Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Plantronics HW251N SupraPlus Wideband Headset (64338-31)
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on March 7, 2012
As you read through these reviews, you find a common thread, all of us have tried a lot of different headsets and wasted a lot of money in the process. This headset has been excellent. Call quality is outstanding. People on the other end are not struggling to hear me or asking me to speak up. It is very comfortable for those long conference calls. I like the fact that the boom microphone rotates so that I can switch sides if I need to, or flip it up out of the way to grab a sip of coffee. Keep in mind that YOU MUST USE QUICKCONNECT ADAPTERS WITH THIS HEADSET. With the QuickConnect adapters (A10, 3.5mm, and 2.5mm) I can use this headset with every phone that I use to do my job. The adapters allow me to move between phones with different sized headphone jacks very quickly. I am hoping this will be my last headset for a while.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 22, 2013
Review for: Plantronics SupraPlus Telephone Headset (HW261N binaural and HW251N monaural)

OVERVIEW:
-----------

Here below we compare and discuss the 2 highest-end (sound quality especially) Plantronics wired headsets with noise reduction, SupraPlus vs. EncorePro. Let's begin by noting which models are monaural vs. binaural:

SupraPlus HW251N - Monaural (1 earmuff), microphone noise reducing
SupraPlus HW261N - Binaural (2 earmuff), microphone noise reducing

EncorePro HW291N - Monaural (1 earmuff), microphone noise reducing
EncorePro HW301N - Binaural (2 earmuff), microphone noise reducing

The W in the model names stands for WIDEBAND AUDIO for which Plantronics claims improvement in sound clarity, etc., however support says you likely wouldn't detect any difference with or without it with wired headsets. That said, these two headphones are considered to have the BEST SOUND QUALITY OF THE PLANTRONICS LINES WITH NOISE-CANCELING.

The N in the model names stands for NOISE-CANCELING technology which I will refer to here mostly as NOISE REDUCTION, that is the noise that comes to the microphone.

SIMILARITIES:
--------------

(1) NOISE REDUCTION

This is reducing the background noise that comes into the microphone.

Plantronics measures microphone noise reduction between 30%-75% for both headsets, so there is no difference there. After testing, however, I think it is much closer to 30%-40% and Plantronics support agreed.

As I had heard the noise reduction may be higher for one of the two headsets I did a test and if there is a difference I couldn't tell. I was unable to get frequency distribution vs. noise reduction information, thus I can't say if there is a difference in handling low or high pitched noises. Support says they use the same noise reduction system.

Please note that this noise reduction will NOT SILENCE NOR EVEN SEVERELY DROP THE VOLUME of human voices around you. Talking near the headset can certainly still be heard, just at a reduced level. Claims made that conference participants magically can no longer hear loud people around a reviewer and his/her headset should be taken with suspicion. I've tested noises out to around 8' away from the headset. Home office users will want physical separation from household noise and not want to entirely depend on microphone noise reduction.

See below in the section "How To Get More Noise Reduction" for how to do just that from these headsets.

Calling the headsets "noise-canceling" is perhaps a bit misleading, but to be fair that is the generally accepted name of the technology that does the noise reduction.

DIFFERENCES:
--------------

So other than number of earmuffs, what are some of the other less obvious differences?

(1) ADJUSTMENT OF MICROPHONE POSITION

The EncorePro (HW301N/HW291N) is easier for microphone positioning, however the SupraPlus boom readily bends to accomplish much of the same thing.

The EncorePro microphone boom nicely pivots independently of earmuff angle. For perfectionists or particularly large faces, the microphone tip also BOOMS IN AND OUT only with the EncorePro, though I have never used that feature.

So, although the SupraPlus boom can be bent to accomplish a similar positioning, the EncorePro positioning method is superior in ease and exact positioning.

(2) COMFORT AND FIT/FINISH

So other than microphone positioning, what else can we say about comfort and fit/finish differences?

The EncorePro (HW301N/HW291N) has high quality leatherette earmuffs, while the SupraPlus has perfectly fine simple foam earmuffs. Most users trying both told me the EncorePro earmuffs were marginally more comfortable at the start.

The EncorePro is a 10% LIGHTER headset (2.5 vs. 2.8 ounces). It has more aluminum and superlight nylon in the build compared to the SupraPlus.

