USB Dongle versus Pairing Headset

Why Do I Need a USB Dongle vs Pairing the Headset Directly to a Computer?

This is a frequently asked question on our channel so we decided to reach out to Jabra, Poly and EPOS for their response. While you can pair your headset directly to your PC or Mac, the primary reason to use a dongle is call control. Using the pre-paired dongle will support the headset user the ability to answer and end calls via headset controls vs platform GUI. Other reasons to use a USB dongle versus pairing headset to Bluetooth are improved audio quality, increased roaming range, and overall user experience.

Here is what they had to say:

Jabra

Using the included Jabra Link Bluetooth adapter with your Jabra device will ensure the following functionality:

  • Integration with computer softphone and software support with Jabra Direct
    Full integration between a Jabra device and a computer softphone usually works only when combined with a Jabra Link Bluetooth adapter. Connecting to a computer without a Jabra Link Bluetooth adapter may provide audio capability in the device but not call control for answering and ending calls.
  • Bluetooth range
    Jabra devices obtain the best possible range when they are used with a Jabra Link Bluetooth adapter and not the built-in Bluetooth in a computer. Bluetooth performance of a computer is usually limited to a range of 2-5 meters/ 6-50 feet in a typical office environment.
  • Factory pairing and installation
    The Jabra Link Bluetooth adapter and Jabra device come pre-paired in the box. The Jabra Link Bluetooth adapter supports plug-and-play functionality, without needing to install separate software drivers on the computer.
  • Identification as a soundcard
    When pairing with the Jabra Link Bluetooth adapter, the device is identified by the computer operating system as a soundcard and can be used for all audio purposes. If a device is paired with the built-in Bluetooth of a computer, the device is usually recognized by the computer as a headset and can only be used for communication purposes.

Poly

Why are BT600 USB bluetooth adapters needed vs. pairing the headset directly to the PC/MAC?

Poly Bluetooth UC devices are full-featured and designed for optimal user experience. To fully benefit from the advanced functionality and have the most reliable audio experience, it is required that the headset is paired via the BT600 USB Bluetooth adapter versus paired directly to the PC/MAC. Poly provides function and additional benefits through the BT600 USB adapter in the following ways:

  • PC/MAC Bluetooth systems can vary widely in design and capability. By providing a BT600 USB Bluetooth adapter, Poly can ensure a better experience because we control both ends of the wireless connection
  • The BT600 USB Bluetooth adapter functions as an audio processor, which assures the best audio experience through wideband audio support—providing the highest voice quality. If connected directly to the PC/MAC, wideband audio is not possible
  • Without the BT600 USB adapter, PC/MAC Bluetooth systems do not typically provide capability to use the call control from the headset. Calls must be managed from the PC/MAC GUI and the buttons on the headset do not function. This eliminates mobility and provides a poor user experience
  • The BT600 USB Bluetooth adapter supports Poly software which provides advanced features, customization, as well as firmware upgrade capability
  • PC/MACs typically do not support all the required Bluetooth profiles or may assign the wrong Bluetooth profile to an application. The result can be poor audio quality, loss of audio on microphone or earphone, and inconsistent operation
  • The BT600 USB Bluetooth adapters enumerates to the computer as an audio device and therefore cannot act as a USB storage device. That being said, BT600 adapters cannot be used to access data on the PC/MAC

EPOS | Sennheiser

It’s the same reason for us, along with being the key to Microsoft Certification. Both the headset and dongle together is what certifies the device for use with Teams, or Skype for users still using SFB. Using the dongle will give you improved audio performance and connectivity performance as opposed to pairing native to the machine which the BT chipset can vary and may not handle audio as well as other machines etc. This is why we recommend it for most users.

Summary

As you can see, through all three partners, they have similar options on using a USB Dongle versus pairing headset to Bluetooth. Having a USB dongle is critical for having a better sound, connection, and overall better experience. Want to learn more? Check out our latest video:

What’s the Decibel Level When We Test Headsets?

When we perform headset mic tests, we have been including decibel readings to show decibel levels in the background. That may mean absolutely nothing to some so we created this blog to explain the various decibel levels. We are in no way experts in this field, however per the multiple online resources here is a general outline of decibel level ranges.

What Exactly Is A Decibel?

By Definition:

A unit used to measure the intensity of a sound or the power level of an electrical signal by comparing it with a given level on a logarithmic scale.

