We have recently had the chance to test some of the best rated Bluetooth headsets with noise limitation currently on the market to provide our own opinion on how they compare. Today we will be comparing the VXI Blue Parrott B250 XT Plus and the Plantronics Voyager Pro Plus.
Good noise limitation on a Bluetooth headset in today’s world is a must have. It can literally make or break the calling experience for the call participants. Most of the time, when you are on the phone while on the go, you don’t necessarily want the person on the other end to hear everything that is going on in the background at your location. Would you rather your client her you clearly, or hear the rest of the people in Starbucks placing their orders? Or the wind noise while you get out of the car to fill up the gas tank while still on a call?
Older models of both of these units are at the top of the list on many different review sites across the web, however since many of those reviews, new features have been added to the newest models of each headset.
Recommended Minimum Standards
Both the VXI Blue Parrott B250 XT Plus and the Plantronics Voyager Pro Plus now offer a extended battery life, Multipoint technology to allow you to connect up to two phones to one headset simultaneously and handle calls and audio from both phones, as well as A2DP technology allowing you to play music, Pandora radio, use a 2-way radio app, GPS navigation, or use voice recognition software through your headset with capable Bluetooth devices (iPhones and most Androids are covered, but check you device to make sure).
At this point in the technology age, in our opinion, the above should be the minimum standard in Bluetooth headset features.
Blue Parrott B250 Plus Specifics
The Blue Parrott B250 units have always been a leader in noise limitation and battery life since they came on the market. The B250 + offers over a 20 hour talk time battery life (yes, I said 20 hours of talk time) which is unheard of in most of the Bluetooth headset market today. The major improvements of the + model over older models is that they took a proven design and included the A2DP technology, Multipoint, and voice prompts to tell you what the headset is doing instead of guessing what the beeps in your ear mean. The catch is that the unit is an “Over the Head” style unit that can make you look a little like a call center agent. It is very light weight and comfortable, just a little larger. On the bright side, it does take the weight off of the ear making it a little more comfortable for long term wear.
Plantronics Voyager Pro Plus Specifics
As for the Plantronics Voyager Pro Plus, it offers a 6 hour talk time, Plantronics continued to include the multipoint technology from previous versions and added the A2DP as well and enhanced noise limiting features. Different from the Blue Parrott, the Voyager Pro Plus is an “Over the Ear” style headset that sits on your ear when worn. Although it is one of the most comfortable “ear mount” headsets we’ve worn, it is still not as comfortable for long-term wear as over the head models.
We have provided an audio recording of each unit in one of the most challenging noise environments commonly faced by users; freeway driving at 70mph with general road noise, then with a window rolled down. Both units were tested on a Verizon Samsung Continuum Android device that many may know, does not have the best audio quality (for that we apologize), the actual audio quality out of both headsets is much better if calling from other cellular devices. However, for this review, the noise limitation was the focus.
Blue Parrott B250XT Plus
Plantronics Voyager Pro Plus – Standard Out of Box
In addition to the stand out of box configuration of the Voyager Pro Plus, we had read some reviews about the unit being improved my adding a custom wind screen onto the unit (like on the boom mic of the B250XT +), so we figured we would give it a try. We did not notice much of a difference, but you can decide for yourself.
Plantronics Voyager Pro Plus – With Custom Windscreen Added
We did notice a concerning problem with the Plantronics Voyager Pro Plus when facing strong direct wind noise (strong winds directly impacting the boom mic). You can hear the audio from that below. We put the B250 + in the same situation and did not hear any wind noise whatsoever, it sounded just like the clip provided earlier in the review.
Plantronics Voyager Pro Plus – Direct Impact Wind Noise Problem
Audio Testing Update: Headsets vs Fire Truck Engine Noise (12/15/2016)
To provide an example of how each headset preforms in an extreme noise environment, we recently completed one more test using the headsets while sitting next to the engine of a fire truck while idling (literally about 18 inches from the engine). This test was preformed with each headset paired to an iPhone 6S.
Blue Parrott B250XT Plus
Plantronics Voyager Pro Plus
The Match-Up – Which Do You Choose?
So lets get down to it…which unit is the best for your needs? Let me start by saying you can’t go wrong with either model it all boils down to size and ergonomics. If you want the absolute best in Bluetooth noise limitation and don’t mind a little larger form factor, the Blue Parrott B250+ is the way to go. We liked the multipoint functionality on the B250+ better that the Voyager as well. It was more seamless and automatic, where as on the Voyager,the first phone connects automatically then you have to press a button to activate the second phone (things they don’t tell you in the manual).
Update 12/15/2016: With this headset I have held conversations with people standing beside fire trucks, eighteen wheelers, in the middle of windstorms, etc. Many without the person on the other end of the line even noticing. The noise cancellation in the B250 XT+ truly is impressive.
However, if size is everything, then your best bet in Bluetooth noise limitation the Voyager Pro Plus. You get close to Blue Parrott noise limitation but with the size convenience of a smaller unit and a shorter, yet manageable battery life that will get you through the day (or two or three).
Unfortunately there is just no comparison with having a boom microphone directly in front of your mouth rather than next to your cheek. There is a reason NASA mission control and call center agents look that way 🙂 . It allows for the best filtering of ambient noise and proper reception of voice. Both units can be purchased on Amazon for under $100 and will definitely keep you sounding clear over most of the competition.
NOTE: Blue Parrott also makes a new unit called the Blue Parrott Xpress that offers all the features of the B250+ but in a smaller form factor. It literally sound exactly the same as the B250 +, but offers an “Over the Ear” fit, a 7 hour battery, and is the same weight as the Voyager Pro Plus. We did not include this unit in the review due to the ergonomic design of the ear mounting. The unit was very uncomfortable for extended wear and did not hold securely in the ear. Another great unit, if you can get it to fit.
Note: The links to the Voyager Pro Plus in the review have been updated to route you to the newest version of the item, the Plantronics Voyager Legend as the Voyager Pro Plus is no longer in production. The new version provides near equal noise cancellation performance to the Plus model in our latest tests with a few new features.
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