Telephone Headsets
All University of Hartford digital telephones (those that have a CISCO logo on the front) include a high quality speakerphone that allows for “hands free” use.  Headsets allow you to use your telephone “hands free,” but with greater privacy. The digital phones are designed to accommodate a wide range of headsets, and in many cases perform advanced functions (described later), but it is important to select a headset, and often a special adapter cable, that is compatible with the phone.

Information Technology Services has tested an assortment of headsets, to ensure compatibility with the University’s telephones, that we recommend.  You are not limited to selecting one of these models; however, if you select another, you need to check with the manufacturer to ensure that it is compatible your phone.

 

Can I Use My Old Headset?
If you already have a headset that is connected to your old Rolm phone, it will likely work perfectly fine with your new phone.  A headset connected to the Rolm phone uses a “handset intercept” to connect it to the phone – that is, the headset “taps” the signal from the “curly cord” between the handset and the telephone.  The handsets on the new phones are electrically identical to those of the old phones, so any headset that worked on the old phone can be connected to the new phone and should work the same way.

Notes about using your old headset with the new phone:

·        You cannot use the “headset” button on the new phone, nor do you use the “headset” jack on the back of the phone (they won’t work) – use the handset jack.

·        Connect your headset to the “handset” on the back of the phone, and connect the new handset to your headset the same way you did with your old phone.

·        Operate the headset with the new phone exactly as you did with the old phone: lift the handset off of the phone and place it on your desk; turn on the headset to divert sound from the handset to the headset, use the phone.  Reverse the process when your call is complete.

 

Connection: Wired vs. Wireless
Your first decision is whether to choose a wired of wireless headset.  Here are some pros and cons of each:

Wired

·        + Usually less expensive than wireless

·        + May provide slightly better sound quality than wireless

·        + No limit to “run time” – no battery life to be concerned about

·        - You are “tethered” to your phone

·        - There is a pesky wire running from your head to the phone

Wireless

·        + Freedom to move around the office

·        + No wire to deal with

·        + Tend to have better integration with/control over with the phone

·        - Uses a rechargeable battery with a finite run time (but most would last a whole business day between charges)

·        - In testing, there is a slight hiss and slightly lower sound quality than wired models (it’s a radio)

·        - More expensive than wired versions

 

Style
Headsets are generally available in three styles:

Ear hanger

Monaural Head Clamp

Binaural Headphone

 

1.     Ear hanger: These units are fairly small and lightweight, and hang in/on one ear.  An advantage of these models is that there is less “gadgetry” on your head.  Sound is provided to only one ear, and is generally less forceful than that provided by the phone’s handset.

2.     Monaural Head Clamp: A small on-the-ear headphone, but with only one “active” side – the other side is just a hard rubber pad that presses on the side of your head.  (Only one “convertible-to-head clamp” model is reviewed here.  If you’re going to have a hoop over your head anyway, why not just go all the way to a more comfortable, better sounding binaural headphone?)

3.     Binaural Headphone: Like a small on-the-ear headphone; there is sound to both ears, which can provide a more natural hearing experience while using the phone.  (Note that they do not block much of the sound around you – you can carry on a normal conversation with someone in-person while wearing the headset.)

 

Capability
There are
three ways to connect a headset to the CISCO phones, each of which has its own level in capability:

·        Handset intercept:  This method inserts the headset between the telephone’s handset jack, and the telephone’s handset, and is generally the “least capable” way of connecting a headset in that you need to perform several manual steps to utilize the headset.

Before installing the headset
Handset  
à   Curly cord   à   Telephone’s handset jack

After installing the headset
Handset  
à   Curly cord  à   Headset   à   Another cord   à   Telephone’s handset jack

In this scenario, the headset “intercepts” the handset’s signal when the headset it turned on, and the handset is rendered inactive.  When the headset is turned off, the signal simply passes through it to the handset which operates as usual.  Note that with all of the cords and connections, your handset’s curly cord is not securely fastened to the phone – it connects to another small device or adapter cable on your desk (depending on the brand/model of headset), so your desk may be a bit more cluttered.

