The best headsets and headphones for working from home

9 Mins read

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Having the right headphones or headset will make all the difference when working from a home office. Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to hear someone on a video call because their microphone is terrible. Similarly, not being able to hear your colleagues properly because of ambient noise in your environment can be extremely disruptive. In fact, a good set of headphones will help you master online “netiquette.” Having said that, there is a wide array of different kinds of headphones and headsets that can get the job done. Some are made specifically for office environments and others double as excellent headphones for music and podcast listening. Whatever fits your particular situation, just make sure you are getting the best tool that is within your (or your office’s) budget.

For each of the following categories, we have picked our favorite 3 headphones/headsets. This doesn’t mean these are the only options, but we can firmly vouch for the quality of each of these.

Wireless headphones/headsets for working from home

Wireless headsets are a great option when you are a bit more mobile in your office setup. If you like to move between rooms, get up and stretch or just generally move around, wireless headphones are a great choice. This category is largely in two sub-categories: Noise-canceling and non-noise-canceling. In terms of form factor, we have broken them down into over the ear cups (larger) and earbuds (smaller). The beauty with most wireless headsets is if they use Bluetooth you can use these as general headphones around town. This means you can use them for work and play and everything in between.

Over the ear noise cancelling headphones

In terms of sound quality and comfort, most will argue that over-the-ear noise-canceling headphones are the best. This style of headphones will look more like a larger set of studio headphones but will offer active noise cancelation which reduces annoying background sounds to help you focus on your work at home. For those with a noisier environment, we wholeheartedly recommend picking up a set of proper over-the-ear “cup style” noise-canceling headphones to eliminate the most background noise as possible. The bonus with these is you will also be getting an excellent set of headphones for music and podcast listening and a great companion for travel. After all, noise-canceling headphones are often marketed as a way to eliminate the drone of plane engines. And they work! I have had a pair of Sony WH1000XM3 headphones for about a year and I think they are the best piece of tech I have ever bought it they make my working from home existence so much better. And the Sony XM4’s have since come out and are even better!

Top Recommended: Sony WH1000XM4 Noise Cancelling Headphones

The Sony WH1000XM4 is the undisputed champion of active noise canceling in the headphone world. These are simply the wireless headphones to beat right now. They have taken everything awesome about the previous Sony XM3’s and added some much-needed smarts to them. They are light enough to be used for hours on end and have the best noise-canceling algorithm around, meaning that you really can eliminate a lot of noise from around your house or apartment while on calls or just trying to focus. I often just throw these guys on and don’t even play any music in them, to enjoy the noise-canceling functionality. The microphone on these is quite good but some seem to like the Microsoft Surface Headphone 2 and Bose 700 microphones more. Overall these are an excellent pick for anyone that is starting their work from home journey, especially those of you that will connect their headphones to Android devices. Check them out

Also Great: Microsoft Surface Headphones 2

I was “this close” to making the Surface Headphones 2 our recommendation for the over-the-ear noise-canceling category. They don’t sound quite as good as the Sony XM3’s but they have a few elements that are even better. The industrial design on these is amazing. You can twist the entire ear cup to control both volume and level of noise cancellation (which on this model has a whopping 13 levels of noise cancellation). And these controls just feel right. While most other headphones on the market make you swipe and stab at buttons on the ear cups, Microsoft has figured out a truly elegant way of controlling they Surface Headphones 2. Lastly, one feature that may put these over the top is the fact that they can be actively connected to two devices at the same time. This means you could be listening to music on your computer and still hearing phone calls and notifications from your phone or tablet. Check them out

Also Great: Bose Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Headphones 700

