Home offices, open-plan office spaces, small business premises, and call centers can all be tough environments in which to block out background noise in order to focus on the job at hand and keep productivity flowing.
Combine these difficulties with an increasingly digital world, remote customer assistance services, and online conversations made through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and remote conferencing applications, and it's clear to see that businesses benefit from over-ear headphones that take away distractions and make their staff able to clearly understand and communicate with clients or other employees.
It is now even more important to be able to keep distractions to a minimum, as many of us are adapting to working from home, fully remote, or hybrid working models.
There are many business advantages to the products on offer, whether you are looking for the benefit of wireless headphone options, voice-activated controls, choosing between active and passive noise cancelation, or if you are looking for budget-conscious but reliable options to equip full teams of staff.
There are so many companies claiming to offer the best headphones and true wireless earbuds on the market, and so it can be difficult to know which headphones are the right option for you.
Below, you can view our top recommendations for business-ready headsets and noise-canceling headphones, whether you are an in-office worker, working from home, a lifelong audiophile, you wish to dampen out the noise around you on the road, or you need to equip a team of agents to handle customer communication without distraction.
The Zone Wireless is a Bluetooth headset on offer by Logitech, designed with mobile workers in mind as well as those in busy, noisy workplaces where call quality is crucial.
Users can connect their headset to PCs and mobile devices simultaneously within a 30-foot range. The Bluetooth headphones are customizable via the accompanying Logi Tune app and are compatible with Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Google Assistant, Zoom, and other applications including Jabber, BlueJeans, and GoToMeeting.
Buttons can be used to control active noise cancellation, starting or ending calls, playing music, and Bluetooth 5.0 pairing. The microphone's boom can be flipped for muting and unmuting.
Zone Wireless has an estimated battery life of 14 hours talk time, supports wireless Qi charging, and is both lightweight and comes with leatherette ear pads for comfort. The included microphone utilizes isolation technology to separate your voice from background noise, and sidetone controls can be used to modulate your voice to the desired level.
The Logitech Zone Wireless headset is available in three options: the standard wireless headset ($229), the Wireless Plus ($259) which comes with a USB receiver able to connect up to six Logitech Unifying peripherals -- including mice and keyboards up to 10 meters away -- and the MSFT Teams Zone Wireless ($229), built specifically with the Microsoft Teams in mind.$229 at Logitech
The Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC is an enterprise device that focuses on reducing noise in open office spaces.
The UC-certified Voyager 8200 is best suited for users who need to minimize the disruption caused by chatter around them. The vendor has included dual-paired omnidirectional microphones with digital signal processing (DSP) technology designed to optimize your voice while reducing background noise, and has also implemented an "anti-startle" feature that, during calls, will detect and remove sudden increases in signal levels.
Active noise canceling can be customized depending on the user's preferred level. Buttons can be selected to answer or close calls, play music, and mute or unmute the microphone.
The headset may also suit those who do not want a boom microphone included.
Plantronics says you can expect up to 24 hours of listening time and 20 hours of talk time. The headset is charged via USB cable.
Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, and apps developed by vendors including Zoom, Avaya, Google Cloud, and Cisco are supported. The headset is compatible with PCs, mobile devices, and Bluetooth-enabled desk phones.$299 at Plantronics
The Sennheiser MB 660 MS is a slimline, contemporary option that could help improve your productivity in either traditional or home office spaces.
The wireless Bluetooth product can be connected to mobile devices and communicates with PCs and softphone applications via a USB dongle. Two simultaneous Bluetooth connections are supported and can be used for applications including Skype for Business.
Three noise-canceling microphones are in play to isolate the user's voice from background sounds and active noise cancelation (NoiseGard) is implemented when the headset is in use.
The MB 660 sports over-the-ear cups for improved noise reduction and folds away neatly in a carrying case, which could make the product more attractive to commuters. There's also a useful in-flight adapter and both 2.5mm and 3.5mm jack cables.
You can also expect up to 30 hours of active use per charge.$310 at Amazon
The SDW 5000 is an alternative from Sennheiser for users who need more connectivity from their headset. The Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) headset, otherwise considered a cordless phone and speaker combination, sports three lines of connectivity to softphone and PC platforms, desk phones, and mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.
