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The general public is becoming increasingly intolerant of loud people shouting into their cell phones.

Here's an amazing solution that lets you quietly murmur into your phone, even in a very noisy environment, and still be clearly heard at the other end.

 
 
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The Boom Noise Canceling Headset

Very stylish in appearance, and very effective in operation, The Boom miraculously cancels out background noise and enables you to make calls in even the noisiest of environments.

Compare/contrast this with our review of the Ety-Com Headset.

 

 

This amazing device solves four needs for cell phone users.

Firstly, it is a high quality headset that can be used for greater safety or convenience - for example, when you're driving.

Secondly, it enables you to use your phone in a 'high noise' environment - you can speak quietly, even when you're surrounded by loud sounds, and still be heard clearly by the person you're speaking with.

Thirdly, you can have a private conversation in a public place - simply speak in a very low voice into The Boom and the people around you won't hear what you're saying, even though the person at the other end of the phone will hear you perfectly normally.

Fourthly, it keeps the phone away from your head and reduces your exposure to the radiation that some experts believe may be harmful.

What You Get

The Boom comes carefully protected in a well padded box. Two different adapters to fit most cell phones - a four ring connector for Nokia phones and a three ring connector for most other phones.

If you need a different type of adapter (eg a flat adapter for a Siemens phone), this will be sent to you free of charge.

In addition, three replaceable windshields are also included, a 'Quick Start' guide, a manual and a one year warranty form. There is no need to register for the warranty coverage, and the unit does not need batteries to operate.

Description

The Boom headset is in two main pieces that are joined together by magnets, making it easy to separate and rejoin them any number of times. One piece is the ear mounting clip, and the second piece is the actual ear piece speaker, the boom arm, and microphone.

Not shown in the picture above is the connecting cord that runs from the earpiece down to a lapel clip and then to a connector. The cord length is short, but not too short, and is probably exactly right so as to avoid unnecessary lengths of cord getting in the way.

Everything is made from some type of semi-flexible material, so you can bend it all to fit the physiology of your own ear and head. The boom arm tilts and swivels and also can go up and down on the vertical post to which it is mounted, giving considerable flexibility to ensure that the earpiece and microphone can be correctly located for almost any size and shape of user.

The piece sticking out the back of the ear mounting clip is not an antenna. It is a support 'counterbalance' that presses lightly against the side of your head, giving the headset some stability.

The headset weights about 0.7 ounces. This sounds very light, but it feels quite heavy, especially because much of its weight is at the end of the rigid boom (the microphone assembly). The headset can wobble a bit on your head, and at first it feels insecure, but this is more an illusion than a reality. I have worn my headset for several hours, including a vigorous outdoors hike and bending over and assuming other strange positions, without having the headset fall off.

The headset can be worn on either ear, simply by flipping over the earclip/boom connector.

Functionality

At $150 - more than the cost of many cell phones, and twenty times the cost of the cheapest discounted headsets, you'll have high expectations for how well this headset should work for you.

I used my headset for several days with both my Nokia 3650 and also my Motorola V66i. I had some strange problems when using it with my 3650 - sometimes there was an added echo of my voice in the earpiece, and sometimes the sound of the caller's voice was distorted. The manufacturer advised that this is a known issue that has been resolved in the latest build level, and is replacing my earlier unit with a new one accordingly.

The sound quality through the Motorola V66i was always consistently good.

And, at all times, the person I was speaking with could hear me clearly and distinctly.

Now for the amazing element of this headset, and the reason you'd spend $150 to purchase it rather than a regular headset - its performance in high noise environments.

I surrounded myself with several different noise sources, making a confused jumble of different sounds in the background, and spoke to several people in test calls, switching between using the phone by itself, using the phone with a regular Sony headset, and with The Boom. I found myself unconsciously wanting to speak loudly - so as to hear myself! - but forced myself to speak at the same volume as I would in a quiet room, and as if the other person was beside me, rather than at the other end of the phone. This was surprisingly difficult.

I spoke at the same volume in all three situations, but the people I was testing with always accused me of speaking more loudly when I was using The Boom and of turning down the noise volume. This was not so - it was merely the amazing effectiveness of The Boom at work. When speaking so quietly that I felt uncomfortable (because of the noise around me) the person at the other end of the phone could hear me perfectly clearly, and the noise around me was not nearly so bothersome to them as it was to me.

Clearly, The Boom works exactly as advertised. And, in the next section, you have a chance to hear it for yourself.

Hear it for Yourself!

Here is an incredible example of The Boom actually being used. You can hear the before and after comparison of what a conversation sounds like in a noisy environment.

Try this example out (you'll of course need speakers on your PC) and then you're sure to be sold on the effectiveness of this headset.

How it Works

The unit has two microphones. The mouthpiece is designed so that all your voice sounds go into one microphone, which also hears some of the ambient noises around you. The second microphone is positioned so that it picks up all the ambient noise but none of your voice.

Electronics within the unit 'subtract' the ambient noise that the second microphone has detected from the mix of noise and voice that the first microphone has picked up. The net result then is a signal that is almost completely voice only, with most of the ambient noise cancelled out.

Other Issues

Like most headsets, it has no volume control, but of course this is not necessary - you can use the volume control on the phone to adjust the sound level in your ear.

One notable omission, however, is a 'control' button. Many of the better headsets have a button somewhere on them. You can press this button to answer an incoming call, or to activate the phone's voice command capability so as to place calls, or for various other functions, depending on the make/model of your phone. It is disappointing that this $150 headset doesn't have this convenient feature which can be found on some of the very cheapest headsets.

The manufacturer advises that they do have cordsets with a control button that is compatible with Nokia phones, and they'll ship one of those free on request. They said that compatibility problems made it impractical to come up with some type of universal control button that would work with all other headsets.

It seems to be important to keep the microphone close to your mouth - they recommend within one inch. Of course, the closer it is to your mouth, the bigger the relative difference it detects between your voice and the background noise.

The counterbalance arm that sticks up behind your ear makes it difficult to use the Boom while wearing a cap/hat.

When not wearing the headset, it is difficult to stuff it into a pocket to carry it around - it takes up more space than a normal micro sized headset, and the bendable parts of course get bent and need to be re-bent into the shape that best suits you. It did take me a while to become proficient at quickly putting the headset on and taking it off again, but now this is almost automatic, so having to rebend parts of it each time doesn't bother me at all.

The Boom can also be used as a headset with a regular telephone as well. If you're in a noisy office, this might be very helpful. You can order adapters for, eg, Plantronics headset units, and these are sold for $15 each.

After an hour or two of continually wearing The Boom, my ear became a bit uncomfortable and I needed to remove it for a break.

Summary and Recommendation

At $150, this headset is not cheap, and also feels more heavy and cumbersome than most other headsets. Accordingly, few people will choose to purchase it as an 'ordinary' headset for ordinary usage.

But if you're wanting a headset that you can use in a noisy environment, or if you want to be able to speak very quietly into your phone for greater privacy in any environment, then this headset is definitely your best choice.

It is sold through Pro Travel Gear (the same people that created the wonderful Plane Quiet headphones), and if you enter the code 'travelinsider' (without the quotes) into their coupon box, you'll get a 5% discount. They also offer a 30 day return policy (15% restocking fee) which makes it easy for you to realistically try the headset yourself.

Everyone should use a headset with their cellphone, whenever possible. Whether you need The Boom, or an ordinary headset, is your choice, but do ensure you have a headset of some type.

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Originally published 5 Dec 2003, last update 19 Dec 2013

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 

 

 

 


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