Headphones play a multitude of roles for office workers. Other than to enjoy their music, they could use headphones to enhance their productivity or for additional clarity in conference calls.
In a closed-door administrative environment, sounds get magnified easily. Running printers, beeping fax machine and even the hum of the air-con contributes to the formation of a mechanical circus. Not to forget, colleagues are seated within earshot of each other. That occasional loud sneeze can snap a worker out of his productivity zone.
All this adds up to a noisy office. Something that most office workers detest.
In fact, research has shown that noisy office is one of the top reasons that cause unhappiness and loss of productivity among white-collar workers.
This is where a great pair of headphones for work will come in handy.
Not all headphones are suitable for office workers. For example, open-back headphones, such as the Phillips X2 Fidelio, leak sounds as the ear cups are not closed. However, there are no one-size-fits-all headphones for all office workers. Everyone will have different circumstances that require a different type of headphones.
In the next section, we prepared a buyer’s guide that appraises the important factors that will help you pick the right pair of office headphones.
Buyer’s guide for Office Headphones
There are 5 main factors to look out for when picking an office headphones.
Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)
Headphones with ANC actively reduces noise by using small microphones to pick up outside noises and then play the sounds in the opposite frequency to cancel out the sound. ANC is no magic bullet though. It can only cancel out sounds from a certain band of frequency such as the drone of the aircraft engine. Any sporadic sound frequency like a loud scream or a car honk is still audible.
Passive Noise Cancellation (PNC)
Unlike ANC, all headphones come with a certain amount of PNC. A headphone with a well-designed structure (good clamp, over-the-ear ear cups etc) can create a good seal and fit that improves noise isolation.
It is possible to block out almost all external sound with PNC but this is not exactly desirable, especially in places where situational awareness is required. Hence, you have to decide the amount of noise isolation you need.
Wired headphones typically have better sound quality because the frequency is being transmitted directly from the device to the headset. With wired headphones, you don’t have to worry about batteries dying or stuttering music because of poor connection.
You can also improve your sound quality with an external DAC/amp combo. Wireless headphones will not be able to do this because the amp is already built into the headphone itself.
However, with wired headphones, the area of usage is restricted to the length of the headphone cable. If the wire is too short, you cannot have a lot of movement. But if the wire is too long, it starts to get in the way. Pick a cable with the length from 1.2 m – 1.8 m for the most optimal experience.
Wireless headphones, on the other hand, do not have any pesky wires that can become a distraction. They use radio frequency, infrared, or Bluetooth technology to transmit sound frequencies from the audio source to the headphones. They are convenient, but might not have the sound quality that wired headphones can provide, and their battery life can die unexpectedly.
Even though you have more freedom of movement with wireless headphones, there is still a range threshold before you lose the connection.
Closed-back Headphones VS Open-back Headphones
Generally, office workers prefer a pair of headphones that doesn’t leak sounds. An open-back headphones allows ambient sounds to come through the headphone that adds a different quality of sound experience for the listener. However, this means more sounds get leak outside too.
In contrast, the closed-back headphones reduce the amount of ambient sounds coming through the headphones. Consequently, fewer sounds get leak outside too. A closed-back headphones that fits well for you will create a good seal that further reduces the amount of sound leakages.
Your headphones must be able to let you hear your counterparts clearly and it must also be able to transmit audio with clarity. This can reduce the amount of confusion and improves the productivity of conference calls.
Some headphones do come with a built-in microphone. But if you need crystal clear transmission, you will need headphones with a dedicated boom mic. These boom mic have noise-cancelling properties and can focus the sound-reception from a certain direction.
Most headphones nowadays come with a built in microphone,especiall
Controls on the headphones allow you to conveniently adjust your audio experience on the fly.
Some basic features that the controls should provide:
- adjusting the level of volume
- answering/hanging/muting phone calls
- changing tracks
Controls are located differently on each headphones. Some can be found on the earcups itself while others are placed along the cable also known as inline controls.
