Review: Sennheiser PC120

Reviews, VoiP

The Propaganda

Sennheiser has a massive range of products, from proper audiophile headphones, to sport friendly earbuds, to the more serious VoIP end of the market. The P120 is aimed as an addition to the PC set-up, with the internet telephonist. In fact, like so may other products on the market, it’s Skype certified. It’s got one earbud that fits on the side of you head, with an over the ear contraption to secure it, from which a short microphone extends. It’s a budget purchase, since you can pick it up for just over £16.

The Good

The microphone swivels 180 degrees, allowing you to wear the headset on the left or the right side of your head. Once you’ve got your hands on one, you’ll probably find that one side is a lot more comfortable. The microphone is also sensitive enough for it to not extend right to your mouth – it’s not in the line of sight, and picks up sound just fine from where it’s positioned.

The cord, which extends from the bottom of the over-ear securor, has an in-line volume control and a switch to turn the microphone off and on, which as we’ve all found out through at least one disastrous ill thought out comment, is useful when you’re on a conference call. Plugged into the volume control is a 2.5mm jack which can be fitted into (very few) mobiles so you can use it as a handsfree kit.

Coming from the other end of the volume control unit there are two jacks for plugging into your computer – one for headphones and another for the microphone. These are normally situated on the back of the computer, and although my computer isn’t that near to where I sit, the 3 metre cord meant that I never felt particularly restricted in movement.

Design wise, it’s incredibly lightweight and compact, making it perfect for anyone who travels around. Perhaps as HSDPA coverage increases, we’ll see more people using it to take advantage of Skype, and therefore more need for VoIP accessories for laptops such as these.

The Bad

I clearly have abnormally small ears, as I found these to be incredibly uncomfortable to wear, and I always felt like they were about to make a bid for freedom. The over-ear mechanism seems to have been designed for those with massive lugholes, rather than my more delicate ones. There is little opportunity to adjust, since the shape is predestined, and any bending just results in it springing back to shape – an advantage for anyone that they fit.

As far as the noise quality is concerned, having been a user of two ear headphones for all my computing needs for so long, I find the single earbud to be a step backwards. Using it for gaming will mean you’re always aware of what’s going on around you in real-life, although this might not be such of a worry for VoIP users. What might be a problem in those circumstances is the microphone. It picks up quite a lot of ambient noise, and isn’t noise-canceling like other VoIP products such as the Plantronics .Audio.

The reason I’ve used 2-ear headphones in the past isn’t because I like to feel in the heart of the action, but because I don’t want to have so many PC accessories that my desk feels like a storehouse for Dabs. Since this headset is absolutely constrained to internet telephony, you’ll have to go out and purchase another piece of equipment for listening to music, and one with a microphone if you enjoy gaming.

In our opinion

There are better products on the market for VoIP users, which include better sound, noise cancellation and a more comfortable fit. However, it’s available from £16, making it a good budget buy – especially if portability is important to you.

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