Logitech ClearChat PC Wireless vs Logitech ClearChat Pro USB

By on Dec 7, 2008 in Blog Posts, Hardware | 0 comments

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In the never ending search for the perfect headset I have recently tried both of Logitech’s flagship products – the ClearChat Pro USB and ClearChat PC Wireless. I thought I’d share my thoughts.

The ClearChat Pro USB is connected to the PC via USB and was introduced quite a while before the wireless version. Once connected, it sets itself as the default sound device and works instantly – no software to install. You may need to increase the recording level, but other than that you should be good to go right away. The headset is fairly comfortable and extended use was never a problem – I often used the headset for three or more hours without discomfort – something that other headsets can rarely match.

The audio quality of the headset was not great. It’s pretty quiet and sounds a bit tinny. Forget about any significant bass. Still, it was better than I reckoned it would be and was especially good for VoIP. Oddly, there are no VoIP buttons – such as an “answer/hang up” button – for use with popular programs like Skype and Live Messenger on either of these headsets. This seems especially strange on the wired version, since Logitech went to the trouble to offer a “communications” preset which is meant for said VoIP use. With both products you can only mute/unmute and turn the volume up and down with the headset itself.

Audio quality and functionality quibbles aside, the wired ClearChat headset is a reliable device. It always works and delivers average quality for the price range. I was just hoping for a little more and I wanted to lose the annoyance of the cord, so I decided to order the ClearChat PC Wireless headset.

While the wired headset is reliable and of average quality overall, the wireless version is the exact opposite. It is extremely unreliable and the audio quality is all over the place. Two high points for the wireless version when compared to it’s wired counterpart are the mic’s red mute light and the audio quality. In general I found the audio to be of a slightly better quality on the wireless device, which I did not expect and cannot account for. Also, Logitech wisely placed the red mute light on the top of the mic boom rather than the middle as with the wired version – with the wireless headset you can actually see if you’re muted without having the headset in your eye line.

I found pretty much all of Logitech’s claims for the wireless headset to be false or at least exaggerated. The headset does not get 33 feet of range – unless you live in an empty auditorium with your computer placed on a pedestal in the center of the stage. I’d say 10-20 feet is more realistic. The device uses the 2.4ghz band, so every time you turn on the microwave be prepared to have your headset break up. On the plus side it does not appear to affect or be affected by other devices on the 2.4ghz band – such as WiFi or wireless mice. It even works if there is another ClearChat Wireless headset in the same room, though it seems to lose its connection more often.

Another problem with the wireless device is that it often loses it’s connection to the USB dongle, which requires you to turn the headset off and back on. This seems to happen at random. It also doesn’t maintain a charge for the six hours that Logitech advertises. I’ve been lucky to get to three hours, and if you use the mic a lot during that time you’re probably looking at less.

You’ll also notice that the microphone doesn’t actually mute when it’s placed in the upright “mute” position. Although it no longer records the sounds it picks up, the mic instead transmits a tone of its own – meaning anyone listening on the other end will hear an annoying buzzing sound when the mic is in the upright position. I have confirmed this with several programs, but Logitech won’t acknowledge it.

So, if you don’t mind the lack of range, poor battery life, so-so audio quality, non-muting microphone and random loss of signal then the ClearChat PC Wireless is the headset for you! Unless you have ears, then you might want to look elsewhere, because on top of everything else the ClearChat Wireless is pretty uncomfortable to wear for more than a half hour at a time. Oddly the cups are smaller than their wired counterparts (neither completely wrap my ears) and the head band is tighter, meaning your ears will be in pain quickly forcing you to at least shift them around every fifteen minutes or so to relieve the stress.

I don’t recommend the ClearChat PC Wireless headset to anyone, and can only recommend the ClearChat Pro USB headset to non-audiophiles and people who don’t use Skype of other VoIP software daily. I recently purchased a new headset and will post a review of that soon.