Nothing improves the video conferencing experience as much as good headphones with a microphone

If the quarantine period in which we find ourselves right now has forced us to do more video calls. Working from home has this "drawback", that the meetings are not in person and the only way to see faces is through a webcam. Obviously, it is also desirable that they listen to us correctly, and if we want to avoid having many devices on the table, a good alternative is headphones with an integrated microphone.

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Therefore, the question to ask is: what should we take into account when choosing one? For the avoidance of doubt, we have prepared a series of general tips and recommendations that can help us select a model. With that said, let's get started.

As much as possible, better wired

Although the wireless world has indeed imposed itself (especially on smartphones), to make more professional video calls a wired headset is better than Bluetooth, but let's clarify. Wireless headphones that use Bluetooth technology can add some latency to communication. We are talking about milliseconds, between 150 and 200 milliseconds.

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In the same way, for a matter of standards, the microphones of the Bluetooth headphones have a limited sampling rate of 16 kHz, but that does not affect us too much for video calls. The maximum level of our voice is eight kHz, so we should not be overly concerned. As we said, it is fine with us to be heard correctly, and we will achieve this with wireless headphones and with Bluetooth headphones.

Any microphone easily exceeds the 8 Khz sampling rate, so in general terms, it could be said that for the purpose that we are dealing with today, that is, to make video calls, a normal microphone will be used to pick up our voice. Another matter is that we were going to record music, in which case we would have to consider other options, but for the voice, the microphones integrated into the Bluetooth headphones are fine.

If they are Bluetooth, search for Bluetooth 5.0


In the case that you want them to be Bluetooth yes or yes, something that must be taken into account is the version. The optimal thing is that they are Bluetooth 5.0 since it has more range than Bluetooth 4.2, higher connection speed and more stability, which on paper should result in lower latency. Ultimately, all of this will depend on the Bluetooth version of the device you connect it to.

Beware of distortion

The acoustic pressure allows us to know the maximum level that the microphone admits before distorting the audio and it is measured in dB SPL. The own noise level, on the other hand, measures the noise (in decibels) that is produced when the sound pressure waves impact the membrane. As a general rule, the higher the acoustic pressure and the lower the noise level, the better.

We must also look at the signal to noise ratio, which is the "distance" that exists between the signal that contains the information (the voice) and the parasitic noise generated by the electronic components. We want it to be as high as possible. The problem is that not all manufacturers reveal these specifications on their headphones with integrated microphone. For example, the Trust GXT 414 Zamak, which is the best seller on Amazon, does not show this data, while the HyperX HX-HSCF-BK Cloud Flight (the most desired) does make it clear that its sound pressure is 100 dB SPL.

We can also take into account the sensitivity, which roughly indicates the ability of the microphone to pick up weaker sounds. You will see it measured in -dB, always in negative and, without entering into technicalities of how it is calculated, the more positive, the more sensitive it is. A microphone with a sensitivity of -40 dB is more sensitive than one of -60 dB. It is not strictly necessary that the microphone be very sensitive because a loud conversation has a level of 70 dB, so it is recommended to look for a microphone with medium sensitivity.

Integrated Micro or External Micro

When we look for headphones with a microphone, the most normal thing is that we find two modalities: external microphone and internal microphone. You will see them with the naked eye since the external microphones are on support that leaves them at the level of our mouth and the internal ones are simply implemented in the chassis of the headphones.

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Which one interests us the most? It will depend on our personal tastes ultimately, but it is recommended that it be external and, preferably, movable, for a simple reason: we can place it in the position that best suits us. The quality of the sound will depend on infinite factors, from how the device is built to the characteristics that we have seen previously.

Transducer size

The transducer is the speaker itself, what we put on our ears to listen to music or, in this case, the video call. What interests us? Again, there are no exact rules, but we want them to be great. Most circumaural headphones have 50mm transducers, which are more than enough for listening to voice, music and video games. A range of between 40 and 50 millimetres will be correct, but if you can choose, "more is better".

Noise cancellation is always a plus

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As we are in quarantine right now, surely you are forced to live with the classic noises of the street (the garbage truck, the car that makes noise, the neighbour who starts to do DIY ...) and those of your own house, such as children making noise, the washing machine or the robot vacuum cleaner. Although it may not seem like it, they are distracting noises, so if the headphones allow us to isolate ourselves from them, better than better.

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