Plantronics Audio 995 Digital Wireless Stereo Headset Review

by - 9 years ago

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Headsets are a wonderfully simple solution to the problems that arise with a microphone and loud speakers, however, I’ve always found them to be quite restricting as you end up with a length of cable that is never quite long enough. Over the years, many solutions have come out of the pipelines and invariable some have been wireless. It has always been in the understanding that, if you want a good headset which can deliver good sound quality you will need to have a wired headset.

Unfortunately it is very rare that wireless headphones on their own have proved to be a success, let alone with the complications of a microphone. However, Plantronics were willing to take that very deep plunge and we wish them the best of luck in convincing us that wireless headsets really can work well.

Specifications
[HR][/HR]

  • Digital Wireless Technology: 2.4 GHz
  • Wireless Range: Up to 12 metres
  • Talk/Listen Time: Up to 8 hours
  • Speaker Driver Size: 40mm diameter
  • Speaker Frequency Response: 20Hz- 20 kHz
  • Microphone Frequency Response: 100 Hz – 10 kHz
  • Compatibility: Windows and MAC via USB Plug and Play
  • 2 year warranty
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Packaging and Contents
Packaging
[HR][/HR] The packaging much to our dislike is a sealed blister pack style box. This does however allow a good view of the whole headset but is certainly a pain for getting at the actual headset. On the front you can see both that is using ‘Digital Wireless’ and that it is compatible with PC & MAC. As well as this you can see also see the USB wireless transceiver in the centre.

From the back you can see a picture of the headset and transceiver plugged into a laptop. It also shows the headset with the microphone pulled down in view. The rest of the box is taken up with 3 main features in 15 different languages.

On the one side are the specifications while on the other it has been left clear to allow you to see the controls on the headset.

Contents
[HR][/HR]Normally with this kind of product we would expect to find a manual or User Guide and moreover a driver cd, however Plantronics are trying to keep it simple and claim everything is rather obvious to the user and as such don’t provide you with much.

You will receive:

  • Headset
  • USB wireless transceiver
  • USB Charging Cable
  • Getting Started Guide
  • Safety Manual

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A Closer Look
Firstly taking a look at the transceiver, it is a fairly standard USB dongle and could quite happily be a USB TV stick or a USB memory stick or even a USB Bluetooth dongle. It consists of one blue flashing LED down the centre and a connect button at the front.

The bottom of the USB Transceiver is fairly much what we expect.

The headset is fairly small and lightweight but keeps a fair bit of rigidity when you pick it up from just one side.

The headband does however remain fairly flexible and is certainly orientated towards the comfort as it has a large cushioning pad at the top.

Of course, like many headsets the length of each side can be adjusted individually.

We see that each cup has a pivot half way down allowing the bottom of the ear cup to bend out slightly so that it can fit nicely on your head and seal well around your ears.

The ear cups are a fairly simple affair and have a large cushioning pad round the outside. Each ear cup has a 40mm diameter driver which is fairly hefty but is fitted into quite a small space.

On the left-hand side there is a lot more going on, for starters this is where the microphone is mounted from using a simple pivot which cleverly mutes the microphone when you rotate it into the up position.

The microphone is slightly flexible but will only allow you to adjust it very slightly but not in terms of length. This does allow you to move it right out of the way of your mouth while still allowing your friends to hear you.

Also on this left-hand side are the controls for this headset. You have both a volume up and a volume down button as well as a play/pause button and a skip button. These buttons are fairly large and easy to press without looking.

Also on the ‘back’ of this cup is the on-off switch which is a bit smaller but still in a good place to press while taking the headset off your head (in one smooth movement!).

We have as such saved one of the most important parts of this headset to the end, as its wireless its battery powered and as such you need to be able to re-charge this headset. At the bottom of the left-hand ear cup is a USB connection – USB charging cable supplied.

Although they don’t supply a mains charger they are not hard to come by and you may already have one for another device.

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Performance
From first plugging this device in I was very impressed. It is instantly recognised my Windows 7 and as such Skype recognises it as a headset without any hesitation. Within about 5 seconds the music that was playing out of my speakers was playing out of the headset and I was fumbling to adjust the volume controls. The speed at which these headsets turn on and lock on to the transceiver is pretty much instant so you can leave them turned off and turn them on for just when you want.

Firstly, we will talk about the sound quality. 99% of the time there is no distortion due to the wireless transmission and it is only very rarely that I have had problems with this when it hasn’t been due to being out of range. Interestingly it seems to dislike being very close to the transceiver and prefers to be slightly further away. That said, there is only a very slight hiss in the background when there is no music/sound being omitted which is a shame but it is very hard to cancel out all of this kind of interference. The sound replication is not bad for such a small pair of headphones, they produce a realistic sound and nothing feels amplified even when turned right up. The bass is fairly soft and always seems to be balanced just right – other headsets amplify just the bass sound to improve the balance but tend to overdo it – making it perfect to listen to most types of music. That said if you are listening to something very bass heavy it will struggle to reproduce the depth that other headsets produce but quite frankly it is pretty impressive how well it does do for the size of the speakers as it stands.

Comfort is always a very important point with headsets especially wireless ones as you are more likely to want to wear them for longer periods of time as they do not intrude quite as much as wired headsets. The ear cups themselves are maybe a tad small so they don’t quite fully fit over your ears but are very comfortable. The headband is also nicely cushioned and sits well on the top of your head, the adjustments are also there if you want to length the headband etc. All in all these are a very comfortable pair to wear, although larger headsets are more comfortable these are tonnes lighter and as such in my view are very nice to wear for long periods of time.

Moving onto the range of the device, it is surprising how far these work when in an open environment however within a house environment the range is drastically reduced that said, I could still use my headset outside with the laptop inside and upstairs. There were a few spots where the signal would drop out in my ‘quite small’ house but it quickly locks back on when you have walked round the corner. You will find these brilliant if you want to be able to move around your room freely and occasionally stray to the kitchen for another coffee, but if you do want decent wireless range you will have to look elsewhere. That said these are impressive as you would have to part with a lot more money to get a larger range than these provide.

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Final Thoughts
I really like this device, the wireless communication just works. You plug it in and turn the headset on and instantly have sound. This is also the same for the microphone and it just simplifies things drastically. The headset also turns on and off very easily giving very good battery life so unless you want to use it for 8 hours a day the chances are you will only need to charge it up every couple of days – unless you watch loads of films!

You will also find that this device doesn’t just work with Windows 7 as plug and play and it in fact works instantly with Ubuntu as well as with Mac OS. In my eyes it’s not a disadvantage that this headset doesn’t come with drivers or an in-depth user guide as it is just not needed because it is so easy to use! Plantronics have unlike most other companies gone for the simple approach to producing this product, one that everyone can use, everyone can afford and one that everyone will like. It won’t give you the best sound quality and it won’t give you the best wireless freedom but for the price, size and weight it is heads above the rest of its competitors and is an absolute pleasure to use.

Pros:

  • Good battery life and quick charge time
  • Natural feeling bass with the right amount of punch
  • Very comfortable and gives good wireless freedom
  • Very quick and easy to set-up – it just works!
  • Quite a light headset

Cons:

  • Not the best fitting around the ears.
  • Very occasional electronic distortion
  • Range isn’t quite ‘around the house’

We would like to thank Plantronics for supplying this sample
You can pre-order this item from Scan

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