Best Headsets for Working From Home in 2023 – CNET

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$200 at Amazon

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Apple AirPods Pro 2

Even better Apple noise-canceling wireless earbuds

$329 at Bose

The Bose QuietComfort 45 in white

Bose QuietComfort 45

Best QuietComfort from Bose

$91 at Amazon

jabra-elite-45h

Jabra Elite 45h

Best budget on-ear headphones for working from home

$330 at HP

The Poly Voyager Free 60 Plus UC feature a touchscreen in their charging case

Poly Voyager Free 60 Plus UC

New Poly earbuds made for working from home

$214 at HP

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Poly Voyager Focus 2 UC

Best headset from Poly

$48 at Amazon

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JLab Go Work

Best headset under $50 for working from home

$160 at Amazon

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Shokz OpenComm

Best bone conduction headset for working from home

$100 at Amazon

The Logitech Zone Vibe 100 are lightweight wireless headphones with a boom mic

Logitech Zone Vibe 100

Best Logitech wireless headset for working from home

$299 at Bose

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 have a smaller design and stellar noise canceling

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2

Best noise-canceling with top-notch sound

$144 at Amazon

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Plantronics Voyager Focus UC

Best legacy on-ear wireless headset

$477 at Amazon

Apple Airpods Max headphones

Apple AirPods Max

Best Apple over-ear headphones for working from home

$145 at Walmart

ca-essential-bluetooth-headset-hs-2000bt

Cyber Acoustics Essential Bluetooth Headset HS-2000BT

Value alternative to Jabra and Poly UC headsets (Update: low stock)

Whether you’re working from home or the local coffee shop, a good pair of headphones can help you tune out distractions and focus on the task at hand. Active noise-canceling (ANC) is an important feature, but the best headsets for working from home also feature background noise-reduction and high-quality microphones so people can hear you clearly on voice calls or during video-conferencing meetings on Zoom, Microsoft Teams and various other video chat platforms. 

What’s the best headset or headphone for your home office right now?

While there are many great headsets and headphones you can get for working from home or your hybrid work lifestyle, the new-for-2023 Jabra Evolve2 65 Flex currently sits atop this list because it offers a great mix of comfort, performance and features in a compact headset that folds up into a small carry case.

When we test headphones and headsets for working from home, we evaluate not only how well they perform for calls but how comfortable they, how they sound for music listening and what extra features they might have, including multipoint Bluetooth pairing, which allows to pair the headset with two devices at the same time (a computer or cell phone, for example) and easily switch audio between the two devices. Strong battery life is also important.

You may specifically be looking for a headset or headphones designed to work with Unified Communications applications and certified for Skype for Business, optimized for Microsoft Lync and suitable for softphones from Cisco, Avaya and Skype. I’ve included some UC headphones on this list, but the majority of these are mainstream consumer headphones that also work well on the go.

Read more: Best earbuds for phone calls in 2023

Best headsets and headphones for working from home

The Jabra Evolve2 65 Flex headset is lightweight, comfortable and performs very well

Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

Not to be confused with the earlier Jabra Evolve2 65, the new-for-2023 Evolve2 65 Flex features a slimmer design with dual hinges that allows you to fold the headset up flat in its compact carrying case. While this is an on-ear headset, it has a nicely padded headband and ear pieces and is impressively comfortable (it also helps that it’s relatively lightweight, weighing 136 grams or 4.8 ounces).

I was impressed with the sound and performance of the Evolve2 65 Flex. It has a retractable boom microphone and good active noise canceling along with excellent noise reduction for calls (I made calls in the noisy streets of New York and callers said I sounded clear with little background noise intrusion). Flip the boom mic up and you automatically get muted during video conference calls; flip it down and you unmute yourself.

With 28mm drivers, this headset also works well for listening to music and other audio, which is what you should expect for its high price tag. However, it only supports the SBC audio codec and not the superior AAC or AptX audio codecs (that’s not the end of the world, but it is worth pointing out). Equipped with Bluetooth 5.2, you can connect it to a variety of devices wirelessly and the included Bluetooth USB-A dongle allows for easy pairing with PCs (you can connect it to two devices at the same time). Finally, battery life is rated at up to 21 hours with noise-canceling on and 32 hours with it off. That’s decent for a compact headset.

