Working from home is the new normal, make no mistake, but I am surprised that there are still a lot of people who does not own a decent pair of headsets. During Zoom and TEAMS calls, there are always a handful of attendees with poor mic quality, partly because they are using true wireless earbuds, which have some of the worst mics.
Check out these two Audio-Technica headsets. They cost only S$48, giving no excuse to any working professional not to own one. It comes with 2 models, the ATH-101USB is a single-channel headset while the ATH-102USB is the standard stereo headset. Both headsets are specially treated with antimicrobial deodorizing agent that inhibits bacteria growth.
The benefit of the ATH-101USB is that you will remain aware of the surrounding with one ear engaged in calls. Also, the boom stick can be swung on either direction, allowing the wearer to wear on either left or right ear. However, the audio input is on the left channel, not mono. The difference is that when listening to 2-channel audio, only the left channel can be heard instead of 2-channel mixed into a single channel.
With in-line controls to adjust volume and mute mic, you will never face a situation where you needed a quick mute or to adjust the audio level of the other party without fumbling on the controls. Also included is a USB Type-A to USB-C converter so you can use the headset either in your laptop or your smartphone. The extra-long USB connector is to hold the PCB to convert digital to analog signal.
The build quality is basic, fully plastic, with cables visibly lined within the plastic housing. Comfort level is equally basic. These headsets are just functional, without any frills or added aesthetics to beautify the look. The headband clamping force is slightly tight.
Due to the open design, I tend to struggle on listening to the other party unless I turn up the volume. Both have their benefits and drawbacks: the ATH-101USB keeps me aware of my surroundings but the ATH-102USB allows me to focus better in the conversations with double the audio fed to both ears.
Audio quality, both delivers flat neutral sound, strong on mid-range, overpowering the rest of the frequency, where the treble is veiled and the bass sounds hollow and lacks the rumble. They are not for enjoying music. At this price point, the Creative HS-720 V2 offers way better sound, and its in-line controls are digitally connected to the device audio settings.
Mic quality is average, delivering a mid-range centric sound, does not offer the high-fidelity condenser-mic kind of quality. It captures voce clear and loud enough. Again, I find the Creative HS-720 V2 captures better voice dynamics, but it might not matter that much for office routine work.
One aspect that I like these Audio-Technica headsets: they do not use synthetic leathers, so there is less heat build-up during usage and they will last longer without peeling. Plus, the mic boom stick folds neatly for storage.
Work-from-home people, please get a decent wired headset and keep your true wireless earbuds for listening to music and commuting. Once you are at the office or home, plug in a wired headset so that you do not face technical hiccups due to the unpredictable nature of wireless connectivity. The ATH-101USB and ATH-102USB works with computers and smartphones, just plug and play. Both retails at S$48, available at A-T online and retail outlet (Funan), Challenger, and Popular chain stores. Visit the official product page here.
- Mono headset can be worn on either left or right ear
- Controls volume and mic mute conveniently
- Less heat build-up compared to other headsets with leather pads
- Long cable so there is more freedom of movement around the desk
- Thin plasticky headband
- Audio quality not ideal for music listening