Best Office Headphones
|Model Name||Wireless||Noise-cancellation Mic||Use as music headphones||Price|
|Bose QuietComfort 35|
|✔||✗||✔||💰 Check Price|
|Logitech Clearchat Stereo||✗||✔||✗||💰 Check Price|
|Plantronics HW251N SupraPlus Wideband||✗||✔||✗||💰 Check Price|
|Sennheiser PC 31-II Binaural Headset||✗||✔||✗||💰 Check Price|
|Logitech H151||✗||✔||✗||💰 Check Price|
|Plantronics Savi W720||✔||✔||✗||💰 Check Price|
|Sennheiser MB Pro 1/2 UC Headphones|
|✔||✔||✔||💰 Check Price|
|Sennheiser G4ME One Headphones||✗||✔||✔||💰 Check Price|
|Logitech H800 Wireless Headphones||✔||✔||✔||💰 Check Price|
|Microsoft Lifechat LX-3000 Headset||✗||✔||✔||💰 Check Price|
Bose, known for its patented active noise-cancellation technology, is a pretty common sight around office cubicles all over the world. The QuietComfort 35 (QC35) model brings the best features of its widely popular predecessor, QC25, and gave it one useful upgrade – Bluetooth capability.
It is easy to see why the QC35 is a popular office headphones. Firstly, the all-black headphones exudes a sleek look that will not look out of place in a business setting. The pleathered ear pads are cushy and comfortable, allowing users to wear them for hours.
The closed-back, over-the-ear headphone has an excellent seal that prevents any sound leakages. Office workers can enjoy their loud music without having their colleagues throwing dirty looks at them.
Living up to its maker’s reputation, the QC35 comes with the best noise-cancellation experience, bar none. Putting on the QC35 allows you to shut out external noises and focus fully on your work.
Even with ANC, the QC35’s battery life is great and can last around 16 hours.
Despite having no mic boom, the QC35 do have a decent built-in mic for your teleconferencing needs. However, the mic is overly-sensitive and will pick up unnecessary sounds around you.
The controls for the QC35 are located on the right earcups. Even though you have only three buttons, there are advanced controls like rewind songs and creating a conference call. Sadly, the user experience is not intuitive and you will hardly see anyone use controls other than the basic volume controls.
Looking for a Bose alternatives? Check out the Sony MDR-1000X.
- »Great seal with negligible sound leakage
- »Excellent active noise-cancelling
- »Very comfortable
- »Great battery life
- »Awesome for music
- »Headphone controls are not intuitive
- »No dedicated boom mic
Other than making computer and gaming accessories, Logitech also makes audio accessories targeted at office workers such as the Logitech Clearchat Stereo.
The Logitech Clearchat Stereo is an on-ear headphones with a dedicated noise-cancellation microphone (mic). It is able to filter out background chatters to give you crystal-clear voice transmission. The rotatable mic can be also be kept away easily when not in used.
At around 200g, the lightweight headphones is comfortable enough to last you through a few quick conference call. With its thinly padded ear cups and plastic headbands, do not expect to wear it for a long period of time.
The inline controls give you basic adjustment features such as volume control, audio muting and mic muting. It also has this nifty feature that we love – a light indicator that visually tells you if the mic is on. This visual cue is important because it can prevent you from unintentionally transmitting audio and also allow your colleague to know if you are in a conference call.
The Logitech Clearchat Stereo is terminated with two 3.5 mm jack – one for audio, another for the microphone. So if your computer only has USB ports, you will need a USB adapter for proper connection.
- »Fuss-free setup, just plug it in and get it working immediately
- »Great noise-cancellation mic
- »Visual light indicator that reflects the power state of the mic
- »Very little noise isolation. You will need a quiet room for conference call.
- »Not suitable for long hours of wearing.
- »Purely use a headphones for conference calls
The Plantronics HW251N SupraPlus is part of the “H” series headphones made by Plantronics. The unique feature of “H” series headphones are the Quick Disconnect (QD) connector. We will touch on that feature later.