A pair of white Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones against a blue background

David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life Rated up to 32 hoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint YesHeadphone Type Over-ear wireless headphonesWater-Resistant No IP rating

When you have a product that a lot of people love, change can be risky. Such is the case for Sony’s WH-1000XM5, the fifth generation of the 1000X series headphones, which were first released in 2016 as the MDR-1000X Wireless and have become increasingly popular as they’ve improved with each generation. Over the years, Sony has made some tweaks to the design, but nothing as dramatic as what it’s done with the WH-1000XM5. Other than the higher $400 price tag ($50 more than the WH-1000XM4), most of those changes are good, and Sony’s made some dramatic improvements with voice-calling performance, as well as even better noise canceling and more refined sound.

Read our Sony WH-1000XM5 review.

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David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life Rated up to 6 hoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint NoHeadphone Type Wireless earbudsWater-Resistant Yes (IPX4 — splash-proof)

The new AirPods Pro (2nd generation) are powered by Apple’s new H2 chip, which delivers more processing power while being more energy efficient, according to Apple. The new chip, combined with new low-distortion drivers, allows for improved sound that offers better clarity and depth. The noise canceling is also improved — Apple says the new AirPods have “double” the noise canceling of the original AirPods Pro. Additionally, the new AirPods add an extra hour of battery life, up from five to six hours with noise canceling on. Plus, a speaker in the case that emits a sound that helps locate your buds via Find My should they decide to hide from you.

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof).

Read our Apple AirPods Pro 2 review.

The Bose QuietComfort 45 in white

David Carnoy/CNET

The QuietComfort 45 has virtually the same design as its predecessor, the QuietComfort QC35 II, which many people considered one of the most comfortable over-ear headphones — if not the most comfortable. (And, if comfort doesn’t make them the best headphones for working, what would?) It has the same drivers, according to Bose, and the buttons are in the same place. However, there are small but notable changes. First off, these thankfully have USB-C instead of micro-USB.

Secondly, the microphone configuration is different. Not only have the mics been shifted on the headphones, but there’s now an extra external microphone for voice pick-up, which means the QC45 has a total of six microphones, four of which are beamforming and used for voice. By contrast, the QC35 II has a total of four, two of which are used for voice. (The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 also have six microphones total.)

The end result is these are excellent for making calls. They’re similar to the Bose Headphones 700 in that regard and also feature top-notch noise canceling, as well as multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can connect them with a PC and your phone simultaneously. Read our full review of the QuietComfort 45.

jabra-elite-45h

Jabra

Battery Life Rated up to 50 hoursNoise Canceling NoMultipoint YesHeadphone Type On-ear wireless headphonesWater-Resistant No IP rating

Released in mid-2020, the Jabra Elite 45h were essentially billed as the best on-ear headphones for the money and among the best headphones for work. While there’s nothing terribly fancy about them, they are a great value for on-ear headphones, with good sound quality, a sturdy design and comfortable fit — for on-ear headphones, anyway. They perform well as a headset for making calls too, and include a sidetone feature that allows you to hear your voice so you don’t talk too loudly. Battery life is also good and it has multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can connect to both your computer and your smartphone at the same time, and easily switch between the two should a call come in on your phone. It mostly works.

Read more: Best Cheap VPN: Three Options for Working From Home

The Poly Voyager Free 60 Plus UC feature a touchscreen in their charging case

Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

Like JBL’s Tour Pro 2 earbuds, the Poly Voyager Free 60 Plus UC earbuds also have a touchscreen display embedded in their charging case. The display isn’t quite as fancy as the one on the JBL case (it’s mostly monochrome), but these are among the first earbuds to have a case with a mini control panel integrated into it. Additionally, the Free 60 Plus UC case also turns into a Bluetooth transceiver for inflight entertainment systems (you plug the case into the 3.5mm headphone port). I also liked how you can store the USB-A Bluetooth dongle in the charging case when you’re not using it with your computer. 

Aside from the tricked out case, the big strengths of the Poly Voyager Free 60 are their comfortable fit, excellent voice-calling performance for video calls (they have 3-mic array in each bud), solid noise canceling and very good sound quality. Equipped with 10mm drivers, they might not offer quite as good sound quality for music as other premium earbuds in this price range, but there’s good depth and punch to the bass, decent clarity and they have a pleasant sound profile overall. They support the AAC and AptX audio codecs as well as LC3 when making video calls, Poly says. Battery life is rated at up to 5.5 hours with noise canceling on. 

I was able to easily switch between using the buds with my computer (with the USB dongle) and my iPhone. While they worked well for making cell-phone calls indoors and outdoors in quieter environments, callers said they could hear a good amount of background noise when I was making calls in noisier environments. Poly says it’s working to improve noise reduction for cell-phone calls with a firmware update later this year. The earbuds can be updated via the Poly Lens app for Desktop, iOS or Android that also features a variety of settings you can play around with.

