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Two Way Headset

headset functionality bluetooth headsets headset manufacturers

A two way headset is an instrument that combines a headphone and a microphone in order to transmit and receive communications. Headsets resemble earmuffs: the loudspeakers, secured to a headband, are circular mechanisms close to the ear while the microphone juts from the support apparatus closer to the user’s mouth.

Headsets are most commonly used in a professional capacity to facilitate hands free telephone calls by call center employees. They are also commonly used by airplane pilots, air traffic controllers, and music producers.

Additionally, the states of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Washington and Oregon, as well as the District of Columbia, have all banned automobile drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving, necessitating the use of headphones for drivers who wish to carry on phone conversations in these locations.

History of the Two Way Headset

The two way headset was first developed in 1910 by a Stanford University student named Nathaniel Baldwin who was unable to convince any prospective manufacturers that his invention had practical uses. Two way headsets remained a communications footnote until World War II when the U.S. Army began experimenting with them as a means of keeping in contact with pilots on bombing missions.

Although pilot headsets caught on in the 1950s, their design remained so bulky and uncomfortable that many pilots eschewed their use in favor of handheld microphones in the cockpit. In the early 1960s, two pilots incorporated small hearing aid-style transducers into headset design at United Airlines’ behest. These proved so popular that the pilots, Courtney Graham and Keith Larkin, incorporated as a company called Plantronics.

Headset Functionality

Two way headset receivers have two basic modes. Although monaural headsets can have either a single earpiece or two earpieces, they use only one audio signal channel. Stereo headsets, on the other hand, use two channels of audio signal, one for each earpiece. Telephone headsets are always monaural because telephones only have single channel input and output.

Two way headset microphones can be attached to either to external or internal (voicetube) microphones. External microphones can be of either the omni-directional or noise-canceling type. Omni-directional microphones pick up sound in a complete 360 degree field; noise-canceling microphones, on the other hand, have receptive fields that are limited to the microphone’s front and back so that they only transmit sounds that come from close proximity to the user.

Bluetooth Headsets

In recent years, a new wireless technology called Bluetooth has been developed using short length radio waves to facilitate data exchange over short distances. Bluetooth has been incorporated into headsets as well as a variety of other products such as telephones and gaming consoles.

Headset Manufacturers

With the rise of cell phones, digital music and video gaming, headset manufacturing has become a booming business in recent years. Here are a few of the most important manufacturers:

• Plantronics: Plantronics is the world’s leading manufacturer of audio headset products for computer applications, headsets for both the cordless and mobile phone market, and corded and cordless headsets and systems for the office, small office/home office and contact centers. When Neil Armstrong made his famous transmission from the surface of the moon – "One small step for man” – he was speaking into a Plantronics headset.

• Koss: You may not be familiar with the Koss name, but you’re almost certainly familiar with the Koss Product: when you buy a two way headset from America’s most ubiquitous electronics store RadioShack, you are buying a rebranded Koss product. Their headphones and headsets are generally regarded as the best quality low-end products on the market.

• Sony: In addition to manufacturing just about every electronics product known to man, the Japanese multinational corporation also manufactures headphones and headsets. Sony’s headsets were originally developed to be used in conjunction with their own proprietary entertainment products like the PlayStation, but are fully compatible as add-ons to other manufacturers’ systems and have an excellent reputation as both budget and high end acoustic devices.

• Sennheiser: Sennheiser is a privately held German electronics company that specializes in telephony products for professional and business applications.

• Skullcandy: Skullcandy is a privately held company based in Park City, Utah that specializes in hands free devices targeted at snowboarders, skateboarders and other outdoor action sports aficionados.

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