Though initially everyone found the EncorePro SLIGHTLY MORE COMFORTABLE than the SupraPlus, as time passed some folks said the EncorePro felt too WOBBLY/INSECURE on the head and switched to SupraPlus. Thus while some might prefer the EncorePro fit, I'm giving the SupraPlus the edge for comfort.

I should note that the combination of the leatherette earmuffs and overall fit/finish of the EncorePro LOOKS HIGHER-END. That said, the SupraPlus doesn't look bad at all, just plain Jane compared to the EncorePro.

Notes:

- You can get LEATHERETTE EARMUFFS SEPARATELY FOR THE SupraPlus (HW251N/HW261N). These are NOT as high quality as those that come with the EncorePro, but folks who tried them out for me marginally prefer them over the foam. It takes a few minutes and some dexterity to replace the foam ones (tested) with one of these fairly inexpensive ear cushions.
Accessories Ear Cushions, Tips & Loops 67712-01 - Leatherette Cushion

(3) DURABILITY

The SupraPlus is supposed to be sturdier/tougher than the EncorePro, more durable, designed to handle the rotation of call center personnel and the occasional drop more easily than the EncorePro.

CONS FOR BOTH HEADSETS:
---------------------------

(1) NO VOICE TUBE OPTION

We can't use voice tubes with these two headsets. If you are in a quiet environment you may sound clearer with a headset with a voice tube. However, in all likelihood this is not an issue for someone paying extra to get a headset with noise reduction.

(2) NO OPTION TO TAKE CALL
WITHOUT PICKING UP HANDSET

Plantronics support confirmed this. If you found a solution for this, like perhaps found a phone that allows this, please describe in comments.

HOW TO GET MORE NOISE REDUCTION!:
--------------------------------------

You can get MORE NOISE REDUCTION by pointing the hole on the outer side of the microphone, that is the side of the microphone not pointing directly away from your mouth, more in the direction of the likeliest source of noise, like towards an office door or where kids might come in. For example, when choosing the side of your mouth the microphone is on you can take this into account.

SUPRAPLUS IS A WORKHORSE:
-----------------------------

Millions of the SupraPlus headsets, both in its present incarnation and previous versions have been in commercial use such as in call centers worldwide for something like 10-15 years. It is a proven workhorse. The EncorePlus tries to one up it a notch, however the SupraPlus will likely meet most of your wired headset needs, too.

WHY WIRED?:
-------------

The four classic reasons to go wired are:

- Eliminate possibility of interference. For example wireless routers, wireless printers, etc. can cause static or choppiness with Dect 6.0 wireless headsets (source: support).

- Wired is always better sound quality than wireless all else being the same, however as time marches forward folks have a tougher time telling the qualitative difference between top quality wired and wireless headsets (source: support).

- Cost savings at the higher quality end.

- Some folks don't want to essentially strap a tiny cordless phone an inch from their head all day.

Having said that, lots of folks use high-end wireless headsets and you might consider that before committing to these wired ones. However, I would suggest not going cheap if you commit to wireless, the difference in quality can be considerable. If you have the funds you can also, of course, consider wired for most use and wireless for the occasional need.

VISTA M22 AMPLIFIER AND
ITS POWER ADAPTER:
--------------------------

Officially the Plantronics Vista M22 amplifier is REQUIRED to use these high-end headsets.

Some high-end telephones have built-in headset amps (Cisco IP Phone 7942, for example) so you might test if you really need an amp. Keep in mind, though, that such phones likely don't have microphone adjustment like the M22 does.

The M22 amplifier in addition to being a headset amplifier also offers precision setting in microphone and earpiece sound volume. The microphone sound adjustment after being made is hidden away behind a case wall so NO ONE CAN ACCIDENTALLY ALTER IT. This is nice as you are unlikely to know for sometime that it has been altered.

The earpiece volume knob on the M22 is on the outside, large, numbered with a lot of setting granularity, and very easy to read. This makes adjustment on-the-fly as needed easier than fumbling for an inline volume control knob.

The M22 also has a LOUD NOISE PROTECTOR that lowers volume in case of very loud noise.

Be aware that the M22 DOESN'T INCLUDE AN AC POWER ADAPTER, it comes with batteries, however you will probably want the power adapter.

