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Cover image for What headsets do you use when working from home? Here are my picks.

What headsets do you use when working from home? Here are my picks.

hrishikesh1990 profile image hrishikesh1990 Originally published at remote.tools ・5 min read

Music is always a crucial part of programming. I can hardly imagine doing a stretch of coding without my playlist & my pair of Sennheisers.

I also happen to have a keen interest in headphones in general. So thought I will kick off a post to discuss what are the best headsets & how to choose them.

First, it's important to know the options you could pick from.

Over-ear Headphones

Pros

  1. Extremely comfortable
  2. Usually provide great sound quality at a lower price versus other options

Cons

  1. Bulky - Can feel heavy on your head if you're not used to it
  2. Usually leak sound (unless your headphones have active noise cancellation)

On-ear Headphones

Pros

  1. Smaller and lighter compared to over-ear headphones
  2. Comparatively cheaper than over-ear headphones

Cons

  1. Leak more sound compared to over-ear headphones. Also, lesser isolation from surroundings.
  2. Aren't comfortable when used for longer hours of listening.

In-ear Earphones

Pros

  1. Extremely light and compact
  2. Amazing isolation from your surroundings. If you have active noise cancellation on your in-ears, that's a bonus.
  3. Leak minimal sound

Cons

  1. Some might find them very intrusive. They go really deep in your ear canals.
  2. There's also the risk of ear damage if the IEMs aren't good quality and if you listen to music for long hours on high volume.
  3. If you are looking for excellent sound quality, you might have to pay a higher price (compared to headphones).

Earbuds

Pros

  1. Typically cheaper compared to all other options.
  2. Not as intrusive as IEMs and can easily be used for longer hours without worrying about damage to ears.

Cons

  1. Earbuds typically aren't so great in terms of sound quality.
  2. Leak sound easily and isolation from surrounding is poor.

Points to keep in mind when selecting:

  1. No microphone = No buy
  2. Type of headphone - largely a matter of personal choice
  3. Additional features - a) Wireless connectivity b) Active noise cancellation c) foldable design
  4. A Trusted brand is always better.
  5. Additional uses - gaming, sports, fitness, etc.

On a side note, I write regularly about remote work, tech & startups on Twitter. You can follow my updates there.

My picks of best headphones

1) Sennheiser Momentum

As a brand, you can trust Sennheiser without a doubt. You will never go wrong with any pair of Sennheiser headphones and I strongly recommend buying one if it's your first time investing in good quality, premium headphones.

Sennheiser Momentums are their premium range headphones with heavy focus on design and style. So these are a perfect fit if you are looking for a combination of high quality sound, premium feel & design and robustness.

There are multiple variants available including over-ear, on-ear and in-ear headphones along with the option of wireless connectivity. The newest ones are 3rd generation with the option of upgrading to active noise cancellation. I own the over-ear first generation pair which itself were amazing.

Given these are in the premium range of Sennheiser, the price is on the higher end. However, if you're looking for relatively cheaper options, Sennheiser HD 450BT and HD 400S are also great choices.

2) Audio Technica M50X

Ask anyone who's given quality sound and headphones a serious thought about their opinion on Audio Technica (ATH) and you will run out of luck finding a negative review. The brand is popular for making studio quality headphones.

ATH M50X are their most popular pair of headphones. Sound quality, design, compactness, robustness - this is as good as it gets. Audio Technica is known for its neutral sound signature and these headphones are perfect for office use.

The ATH M50X also has a wireless/ bluetooth variant. If you aren't looking to invest as much, the ATH 40X, 30X and 20X are good options as well.

My picks of best earphones

1) RHA MA 750

RHA is a niche headphone brand with exclusive focus on in-ear earphones. Based in Scotland, RHA was the first company to launch in-ear planar magnetic headphones (for simplicity, fancy tech earlier only found in over-ear headphones). While you may not buy the RHA CL2 Planars (well, because they are damn expensive - $900), it surely gives you a signal of the quality of earphones the brand manufactures.

RHA earphones are known for their robust & sleek design and of course, quality sound. I have used almost all of them from MA 750 to MA 390 and all of them are worth your money. The MA 750s are of course the premium in-ears by RHA. But you can also choose to buy MA 390 or S500 and you would find them really good at their price point.

RHA also offers wireless variants and a special mention for the TrueConnect Earbuds, which are way better than Apple AirPods at half the price.

2) Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods make it to the list precisely for 2 reasons -

If you own an iPhone, the connectivity is seamless and the ease-of-use is phenomenal. For wireless earphones, I believe these have to be the topmost priority and AirPods deliver big time.

AirPods don't disappoint in terms of sound quality. It just does enough to not stop you from buying it.
So if you have already made up your mind to buy AirPods (or if you own a pair which came with your phone), you should be fine. However, if you are looking for alternative or if there's any scope of not buying AirPods, you would probably not end up buying them.

