If you’re on the hunt for a professional headset microphone, the first hit on Amazon or Google might not be your best bet. The world of professional head mics is vast (and full of terrors).
There are a few things to keep in mind while making your choice that can keep you on the right track. Whether it’s for public speaking, group fitness or street performance; here are our do’s and don’ts of buying a professional headset.
Do ... think about how you'll use it
Are you likely to be moving around energetically, or will you be mostly still? Will you be wearing the headset microphone for long periods of time, or will it be on and off within 20 minutes?
By considering your use you will be able to identify the true deal breaker features that will define your perfect headset. For example, if you’ll be shifting between vocal projection and private conversation quickly and often, a solid and flexible construction of the mic-arm is vital.
It also allows you to consider options you otherwise hadn't considered. Will you be needing to amplify two-way conversations like interviews? A single headset likely won't be suitable for you.
Don't ... sacrifice on quality
While browsing, you’ll quickly see that professional headset microphones come in a huge range of costs, shapes and sizes. The cheapest option is probably the cheapest for a reason, and for most people the top of the range will be overkill for their needs. But without in-depth technical knowledge it can be hard to identify the sweet spot of high quality and good value.
Based on our knowledge of what it costs to build a professional headmic in terms of materials, we say the safe range is between £90-£150 for a single headmic. Sure, you can go much higher, but the cost-benefit ratio drops rapidly for the vast majority of users, and below this range you will find many manufacturers have had to cut quality on vital elements that make a great headset.
Do ... think about the compatibility
If you already have a transmitter pack, it’s vital you know what type of connection you require, and whether the headset you’re considering offers that as an option. Many professional headset microphones are built to order, but some provide pre-mounted connectors, so it’s worth knowing your stuff before you place your order.
We've built a handy guide to help pair up some of the most common connectors and transmitter packs. Read our Headset Microphone Connector Checklist here.
Don't ... assume wireless is more convenient
Wireless sound transmission technology has come a very long way, and the sound quality is now nearly indistinguishable from wired connections.
However, wired head mics linked to a belt-worn wireless transmitter give greater reliability of signal and the best sound quality, without sacrificing your range of movement.
Completely wireless head mics can lose connection and rely on batteries, providing more opportunities for things to go wrong at a pivotal moment. So while wireless may seem more advanced, wired options are typically more reliable.
Do ... maintain your professional headset microphone
Boring, we know, but as professional headsets are usually slightly more of an investment than your run-of-the-mill Bluetooth model, you’ll want to take proper care of your new mic.
If you’re buying for fitness make sure you get one that has moisture resistance built-in and is easy to wipe down. Change out the foam shield frequently and get rid of tangles in the cord as quickly as possible to avoid kinking the cable and long-term damage.
If your headset microphone gets plugged in and out of transmitters frequently, for example because you travel around and transmitters are supplied by the venue, make sure you protect your connector by fully unscrewing/depressing the connection points before tugging it free.
Don't ... let negligence cause damage
This is for all the travelling troubadours out there. Don’t chuck your headset in a guitar case, gym bag or laptop bag, without a protective case. Not only can the components get damaged, but dust and debris can work their way into the microphone capsule, degrading its sound quality.
If your headset mic is not performing the way it should, your manufacturer warranty should cover you to get it looked at by a professional, but only if there's no obvious user damage. Buying from a reputable distributor or a manufacturer directly enhances this experience drastically.
Do ... ask for advice
Audio equipment manufacturers are, by nature, obsessed with all things sound. So who better to ask for advice in case of uncertainty than those who live and breathe sound waves and technology?
The manufacturer of your shortlisted headsets will easily be able to talk you through your requirements and advise whether or not the product will suit your needs.
Our resident sound engineers are always happy to answer questions. If there's anything you'd like to get their take on, please don't hesitate to reach out to the team directly!