Last updated on May 16, 2020
After spending a fair bit of time researching for headsets that offered high-quality active noise canceling (ANC) features to improve my home office audio setup, I decided to give the B550-XT a try.
The top feature that I was looking for was good noise cancelation. I looked for reviews that particularly focused on this aspect of headsets. I found many that the B550-XT’s ANC was among the best. There were a few videos that looked quite convincing.
This unit is priced at about $199 on Amazon, and was delivered in about 3 days, while I eagerly waited. After carefully wiping the box and the contents with disinfectant as a COVID-19 precaution, I sat down at my desk to set it up.
Pairing it to my iPhone was quick and easy. I tried playing some music and listening to an audio book on my iPhone to test the audio quality, which is very good. Then I set up a dummy Webex meeting on my PC and set my audio to my phone. I got the call, accepted it, and transferred it to my headset; no problems there either. I started recording my meeting and spoke a few sentences. I listened to the recording of my meeting and my voice was quite clear.
I then discovered that the BlueParrott app that I set up on my iPhone has a “Sound Check” feature that is really very handy. All you need to do is start sound check and hold a virtual button on your phone to record your voice. Then you press another virtual button to playback the recording. This feature makes it really easy to test how your voice sounds, and how the ANC filters out the background noise. One of the tests I did was to have my radio at a fairly high volume on my desk, while I read a few paragraphs of text, with the sound check recording on. I then played back the recording listening carefully. I found that the sound from my radio was significantly diminished and my reading was recorded quite clearly. I did a few more tests with the TV running in the next room, flushing the toilet, walking around the house, and so on. In every case, the sound check recording was impressively quiet and only my voice was distinct. BlueParott claims 96% cancelation of background noise. I have no way to quantify what my tests showed, but I can say that the background noise was significantly diminished.
The other nice feature of this headset is its ability to connect to two devices at the same time. So I paired it easily with my Windows PC. With this, I can listen to my PC audio on this headset if I choose to. I can also use PC audio for my meetings if I prefer. This is very convenient as I can easily switch my headset between my phone and my PC if I need to.
The battery life of this unit is quite impressive. The specifications say that a full charge will last 24 hours of talk time, and has a standby time of 400 hours. I haven’t been able to test either, but after a long days with several meetings, I find that the battery level on the unit is still “high.”
The B550-XT has a “Parrott” button that is programmable. You can set it to “mute,” or “voice command” and a few other things. I have set mine to “voice commands” and with that, I can tap this button and give several pre-programmed commands like “What can I say?”, “Battery Check”, “Am I connected?”, and so on. I find this quite useful.
I can also invoke Siri on my iPhone by tapping the “multi-function” button. And there are volume + and – buttons.
The B550-XT fits well on my ear; I can change between my left and right ears easily by moving the boom microphone. The padding for the ear has two options: the leather padding that come pre-installed, or the foam padding that you can change to if you prefer. The microphone has a flexible stem that can be adjusted to a position close to your mouth. The unit itself has a headband that goes over your head. With some experimenting, you can find the position that you feels best to you.
This headset was primarily designed for truck drivers. There are many reviews out there from truck drivers who seem to be quite happy with this model, as well are its predecessors the B350, B450, and so on. You can surely use this as your home office headset for great audio quality.
The only thing that I found a bit undesirable is the size of the headset. While it is very comfortable and provides excellent audio with superb noise cancelation, it looks a bit bulky, compared to many other Bluetooth headsets in the market. If you can live with that, then this is arguably one of the headsets with the best ANC for working from home.