Note that these earbuds are available in a non-UC version with a standard charging case for $230 or $100 less.   

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David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life Rated up to 19 hoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint YesHeadphone Type On-ear wireless headsetWater-Resistant No IP rating

Plantronics’ original Voyager Focus UC has long been considered one of the best work-from-anywhere headsets. Now we get the Voyager Focus 2 UC from Poly (the company Plantronics morphed into after it acquired Polycom), and it’s improved in several ways, including better noise reduction (it’s stellar), two levels of active noise canceling, increased battery life (up to 19 hours with ANC off and 16 hours with it on) and superior wireless range with Bluetooth 5.1. 

You can pair the Voyager Focus 2 UC with your computer with the included USB dongle or your phone (or tablet) via Bluetooth. It can also connect to a desk phone if you want to bring it to the office. Also worth noting: The boom microphone has a mute button on it, but when you flip it up it also automatically mutes the microphone. The original Voyager Focus doesn’t mute when you lift the boom microphone.

The Focus 2 comes in several different versions, including USB-A and USB-C models and a version that’s Microsoft Teams certified. You can get the headset by itself or in a bundle that includes a charging dock. All versions include a nice protective carrying pouch.

The Voyager Focus 2 UC is expensive but offers excellent performance and is quite comfortable for an on-ear headphone. It also sounds good for music listening with nicely detailed sound and ample bass. It may not be quite up to the level of the Sony WH-1000XM4 for music, but it offers a nice music listening experience for a work-centric headset.

The Kensington H3000 headset is comfortable to wear and has decent performance

David Carnoy/CNET

There’s a bit of a generic look to Kensington’s H3000 headset, but it’s comfortable to wear with a nicely padded headband and ear cups, and it seems well built. Featuring a rotating boom microphone that can be worn on the right or left side (there’s no designated left or right ear cup), the H3000 also offers good performance with decent sound for music listening and clear voice quality, according to those I spoke with (the microphone flips to mute). There’s no active noise canceling — just noise reduction for calls — but the ear cups do passively seal out a fair amount of ambient noise. 

The headset uses Bluetooth 5.2 and has excellent battery life — it’s rated for up to 60 hours of music listening and 40 hours for calls. It also has multipoint Bluetooth pairing, allowing you to pair it two devices simultaneously (your computer and smartphone, for example) and Kensington says it’s designed for use with Intel Evo laptops but works fine with other laptops as well. 

jbl-go-work

David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life Rated up to 45 hoursNoise Canceling NoMultipoint YesHeadphone Type On-ear wireless headsetWater-Resistant No IP rating

Known for its value headphones and earbuds, JLab offers a pair of on-ear headphones with an integrated boom microphone (it can be rotated up when just listening to music) and multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can connect them to your phone and computer simultaneously. I’m more partial to the Jabra Elite 45h, which list for $100 but usually sell for around $70. But if you don’t want to spend quite that much, the Go Work are solid headphones — and a good headset — for the modest price. They’re also comfortable to wear with a lightweight design. You won’t mistake these for premium headphones, but the build quality means that they are among the best headphones for work for around $50.

Battery life is rated at up to 45 hours at moderate volume levels, and you can mute calls using the multifunction button (an LED lights up at the end of the boom mic when the call is muted). I wouldn’t call the sound quality for music listening and the headset performance stellar, but it’s good, particularly for the price. For music listening, there’s ample bass and clarity and a cable is included for wired use. The headphones charge via USB-C.

jabra-evolve2-30

David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life NANoise Canceling NoMultipoint NoHeadphone Type On-ear wired headphonesWater-Resistant No IP rating

Jabra recently released the Evolve2 30, a new more affordable wired on-ear office headset with an integrated boom microphone. It’s lightweight and comfortable and comes in USB-C and USB-A versions, as well as stereo and mono versions (I tried the USB-A stereo version). Alas, it’s hard to get at the moment — apparently, there’s plenty of demand for office headphones/headsets at this price point. 

The headphones are OK for music listening, but they’re primarily meant for voice applications. They feature dual microphones — one for picking up your voice and the other to help reduce ambient noise around you so callers can hear you better. 

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David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life Rated up to 16 hoursNoise Canceling Yes (microphone)Multipoint YesHeadphone Type Bone conduction open-ear headphonesWater-Resistant Yes (IP55 — protection against low-pressure water streams)

Shokz has turned its OpenRun (formerly called the Aeropex) bone-conduction headphones into a more communications-friendly headset with an integrated boom microphone. Since these leave your ears open (the sound is conducted through your cheekbone), they aren’t for people who want to seal their ears out from outside noise. Rather, the idea is that you can hear everything around you without having anything covering your ears or jammed inside them. Some folks find that liberating.