Sennheiser's product is UC-optimized and with VoIP in mind. To reduce distractions and noise from open workplaces, the SDW 5000's microphone sports noise-canceling technology and high-quality sound that pairs well with the noise-canceling headphones.
The included base station can be used to switch between different audio sources and a mute button on the microphone has been included for convenience. The microphone and boom arm are bendable, and there are leatherette ear cups for comfort.
You can expect up to 14 hours of talk time on a single charge.$327 at Amazon
The Jabra Evolve 75 is a wireless, Bluetooth-enabled headset with on-ear leatherette cups and a medium-length microphone boom arm complete with active noise-canceling technology.
Best suited for office environments where users may need to answer phone calls from clients as well as listen to their colleagues, the headset includes volume controls on the side and a feature in which holding the left ear cup will allow users to hear the outside world.
There are also useful 'do not disturb' red lights on both cups for when users are on a call. These integrated lights can be set to turn on automatically or to rely on manual control.
The Jabra Evolve 75 can support dual connectivity and is compatible with a variety of desk phones, softphones, PC, and mobile devices. The headset is UC-certified.
A Bluetooth dongle is included, permitting users to walk up to 30 feet away from linked devices without breaking connectivity.$229 at Amazon
It is not always possible to kit out a full team with headsets that cost hundreds of dollars apiece, but if customer communication is key -- such as in a call center -- there are budget-friendly options available.
The Logitech H390 is a lightweight model equipped with padded ear cups and basic noise-canceling technology, as well as both in-line volume and mute controls.
This headset is USB A-only and is compatible with Windows, macOS, and Chrome OS systems. To use, the headset is simply plug-and-play and must be wired to operate -- due to its low price point, there is no wireless functionality or external battery.$24 at Amazon
The Plantronics Voyager 5200 is a compact headset that should be considered if users are often required to visit the outdoors during the workday.
With outside work a possibility, Plantronics has focused on hands-free controls, including a simple whisper of "answer" or "ignore" when it comes to calls coming through. A button has also been included to mute or unmute calls, and the Amazon Alexa voice assistant is integrated.
The vendor's WindSmart technology is geared towards wiping out as much outside noise as possible, including wind, a crucial element to make outside communication clear. The inbuilt microphone will also adapt depending on noise levels.$119 at Plantronics
The Comexion Bluetooth headset is a light, flexible headpiece for grab-and-go workers on the road. Capable of connecting two devices simultaneously, the affordable headpiece includes separate volume and mute buttons, a microphone with basic noise-cancellation, and an adjustable ear hook. The device is compatible with PCs and iOS / Android mobile devices including smartphones and tablets.
Comexion's headset takes roughly 1.5 hours to charge and users will need to recharge their device after roughly six hours of passive music streaming or 6.5 hours of talk time. Users can expect a connectivity line-of-sight range of 33 feet. A USB power cable and two sets of replacement earbud tips are included.$29 at Amazon
What is the difference between active and passive noise canceling?
Passive noise-canceling is created through a device itself, whether through earbuds, padding, or other materials to create a seal to muffle sounds. Active noise-canceling uses microphones to listen to outside sound and 'cancels' out noise by producing their own soundwaves.
Can you choose noise reduction levels?
Some headsets offer adaptive noise-canceling and will allow users to select the level of background noise they are comfortable with. This can be particularly useful if you want to wear it while you're on the move, for example, and stay aware of traffic or your general surroundings. The same settings are now found in some modern wireless earbud products.
How did we choose these noise-canceling headphones?
While deciding on our recommendations, the focus was on ways to dampen the noise in traditional office settings, cut-and-dry noise-canceling, as well as portable and budget-friendly options that would fit with both remote and hybrid work setups.
Which are the right noise-canceling headphones for you?
Whether you are back in the workplace, in a coffee shop, or in a home office, environmental noise can be a hindrance to productivity. While office workers should consider the options suitable for use at a desk, others who are either now adopting fully remote or hybrid working hours may want to focus more on aspects such as portability. You should also consider just how heavy environmental noise is during your typical workday, and whether you'd prefer to block out as much as possible or if you'd prefer hear-through options.