It is a wired, on-ear headphones that has only one ear cup. The other ear is left uncovered so that the wearer can also have a person-to-person conversation without removing the headphones. It should be obvious that this headphone offers no sort of noise isolation.
Like the Logitech Clearchat Stereo headphones, it has a noise-cancelling boom mic that is rotatable. Voice transmission on the SupraPlus headphones is clear and crisp.
As mentioned above, the Plantronics HW251N is terminated with a proprietary QD connector. This QD connector allows you to quickly disconnect your headphone from your phone or computer to leave your desk without hanging up the call or removing the headphone.
For more information on QD connectors: Click here
The great thing about Plantronics HW251N is its adaptability. Plantronics has produced plenty of adaptors to connect the headphones to telephones, mobile phones and also VoIP phones.
Unlike the previous two headphones, there are no controls on the HW251N headphones itself. It is a device purely for receiving and transmitting sounds. For that, you will need an additional amplifier – the Plantronics M22 Vista Amplifier.
- »Noise-cancelling mic
- »Very adaptable for all sort of devices
- »Quick Disconnect (QD) connector
- »The “one earcup” design frees up the other ear for person to person conversation without removing headphones
- »No noise isolation
- »Definitely not for music enjoyment
- »Requires purchase of amplifier for additional controls
- »Requires purchase of adapters for audio input and output
We know Sennheiser builds great music headphones but it does build headphones for the office crowd. When compared with the Plantronics HW251N, the Sennheiser PC 31-II seems pretty sparse feature-wise. However, it makes up the lack of quantity with quality.
The Sennheiser PC31-II is a wired, on-ear headphones that is terminated with a 3.5 mm jack. The headphones is light and comfortable on the ears. Glasses can be worn along with the headphone without feeling any soreness.
It has a boom mic that is fully flexible. It has way more range of movement for adjusting the mic for optimal voice pick-up. When it is not in use, you can bend the mic away or just rotate it upwards. Voice transmission is crisp with the noise-cancellation mic.
This headphones, like most other Sennheiser headphones, provides clear and rich sound quality for listening to music or taking calls. It sure makes your conference call much easier when you do not have to struggle to hear your counterparts.
Even though this headset claims to be adjustable to fit any size head, and is light weight, these headphones are not ideal for all day wear. Their snug fit puts pressure around the head that can become slightly unbearable for longer than an hour or so. There also are no controls on the Sennheiser PC 31-II.
- »Excellent mic quality with fully flexible boom arm
- »Great music headphone
- »Calls sounds clear and clean
- »No controls
- »Cannot wear for long periods of time
- »Not much noise isolation
If you are not a fan of large ear cups that encapsulate your entire ears, you will like the squarish ear cups of Logitech H151. The ear cups, measured at around 1.5” in diameter, will rest on top of your ear and allow your ears to breath easily.
However, with such an ear cup design, you will not get much noise isolation from this headphones.
Apart from the unique squarish earcups, another interesting structural feature to point out is the symmetrical headphone body. You can wear the headphones both ways to place the mics on either side of your head.
When it comes to the mic quality, the H151 comes on par with the best on the list with its rotatable, noise-cancellation mic. On the other end, the call quality are great and it can even double up as a music headphone.
Controls are found inline along the cable for convenient adjustment of the volume or mic muting.
The Logitech H151 is made mostly out of plastic so the build quality is not great. However, it is very affordable so buying another replacement will not be out of reach.
- »Crisp call quality
- »Good mic pick-up
- »Build quality
- »Poor noise isolation
Here we have the second wireless headphones on the list – the Plantronics Savi W720.
Just like the Plantronics HW251N SupraPlus Wideband, the Savi W720 comes pretty packed with features too.
This pair of wireless headphones covers a great range – up to 350 feet (106 meters). This should be able to cover most average-sized office. Users do not have to worry about losing connection after leaving their desk.