Note:  You do not use the “headset” button on the new phone, nor do you use the “headset” jack on the back of the phone (it won’t work) – use the handset jack.

Operation
Lift the handset off of the phone and place it on your desk; turn on the headset to divert sound from the handset to the headset, use the phone.  To end the call, put the handset back on the phone (to hang up), and [optionally] turn off the headset.  Volume level is adjusted using the telephone’s volume buttons while in a call (note that this will also change the volume setting of the handset, when not using the headset).  Some headsets – generally wireless ones, or those with amplifier modules -- may also have their own volume control that works without adjusting the handset volume on the phone itself.

·        Partial integration with the phone:  This method connects the headset to the special “headset” jack on the back of the CISCO phone.  This is a “more capable” way of connecting the headset in that the “headset” button on the phone is used when answering or initiating calls – no need to lift the handset off of the phone.  Most headsets require the purchase of an additional special adapter cable to connect them to the phone’s “headset” jack.

Before installing the headset
Handset  
à   Curly cord   à   Telephone’s handset jack

After installing the headset
Handset  
à   Curly cord  à   Telephone’s handset jack|Telephone’s headset jack   ß   Headset

In this scenario, the telephone’s “headset” and volume buttons control the headset, as if it was just another handset.  Because the headset is connected directly to the phone, there is less clutter on your desk than with the “handset intercept” method, and your handset’s “curly cable” remains firmly connected to the phone.  The headset cannot control the phone (answer or end calls).  Generally, less expensive wired headsets are connected this way.  If connecting a generally more expensive wireless headset, consider paying a little more to get “full EHS integration,” described next.

Operation
Press the “headset” button to answer or initiate calls with the headset.  Volume level is adjusted using the telephone’s volume buttons while in a call (note that headset’s volume is controlled independently of the handset’s, so the handset’s volume setting is not affected).

·        Full EHS integration with the phone:  The CISCO telephones are designed to support “electronic hookswitch” (“EHS”) capable headsets.  That means that you can answer and end calls by pressing a button on the headset without touching the phone.  (If your headset is wireless, you don’t even need to be at the phone to answer or end a call.)  You can also turn the headset on and off, and initiate or answer headset calls by pressing the “headset” button on the phone.  If you are wearing a wireless headset and are not near your phone, when your phone rings, you’ll hear a tone in the headset, and can answer the call by pressing a button on the headset, without having to go to your phone.  This is the “most capable” method of connecting a headset to a phone, and is generally the most expensive as it generally requires a fancier model of headset, and the purchase of a more expensive additional special adapter cable to connect it to the phone.

Before installing the headset
Handset  
à   Curly cord   à   Telephone’s handset jack

After installing the headset
Handset  
à   Curly cord  à   Telephone’s handset jack|Telephone’s headset, AUX, and/or USB jack   ß   Headset

In this scenario, the phone can control the headset, and the headset can perform many functions on the phone, even if you are not at the phone.  This is the recommended method of connecting a wireless headset to a phone.  It is also the most complicated in that a very specific additional special adapter cable must be purchased, and this cable differs depending on the specific model of CISCO phone you have.

Operation

Press the “headset” button to answer or initiate calls with the headset (you must be at the phone to dial a number, but you do not have to be at the phone to answer a call).  Volume level is adjusted using the headset’s volume control (the phone’s handset volume setting is not affected).  If you are wearing a wireless headset and are away from the phone when there is an incoming call, a tone will sound in the headset and you can answer the call without returning to the phone.


NOTE: If you wish to use full EHS capability, you must contact ITS to have your phone configured to enable this functionality. 
There is no cost for the modification, and it doesn’t take very long to make the change.  Should you remove your headset from the phone, you should contact ITS to restore your phone to headset-less operation.