Sounds a little confusing, right? In a simpler term; a decibel is a way of measuring how loud something is. For example, a buzzing mosquito may be 15 decibels, where as a jet engine would be 150 decibels. Scientist have confirmed that anything louder than 85dB (decibels) is harmful to your hearing. Check out the chart below. Source

Decibel Level Test Headsets

So What Do Decibels Have to Do With Our Mic Tests?

When we test headsets, we use a standard television as a noise source. On average, a normal television volume reading is around 60 decibels. Some headsets are able to drown out this background audio while others can not. So what happens when you bump the TV up to max volume? The decibel reading for that is just under 85, right around 70-80dB. Every headset we have tested thus far has not been able to drown out a reading that high. Maybe someday? We will see!

Check out the latest video where our very own, Danny Hayasaka, takes a deep dive into decibel level reading when testing headsets. Check out and subscribe to our YouTube Channel for similar videos.

Best headsets and speakerphones for Zoomsgiving

Best Webcams and Speakerphones for Zoomsgiving and other celebrations!

The year is 2020 and we’ve done virtually everything…virtually. The holidays are no different. Many will be celebrating physically apart connected via video meeting platform from Zoom, Microsoft, Cisco, Google, or other available options.

The focus of this blog will center around things to consider when selecting a webcam or camera to capture the moment this Zoomsgiving or other celebrations! Two key things to consider are the field of view (FOV) and audio. Celebrations will range from one to one, one to many, and many to many. In order to capture everyone in the frame, a wider field of view is optimal. FOV ranges from 54 degrees to 180 degrees depending on brand and camera model. Some brands offer software that allows you to adjust FOV and other settings to improve overall video quality.

Smartphones and tablets today have nice built-in cameras that can access multiple video meeting and conferencing apps like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Google Meet, etc. Enjoy the moment by getting a stand or mount to hold the phone or tablet. Depending on where you position the smartphone, you may want to consider a Bluetooth Speakerphone to set in the middle of the table so everyone can hear and be heard.

Best Webcams and Speakerphones for Zoomsgiving
Mobile image quality

Many laptops have built-in cameras, microphones, and speakers. The video quality may not be the best and almost always, the built-in audio in laptops is horrendously bad. It’s best to look at an external webcam and audio device for Zoom or Teams conferencing.

Best Webcams and Speakerphones for Zoomsgiving
Laptop image quality

The new Logitech C505e offers a FOV of 60 degrees. (Watch Logitech C505e Video). This tighter shot is great for one person.

These cameras offer a wider field of view that can be adjusted via remote control or software:

Watch the video to see these cameras in action to see some of the best webcams and speakerphones for Zoomsgiving!

Lastly, you will want to look at a good USB or Bluetooth speakerphone designed to work with the various video meeting platforms and applications. Strongly consider a speakerphone that offers full duplex for more natural conversation. The new Jabra Speak 750 and Poly Sync 20 offer full-duplex audio while on Zoom calls!

Jabra Speak 750 video https://youtu.be/ANwzNdCEXrY

Poly Sync 20 video https://youtu.be/GkbPGy-aYWg

See a full list of webcams and speakerphones here!

Why should you switch to the Cloud for your Communications Platform?

Is moving to the cloud worth it?
Well, let’s take a look at the features you would get for roughly the same price you pay right now for Voice/Voicemail. With the mid-range plan, you could get Unlimited Calling to 32 Countries, Unlimited Faxing, Call Analytics, Business Class SMS, Voicemail, and call recording! All these features (and more), all for around the same price you would pay per line from your local provider to just receive voice calls and voicemail! The great part about all of this is you can even keep your phone number. Being able to communicate is key in a growing business. It allows you to be more efficient, save money, and improve quality assurance. So why not use the best to communicate?

Read more

How do you calculate the cost of a traditional phone system?

How to calculate the cost of a traditional phone system

When the time comes to replace your on-premises PBX some of the first objections may come from your CIO, CFO, or controller. A new PBX typically has a price tag in the tens of thousands of dollars. If you require network upgrades or additional hardware to support multiple locations, the cost can easily grow to hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, even those large numbers may not tell the whole story. A traditional phone system includes equipment that was purchased upfront (Capital Expenditure) combined with ongoing monthly bills (Operating Expenditure) for rental, services, and support. Here’s how to calculate the cost of a traditional phone system versus a cloud phone system, so you can make the cost comparison.

