Best Headsets for Work from Home 🎧
Last week, Kevin shared a very helpful set of posts about setting up your home office. The great thing is that the 4-part series covers almost every aspect succinctly along with quality practical advice.
I realized that we often talk less about the finer details of a work setup. For example, your webcam or your pair of headphones. I have always been fond of good headphones and quality sound (I won't mind being called an audiophile 😋). And what good is the knowledge I have if not shared in the right context with the right people 😉
So today I am sharing an entire post talking just about choosing the right pair of headphones for your remote work setup. I had crazy fun putting together this post - hope you feel the same reading it 😎
A quick disclaimer - I have loosely used the term 'headphones' to cover both earphones and headphones.
4 Types of Headphones you should know
While I have explained the types of headphones and their pros & cons below, choosing the type of headphone is largely a matter of personal preference. For example, I always prefer in-ear earphones vs the traditional headphones at work because I am generally more comfortable using them. However, I have often heard people say that in-ears are very intrusive and hence, they prefer headphones.
If you're worried that in-ears may not sound as great as headphones, then your apprehensions are misplaced. You will surely find an equally great sounding pair of in-ears although it could be at a different price point.
Having said that, here are 4 basic types of headphones you should be aware of -
This is the most common design for headphones and you would probably picture these when you think of the term "headphones".
1. Extremely comfortable
2. Usually provide great sound quality at a lower price versus other options
1. Bulky - Can feel heavy on your head if you're not used to it
2. Usually leak sound (unless your headphones have active noise cancellation)
Similar to over-ear headphones with the major difference being the cup size. They don't cover your ear entirely but just sit on top of it.
1. Smaller and lighter compared to over-ear headphones
2. Comparatively cheaper than over-ear headphones
1. Leak more sound compared to over-ear headphones. Also, lesser isolation from surroundings.
2. Aren't comfortable when used for longer hours of listening.
Earphones are typically identified by the fact that they can fit in your pocket. The in-ear ones go deep in your ear canal providing strong isolation from your surroundings. They are also called 'in-ear monitors' or 'canalphones'.
1. Extremely light and compact
2. Amazing isolation from your surroundings. If you have active noise cancellation on your in-ears, that's a bonus.
3. Leak minimal sound
1. Some might find them very intrusive. They go really deep in your ear canals.
2. There's also the risk of ear damage if the IEMs aren't good quality and if you listen to music for long hours on high volume.
3. If you are looking for excellent sound quality, you might have to pay a higher price (compared to headphones).
Nowadays, earbuds and earphones have become synonymous and the distinction largely remains academic. However, technically speaking, earbuds aren't supposed to enter your ear canal.
1. Typically cheaper compared to all other options.
2. Not as intrusive as IEMs and can easily be used for longer hours without worrying about damage to ears.
1. Earbuds typically aren't so great in terms of sound quality.
2. Leak sound easily and isolation from surrounding is poor.
How to choose headphones [for Work]
Keeping in mind that you will be choosing headphones primarily for work, here are some helpful pointers (or cheat sheet) to help you buy one -
1. No microphone = No buy - Microphone is a must since you will also be using the same headphones for calls.
2. Type of headphone - Decide on what type of headphone you prefer and as I said, it's largely a matter of personal choice. There's no right or wrong here.
3. Additional features - a) Wireless connectivity b) Active noise cancellation c) foldable design (applicable only for over-ear headphones)
4. Trusted brand - Always good to rely on a trusted, well-known brand. Not only can you rest assured in terms of quality but you also get a long warranty.
5. Additional uses - If you are looking to use the same pair of headphones for gaming, leisure listening or sports/ fitness (which may be a good idea since it increases your budget), you will have to revisit point 3 and add in more features. For example, you have to look for a better ear fit if you're also looking to use these headphones for fitness.
Best Headset for Working from Home
It is super tough to choose just a handful of headphones and deem them to be the best. However, in the following section, I have tried to list the most popular, great sounding and fit-for-business-use headphones. The list primarily serves to be a practical guide in choosing a good headset while working from home. Trust me, you will not regret buying any one of these headphones!
Some of the headphones listed here have both wired/ wireless versions and I have indicated that as well. So without further ado, let's delve into the actual list.
Best Headphones for Work from Home
1) Sennheiser Momentum (+ HD 450BT and HD 400S)
As a brand, you can trust Sennheiser without a doubt. You will never go wrong with any pair of Sennheiser headphones and I strongly recommend buying one if it's your first time investing in good quality, premium headphones.
Sennheiser Momentums are their premium range headphones with heavy focus on design and style. So these are a perfect fit if you are looking for a combination of high quality sound, premium feel & design and robustness.
There are multiple variants available including over-ear, on-ear and in-ear headphones along with the option of wireless connectivity. The newest ones are 3rd generation with the option of upgrading to active noise cancellation. I own the over-ear first generation pair which itself were amazing.
Given these are in the premium range of Sennheiser, the price is on the higher end. However, if you're looking for relatively cheaper options, Sennheiser HD 450BT and HD 400S are also great choices.
2) Audio Technica M50X (+ M40X, M30X, M20X)
Ask anyone who's given quality sound and headphones a serious thought about their opinion on Audio Technica (ATH) and you will run out of luck finding a negative review. The brand is popular for making studio quality headphones.
ATH M50X are their most popular pair of headphones. Sound quality, design, compactness, robustness - this is as good as it gets. Audio Technica is known for its neutral sound signature and these headphones are perfect for office use.
The ATH M50X also has a wireless/ bluetooth variant. If you aren't looking to invest as much, the ATH 40X, 30X and 20X are good options as well.
Best Earphones for Work from Home
1) RHA MA 750 (+ TruConnect, S500, MA 390)
RHA is a niche headphone brand with exclusive focus on in-ear earphones. Based in Scotland, RHA was the first company to launch in-ear planar magnetic headphones (for simplicity, fancy tech earlier only found in over-ear headphones). While you may not buy the RHA CL2 Planars (well, because they are damn expensive - $900), it surely gives you a signal of the quality of earphones the brand manufactures.
RHA earphones are known for their robust & sleek design and of course, quality sound. I have used almost all of them from MA 750 to MA 390 and all of them are worth your money. The MA 750s are of course the premium in-ears by RHA. But you can also choose to buy MA 390 or S500 and you would find them really good at their price point.
RHA also offers wireless variants and a special mention for the TrueConnect Earbuds, which are way better than Apple AirPods at half the price.
2) Apple AirPods
Apple AirPods make it to the list precisely for 2 reasons -
- If you own an iPhone, the connectivity is seamless and the ease-of-use is phenomenal. For wireless earphones, I believe these have to be the topmost priority and AirPods deliver big time.
- AirPods don't disappoint in terms of sound quality. It just does enough to not stop you from buying it.
So if you have already made up your mind to buy AirPods (or if you own a pair which came with your phone), you should be fine. However, if you are looking for alternative or if there's any scope of not buying AirPods, you would probably not end up buying them.
3) Shure SE215
Shure is another brand that focuses on sound precision and quality. Just like Audio Technica, Shure SE215 has a flat sound signature which, as I mentioned, turns out great for use at work.
They aren't the best in terms of design and robustness. But they aren't that fragile to be damaged on a little mishandling.
Shure SE215 also have a wireless option in-built. So you can simple plug out the wire and connect them with your phone via Bluetooth.
4) Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless in-Ear
This deserves a separate mention even though they are as pricey as AirPods Pro or Bose SoundSport. Because, well, they are that good.
These score on all aspects and are probably the best true wireless earphones you can buy.
A special mention for the Sennheiser CX series. You can safely pick up any pair and you won't regret your choice.