For more than a decade now Bose has been synonymous with noise-canceling headphones. They basically pioneered the category along with Sennheiser. You’ve probably seen many people rocking the Bose QC35’s on flights for years. Well, the Bose 700’s are the follow up to these excellent headphones. These will do perfectly as a pair of wireless headphones for a work scenario. The Sony XM3’s have better audio codec support (especially if you are using Android), but the Bose 700 Noise Cancelling headphones are no slouch, with an excellent design, accurate sound, and the most accurate microphone out of our top 3 noise-canceling over-the-ear picks. If you are going to be on a lot of calls for long periods of time, the Bose 700’s might be your best bet. Check them out

Wireless on ear heaphones

Most premium headsets that are meant for business use tend to land in this category. On-ear refers to headphones that have a cup that sits on top of the ear as opposed to completely covering the ear like the above over-the-ear headphones. These headphones tend to be a good pick for someone working from home when they really only want their headsets to play single duty as a business device. Sure, you can listen to music on these all day long, but if you are really into music and podcasts we’d recommend going over the ear. If you’re looking at the absolute best microphone performance on a wireless headset, this is your category.

Top Recommended: Jabra Evolve 75

Jabra has knocked this one out of the park. Their stellar microphone technology shines here as well as their comfort. You’ll have no idea going on marathon web conferences while wearing the Jabra Evolve 75. They also integrate some very good noise cancellation technology which makes these a great choice for a noisier home office. Unlike the Sony XM3’s above, Jabra allows you to connect these headphones to 2 Bluetooth devices at the same time which is a big plus. On the “weirder but awesome” side, Jabra has included a do not disturb busy light on this set. This means you can signal to your significant other or kids that you are indeed on that important sales call and they shouldn’t ask about where the Pop-Tarts are at this exact moment (we’re looking at you Todd)… Overall, these are the best on-ear style headphones we have seen. Check them out

Also Great: Plantronics Voyager 4220 UC

Like the Jabra’s above, the Plantronics Voyager 4200 UC on-ear headphones pride themselves on excellent microphone quality. This is exemplified by their very functional boom-style microphone which allows you to position the mic just perfectly. The 4220’s come with a USB dongle that will allow you to use USB audio on your computer and then use the Bluetooth for a simultaneous connection with a mobile device. The only knock against the Plantronics Voyager 4220’s is that they do not come with noise cancellation functionality. If that is in your checklist then we recommend going with the Jabra Evolve 75. Check them out

Also Great: Logitech Zone Wireless

These are another solid pair of on-ear headphones from Logitech. Again, these are targeted towards a business user, with an adjustable boom microphone and comfortable ear pads. Like the Plantronics Voyager 4220’s, this headset can use a USB dongle to connect to the PC while leaving Bluetooth available to connect to a mobile device. They also come with built-in active noise cancellation, although the quality is not on par with the Jabra 75’s. Generally, the Logitech Zone Wireless headphones are a decent buy for the price and offer a lot of value, with audio and microphone quality that is only okay. Check them out

Wireless earbuds

Wireless earbuds are a newer category in the work from home world, but these are arguably the most versatile home office product you can buy. If you own a new-ish iPhone or Android phone you are likely to need a pair of wireless Bluetooth earbuds anyway since 3.5mm headphone jacks are going the way of the dodo. Somehow companies have figured out how to jam full active noise cancellation into an earbud form factor. What a time to be alive! The one thing to be careful with earbuds is the fact that there is a lot of pretty bad, cheap products out there. Shell out a few extra bucks and consider the following excellent wireless earbuds for your next conference call.

Top Recommended: Sony WF-1000XM3 noise cancelling earbuds

Imagine a tine set of earbuds that can outperform most large over the ear headphones on the market. That is exactly what you get with the excellent Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds. Taking on Apple’s Airpods Pro, these Sony earbuds have hit the perfect balance of functionality, comfort, and compatibility. Like their WH1000XM3’s, these headphones have a great equalizer, amazing noise cancellation, and great battery life. They are a little bigger than other earbud-style headphones but the feature set makes the extra bulk worth it. If you will be traveling a lot we do recommend checking out the WH1000XM3 over the ear headphones as they can also be used in wired mode when your battery has depleted, a feature not possible on an earbud. Check them out

