Grab a pair of headphones, attach a microphone and you’ll have in your hands a headset. The functionality of a telephone with the added benefit of hands-free operation is a headset’s chief characteristic. Generally speaking, a typical headset includes an attached, single speaker for talking into and a pair of earphones for listening. Although headsets are used for commonplace yet vital communications jobs, such as in corporate call centers, they also play a pivotal role in many extraordinary and exciting jobs such as in the aeronautics, military, airline and television industries.
The headset was invented about one hundred years ago by Nathaniel Baldwin. It wasn’t until World War 1, however, that headsets broke into mainstream use. Early models were used. Army and Navy while subsequent models began to find their way into the nascent airline industry. Probably the most famous use of a headset was when astronaut Neil Armstrong communicated his famous “one giant leap for mankind” line while taking his first moonwalk.
“Monaural” headsets are those with one earpiece while those with two earpieces can either be classified as being “stereo” or “binaural”. A stereo headset has one audio channel signal for each earpiece; binaural headsets split the audio channel and send it to both earpieces. Speaking from my television broadcasting experience, I enjoy using monaural (single earpiece) cardboard vr headsets which allow me to communicate with my production team on the studio floor while keeping one ear free for communicating with personnel inside the master control room. This is a common set-up for those who need to communicate with their teammates in the command center while maintaining simultaneous contact with those “out in the field”.
“Over the head” headsets employ a headband which is worn over the user’s head. “Behind the neck” headsets, also known as “back wear”, feature a band which is placed over the back of the user’s neck instead. In my opinion, this can give the behind the neck headset an unusual but modern appearance. Some headsets are also convertible which are customizable to the user’s wearing preference.
Headsets used with computers are available with two different types of connections, 3.5 mm and USB. The 3.5mm type has two connectors, one of which plugs into the computer’s “line in” of the microphone jack while the other connector plugs into the “line out” of the computer’s speaker jack. A USB headset simply plugs into the USB port of the computer. Today, the headset trend is rapidly moving towards the wireless realm. The different types of wireless headsets include 2.4 GHZ headsets, DECT headsets and the ubiquitous Bluetooth headsets though Bluetooth headsets are mainly used with cell phones.