As with all wireless headphones, the Savi W720 has a built-in battery. But the unique thing about these batteries is that it is hot swappable. This means that you can replace the batteries without switching off the power and losing your call. Once fully charged, a single battery can last you a good 9 hours which should equate to a full day of work.
The controls are found on the left ear cup of the headphone. With just a touch, you can easily take or end a call and control or mute volume. There is a light indicator that flashes white to show that the headphone is switched on.
The dedicated boom mic has noise cancellation that helps filter away background noise to transmit voices clearly. The padded ear cups create great seal which help greatly in noise isolation.
The one downside of the Plantronics Savi W720 is the fact that it comes with a base that has to be connected to your computer and an electrical outlet. This base allows Bluetooth capabilities, so the headphones can be wireless. But it makes it impossible to move around the office with your laptop and headphones, because you would also have to transport this chunky base everywhere you go.
- »Wireless range up to 350 feet
- »Hot swappable battery
- »One-touch control on the ear cups
- »Great noise-cancellation mic
- »Good amount of noise isolation
- »Cannot be directly connected to a desktop, needs a base for connection
- »Not portable since the base have to be plug to a wall socket
The Sennheiser MB Pro is the second pair of Sennheiser headphones to make our list for best office headphones. This headphones comes with features that are more geared towards office usage than the Sennheiser PC 31-II.
The Sennheiser MB Pro is a on-ear headphone that connects to your devices via Bluetooth. For devices without Bluetooth capability, a USB dongle is provided to assist in establishing Bluetooth connection.
The MB Pro comes with an awesome feature that office workers will love – the ability to concurrently connect and switch between two calls. This multi-connectivity feature allow you to multi-manage different calls at the same time..
The wireless abilities on the Sennheiser MB Pro has a range up to 25 meters, which is around 82 feet. Although this distance is shorter than the other headphones on the list, it is not too shabby. These headphones guarantee a battery life up to 15 hours, way over the typical 8 hour work day, just in case you decide to pull a late shift one night.
If you do end up wearing these headphones for the entire extent of its battery life, they are at least comfortable. The ear cups fit around the ear, to help reduce friction and sweat that may form when wearing for a long time. On top of that, they are made from leather which is moisture wicking and stays cool for a relaxed all day wear.
With the stamp of Sennheiser High-Definition sound, call quality and music sounds great on this headphone.
There is a glaring issue with the Sennheiser MB Pro. They had made the weird decision to place the mute button on the undersides of the headphones. If you try muting the headphones without holding on to it, you actually can push your headphones off your head!
Since there is no mute light indicator, the only way to find out is to try toggling the mute button again which you will encounter the slipping off problem.
- »Multi-connectivity – able to switch between two calls
- »Bluetooth wireless
- »Great sound and call quality
- »Great noise-cancellation mic
- »Bad placement of the mute button
- »No visual indicator of the mute state
Although the Sennheiser G4ME One headphones is known as a gaming headphones, it can also dual serve as a great office headphones. If you think about it, there is a parallel between a gamer and a office worker.
Both needs a pair of headphones that is comfortable to be worn for long hours, have great noise isolation and a noise-cancellation mic that can deliver crystal clear transmission. So let’s talk about comfort first.
The only headphones to come with velvet earpads in this list, it allows your skin to stay dry and non-irritated through the long conference calls. On top of that, the plush cushion of the ear pads minimizes any pressure on your ear.
Although it does not have ANC like the Bose QC35, the passive noise isolation capability is pretty solid.The Sennheiser G4Me One is a over-the-ear headphone that provides a seal that block out a great amount of noise.
The G4ME One headset provides excellent acoustics and stereo sound because there are small grooves carved into the metal side grills of both ear cups. These grooves allow for the vibrations of the audio to smooth out and provide clear and crisp audio—whether it is for phone calls or music.
From the receiver end, the noise cancellation mic is great. It is able to fluctuate its sound frequencies when picking up your voice versus quieter noises such as other phones ringing, fax machines dialing, or other people talking. This fluctuation in frequencies isolate your voice from the background noises and in terms make it easier for the receiver to hear you.
