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A Glossary of Headset Terms

Most of this glossary of headsets jargon has been prepared by ex-Australian headset distributor Siemens. I thank them for the opportunity to reproduce it.

If you have headset jargon that you do not understand and it is not on this page, please contact me. I will add it to this page for everyone's benefit.

Headset Definitions & Terms

Binaural Headset - A headset having two earpieces (i.e. two receivers - one for each ear).

Bluetooth - A wireless standard which allows cordless communications of up to 10 metres with compatible devices.

Carbon - Old microphone interface technology.

Circumaural Ear Cushion - Large ear cushions that fully enclose the ear(s) of the wearer, significantly reducing the background noise the user hears.

Convertible Headset - A headset that can be used as either an on-the-ear, over-the-head or behind-the-head version. User can configure the wearing style.

DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) - Allows enhanced cordless communications in an office environment to a range of 50 metres.

Desk Centric - A grouping, adopted by Jabra, of headsets designed for users mostly desk based, in a noisy environment and want all day comfort.

Desk-Top Amplifier - Adaptor for connecting any compatible headset to most modular telephones. It is able to adjust transmit and receive levels to suit most telephones available.

Direct Connect - A method of connecting a headset top to your telephone without using an amplifier. A correctly configured cord connects the headset top to the telephone.

Donut Ear Cushion - An ear cushion with a hole in the middle to allow extra volume.

DuoPro Headset - A Plantronics headset that can be used as either an on-the-ear, over-the-head or behind-the-head version. User can configure the wearing style.

DuoSet Headset - A Plantronics headset that can be used as either an on-the-ear or over-the-head or version. User can configure the wearing style.

Electret - Modern microphone interface technology. Common in most modern telephone systems.

EHS - Abbreviation for Electronic Hook Switch. A device to enable certain compatible telephones to have calls answered and ended from your wireless headset while you are away from your desk

Encore Binaural Headset - Plantronics over-the-head headset with two ear pieces. Grey in colour.

Encore Monaural Headset - Plantronics over-the-head headset with one ear piece. Grey in colour.

Foam Ear Cushion - A solid ear cushion supplied with most headband headsets.

H & HW-Top - Any Plantronics headset prefixed with a H or HW. Also known as a Vista top. These headsets are only the top half, you must buy a cable (Vista or Polaris depending upon your telephone) or amplifier to connect them to your telephone. You can even connect these to your PC via a Plantronics USB cable when using a "softphone"

Handset Lifter - An optional device to add to your wireless headset. It mechanically lifts your telephone handset, when you press a button on your headset, allowing you to remotely answer and end calls.

HookSwitch - Part of a telephone that loops the telephone line, thus enabling a call to be made. When this loop is broken, the call is disconnected.

Jabber - Jabber, from Cisco, lets you access presence, instant messaging (IM), voice, video, voice messaging, desktop sharing, and conferencing.

K Plug - A two pronged plug with silver pins. Can be identified by the fact that it has one groove in the end of each of the pins.

K7 Plug - A two pronged plug with brass pins. Can be identified by the fact that it has two grooves in the end of each of the pins.

Leatherette Ear Cushions - Leather cushions with a hole in the centre for extra volume. Available as spares and preferred by people susceptible to ear infections, or for use in warm environments.

Lemo Plug - See Q plug.

Lync - Lync, from Microsoft, provides the next generation of communications server uniting voice communications, voice mail, instant messaging and presence, audio, video and web conferencing into a single platform.

M10, M12 & M22 Amplifier - Also known as Vista Adaptor. Plantronics adaptor for connecting any H-Top headset to most modular telephones. It is able to adjust transmit and receive levels to suit most telephones available.

Mirage Headset - On-the-ear headset with a round button-like earpiece that sits on the outside of the ear. Black in colour.

Mobile Centric - Jabra's grouping of headsets designed for users needing full mobility, mobile appearance and using multiple devices.

