Can't find a headset you like for making voice calls from your computer? Turning your favourite headphones into a headset that can record your voice, take calls, and handle video chats is easy. Here's how.
Photo by Rainer Stropek
There are some great headset options available, but the headset that works well for calls isn't always ideal for listening to music. You may find yourself wishing you could both chat with your friends or take Google Hangouts or Skype calls without sacrificing audio quality or music quality while you work or play. Luckily, it's not hard to make your favourite headphones voice-friendly. Here's what you need.
The Easy Way: Buy A Headphone Attachment
The fastest way to turn any set of headphones into a headset, complete with an attached microphone, is to buy an attachment designed to do the job. That's obviously the easiest method, but you sacrifice control over the type of microphone you use and how it connects to your computer or phone. Here are a few examples:
- The TekNmotion Headsetter is just one of a number of products that include an in-line microphone, audio and volume controls for your headset audio, and two separate plugs so you can use the headset and microphone independently when connected to a PC or game console. The downside is that it won't work with computers or phones with a unified headphone/microphone jack.
- The Belkin Headphone Adaptor with Microphone is ideal for people who have unified headphone/microphone jacks that they want to use their headphones with. This is a common setup on smartphones and laptops.
- The Zalman Zm-Mic1 High Sensitivity Headphone Microphone gives you the most flexibility. It's a clip-on microphone with an adaptor that corrals your cables, so it's not as integrated as some of the other solutions here, but it's great if you need to switch between unified audio jacks and discrete audio out and audio in ports.
Any of these options allow you to modify an existing pair of headphones without making any permanent changes. You'll wind up with an extra length of cable to keep wrapped up and organised, but you will be able to rock your favourite headphones when you take video calls.
The Long Way: The DIY Approach
If you're seeking a permanent mod for your headphones, you'll need to get out your soldering iron and prep a few other tools. It's not for the faint of heart, either — you'll probably wind up cracking the case on your headphones to add a microphone jack or boom mic.
This guide shows you how to add detachable headphones to a pair of simple headphones. The principle is similar for any other pair of headphones you might want to mod. When you're finished with it, you'll have a pair of plugs you can use with discrete audio input and output jacks. If you prefer an in-line microphone, this guide from the folks at Tested uses a pair of earbuds to do the job, and walks you through which wires to solder to which and how to connect it all up. When you're finished with this one, you'll have a single integrated plug you can use with the port on a smartphone or laptop.
If your goal is to connect your headphones to a gaming console, you have some other choices as well. You can mod your headset to work with an existing adaptor for your console. If you'd rather not do a lot of soldering, you can get away with connecting your headphones and microphone to your console using a slightly easier method that involves a bunch of adapters and cables. It won't be pretty and you'll probably sacrifice some audio quality thanks to all of the connectors, but it's a workable solution.