In our home headphones for the computer are even more plentiful than the number of heads we have bopping to music, listening to audio books or turned up full blast to hear tires squealing, gun fire, creatures being annihilated or just to talk to a friend late into the night. So, when I went on a hunt to find a set of headphones equipped with a mic I thought it would be simple. I was looking for something that would allow me to do some audio book voice recording. Of course, I located a few sets that had been discarded months ago that looked in perfect shape, until I tried to use the mic. Dead, static filled recordings or buzzing sounds greeted my ears every time.
Several years ago after finishing my Broadcasting courses I took on voice over work, including those dreaded automated telephone messages, yes indeed - I was one of those annoying "Press 1 for..." voices. Before I could decide exactly which direction I wanted to pursue - Radio, TV or other voice work - I became sidetracked with my own business and shelved my voice work for awhile. Just recently I had the desire to get back to doing it and decided I'd like to do something worthwhile with the voice I'd been given, so I decided to volunteer my time with a place called Librivox.com. This site is made up of thousands of volunteers who are taking all the books that are in the public domain, and giving them a voice, putting them into audio books. It's an incredible project and the greatest thing about it? You don't have to be a professional! Anyone can do it!
The headset I finally found after searching on the net to see what was out there and who was using what, was Plantronics Sound Innovations Audio 650 headset with mic but when I went to purchase it, the only one that was left in stock was the Audio 350. The only difference between the two that I can determine is the Analog/USB feature that the Audio 650 offers. For the price I have to say that I am impressed with the Audio 350's just the same.
The headset is comfortable, with cushioned ear pieces that sit just nicely against the ears and stay in place securely. They block just enough sound out to ensure that you can listen to what you want without being disturbed by outside interference, yet they aren't constricting enough to leave you deaf to the world.
The mic could be a bit more flexible however, as it is based on the left side and works like a boom mic, but has no flexibility to move the mic in or out, only up or down. A headset my husband owned had this option and I really liked it, but perhaps that is also why the mic died only about a year after owning them. However, it picks up the voice perfectly and has a noise canceling ability which works very well. I was recording the other day and a huge truck decided to drive by honking his horn. When I played back the recording, the horn hadn't even been picked up - I was impressed! There is a handy clip which you can attach to your shirt/top etc., that provides a quick touch volume control as well as a mute button. They aren't solidly built but not so flimsy that you'd be afraid to pick them up the wrong way - overall they are lightweight, with an adjustable headbar and appear to be able to withstand normal everyday handling without much problem.
These headphones are certainly not top of the line, but for the price, they are highly suitable as music, gaming, voice recording and are optimized to work well with applications such as Skype and messaging for sites like Microsoft Live and Yahoo Messenger.
The one other application I'm looking forward to trying them out with will be Dragon Naturally Speaking, a text to speech program which will be extremely handy if I can take the time necessary to train it so that I can dictate things like my reviews, my novel writing and of course bossing my computer around.
Overall, a good headset for those who aren't seeking Professional, top of the line studio quality gear.
Update On May 01, 2009: May 1/09: What a difference a setting or two makes! After installing my bluetooth dongle I happened across an Audio Studio setting I'd not had access to before ( or perhaps just wasn't paying attention). I tweaked the settings with a bit more base and some stereophonic enhancements including surround sound capability and this headset is amazing! Really superb surround sound capability, nice tone and excellent clarity - am I ever glad I found that little enhancement option! Very nice and even makes the internet radio on my toolbar sound really great!