I use Skype most of the time when I make phone calls from home. I may be working from home, or playing online games with my friends. In either case, I use the Monoprice 8323 over the ear headphones to hear what’s going on. This headset doesn’t have a microphone. For awhile I used an external, desk-mounted microphone but there were some problems with this approach.
First off, I picked up a lot of ambient sound. The dogs hang out in the same room where my office is, and it can be distracting to people on the line when the dogs are playing or barking to be fed.
The second problem was that the microphone wasn’t very good. I had to boost the signal via my PC, and that often led to distortion. I had to speak more loudly than normal, and that became a problem later in the evening as G-Unit neared bedtime.
My friend wurmr used a small head-mounted microphone similar to ones worn by call center people. After many years of service, the band on his microphone started to fail. It was a good opportunity for me to not only find a replacement for myself, but my StarCraft buddy as well.
I wanted a microphone with the following attributes:
- Head mounted, not desk mounted.
- Either no headphones or removable ear pieces.
- Thin and lightweight frame — wurmr and I both wear glasses (he full-time, me on occasion) and having a small profile is important for when we wear glasses. Typical headsets with microphones are too bulky and push our glasses arms into our ears, which is uncomfortable over time.
- A strong enough mic that I didn’t have to use a lot of adjustment from my computer.
- Less than $40 a piece.
At first I searched for gaming headphones. Most of them are very bulky, or have permanent ear pieces. In my case, I needed a head-mounted microphone that had a very thin frame to fit underneath my Monoprice PMHM2, and wurmr needed them for his eyeglasses. Most sets made by Logitech, Razer, Steel Series, etc were disqualified right from the start.
It turns out that searching for telephony or musician head sets yielded better results. Apparently this is a problem that’s been solved many times over by people who talk on the phone all the time. Now I had two different issues: most had 2.5mm plugs (the smaller jack found on older mobile phones) or were more expensive, at over $50 each.
Pyle makes a lot of recording equipment, mostly for the music or public speaking industries. They have a wide product range, with several products in each category with differing functionality (and cost). I was able to find their PMHM2 for about $16 after shipping on Amazon.com.
The PMHM2 has a 3.5mm jack — the standard size I needed to plug into my PC. It was very lightweight at 0.4 ounces (12 grams). The headband looked adjustable enough for our noggins, and there was no ear piece to remove. The PMHM2 was inexpensive enough to take a risk, so I ordered two.
As you can see, the Pyle PMHM2 headset microphone sits pretty well — but only on one side of my face. The headset was made for people with really small heads, and I couldn’t put both ear loops on at the same time. The other thing that’s weird about the Pyle microphone is that if you adjust the length of the microphone boom it makes the headset smaller. Since I had a hard time fitting the headset I had to shorten the microphone boom arm. However, the mic does a great job of picking up my voice, so the final position you see here is not a big deal in practice.
The other thing I don’t like about the PMHM2 is the length of the cord. It’s barely four feet long from the base of the plug to the headset. That’s barely enough length for me. I run the headset from my keyboard, and even this is pushing it. If you plan on plugging the headset in directly to your computer you will want to buy a 3.5mm extension cord. Factor that into your cost.
On the good side, the Pyle microphone does a great job. I can hear wurmr like he’s in the same room as me, and after fiddling with Skype and Windows he can hear me just fine, too. The mic also picks up my lower volume once the night progresses and kids go to bed.
It’s also very comfortable to wear, even if I have my glasses on and my over-the-ear headphones from Monoprice. Wurmr and I sometimes play for two to three hours at a time, and my ears never get sore.
If you can get the PMHM2 to fit your skull and can manage the short cable then this headset may be the one for you. I feel like it was designed to be worn by small headed folks from other countries while sitting in a phone bank. However, the price is really good compared to other offerings and it definitely does the job.