While Shokz are arguably the best-sounding bone-conduction headphones, they aren’t great-sounding for music because they’re lacking in the bass department. However, they’re great for speech so they work very well as a headset for making calls, with good noise reduction. These also have multipoint-Bluetooth pairing, so you can pair them with your phone and PC and easily switch to your phone if a call comes in while you’re on your computer. (Here are the instructions on how to use it.)

As long as you don’t mind the boom microphone, you can use the OpenComm for sporting activities as well. The OpenRun and other Shokz headphones, including the flagship OpenRun Pro, are favorites for runners who want to keep their ears open to hear the outside world for safety reasons. They’re also water-resistant. The only downside is they require a proprietary charging cable instead of USB-C. Battery life is rated at 16 hours of talk time and eight hours of listening time.

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David Carnoy/CNET

Sony’s improved entry-level noise canceling headphones, the CH-720Ns, have a bit of a plasticky budget vibe, but they’re lightweight and very comfortable. Part of me was expecting them to sound pretty mediocre, but I was pleasantly surprised. No, they don’t sound as good as the WH-1000XM5s. But they sound more premium than they look (and feel), and their overall performance is a step up from their predecessor, the CH-710N. Are they worth $150? Maybe — or maybe not. But the good news is that, like the CH-710N and WH-XB910 before them, these should see significant discounts in the not-so-distant future, which is what you may want to wait for.

Read our Sony CH-720N review.

The Logitech Zone Vibe 100 are lightweight wireless headphones with a boom mic

David Carnoy/CNET

There’s a lot to like about Logitech’s Zone Vibe 100 wireless over-ear headset, which comes in off-white, carbon and rose color options. For starters, it’s lightweight and comfortable to wear, with a retractable boom microphone that you can flip up to mute, plus it has a mute button on it. Additionally, it features multipoint Bluetooth pairing, so you can pair it simultaneously with your Mac or Windows PC and your smartphone and easily switch audio back and forth between the two devices. These aren’t active noise canceling headphones but they offer a decent amount of passive noise isolation. Battery life is rated at up to 20 hours of listening time.

People said I sounded clear on calls and there’s some sidetone, so you can hear your voice in the headphones as you talk (that way you don’t end up raising your voice too much). I thought they sounded good while listening to music on my phone. However, the sound quality wasn’t quite up to the same level when streaming Bluetooth audio on my computer, though it was still decent. The Logi Tune app for iOS and Android does allow you to tweak the sound profile, adjust the sidetone and set when the headset goes to sleep when not in use.

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 have a smaller design and stellar noise canceling

David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life Rated Up to 6 HoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint NoHeadphone Type Wireless EarbudsWater-Resistant Yes (IPX4 — Splash-Proof)

Bose’s second-generation QuietComfort Earbuds 2 are not only about 30% smaller than their predecessors, but their case is about 40% smaller and truly pocketable. They feature best-in-class noise canceling and improved sound, thanks to Bose’s new CustomTune sound calibration system that customizes the sound for your ears. Voice-calling performance is also significantly better than that of the original QuietComfort Earbuds.

The other big change is to the ear tips. Bose has ditched its one-piece StayEar wing tips for a two-piece Fit Kit system that features separate ear tips and “stability bands” in three size options, giving you more flexibility to get a secure fit and tight seal.

Read our Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 review.

plantronics-voyager-focus-uc.png

Amazon

An oldie but goodie, the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC allows you to switch between a Bluetooth connection on a smartphone or tablet and a computer. You may find these to be the best headphones for work if you want lightweight, comfortable on-ear headphones that have excellent noise reduction. They also have a retractable boom microphone so people have no problem hearing your voice, and you can hear your voice in the headphones. 

Note that Plantronics has become Poly and there is a newer model called the Voyager Focus 2 (see above). 

jabra-evolve2-85

David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life Rated up to 37 hoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint NoHeadphone Type Over-ear wireless headphonesWater-Resistant No IP rating

If you’re looking for a souped-up version of the Elite 85h, the recently released Evolve2 85 offers even better telephony options along with a Unified Communications USB dongle for PCs. While it has similar sound quality to the 85h, it has an updated audio chipset, a hideaway boom arm and two additional microphones (10 altogether, with the extra two in the boom arm) for noise reduction and picking up your voice. Its build quality is also a step up. A Microsoft Teams-certified version is available for those who need it.

I found it comfortable to wear over several hours — it offers an impressive 37 hours of battery life or slightly more than the Elite 85h. 

