How to choose a Bluetooth Headset
Let’s take a look at some important features on how to choose a Bluetooth headset and help you make an informed decision.
When shopping for a Bluetooth headset there are a few points that you should consider before buying.
How will you use your Bluetooth headset?
This is the best way to know how to find a great Bluetooth headset. How will you use it?
You might use it while driving or maybe while on the street. Or at the office. Perhaps even all of them.
For driving or outside use, it’s recommended to have noise cancellation. That means the headset will be equipped with two or more microphones. One microphone will pick up your voice while the remaining cancel ambient noise.
The same headset you use for calls will be fine for listening to audiobooks or podcasts. If it has an ear hook or a silicone tip they should be well secured. A one-ear device will work great.
Listening to music will be a whole different story. I recommend you use an over both ears Bluetooth headphones. It’s the right choice to provide the best stereo sound quality.
If you need a device for listening to music while working out you’ll need a stereo headset that can be easily secured and is light.
What you should look for when choosing a Bluetooth Headset…
Like I’ve mentioned, not every Bluetooth headset is the best for every situation.
Let’s take a look at some attributes relevant on getting a great Bluetooth headset:
To each of these cases you should take into account the following protocols:
Headset Profile (HSP) – This is basic headset functionality, which allows for use of a microphone input and 64 kbps mono audio.
Handsfree Profile (HFP) – This profile offers advanced headset functionality like voice dialing, redialing, and better mono audio quality.
Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) – At this stage, it provides stereo audio transmission allowing adequate music listening. HSP or HFP is not appropriate for music listening as they rely on mono audio.
Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP) – This profile includes controls for media playback: skipping tracks, play/pause, and volume control.
For calls, you could use HSP but virtually every headset today features HFP.
To listen to audiobooks and other media content the AVRCP is a must-have because you can pause, play, skip tracks or change volume in your headset at the touch of a button. Without AVRCP you’ll have to do it in your smartphone.
A2DP is a must-have if you want the device to enjoy music with ensured sound quality.
If you want to know more Bluetooth profiles check out Wikipedia’s article.
Talk/listen and charge time
You should also take into account the talk/listen time and charge time.
For a device that will only be used a few hours a week to listen to stereo music a working time of around 4 hours should be enough.
But if you’ll use it daily for calls I would recommend no less than 6 hours. And in case you’ll also be listening to audiobooks and podcasts, then looking for running time is not a bad idea.
By the way, when it comes to charging you should prefer headsets with micro USB ports, especially on intensive daily use. That way you can charge them anywhere.
To make sure your headset is powered up on the go check out our article on How to get the best powerbank.
The weight of the headset
Again we find a distinction between mono headsets and music headphones.
On mono headsets which you’ll be using for hours, you need low weight. Remember that you can easily spend hours using them whether driving or in the office, even if you aren’t making calls.
For music purposes weight is not so critical and you have to bear in mind that many times the lightest headphones aren’t the best in terms of sound quality.
A music headset for working out won’t be as light as the mono headsets but still weigh much less than music headphones.
Like any cordless device, there’s is a usable distance interval between your Bluetooth headset and your smartphone or laptop.
Remember that this distance is an optimal figure. The distance range will be reduced if there are obstacles like walls, glass, between the two devices. Even microwaves and Wi-Fi routers.
This will lead to higher battery consumption and sometimes can cause interference or even disconnection.
Most devices indicate a range of 33 feet or 10 meters and that’s fine. A few devices might even indicate 100 feet or 30 meters of range but in the real world you probably won’t notice much difference because of the conditionings referred before.
You might want a Bluetooth headset that works not only with your smartphone but also with a tablet or your laptop at the same time. That’s when multipoint pairing comes in handy.
Multipoint pairing allows you to connect a headset to two phones and take calls on both of them.
These days most Bluetooth headsets can work with two simultaneous devices and it’s probably enough for most people. If for some reason it can only work with one device take a closer look, it probably is an outdated model.
Like in many other cases the more recent the version, the better. But since Bluetooth is backward compatible and you’re using it mainly to talk you don’t have to be too rigid about having the most up to date protocol.
Even if you found a device that fills all your criteria but has Bluetooth 3.0 don’t let that be a deal-breaker. Although it might seem outdated, Bluetooth 3.0 is capable of supporting features like A2DP and AVRCP.
In fact, if you found a device that fulfills all your needs than Bluetooth version on its own is not important.
Now you know how to analyze a device and how to pick a Bluetooth Headset that best suits your needs.
To choose an awesome Bluetooth headset, check out our article: Best Bluetooth Headset for car use. Many of them are also great for using on the street, at home or at the office.