 

Choosing a headset
Two steps to selecting a headset:

1.     Decide which of each of the three characteristics, as described above, that you want in a headset:
a) Connection: Wired or Wireless
b) Style: Ear hanger, head clamp or headphone
c) Capability: Basic handset intercept, intermediate partial integration, or advanced full EHS integration

2.     Find your desired combination of characteristics in the chart below (an overview of each of the various models follows):

Headset

Connection

Style

Integration w/Analog

Integration w/Model 7800

Integration w/Model 8900


Jabra Pro 9465 Duo ($215)

Wireless

Headphone

Basic handset intercept
(cable included – add $0)

Handset intercept
(cable included – add $0)

----------

Full EHS integration
(requires Jabra LINK 22 EHS cable – add $26)

Handset intercept
(cable included – add $0)

----------

Full EHS integration
(requires Jabra LINK 30 EHS USB cable – add $30)


Jabra Motion ($232)

Wireless

Ear hanger

Basic handset intercept
(cable included – add $0)

Handset intercept
(cable included – add $0)

----------

Full EHS integration
(requires Jabra LINK 22 EHS cable – add $26)

Handset intercept
(cable included – add $0)

----------

Full EHS integration
(requires Jabra LINK 30 EHS USB cable – add $30)


Plantronics CS520 ($250)

Wireless

Headphone

Basic handset intercept
(cable included – add $0)

Handset intercept
(cable included – add $0)

----------

Full EHS integration
(requires EHS CABLE APC-42 cable – add $78)

Handset intercept
(cable included – add $0)

----------

Full EHS integration
(requires EHS CABLE APU-71 cable – add $57)


Plantronics CS540 ($230)

Wireless

Convertible:

Ear hanger
or
Head clamp

Basic handset intercept
(cable included – add $0)

Handset intercept
(cable included – add $0)

----------

Full EHS integration
(requires EHS CABLE APC-42 cable – add $78)

Handset intercept
(cable included – add $0)

----------

Full EHS integration
(requires EHS CABLE APU-71 cable – add $57)


Jabra GN2125 NC ($92)

Wired

Headphone

Basic handset intercept
(requires Jabra LINK 850 Headset Amplifier – add $85)

Partial integration
(requires GN1200 Smartcord cable – add $25)

Partial integration
(requires GN1200 Smartcord cable – add $25)


Jabra UC VOICE 750 Duo ($66)

Wired

Headphone

Not compatible

Not compatible

Full EHS integration
(no additional cable needed – add $0)



Overview of the Headsets


Jabra Pro 9465 Duo

The Jabra Pro 9465 Duo is the most technically “elegant” and “coolest” headset of this group.  It has a flip-up color touchscreen control panel which allows configuration of many parameters (e.g., tone control) not offered on the others (although you wouldn’t likely adjust them often after initial setup).  The headset is held to its charging dock magnetically.  The dock can be rotated to adjust the position of the headset while parked.

·         Surprisingly (and perhaps needlessly) sophisticated at a lower price point than comparable Plantronics offering.  The EHS cables are less expensive than the competition too.

·         Although slightly adjustable, the microphone sits very (maybe uncomfortably) close to the face – affected by ear and cheek dimensions.

·         The answer/hang-up button is fairly small, hard to find by touch, and located on the back of the headset.  Adjusting the volume with the touch-sensitive pad on the mic boom is touchy/finicky – regular buttons might have been better – best to use the touchscreen to adjust volume.

·         Ear pads are slightly smaller than the Plantronics.

·         The EHS cable to connect it to the phone is much sleeker/creates less desk clutter than the Plantronics cables.  But the docking station takes more desk space than the Plantronics.

·         If you want simplicity, consider the Plantronics instead.


Jabra Motion

The Jabra Motion has similar “coolness” factor and comments as the Jabra Pro 9465 Duo above.  Rather than magnetism, the earpiece is docked by pressing it onto a small charging connector, which requires a bit of precision and practice.

