Plantronics .Audio 655
First certified headset for next-gen Skype audio
The 625 model had conventional audio jacks for the speakers and microphone, which could be plugged into the audio connectors on a PC sound card, but also included a separate USB adaptor that allowed you to use it as a generic USB audio device. By contrast, the .Audio 655 is USB-only – although the manual provided with our review unit hadn’t been updated, and rather confusingly instructed you to connect the non-existent audio jacks to the PC’s sound card. Needless to say, the manual went straight into the bin.
Sound choices: pushbutton controls take care of listening preferences
Fortunately, that was the only glitch we encountered, as the headset worked perfectly with both our Mac and PC test machines as soon as we plugged it into a spare USB port. There’s no additional software to install either. At 6.5ft, the USB cable is adequate for use when you’re sitting a desk and making calls on a computer, although we were a little disappointed that the new wireless .Audio 955 version isn’t available just yet, as the freedom of a wireless headset would be better still.
The audio quality for voice calls is obviously subject to a wide range of factors, such as the available bandwidth and the equipment being used by both caller and receiver. However, we found that audio quality during a number of test calls was very good. We also left ourselves some messages on our office answerphone to see how we sounded on the receiving end of a Skype call to a landline telephone, and the results were good there too.
The headset speakers have a frequency response of 20Hz-20KHz, while that of the microphone is 100Hz to 8KHz. That’s perfectly adequate for making voice calls and listening to music, and we found that music playback produced a nice rich sound on mid-range and higher frequencies. Yet, it was a little bass-heavy at times, and lower frequency sounds lacked clarity.
There are cheaper Skype headsets on the market – including the original 625 model, which is still available – but the .Audio 655 works well and provides very good audio quality for anyone that uses Skype a lot. It also provides decent – if not outstanding – music playback, ensuring that it will continue to earn its keep if you want to use it for playing games or listening to music or films in your off-duty hours. ®
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