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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
How we test headphones and headsets for working from home
We test headphones and earbuds based on six key criteria. These criteria include design, sound quality, noise-canceling performance, voice-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.