3) Shure SE215

Shure is another brand that focuses on sound precision and quality. Just like Audio Technica, Shure SE215 has a flat sound signature which, as I mentioned, turns out great for use at work.

They aren't the best in terms of design and robustness. But they aren't that fragile to be damaged on a little mishandling.

Shure SE215 also have a wireless option in-built. So you can simple plug out the wire and connect them with your phone via Bluetooth.

4) Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless in-Ear

This deserves a separate mention even though they are as pricey as AirPods Pro or Bose SoundSport. Because, well, they are that good.

These score on all aspects and are probably the best true wireless earphones you can buy.

A special mention for the Sennheiser CX series. You can safely pick up any pair and you won't regret your choice.

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Discussion

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gwsounddsg profile image
GW

I'm actually a professional sound designer/composer/engineer and I have a small obsession with headphones. I have over a dozen pairs of headphones that I use for all different types of work.

When I'm coding all day, there's one feature that rises above the rest: comfort. I have fairly large ears so over ear headphones are generally uncomfortable after wearing them 1+ hours. Yet small buds either get in the way (wired) or don't have the battery life to last the whole day.

My headphones of choice are the AKG K701 (or comparable K702). They are so comfy I can wear them all day without feeling it, and their sound quality is top notch. They are open back headphones which means they have basically no passive noise reduction and others around me can easily hear them. But If I'm at home, these are my goto.

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redhap profile image
HAP

My use case is for software engineering in a noisy environment (loud air handlers, open environment) and, while working from home, reduction of distractions. So I had to have noise cancelling headphones. No other option would do. I didn't have the budget to buy and try multiple headphones and I only had box-store availability to check fit and sound quality. After doing the research that I could, I decided on the Sony WH-1000XM3. There are better, I'm sure, but I don't have the budget to go that high. But for the price point, they have excellent noise cancelling and very good sound. They are Bluetooth 4 and aux-cable connectable and include a mic for phone or video calls. It was a good choice for me.

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gwsounddsg profile image
GW

I have a pair of the WH-1000's, they're pretty slick in the noise reduction category. Good choice.

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adzika profile image
adzika

I also have those and I love them - great noise cancelling and sleek design. I got them after BOSE tried to make me deaf. :)

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hrishikesh1990 profile image
hrishikesh1990 Author

True, the comfort bit is super important. That's why I was very irritated with the momentum over-ears for the initial months till I got used to the fit.

I have never tried or used AKG before, will surely check it out.

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gwsounddsg profile image
GW

They make pro level audio equipment. Mostly microphones and headphones.

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kevinschweikert profile image
Kevin Schweikert

I love my Beyerdynamics DT770s 😊

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hrishikesh1990 profile image
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yellow1912 profile image
yellow1912

I checked these and the comments as well, wow, I guess I'm poor.

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hrishikesh1990 profile image
hrishikesh1990 Author

RHAs are quite affordable & really good. You should check out their MA 390 & s500 models for sure.

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buphmin profile image
buphmin

I personally have the Sennheiser Momentum and Audio Technica A990Z w/ 3rd party pads. Of the two the A990z has superior audio quality and with 3rd party pads just as comfy. The momentum is far more portable and has noise cancellation so I got them for work (when the office was still a thing). Momentum sounds good but was worse than some others I tried.

Others I've tried:

Beyerdynamics DT 770 - little worse all round than the A990Z, very very comfy.
Meze Audio 99 classic - VERY bassy, very comfy. Too base heavy for me, but still quality.
Audio Technica M40x - owned and used til they broke, good but noticeably worse than the rest I mentioned.

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btlm profile image
btlm

For gaming I use Razer Kraken and they're quiet decent but not so good for listening to music.
But while coding I love to listen to music and I use Creative Aurvana Live. I'm not an audiophile and I find them very good for my own purpose!

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heatherw profile image
HeatherW

I just picked a random headset off an online shopping site since I needed something cheap that would do the job. So far they are good enough for my use (listening to music while coding and video conferencing). Definitely would not please any audiophile though. And does not have any noise cancellation/isolation features which can be annoying in an open plan office.
So if you are just looking for something that mostly does the job find a low to mid range pair in your budget and get that. Else save up for the really good quality, expensive ones.

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crownvic profile image
Nikolay Nikonov

I love my Phillips Fidelio L1, but they leak sound, for sure.

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tonypelliccio profile image
Tony Pellicccio

I use a pair of Avantree bluetooth headphones. Works a charm for about $40 on Amazon. Plus easy to repair when things go kabloey.

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viralk profile image
Manuel

I have the Bose SoundLink around-ear II wireless. They're quite comfortable and got a good sound for their price.