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Plantronics Blackwire 3200 Series

Plantronics Blackwire 3200 Series

Plantronics Blackwire 3200 Series replace the very popular Plantronics Blackwire 300 Series. There are some apparent cosmetic changes like the new “Lava” cable and accents. Some of the variants include folding speakers along with leatherette ear cushions and 3.5mm connection option. Also…like the Voyager 3200 UC, Voyager 5200 UC, Voyager 8200 UC and Blackwire 5200 Series.

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Plantronics Calisto 7200

Plantronics Calisto 7200

Plantronics introduced a new member to their Calisto speakerphone family. The Calisto 7200 UC.

Like other new solutions Plantronics is producing, there aren’t “Microsoft” and “UC” variants. The Plantronics Calisto 7200 is certified for Skype for Business. Built for UC applications and softphones from Avaya, Cisco, Skype and others.

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Jabra Speak 710

Jabra Speak 710 Review

Finally got my hands on a couple of Jabra Speak 710 speakerphones. When it comes to portable USB/Bluetooth speakerphones, the Speak 710 has the best audio quality I’ve experienced.

Before I get ahead of myself, let’s go through the process.

The Jabra Speak 710 comes in two flavors:

What’s in the box? Jabra Speak 710 with a hardwired USB cable and integrated folding table stand, Link 370 USB Dongle, carry case, Quick Start Guide

Jabra Speak 710 Features:

  • Immersive sound for calls and music
  • Intuitive plug and play connectivity – connect to a laptop, smartphone and tablet via USB or Bluetooth®
  • Lightweight design, protective travel pouch, and 15 hours of battery life (3hrs to fully charge)
  • Flexible and scalable for small and large meetings
  • Interact with your voice assistant with the one-touch Smart button
  • Certified for Avaya, Cisco, and Skype for Business for a plug-and-play experience

Set Up and Use: For any Jabra US device, I strongly recommend downloading the FREE Jabra Direct software of individual use or Jabra Xpress for mass deployment.

Speak 710 Jabra Direct

 

Set up is a breeze. You have two options for connecting Jabra Speak 710 to PC/Laptop:

  1. Connect to PC via USB Cable (USB cable hardwired to Speak 710 and has nice cord management system)
  2. Connect to PC via Bluetooth (Link 370 USB dongle)

To connect Speak 710 to Bluetooth mobile device, hold the Bluetooth button for 2 seconds and follow the voice-guided instructions to pair to your smartphone.

Jabra Speak 710

Speak 710 controls:

  • Power on/off
  • Answer call
  • End call
  • Volume Up
  • Volume Down
  • Mute
  • Bluetooth
  • Battery status
  • Smart button
    • By default, the Smart button will activate your smartphone’s voice assistant (Siri®, Google Now™, Cortana™). However, if you would prefer the Smart button to instead speed dial a phone number on your Smartphone or PC, this can be configured using Jabra Direct.
  • Link Button
    • To temporarily link the audio between two Jabra Speak 710s, press the Link button on both speakerphones when they are within 2m/6ft. The Link button will only be visible when two Jabra Speak 710’s are within 2m/6ft.
    • To unlink the speakerphones, press the Link button on one of the speakerphones.

NOTE If two Bluetooth devices are connected to the Jabra Speak 710, the last connected Bluetooth device will be replaced by the temporary link.

The Jabra Speak 710 is a premium, portable speakerphone for business leaders and C-level executives that ensures amazing sound for conference calls and music – anytime, anywhere.

I have two Speak 710’s linked together so the audio experience is absolutely fantastic for calls and music!!!

Desktop Setup

Here are some use cases:

 

  • Small meeting room: 1-6 participants in the meeting room (place Speak 710 in the middle of the table)
  • Large Meeting room: Up to 12 participants (Link two Speak 710’s and place at either end of the table)
  • At your desk (Private office/home office): It’s recommended to put Speak 710 in an upright position using the integrated table stand.
  • Stereo media: if you are presenting or viewing stereo multimedia, two Jabra Speak 710’s can be positioned on either side of a projector or display for automatic stereo sound.