Also Great: Apple AirPods Pro

If you have an iPhone, IPad, or use a Mac computer there is no better choice than the Apple AirPods Pro. Featuring probably the slickest pairing in the industry, excellent audio quality, noise cancellation, and even wireless QI charging, there is a reason why these earbuds are so popular. The onboard microphones pick up voices very well so you can be sure to be heard on your next video call. And their unassuming design will make you look a little less like an air traffic controller. Check them out

Also Great: Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

We had a hard time only giving the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus a runner up award. Not only are these earbuds really good sounding, but they feature a microphone that is way better than anything Samsung has released before. And the price isn’t even close to what you’ll pay for either Sony’s or Apple AirPods Pro. But that lower price comes with some sacrifices: no noise cancellation, no dual Bluetooth connection, and slightly underwhelming waterproofing (if you are using these to work out). But as an excellent budget pick, there really isn’t anything out there this good. Check them out

Wired headphones/headsets for working from home

On-ear wired headsets

Many companies will buy old fashioned wired USB headsets for employees in an office environment. If you don’t plan to use your headset for music listening and don’t want to move around your home office without a wire, then these are by far the most affordable option. If you are trying to convince your workplace to cover the cost of a decent headset then consider a set of wired on-ear headphones.

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Top Recommended: Jabra Evolve 40 UC Stereo Wired Headset

Think of these as the little wired brother to the Jabra Evolve 75’s above. They bring every bit of quality from the 75’s and just remove the wireless option. You’ll be hardpressed to find a headset with microphones as good as the ones on this set of headphones. Jabra also gives you the option to connect either through USB or the more ancient 3.5mm jack. This is great news for users that either has older PCs or have run out of usable USB ports on their PC. The biggest downgrade from the Evolve 75 is that this unit does not support active noise cancellation. Overall the Jabra Evolve 40 is a killer pick for an affordable but very competent headset for working from home. Check them out

Also Great: Sennheiser SC 660

The Sennheiser SC 660 wired headphones take aesthetic and build quality well beyond 99% of their competitors. They have even included active noise cancellation in this basic wired headset. We especially love the design of the in-line control which is very straightforward. The boom microphone works well and transmits clear voice audio for your online meetings. Check them out

Also Great: Logitech H390

Why mess with a good thing? The Logitech H390 has been a solid performer in the wired headphone space for years. Sure, this headset doesn’t feature fancy metal accents, active noise cancellation, or even very notable audio quality. But it is still a solid headset for those who are on the odd conference call. The inline controls are actually surprisingly functional on the H390. Check them out

Wrap-up: What to look for in headphones for working from home

Did you know that somewhere around 56% of American employees wear headphones regularly while working? Whether it is music to increase productivity or simply a way to sound better on calls, a headset is a necessary home office tool. As you can see with the variety of options available for those taking calls working from home, this is clearly a major preoccupation of employees. After all, everyone wants to sound good and hear their colleagues on the other end of the call. If you’re looking to buy something that will work for the home office, but also be useful in everyday personal life, then I strongly recommend you check out either over-the-ear or earbud-style noise-canceling headphones. These will be amazing for blocking out the sound in the office environment but also very good for just taking walks around the block. A good set of earbuds will even be great for working out.

If all you care about is basic audio quality, then you can’t go wrong with a good quality wired USB headset like the Jabra Evolve 40. They are much cheaper than any of the wireless options and will do an excellent job on video calls.

Home Werk

For your Home Werk, we recommend you take note of the audio quality coming from your colleagues working from home. Who sounds the best? Are they wearing a headset? Chances are, they are rocking a decent set of headphones or earbuds.

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I have worked from a distance for many years with colleagues overseas but only recently got a taste of full-blown 100% working from home. And I love it! I can stay way more focused and sneak in the odd cat pet…
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