Headsets Microphones

Headset microphones have until recently been used mostly in ‘operator’ type circumstances e.g. telephone operators or call centres where the headset consisted of headphones to hear someone at the other end of the line, and for replying, an attached short boom microphone which had some degree of articulation for getting close to the mouth while avoiding breath noises (plosives).

headsets microphone in use

They were never intended to be of a high quality so dynamic microphones or in the early days carbon granule microphones were used to pick up speech of reasonable intelligibility. Nowadays there is no excuse for poor quality microphones or earpieces in operator headsets.

Operator Microphones Headsets

The background noise in call centres and switchboards can be objectionable to people on the other end of the line, so if background noise is high you need to get headsets that have cardioid microphones, these are usually electret microphones because they are of high quality, cheap to produce and not prone to picking up interference from computer monitors (though this is increasingly not such an issue since the arrival of LCD screens). A washable re-usable windshield should be used to prevent plosives on the microphone.

beyer headset microphone system

The earpieces should be of the closed back variety to keep out background noise. The system that feeds the headphones should mix some of the operator’s microphone with the sound from the person at the other end of the line (this is known as ‘side tone’) to prevent the operator from shouting to hear themselves; the absence of side tone in mobile phones (for budget, size and weight reasons) is why some people tend to shout while using them. Also a limiter should be incorporated to prevent the occasional loud clicks that can occur on telephone lines.

Headsets for Computer Users

Computer users requirements are slightly different from operators headsets, they don't need closed back headphones, unless for some reason they are in a very noisy room, so open back headphones will be fine. A cardioid microphone is still needed to keep some background noise such as the computer fans low, this is especially true when using speech recognition software.

Headset microphones are also useful when video or audio conferencing as it removes any echoes that people at the other end will hear if their voice comes out of the other person's computer speaker, particularly when more than two peope are involved.

Some computer headset microphones have a single USB plug on the end of the cable such as Dragon Systems H100 USB headset, others will tend to have mini jacks that plug into the sound card.

broadcast headsets microphone

Broadcast Headsets Microphones

The broadcast industry uses the modern versions of operator headsets e.g. Beyer DT 108/9. Floor managers, cameramen, soundmen indeed anyone remote from the gallery will use these headsets to communicate with their respective heads of department and the Director.

Other versions e.g. Beyer DT 282 have just one earpiece to allow operators to be more aware of what is going on around them, though it is a bit more tiring listening to two separate sounds all day.

Nowadays headsets are mostly connected via two-way radio systems, but in the early days of television and radio they were all cabled. Broadcast headsets tend to get a lot of physical abuse and so should be of a modular design whereby individual parts can easily be replaced.

Stage and Conference Headsets Microphones

Now a new type of headset microphone is used by Pop vocalists in Rock and Stage musicals. A separate radio receiver is used to feed lightweight in-ear speakers with ‘foldback’ of the band and themselves along with any effects.

They also wear a headset microphone such as the DPA 4065/6 range which consists of a thin, lightweight frame which goes over their head and rests on their ears, this postions the attached tiny electret microphone on a small flexible boom just by the side of their mouth (it is often flesh coloured so that it is almost invisible to the audience), this is an ideal position to cut down the potential for feedback, it is plugged into a separate radio transmitter.

The Conference market tends not to have the foldback system, just the headsets microphone, this gives the speakers mobility and frees their hands to use overhead projectors and computers.

Recording in Noisy Environments

There are headsets that use digital technology to analyse unwanted background noise with a separate microphone from the headset's microphone and anti-phase it, thus just picking up the wanted sound of the operator, this cuts down the noise in the headphones and the sound sent from the microphone e.g. Adaptive Technologies Inc’ headsets, they are mostly used in military situations.

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