Broadcast Headsets with Microphones Have Gotten Lighter, Allowing Freedom of Movement

Since the beginning of sports broadcasting, on-air commentators have depended on headsets that seal out background noise, while offering an attached microphone that allows consistent mic placement. These normally bulky headsets have been around so long that audio sales people politely call them a “mature” category of product.

Yet, since these combination headsets were invented, many new technologies have come along. Personal computers, video gaming, multimedia, online telephony and a slew of other activities have arrived requiring a similar freedom of movement. Many of these applications, however, now pay less attention to high build quality or sonic perfection.

However, on the professional quality high-end, headset mics have also gotten much better, smaller and lighter than in previous generations. Today’s headset-mic combinations can be so small they are even used in live theatrical presentations where an actor’s audio not only needs to be picked up by a microphone, but the actor require audio cues from off stage.

At the top of the scale, priced at just under $1,000, is DPA’s d:fine In-Ear Broadcast Headset Microphones, a tiny headset-mic combination that combines top quality audio and feather-light comfort. DPA said the mics were designed for broadcast professionals who insist on superior voice reproduction without compromising on simple setup, minimalistic form factor and daylong comfort.

DPA d:fine mics

The DPA mics handle up to 144dB peak before clipping. Due to their excellent linear response, low distortion and extremely broad dynamic range, they sound good on virtually all applications. The in-ear drivers allow no audio leakage to the microphone capsule, and are easy to drive due to their high sensitivity. Two sizes of ear-pads are included that fit most ears.

The DPA mics come with a MicroDot connector for the mic and a mini-jack for the in-ear driver. MicroDot adapters are available to fit most professional wired or wireless mic systems.

Shure BRH31M headset

Shure BRH31M headset

Designed for broadcast and media production applications, Shure’s ultra-lightweight BRH31M is a lot less expensive than the DPA mics. It features a single supra-aural earcup design that enables the user to hear external audio cues.

Its dynamic cardioid microphone offers clear vocal reproduction and pivots 270 degrees for left or right wear. The mic’s frequency response is optimized for communication in loud environments.

The adjustable headband includes a cushioned temple pad for a comfortable, ergonomic fit. Replacement earpads and windscreens are available to extend the headset’s life.

The single-side, fixed cable with unterminated ends (bare whip) enables connection to a variety of devices. The cable is Kevlar reinforced for increased durability to withstand the demands of everyday, professional use.

Shure headsets

Other models from BeyerdynamicAudio-Technica, SennheiserAKG, Telex, Clear-Com and RTS come in a range of models, with both one and two ear cups, different microphone types, outside sound protection and comfort levels. They begin price for lower cost models at about $200 and reach the top end at about $700. Most models are in the $300 range.

Beyerdynamic’s DT 290 MKII ($349) features an efficient neodymium magnet system, with a wide transmission range of 10 Hz - kHz in a 200-/250-ohm system. The dynamic microphone can be positioned with the flexible gooseneck, while its hypercardioid polar pattern results in high gain before feedback as well as noise cancellation.

Beyer Dynamic DT290MKII headset

Beyer Dynamic DT290MKII headset

The microphone holder is rotatable so that the microphone can be worn on the left or right side. The soft circumaural earcups and the fully adjustable padded headband are very comfortable. All parts such as ear pads, headband and gooseneck microphone are easy to replace. It has both a 3-pin XLR male for the mic and ¼-inch cable for the headsets.

Sennheiser HDMC26-600-B7 headset

Sennheiser HDMC26-600-B7 headset

Sennheiser’s lightweight headsets in the HMDC 26 series, with their closed supra-aural design, were designed for particularly high sound pressure levels. The headsets are comfortable to wear while providing a high degree of passive noise attenuation.

The HMDC 26 ($629.95) is equipped with active noise compensation called NoiseGard. This makes the headset particularly suited for use in extremely noisy environments.

The dynamic hyper-cardioid microphone features excellent acoustic performance, with linear frequency response over a broad frequency range up to 16 kHz, and is less sensitive against structure-born sound. The flexible gooseneck microphone can be used on either the left or right side.

Both allow users to make exact adjustments to their individual requirements. This model, the HMDC 26-600-B7, offers 600 ohm mono or 1,200 ohm stereo plus an unterminated steel wire cable with battery control unit. It uses two AA batteries.

The AKG HSC 271 professional headset ($249.99) was designed for intercom, news, recordings and video production. It is based on AKG’s K271 MKII Studio headphones combined with a high-performance condenser microphone.

The flexible microphone arm mutes the microphone automatically as it is moved up. The microphone can be mounted to the left or right side, depending on personal preference and available space.

The HSC271 features a switch in the headband that mutes the audio just as soon as the headphones are taken off. The six-pin mini XLR connector allows quick replacement of the cable. The flexible microphone arm swivels through a 270-degree arc. It also lets you wear the microphone to the left or right of your mouth depending on your preferences or available space.

The HSC 271's closed-back design ensures high ambient-noise attenuation for loud environments while avoiding signal bleeding. Its elastic suspension attenuates mechanical noise and prevents capsule damage.

Audio-Technica’s BPHS1 broadcast stereo headset ($279.00) was created especially for on-air news, sports broadcasting, announcing and interviews. The stereo headset offers intelligible and focused vocal reproduction, closed-back circumaural (around-the-ear) ear cups to seal out background noise and a high-output dynamic microphone mounted on a flexible gooseneck boom.

The headset’s microphone has a cardioid polar pattern tailored for pickup of speech with maximum voice intelligibility over a wide range of frequencies. It is more sensitive to sound originating directly in front of the element, making it useful in reducing pickup of unwanted sounds.

The flexible gooseneck boom swivels for easy positioning on either the right or left side. The detachable cable terminates in 3-pin XLRM-type connector for microphone and ¼-inch three-conductor for the headphone.

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