Apple Airpods Max headphones

David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life Rated up to 20 hoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint NoHeadphone Type Over-ear wireless headphonesWater-Resistant No IP rating

If you’re an Apple-centric person who works on a MacBook and also has an iPhone (and maybe an iPad), Apple’s AirPods Max noise-canceling headphones allow you to easily connect to multiple Apple devices simultaneously (so long as you’re signed into your iCloud account on all the devices) and switch between them. If you’re on a Zoom teleconference and a call comes in on your iPhone, the AirPods Max automatically switch to the iPhone if you pick up the call.

They sound great, and with all their microphones they do an excellent job picking up your voice and reducing ambient noise. Aside from their high price, their other potential downside is their heavy weight. Although I found them comfortable, some people have trouble with that.

Read our Apple AirPods Max review.

ca-essential-bluetooth-headset-hs-2000bt

David Carnoy/CNET

UC headsets that include a USB dongle so you can easily connect the headset wirelessly to your computer tend to cost more than headsets that just feature Bluetooth connectivity. Listing for around $130, the Cyber Acoustics Essential Bluetooth Headset HS-2000BT sells at a discount compared to similarly styled models from Jabra and Poly. I’m not going to say the HS-2000BT is better than those models, but it’s lightweight and comfortable to wear and offers similar features, including a retractable boom microphone with automatic muting (when you retract the boom mic). It also has a couple of bonus features: active noise canceling and wireless charging (Qi wireless charging pad not included). 

Callers said I sounded good though not quite as clear as when I was using the Logitech Zone Vibe 100. I thought the HS-2000BT sounded good when using them to listen to music, though the sound is on the warmer side (pushes the bass a bit). The headset is worth checking out, particularly if it goes on sale. 

How we test headphones and headsets for working from home

We test headphones and earbuds based on six key criteria. These criteria include designsound qualitynoise-canceling performancevoice-calling performance, features and value

  • Design: Evaluating design, we assess not only how comfortable the headphones and earbuds fit (their ergonomics) but their build quality and how well the controls are implemented. When it comes to earbuds, we also look at water- and dust-resistance ratings. 
  • Sound quality: We evaluate sound quality by listening to a set playlist of music tracks and comparing the earbuds to top competing products in their price range. Sonic traits such as bass definition, clarity, dynamic range and how natural the headphones sound are key factors in our assessment.
  • Noise-canceling performance: We evaluate noise-canceling performance by wearing the headphones in the same spot indoors near a noisy HVAC unit to see how well they do at muffling lower frequencies. Then we head out to the streets of New York to test the headphones in a real-world environment where we see how they do at muffling not only street noise but people’s voices. 
  • Extra features: Some great-sounding headphones and earbuds aren’t loaded with features, but we do take into account what extra features are on board. These include everything from quick-access awareness to transparency modes (your music pauses and the headphones open up to the outside world so you can have a conversation) to special sound modes to ear-detection sensors that automatically pause your music when you take the headphones off your ears. For home office headphones, Bluetooth multipoint pairing is an important feature (and other connectivity options such as an included Bluetooth dongle for easy pairing with a computer). We also take a look at the companion app for the headphones if there is one and how user friendly it is. 
  • Voice-calling: When we test voice-calling performance, we make calls in the noisy streets of New York and evaluate how well the headphones or earbuds reduce background noise and how clearly callers can hear our voice. We also evaluate how they perform on video-conferencing applications such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
  • Value: We determine value after evaluating the strength of the headphones and earbuds against all these criteria and what they’re able to deliver compared to other models in their price class. 
Wearing the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2


Enlarge Image

Wearing the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2

Testing call quality on the streets of New York.

David Carnoy/CNET

Home office headset and headphones FAQs

Is it important to get a headset with a retractable boom microphone?

The benefit of a boom microphone is that it extends out, which puts it closer to your mouth and makes picking up your voice easier. Some headphones and earbuds with beam-forming microphones do a very good job of picking up your voice, but a good boom microphone is often the superior option. The only downside is that unless it truly retracts and is able to blend into the headphone’s design when retracted, it makes the headset less attractive looking as a standard headphone  for mobile use. 

Can I use a gaming headset as a home office headphone?

Yes. Many gaming headsets have retractable microphones and are designed for chatting online with fellow gamers. That makes them good for video-conferencing apps but not everybody likes how they appear wearing a gaming headphone for a business call.  

Are headphones or earbuds better for working from home?

People tend to look better wearing small earbuds than full-size headphones. But it’s really just a matter of personal preference. The one downside to earbuds is that they usually have far less battery life than full-size headphones, so you’ll probably have to charge them during a break to use them for an entire day.

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