direction to push the switch to raise the volume though!
- “What would you say to someone considering this model of headset?”
Answer: It is a great headset, with easy controls, but you have to be aware of how it will interact with your phone systems. I have to click certain buttons in a certain order to be able to answer a call in the way that I prefer to have it answered.
- “What drawbacks have you come across while using the headset?”
Answer: If I don’t answer the call with the correct button order, the call does not display on my monitor correctly. This gets irritating, because then I have to transfer calls on the phone [my desk phone] instead of doing it via Skype on my computer. Slows down the transfer process a bit. That is probably the only issue I have.
BEST FOR: Call center and front office workers. The SD Pro 1 does well with just about any phone system, but I’d recommend you use it with non-Skype for Business systems (Cisco, Shoretel, etc.). If you’re on Skype for Business, the SD Pro 1 ML should do the trick.
Why do I recommend this headset for call center workers? Because of the cradle. The SD series headsets all use the same cradle. Which means it’s easy to charge any SD headset on any cradle. Even someone else’s! (Though you might want to ask first.)
The Right Headset Depends on You (But these are all good choices!)
Now that the communication platforms available to businesses are growing like crazy, headsets like these become essential. You don’t even need a desk phone anymore…just the right software on your computer, and a nice headset.
I’d feel comfortable recommending each of these to a customer. Which one would depend on the customer’s individual needs. Do they focus on conferences? The SP 20 ML. Are they always on the go? The Presence UC ML. Just need a general headset for a bunch of office workers? The SD Pro 1.
You can find all of these headsets over at Headsets.com.
Do you have one of these Sennheiser headsets? Please comment on your experience!