Monaural Headset - A headset having only one earpiece (i.e. receiver).

Mute Switch - A switch that allows the user to turn the transmitter off so that the other party cannot hear what they say.

N or NC - Usually found after a headset part number, indicates that the headset is a noise-cancelling model.

Noise Cancelling - A headset with a special microphone that significantly reduces the "pick up" of surrounding noise.

Noise Suppressor - A small cup available for use on the end of voice tube headsets. This directs your voice into the end of the voice tube, dulling background noise.

Office Centric - Jabra's grouping of headsets designed for users needing in-office mobility, 150m wireless range using a PC, desk or mobile.

P-Top (also known as Polaris top) - A letter used by Plantronics to identify their Pre-amplified (i.e. the transmission is amplified) range of headsets. Hence the "P". These headsets come packaged with a Polaris bottom cable. These headsets have been superceded by a H (HW) top & amplified cable combination

Polaris Cable - One of Plantronics headset cables. It has different wiring to the Vista cable to enable headsets to be directly connected to a wider range of telephones. The wiring is Tx Rx Rx Tx (i.e Transmit Receive Receive Transmit). It is identified by a dark smoky coloured RJ connector - unless the RJ has been replaced during repair when the only way of identifying it is by checking the wire colours.

Q Plugs - Also known as Lemo plugs. These are large heavy plugs with pins jutting from a round aluminium casing. They are used on older switchboards and call centre stations.

Quick Disconnect - Most headsets come with a Quick Disconnect clip. This is found at the join between the headset top and the bottom cord/cable. Its purpose is to allow you to quickly separate the top and bottom so that you can leave your desk without having to take your headset off. Note that some cheaper headsets only have a continuous cable and thus no quick disconnect functionality.

RJ Connector - A small square or rectangular plastic plug that is fitted to the end of a telephony or local area network (LAN) cable. It is used to make insertion and removal of cables easy. If the clip that holds it into its socket breaks, it can be readily replaced by a technician.

RJ11 - See also RJ. Has 4 positions for pins/wires. Standard plug for connecting handsets or headsets to telephones.

RJ12 - See also RJ. Has 6 positions for pins/wires. Standard plug for connecting telephones to wall sockets.

RJ45 - See also RJ. Has 8 positions for pins/wires. Standard plug for connecting LAN cables (and some telephones) to wall sockets.

Savi - Plantonics brand name for their top-of-range PC-desk-mobile phone three-in-one headsets.

Softphone - A softphone is software that simulates a real phone and runs on a desktop computer. It is usually used with a headset connected to the sound card or USB port of the computer.

Soundpro - The brand name of a range of business and call centre headsets produced by Polaris Communications.

Training Cables - These cables are designed to enable a trainer to listen to the conversation going on between the trainee and the other party. They fit between the bottom cord of the headset and the telephone or amplifier (where used). They come in a variety of forms ranging from a simple "splitter" cable through to a purpose built "Y" cable complete with mute button.

UC - Unified Communications. One headset can connect to your telephone, PC and often even your mobile phone.

Vista Cable - One of Plantronics headset cables. It has different wiring to the Polaris cable to enable headsets to be connected to a wider range of telephones. It is also used as the M10/12 amplifier cable. The wiring is Rx Tx Tx Rx (i.e Receive Transmit Transmit Receive). It is identified by a clear RJ connector on the end.

Voice Tube - A clear plastic tube or thin metal pipe found on non-noise cancelling headsets. Plantronics and AddCom have user replaceable versions of these. Be careful, if the micro-mesh at the end of these clear voice tubes gets blocked (and it does often happen - mainly with food) people will not be able to hear you. You probably will need to get a new voice tube - they are very hard to clean successfully.

Windscreen - NO not for your car. This is a small foam cover designed to cover the end of a noise cancelling headset to stop the wind from your mouth causing "spitting" sounds.

If you have headset jargon that you do not understand and it is not on this page, please contact me.

I will add it to this page for everyone's benefit.