Wireless (not necessarily true wireless) earphones with good background noise cancellation microphone(s) for phone calls?

VforViennetta

Novice Member
By "noise cancellation" I mean two or more microphones that actively cancel some of the background noise, so that, when you're on a phone call, the other party hears less background noise (eg traffic). I don't mean active cancellation of background noise while listening to music.

Are there any wireless (but preferably not true-wireless) bluetooth earphones that actually have decent noise cancellation and that would let you make a call outdoors?

The only brand I found which supposedly has this is Jabra, but the results are very poor. Can you think of anything to recommend?

  • I have the Bose Soundsport earphones, but the noise cancellation sucks (the audio quality isn't perfect but the fact they don't provide a full seal means no occlusion effect, ie footsteps aren't amplified in your head as you walk)
  • I tried the Jabra Elite 45e, The Jabra Elite 45e Headphones - for Wireless Calls & Music with two microphones and supposedly the same noise cancellation technology as on their mono bluetooth headset, and the call quality was better but nowhere near comparable to that of a mono headset.
  • I also tried the true wireless Jabra 65t True Wireless Earbuds for Calls & Music | Jabra Elite 65t but call quality was worse than with the 45e despite having 4 mics (maybe because the mics are too far from the mouth?).

When I say it sucks, I mean that I dialled my voicemail number while walking along a moderately busy road, recorded a message, then listened to the mp3 recording:
  • With a mono bluetooth headset like the talk 45 ( Jabra Talk 45 mono Bluetooth headphones ), call quality was excellent.
  • With the 45e, you could understand most of it but the traffic noise was loud.
  • With the Bose, traffic noise wad louder than my words.
  • With the 65t it was in between the 45e and the Bose.
 

lorrainp

Standard Member
Hi V.

Did you arrive at an answer on this, or find any better sources of information?

I want to find a good noise-cancelling microphone for use (or installation) in a car but having no luck so far. I might need to consider the Jabra Talk 45 that you mentioned above, although I'd rather have an installed system so I don't have to mess about with charging, putting earphones on etc.
 

VforViennetta

Novice Member
My conclusion is that, indoors, in a quiet environment, anything works for calls, but outdoors nothing can beat a dedicated mono bluetooth headset for call quality - there's no contest, the difference isn't even close.

Since my post in December, I have tried Shure's BT2 bluetooth module, and I asked some friends to try the Sony wf-1000xm3 (the true wireless noise cancelling earbuds) and the Sony WH-1000xm3 (the noise-cancelling over-ear headphones). By "try" I mean leave voicemails calling from a moderately busy road. Same story, they all suck for outdoor calls.

With true-wireless earbuds and over-ear headphones, it might be because the mouth is too far from the microphone.
What I don't understand is why it also sucks with not-true-wireless earphones, where the microphone is on the cable connecting the two earphones, so tends to be closer to the mouth.

I can only suppose there isn't a huge market for this - maybe most buyers of earphones and headphones don't make many calls, and the people who do are business users who buy Jabra and Plantronics mono headsets. Just a guess.

I would have hoped that true-wireless earbuds with a protrusion that sticks out, like the Apple ones, would have been better for calls, because the protrusion means the microphone can be closer to the mouth, but most reviews I have seen suggest that's not the case.

Has anyone compared the call quality of the Apple Airpods Pro, the Anker Liberty Air 2 etc vs a mono bluetooth headset?
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
Wireless headphones and call quality is a common topic and only moreso since the pandemic closed workplaces. I think the thread title is probably too specific. Realistically ppl can report on personal experience, which means one or two sets. Its difficult for the average person to answer the specific thread question. Only professional reviewers with samples of everything on the market can quantify the wireless headphones with "good" quality microphones to exclude environmental noise.

I am unsure whether you want an answer to the more general question of "making calls on wireless headphones", nevertheless see below from a quick five second forum search (I actually made a mental note to remember @mushii's advice from when I originally read it)

N.B the below quotes are taken from different threads and are not in sequence
Whilst they're not what you're looking for i have some new Bose NC700s and the call quality and noise cancellation is spot on for it. I have a feeling some wireless in ear headphones are to be released in a short while which may be worth holding out for to at least test.
The competition from the Sonys 1000M3 will be stiff. I have had no complaints from anyone at the other end . In fact I have had no complaints on call fidelity from the wired ear buds supplied with any earphones for 20 years.
I have the Sony WF-100XM3, and love them. A lot of people complain about the fit which did take a while to find the right tips for me (Comply T200).
I really like the way they sound and I have had a few phone conversations with no complaints, although again other users have complained about the sound quality for the other party.
Something else to bare in minid is there is a slight delay when watching movies so probably not best suited for that.
My airpod pro have not received a single complaint, very impressive. And for me the call quality is awesome as well. I would highly recommend them.
Chris as somebody who has worked from home for years, and who has XM3s I have found that headphones for calls suck for a number of reasons, but mainly because you cant hear yourself talk, so you have little reference on how loud you are talking. For best call quality I use a Plantronics Voyager 5200 - make a lot of international calls to the US, Europe, Philippines, Asia via cell phone and Skype and this headset has the best call quality of anything that I have tried. It allows connection to my PC and my Cell simultaneously via bluetoooth. I either have music on playing through my hifi, or swap headphones if I need noise cancelling (but having my own office at home I seldom need that). Also I dont want headphones over my ears for 8 hours, it is way too long. I dont even keep this bluetooth headset in for more than an hour or 2 at a time.

Others may have different experiences, but in general I dont recommend headphones for making calls or working with all day.
The noise cancelling on the pros is brilliant. First time I used it, I found it quite eery how the background noise just vanishes
 

VforViennetta

Novice Member
Thanks for taking the time to report these reviews.

However, in many, if not most, reviews (and I have read loads):
  • it's not clear what the reviewer means by "noise cancellation": passive noise cancellation (a good seal in the ears), active noise cancellation to limit the noise heard by the caller, or background noise cancellation for the other party, i.e. ensuring the other party doesn't hear background noise
  • it's not clear if the headset was tested for indoor or outdoor quality; indoors, even the cheapest headset would typically work well - it's outdoors that you see the differences
  • it's not clear what the benchmark is; saying that people could hear you isn't very insightful.

I get it that the average person will not have tested dozens of devices, but I was wondering if anyone has experience of one mono bluetooth headset and one pair of wireless stereo headsets, both tested when making calls from busy roads or in other scenarios outdoors.
 

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