Transcription Headset Buyer’s Guide

Finding a comfortable headset that’s lightweight, offers the sound quality you need and plugs into your machine is a challenge for many. TranscriptionGear.Com is here to make it as easy as possible.

Key General Features:

Headset style

Many transcriptionists prefer an under-the-chin headset. They are lightweight and come in a variety of styles and materials to fit many stations. While over-the-head style headsets are typically heavier, many have found that they can be just as comfortable and great for all-day use.

Headset plugs

Dictaphone brand desktop machines use a twin-pin plug while older style Philips/Norelco machines and a few DAC stations use a 5-pin round DIN plug. All PC’s and many cassette transcribers use 3.5 mm plugs to connect the headset to the machine. A new plug type has become increasingly popular in recent years. USB Transcription headsets are available in both over-the-head and under-the-chin styles. Typically, they offer in-line volume control.

Ear bud style

Generally headsets come with a choice of three ear bud styles. Most under-the-chin headsets come with ear buds that fit into the inner portion of your ear, like a stethoscope headset, or fit against the outer portion of your ear, but do not cover it, like a Wishbone style. Over-the-head style headsets generally offer earpieces that cover the entire ear with a soft pad and can be very comfortable, and great for noise reduction.

Hinged or Stethoscope headset

A hinged style headset often has earpieces that fit into the inner portion of the ear and are the most adjustable. They generally rest against the bottom portion of your inner ear and are very good for all-day comfort. They are most commonly stethoscope style and are available in metal or plastic.

“Y” Shaped or Wishbone style

Perfect for anyone with a smaller head, a wishbone headset fits a bit more tightly on the head and simply rests against the ear opening. They do not cover the entire ear, nor does anything insert into the ear.

Mono or Stereo

All PC headsets are stereo, whereas all or most cassette transcribers output a mono sound. A stereo headset has two channels, a left channel and a right channel. If you’ve ever plugged a headset into a cassette transcriber and only heard sound out of one ear, this is more than likely because the headset was stereo and the cassette transcriber can only output sound out of a single channel.

U-Bow or band style

A U-Bow or band style headset simply uses the pressure from the bow to stay against the outer portion of your ears. If you’ve experienced these types of headsets falling off of you, try a wishbone headset as they have a tighter fit. Due to their lightweight design and adequate comfort they provide, band style headsets are most commonly included with transcription kits you purchase.

Unique sound quality

Some headset styles have their own unique sound. None are really better than another, it is personal preference. Aluminum headsets for example can sound “tinny” due to the sound traveling through the metal tubes. While some don’t like it, others do because it can help remove some bass from the voice they’re listening too.

Sound passing through a plastic set of tubes, such as one from a plastic stethoscope headset can sound a touch muffled, which can have a positive affect on sound quality if the dictation you’re listening to has a lot of background noise.

Feature set

There are some small, but perhaps significant features to look for when purchasing a particular headset. In-line volume control can be found on many headsets, which makes it easy to adjust the playback volume on the fly. Cord clips can help prevent tangles and reduce the weight of the cord on the headset. A few headsets even have a stereo/mono switch to allow it to be used with a PC and a cassette transcriber simply by moving a switch from one setting to another. Also pay attention to the cord of any headset you’re considering. The cord is most often the part of the headset that fails first, make sure you select a headset with a durable design, like Caliber.


Like all warranties, user abuse or neglect are not covered, but sometimes headsets just fail. While most only include a 30-day warranty, we strongly feel that’s not enough. Only consider vendors that offer at least a 60-day warranty.  TranscriptionGear.Com offers a 90-day warranty on all headsets.

Satisfaction guarantee

Headsets are very personal products. Normally, you either find a specific brand comfortable or you don’t. We encourage you to purchase your transcription headset from a vendor that allows you to return the headset in the event you’re not happy with it and try another.