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Review: Plantronics DSP–500 USB headset

By Vipul Shah

Today no matter what you do with your PC, audio quality is becoming very
important to user. Most of applications today pay significant attention to
audio to guide, prompt and entertain user..

Most of us who love finer sound quality when listing to music or movies keep on buying better and better headset thru out our life, but no matter how much latest headset costs it usually has two major problems. It is never comfortable on ear and head for wearing it for hours. Also it can not deliver better sound then source which supplies it.

If you use such expensive analog headset on your PC for experiencing sound of games, movies and music, you are out of luck since it can’t deliver sound better then one supplied by sound card or sound chip inside your PC. Sound card and sound chip inside PC may suffer from low cost, low quality and also from magnetic interference, and heat inside PC.

To solve this riddle, Plantronics, a light weight headset maker has introduced DSP series of headset. DSP stands for “Digital Signal Processing”. Unlike analog headsets, this DSP headsets don’t use and don’t need sound card or chip inside your PC. Even if your PC has sound card, it won’t be used. Headset has 3 meter long cord which also houses small box with sound chip, equivalent of sound card inside PC but away from all heat, dust and magnetic distortions inside PC. Sound exists in analog form only where it absolutely has to be between the user and the headset module; from there it travels digitally to and from PC.

Though DSP-500 is marketed by Plantronics for gaming, it is recommended for anyone watching movies on PC or listening to music on PC or using PC to make phone calls over internet. Thanks to its ultra-sensitive microphone and noise canceling technology these headsets are ideal for speech recognition software. IBM Via Voice Pro USB 10 ships with DSP-300 headset from Plantronics. If you are mobile professional carrying laptop, use DSP-400 which is smaller and foldable. Unlike regular analog headsets, Plantronics headsets don’t make you feel its weight even after hours of using it thanks to its very high quality design.  All digitally enhanced USB headsets from Plantronics have same digital technology which recreates maximum clarity and have noise canceling microphone.

In past I had used DSP-300 which was much lighter and smaller compared to DSP-500 which I received very recently from Plantronics. Even though size of headset differs, when you wear it, both are equally comfortable and light on ear and head thanks to very light weight materials used. Unlike DSP-300 and DSP-400, DSP-500 uses 40mm speakers with 20Hz 20KHz frequency response. DSP-300 and DSP-400 uses 28mm speakers with 60Hz-16 KHz frequency response and hence unless you need mobility, stick to DSP-500. Also microphone stick on DSP-500 is more robust compared to DSP-300 which has delicate stick which keeps slipping after few months’ usage.

Speaker sound quality at any volume level is fabulous; it treats you theater like or concert experience which is never heard on ordinary or even expensive analog headsets. Speakers provide extremely high quality dynamic bass response with no crackling and perfect treble even at highest volume. It has perfect microphone ever made for voice recognition. It has 16-bit mono audio with 25dB noise rejection feature for background noise filter and frequency response of 100Hz-10Khz. Voice recording is perfect and ideal for conference calls or speech recognition. QuickAdjust microphone boom helps you keep it away from your face when eating and near your lips when speaking.

Installation is very easy. Just download latest drivers and PerSono application from Because headset plugs to USB port, you can use your existing sound ports on PC for connecting to speaker sets and switch from speaker to headset using Control Panel or Plantronics PerSono application. This application also lets you select equaliser mode of voice, jazz, rock, classical, games etc. Unlike analog headsets on this headset when you change volume using +/- buttons on cord, you will notice slider on your desktop volume control also changes.

At US$70 street price it is certainly one of the very expensive headsets but
its rich experience and good design makes it look like bargain.

System requirement:  Pentium II 166 MHz or better, 16mb RAM. Windows 98, Windows 2000/XP, Macintosh OS 9.04+,  OS X

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