Logitech USB Headset 350
Logitech USB Headset 350 link
If you have been listening to the MyMac.com Podcast lately, you may have noticed that I have been doing a mini-feature within the podcast called “The Dashboard Minute”. I’ve wanted to do something like this since the first time I heard Chris Seibold’s “Not Mac News. Unfortunately I didn’t have the two things required for such an endeavor. One: Something useful to add, and two: The equipment to do so.
Apple helped me out with problem one when OS X 10.4 was released along with Dashboard. I love the idea of widgets for small specialty purposes and once I saw the number of them being released, knew I had found a topic that was worthy. I won’t go into the whole Dashboard vs Konfabulator argument as I can’t merit the time to go into it. There are many pros and cons on both sides. Look it up, make up your own mind, and then move on. Konfabulator is now also on the Windows side (and was just purchased by YAHOO) and I wish them the best of luck. It’s too good an idea for just one platform.
Problem two was a little trickier. I don’t have a lot of money or time to devote to what my wife refers to as, “My computer hobby”, so the easiest and cheapest solution to a problem is always best. I had tried to use an old cheap microphone plugged into a Griffin Technologies iMic USB converter, but it sounded dreadful. Most likely not the fault of Griffin, but of the cheap microphone I had. I was hesitant to buy a more expensive microphone without knowing what it might sound like beforehand. If I made the wrong choice, it might be difficult or impossible to return.
Then, while walking through a local computer store one day, I happened across the audio section and found a bunch of different USB based headsets, some of which also had built-in microphones. None of them were overly expensive and I decided to try the Logitech brand since I had used products of theirs before and had generally been happy with the quality. I chose the Logitech USB Headset 350 over a similar 250 model, mostly because it looked a little more substantial and had better cushioning for the headset. There was only a slight difference in price (about ten bucks), so I splurged.
Once home, I got it out of it’s packaging (quite a feat in itself), I plugged it in and fired up GarageBand. Once I had changed the audio settings (go to GB’s preferences) and started a new vocal track, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the combination headset and microphone worked. There were some minor latency issues in GarageBand that were easy enough to deal with. Probably less than a quarter-second or so between the spoken word and hearing it in the headset. This may not seem like much, but trying to talk and have your voice sound a moment later can be very distracting and it can easily interrupt your train of thought. The way around it is to adjust your voice track either before you begin or after you’ve finished recording.
The microphone has a noise-canceling feature that works very well. It is on an adjustable boom that allows for the microphone to swing from near your mouth, all the way back into the headset when you just want to use the headphones. It also swings in either direction depending on which side you want to use the microphone for. On the USB cord, there is a volume control as well as a handy lit mute button if you wanted to use this as a telephony headset. Very nice. One tip, when using the microphone, don’t have it directly in front of your mouth as it will pick up the hard consonants when you speak. I usually place it just at the tip of my nose so that it picks up every thing I say without the “p, t, k, and s” sounding hard.
The sound out of the headsets, while not in the same league as headsets costing much more, was pretty good. Besides using it with GarageBand, I also tried it with iTunes and was very happy with the sound quality. According to Logitech, they have “40mm neodymium drivers for full rich sound”. I found the earpads to be comfortable for long use, though not everyone will probably feel the same. The earpads are very soft and they are adjustable as well depending on the size of your head. If Logitech could make them swivel, they would be near perfect for just about anyone’s head size.
Logitech is trying to do a lot of different things with this headset and on the whole it works nicely. If you want to use them in a telephony environment, you might find them a bit heavy for long-term use. Using it for Podcasting or recording audio works well in a single-user mode. With the minor latency problems, recording with the audio monitor on or with several people speaking at once will most likely be distracting, though a faster system than mine (A 933 MHz QuickSilver G4) may reduce or eliminate this issue. All-in-all, a nice combination in an inexpensive package.
Noise reduction works well
Lit mute button
Some latency issues
While not a perfect solution, the Logitech USB Headset 350 is great for general usage. Those with a bigger budget may want to look elsewhere.