But when it comes to the headphones design, they may be a tad overzealous for the office. The Sennheiser G4ME One are also relatively heavier at 300g.
You might be interested: Best Gaming Headset 2017
- »Velvet earpads elevates comfort
- »Excellent noise-cancellation mic
- »Excellent audio quality with Sennheiser HD Sound
- »Good noise isolation
- »Only has basic features
- »Does not have a “professional” look
If the Sennheiser MB Pro is out of your budget, the Logitech H800 might be the better fit for your appetite. It is a much cheaper alternative that has most of the features that the MP Pro offers. However, with the reduction in price, you have to make do with a less impressive specs.
The Logitech H800 is an on-ear headphones that connects to devices via Bluetooth. A USB dongle is provided for devices without Bluetooth capability.
It has half the wireless range of the MB Pro at around 40ft (12m) and also half the battery life at 6 hours on a full charge.
The noise-cancellation mic can be rotated and kept away when phone calls are not in session and to let co-workers know that they are not on the phone.
The H800 has a foldable ear cups design which allows you to fold and stow it away in your bags without taking up a lot of space. This portable design is useful for office workers who bring their headphones home.
With a plastic frame, the H800 is lightweight and comfortable on the head. You can wear the headphone for a long period of time without fatigue. The earpads and headband are padded to increase the overall comfort level.
There are complaints that the H800 does not fit snugly for people with a smaller head. It will slip off when you rotate your head around. Just like the MB Pro, the H800 has no visual mute indicator to aid the wearer.
- »Very portable with the foldable ear cup design
- »Lightweight and comfortable
- »Noise-cancellation and rotatable mic
- »Might not be suitable for people with smaller head
- »No visual mute indicator
- »Only 6 hours of battery life
As we reach the last headphones on the list, you might have noticed a trend. Over-the-ear headphones seem to be a pricier option than the on-ear headphones.
The Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 is here to upend the trend.
The headphones comes with large, leatherette earcups that provide comfort to the wearer. The over-the-ear configuration creates a good seal that help improves noise isolation. You will not get the same quality of noise isolation like what you find on the Bose QC35 and Sennheiser G4ME One, but the performance is above average.
The uni-directional mic has noise cancellation capability but the audio transmission is just decent. You can rotate the mic and also have the freedom to bend the mic arm to your optimal level.
The 1.9m cable is terminated by a USB connector. Just simply plug the headphone in and the device will automatically download the drivers – the beauty of plug and play.
You can find the controls on the cable itself for easy access. However, the control is smacked right in the middle of the cable. You will find the controls knocking on the table in front of you. It will be better if it is situated upwards and nearer to the ear cups.
If you are using Skype for conference call, you are in for a treat. With the push of a button on the inline control, you can directly start a video chat. By doing so, it opens a window on your computer asking you who you would like to chat with. This one-touch feature allows you to create a conversation seamlessly.
Overall, the Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 is budget office headphones that just works. Just plug it in your device and you are ready to go. If you use Skype often for conference calls, you should highly consider this headphones due to its Skype-optimised feature.
- »Mic arm has total freedom of adjustment
- »1.9m cable allows comfortable distance between wearer and computer
- »Additional support for Skype
- »Over-the-ear configuration
- »Decent noise isolation
- »Not the best noise-cancellation mic
- »Location of the control is not optimal
Picking the right headphones for your office needs is no simple tasks. But hopefully, with our buyer’s guide and our top picked headphones, we have made things easier for you. Remember that the best office headphones for you might not be the right headphones for the next person.
These can be seen from our top two picks – Bose QC35 and the Sennheiser MB Pro series. The Bose QC35 is our favorite office headphones because it satisfies both our conferencing and music listening needs. On the other hand, the Sennheiser MB Pro will be very apt for hardcore white-collar professionals with its multi-connectivity and wireless features.
Did we miss out other office headphones? Let us know in the comments below.