To help you keep track of tiny Link 370 USB dongle, there’s a slot on the underside of Speak 710 so you can store for travel.  Let’s say you forget dongle or forgot to charge…that’s okay, fortunately, there is a hardwired USB cable you can always use. The table stand is also a nice feature.

The Speak 710 is for those who need better audio quality for voice calls and streaming media. Additionally, the look of the Speak 710 is very nice compared to Speak 510.

I’ve tested all the business-grade portable USB/Bluetooth speakerphones from the major manufacturers and hands down, the Speak 710 provides the best audio quality.

Plantronics Manager Pro lifestyle

Connect a Plantronics Headset to Deskphone

“Can I use the Voyager 5200 UC or Voyager Focus UC with a desk phone?” ” Can I Connect a Plantronics Headset to Deskphone?” is another question we get. The answer is “YES!” Back in 2014 I wrote about the MDA200, fast forward to 2017 and the MDA220 has been introduced. So what’s the difference between the two, they look identical?

Plantronincs Headset to DeskphoneThe main differences:

What’s in the Box? MDA 220 Audio Switcher, Telephone Interface Cable, Quick Start Guide

Set Up and Use: First connect your Plantronics Supported corded or wireless USB headset adapter to MDAA220 USB headset port. (See list above for list of supported headsets)

Connecting to PC or Laptop: Connect the USB cable from the MDA220 to the computer. The computer talk button LED will be solid green.

Connecting to Desk Phone: There are three options for connecting MDA220 to a desk phone.

      • Desk Phone (standard) via included Telephone Interface Cable
      • There are switch settings on underside as well as Speaker and Mic volume levels
      • Desk phone + HL10 lifter and power supply (sold separately)
      • Desk phone + EHS Cable (sold separately)

 

Plantronics Software

The Computer Audio Button and Desk Phone Audio Button are indicated via LED Indicators on the top of the MDA220. Below is the LED Indicator light guide

 

I can’t stress enough the importance of downloading Poly Software or subscribing to Plantronics Manager Pro. The Asset Management capabilities are one thing, the awesome voice analytics are really great.

Plus Plantronics Hub software offers many options. You can update firmware or adjust multiple settings to support how you work.

The MDA220 is a solid solution. If you have questions, please contact your dedicated Call One, Inc. Account Executive. 1-800-749-3160

Jabra Evolve 75

Jabra Evolve 75

It’s no secret that noise and interruptions negatively impact productivity. Especially in open office environments. The chatter from neighboring colleagues can sometimes be too much when you are trying to complete a project. Enter the Jabra Evolve 75.

This wireless headset comes in four variants:

Jabra Evolve 75

What’s in the box (Charging Stand Variant): Quick Start Guide, Jabra Evolve 75 headset, Jabra Link 370 USB adapter, charging stand*, protective travel case, USB cord (allowing for use while charging)

Set Up and Use on PC: Setting up the Evolve 75 was very simple. Please note microphone can only be worn on the right side. First, charge unit 2.5hrs. Download Free Jabra Direct software (Individual desktop), Jabra Suite for Mac or Jabra Xpress (mass deployment). Plug Jabra Link 370 USB dongle to a PC USB port (allow device drivers to install). Turn on the Jabra Evolve 75 headset. Should connect almost immediately. You can adjust settings via Jabra Direct:

Jabra Evolve 75

You can also check the status of Link 370 Dongle via Jabra Direct.






To pair to a mobile device via Bluetooth. First, go to your mobile device Bluetooth menu and place into discovery mode. Slide and hold on/off/Bluetooth switch on Evolve 75 to Bluetooth symbol for 3 seconds to place Evolve 75 into pairing mode. Select Jabra Evolve 75. You should be “Connected”.

To mute Evolve 75 simply lift boom arm up. There’s a little button with microphone icon on right speaker towards the top. When I pressed this button, it activated Siri on my Apple iPhone.

Active Noise Cancellation button allows you to eliminate unwanted background noise. The Listen-in feature allows you to listen to your surroundings without taking your headset off. To activate “Listen-in”, press button on the left speaker.

There is an integrated busy light that kicks on when you are in a call. It’s important to educate employees and inform them that when lit up red, the person is “busy” and should not be disturbed. You can manually activate busy light by pressing volume up/down buttons simultaneously. If you are not on a call but need to concentrate. I’ve toured some “open office” environments and a solution like the Evolve 75 is a must in many use cases.