Plantronics Vista M22 Amplifier
Plantronics Ac Adapter For M10, M12, M22, S10, T20 (pl-45671-01) -

SUGGESTIONS:
--------------

- Position the microphone approximately a finger's width from the corner of the mouth.

NOTES:
-------

- There are no wired nor wireless Plantronics headsets with better noise reduction (source: support).

CONCLUSION:
-------------

Plantronics positions these headsets as having the best sound quality of the their models with noise reduction.

The EncorePro offers no advantage in sound quality nor noise reduction over the SupraPlus, however the few folks who tried them with me felt the EncorePro was incrementally MORE COMFORTABLE at the start, though most felt over time that it was too WOBBLY/INSECURE on the head and switched to SupraPlus.

Plantronics positions the call center workhorse SupraPlus as more DURABLE.

The EncorePro is considered MORE ATTRACTIVE, you be the judge.

You are usually, but not always, REQUIRED to use a M22 AMPLIFIER with either headset, and for that you would likely want to buy the AC POWER ADAPTER for it. See above for related product links. The M22 amplifier also allows you to prevent the microphone volume from being altered by accident when you configure it by hiding its control behind a panel.
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on February 1, 2015
A high quality, comfortable, and great sounding headset. It's simple, but just works and for the price is maybe the best on the market. I've used these with both Cisco 79xx, Cisco SPA 5xx, and Polycom VVX phones over the years. More you'll need to buy the approptiate adapter cable for your phone as well.
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on March 23, 2016
I cant get a 2.5/3.5 phone adapter to work that when plugged in the moving of the headset doesn't cause a scratching sound. I bought both. Thus making the headphone useless. My other headphones work fined, but since we need to use Plantronics adapters, there is no fix.
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on December 6, 2012
I wish I could have purchased another cheepie headset. Unfortunately despite an hour with customer support, they were unable to make the headset work at more than a barely passable level. all of my customers think I'm using a cell phone with a bad connection.
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on December 24, 2015
For a relatively inexpensive, wired headset, these have performed very well for us in our office.

We have Polycom VVX400 phones at the moment, with the RJ11 headset jack--these plug right in and work properly. We have some deal-ear versions of this same headset too and love them. We do IT support so we're always at our desk so we didn't really need wireless. They are lightweight and not bulky so is comfortable to use for those extra long support calls we love so much.

Also I highly recommend getting the Plantronics A10 Direct Connect cable to turn these headsets into audio headphones via USB on your PC. Everyone has this adapter cable so if they need to listen to a video or webinar, they can essentially plug their telephone headset into their PC. Works for Skype for Business/Lync too for two-way conversations.

I will buy these again for future employees for sure.... -m
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on December 20, 2014
I buy these quite frequently for a call center I am responsible for. The agents love them. I honestly think Plantronics has shifted most of their development to the wireless and USB headsets but for someone on the phone all day long, these corded beasts work great as well as the H41N. I am just wondering when the folks at Amazon shipping will realize these and other corded headsets are NOT Bluetooth headsets, therefore DO NOT have a Battery in them and don't require the special shipping for items with batteries. Really, if you order 20 of these headsets they will come boxed separately and shrink wrap secured with battery shipping labels attached. I don't mind because I have Prime but it sure would save Amazon a bundle in shipping and save some trees if they would ship them together.
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on May 7, 2008
This product comes as promised. It's light and made of quality materials. I ordered one for my cousin who works in a bank call center and he says it's perfect. His friends tried it and they liked it too so I ordered two more for them and that's how much they are pleased about it.

The only downside is the Mic extension, it's not flexible enough yet it's not a big deal because the sound quality it collects is very clear.
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on March 22, 2013
We have Cisco SPA525G phones with headset jacks. We purchased the "Plantronics 18straight Cable - Quick Disconnect To 2.5 Mm Plug" and then attached this headset to it. Worked great. Sound quality is good and microphone doesn't pickup a bunch of background noise. Only comment is that the cord from headset to disconnect is only 24 inches, so even with the 18" cable isn't long enough for a few of our users. consider distance.
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on November 6, 2012
This headset is really a great product. Great sound quality good noise cancellation. Very comfortable to wear for extended periods. My last plantronics headset lasted for 7 years with tons of abuse.
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