Why I have sent back my beautiful Sennheiser MB Pro 2 UC ML Bluetooth Headset (£186 on amazon)
I’m looking for the best solution for Zoom training sessions, and trying to work out why some people use headsets and some don’t.
Reason 1 – to sound really great ~ if people have to listen to you for an hour or more, most webcams in echoey rooms sound scratchy and unpleasant. I want people to ENJOY hearing me talk about Gantt charts for an hour!
Reason 2 – so you don’t give them ambient noise from people in the next room, dogs barking, chairs scraping, traffic (or birds) outside, etc.
Reason 3 – so you don’t give them echo/feedback, as their voice comes out of the speakers into your room and into your microphone and then back to them
Two more reasons that I don’t personally care about, but could be issues:
Reason 4 – working somewhere noisy, like an office or a call centre or a co-work, and not wanting to be distracted by the noises around you. You need noise-cancelling headphones for this.
Reason 5 – confidentiality – not wanting people around you to hear what you are hearing. You need headphones for this.
For 4 and 5 the Sennheisers were great. But unfortunately for them I’m in a quiet office on my own so they aren’t needed for these reasons.
But for the first three, which I’m interested in, they failed:
a) The microphone was OK, quite good in fact, but not as good as my Rode lavalier mic (the unfortunately named “Smart Lav”: £50). By the way I have found that the Smart Lav only sounds great when mounted on a headset so it’s right by my mouth – when attached to my collar or tie it’s too far away to sound good. Fail!
b) I couldn’t hear myself talking properly with the noise-cancelling phones – was I talking loudly or quietly? It was hard to tell! There was no feedback from the mic into the phones, which would seem like a good idea (it’s what you get in a recording studio, and it’s essential).
c) The mic still picks up the ambient noise – it’s a bit more close-up than a web-cam, but not really 100% close up like my Rode podcaster mic is. That picks up nothing from the room at all, just all 100% you, and for recording audio I love it. The only snag with the Podcaster is that it’s huge – it would block out most of you face on a zoom call!
d) echo/feedback – doesn’t seem to be an issue with ANY of the systems, even my webcam. I still haven’t worked out why it DOES seem to be an issue with some individuals – maybe they have their speakers on very loud, or their speakers are unusually close to the web cam’s mic, or pointing back at it or something? Still a mystery….
So what’s my ideal solution? Maybe a one-ear system like this, so I can hear them myself with my free ear but also I hear a bit more of them in the one speaker – but will this feel a bit lopsided?
Or maybe just a microphone on a holder, with no headphones at all?
Although I can’t help thinking that a side mic is better than one in front of your mouth – for Zoom calls. And the above is in front of your mouth, probably designed for call centres again.
Wireless would be good, but that all-important high quality mic sound seems to require a wire….
Possibly a directional/rifle mic just out of shot, like they use to record my courses at the super-professional Linkedin Learning, would be a good solution, but I know that good ones cost a LOT of money. And I want to be able to move around, even turn away and write on the whiteboard etc, so it may not be good enough.
So the search goes on, and until then I’ll keep using my home-made set-up: a Smart Lav mounted on an old headset so it’s just to the side of my mouth, so I have one ear free to hear you talking and me talking – and I’ll just have to live with the wire…..