Behind the Ear vs Headset
Thread poster: Tom Fennell

Tom Fennell
United States
Local time: 17:18
Member (2010)
Russian to English
+ ...
Aug 7, 2008

I'm getting ready to plunk down for a Bluetooth microphone/headset.

Some of the best rated ones are the "hang on the ear" models usually used with phones. To me it would seem this would be uncomfortable for all-day usage, and eventually lead to ear deformation or pain.

It seems to me like the over-the-head models would be more comfortable.

Any advice?

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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:18
English to Dutch
+ ...
Over-the-head Aug 7, 2008

I have an over-the-head model, and I think it's very comfortable.
Just make sure it is adjustable - almost all of them are.
Mine came with both options (hang-on-ear and over-the-head), so you could just try and see what works best for you.

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Richard Walker
Local time: 07:18
Japanese to English
My preference Aug 7, 2008

It depends on the mic, of course--some are engineered better than others--but I've used hangers exclusively for a couple of years and comfort usually hasn't been a problem. The best units are so small and lightweight, you can actually forget you have them on.

There are times in marathon translation sessions when my ear does become a bit sore, but not very often, and it's easy enough to switch to the other ear if one starts complaining.

Over-the-head models I find by nature to be heavy, obtrusive, clunky and a general annoyance. Your mileage may vary.

A couple of less obvious factors to keep in mind: First, ease of carrying. This immediately becomes an issue if you do any travel at all. It's ridiculously easy to toss a tiny hang-on-the-ear mic or two and a USB recharger into a laptop bag, while over-the-head mics present more of a packing challenge and have greater potential to be mangled in transit (voice of experience here). Second, and this goes for any rechargeable mic, you'll probably want to buy at least two, so that you always have one fully charged. There's nothing quite as frustrating as trying to meet a critical deadline and having to wait 90 minutes while your mic is re-juiced.

My favorite brand remains the Jawbone, and they've just released a new version that is about half the size and weight of the original, delivers as good or better audio performance, a much improved recharger and has generally been a pleasure to use. Another to consider is the Joby Zivio, which I had written off as vaporware but is apparently going officially on sale tomorrow ( Can't vouch for how it performs, but it has a lot going for it on paper.

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Tony M  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:18
French to English
+ ...
No personal experience, but... Aug 7, 2008

I've not actually used dictation software, but as a general principle, I would think it wisest to use a headset type, in order to get the microphone as close as possible to the mouth, which from an audio point of view can only be a help in obtaining best quality.

Personally, I find the 'round the back of the head' style less tiring to wear than the 'over-the-top' ones — but that's probably just 'cos I must have a weird-shaped head!

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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
waiting for my Bluetooth to arrive Aug 7, 2008

I've been using an over-the-head microphone, and it drives me crazy. I have long hair, and the other day, there was a minor emergency in the house, and when I tried to get up from the computer, I found that strands of my hair were entwined in the headset, and I couldn't extricate myself!

In general, I don't find it comfortable and my hair is always getting messed up, so I'm going to try the Bluetooth, which I ordered when I upgraded to DNS 10. So, I can't say if it will be better, I'm hoping it will be.

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Piotr Sawiec  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:18
English to Polish
+ ...
not very close to mouth Aug 7, 2008

Having microphone as close as possible to the mouth does not produce the best quality of sound. Very frequently you have to move it to a different position, because distortions makes voice recognition less accurate. So you have to adjust your own position by trial and error. I personally have no experience with devices other than a headset.


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