·         The body of the earpiece sits above the ear, and may be a bit thick/wide for comfort for those with petite ears.  If you have small ears, go Plantronics.

·         If you want simplicity, consider the Plantronics instead.


Plantronics CS520 Duo

The Plantronics CS520 Duo is a good sounding, sturdier feeling, larger headset than the comparable Jabra.

·         Although adjustable up and down like the Jabra, the microphone boom cannot be adjusted toward or away from the face.  But the microphone is comfortably far from the mouth, and performs well.

·         The answer/hang-up button is right in the center of the earpiece, is easy to find by touch, and has a solid “detent” feel to it when activated.  So does the volume control button – also easy to find and use.

·         The EHS cables to connect the base to the phone are shockingly expensive, thick, and unwieldy.

·         Docking the headset on the charging base takes a bit of practice, but the connector looks durable and it should be reliable.

·         If you want a dead-simple to use (albeit less “cool”) headset, this is the one to go with, in spite of its higher price.



Plantronics CS540

The Plantronics CS540 is a convertible ear hanger or head clamp headset.  It comes as an ear hanger, but the head clamp adapter is included in the box.  Many of the comments about the Plantronics CS520 Duo above apply to this model.

·         Docking the headset on the charging base is quick and easy – just drop it into place -- and a magnet helps to “pull” it into proper position and helps keep it from being bumped off of the dock accidentally.

·         Unlike the comparable Jabra, this model comes with a few different sized ear clips, so you should be able to find one that fits well.

If you want a dead-simple to use headset, albeit with less pizazz than the Jabra, or if you’re not sure if you want an ear hanger or a head clamp, but know you don’t want a full headphone, this is the one to go with.


Jabra GN2125 NC

The Jabra GN2125 NC headset is a good-sounding wired design.  You must purchase the appropriate connecting cable to connect it to the back of the phone.  It has no buttons on it and cannot control the phone – you must use the phone’s “headset” button and volume control to control this headset.

·         Requires an adapter cable to connect it to the phone.  The cable is available in both “straight” and “curly” versions.

·         Clear sound, no static.

·         Light and comfortable to use.


Jabra UC VOICE 750 Duo

The Jabra UC VOICE 750 Duo is an inexpensive USB-connected wired headset.  It can be connected to the larger CISCO 8900 series phone, and PCs and Macs (which may come in handy when we offer Jabber “soft phone” software in the future) but cannot be connected to the most widely used 7800 series phone.

·         Somewhat more generous and more comfortable ear pads than on the GN2125 NC.  This may make this model more comfortable for those who are on the phone more continuously – as would be typical of those using an 8900 series phone.

·         No adapter cable (nor its associated clutter) needed – this headset plugs directly into the USB port on the side of the 8900 series phone (there is no such jack on the 7800 series phone).

·         This headset has volume controls, microphone mute, and answer/hang-up buttons on a module installed in its cord – it provides full EHS integration on the 8900 series phone at very low price point.

 

Notes:

·         All prices are “street prices” as of July 2014.  Test models were purchased from Amazon.com and StaplesAdvantage.com at these prices.  Prices vary a lot among vendors.

·         If you would like a different style of headset than those described here, you can use Plantronics’ and Jabra’s “compatibility” tools to find compatible models, and required adapter cables that you may need to purchase in addition.  If in doubt, or you need help selecting a headset, contact ITS.

Jabra:  http://www.jabra.com/headsets-and-speakerphones/compatibilityguide
Plantronics:  http://www.plantronics.com/us/compatibility-guide/index.jsp (click “Desk Phone”)

If your phone looks like the 7800 series in the table above, enter:  Vendor/brand: CISCO; Model: 7821
If your phone looks like the 8900 series in the table above, enter:  Vendor/brand: CISCO; Model: 8961

·         ITS does not purchase or distribute headsets.

 

University of Hartford Information Technology Services
ITS@hartford.edu
860.768.5999