Traditionally, headsets consist of a pair of headphones and a microphone all physically assembled together and connected by cable, or wirelessly, to an audio source. Throughout their fairly long history, they have had little else added in the way of features, as manufacturers have focused more on sound quality than functionality. One optional added feature that has certainly proved its worth, however, is the headset volume control. Normally, if volume control is included, it is placed 'in-line' during manufacture and is an integral part of the headset's cord. In wireless headphones, the volume control, if included, will be placed near one or both earpieces. The addition of a volume control to the headphones provides far greater convenience. This is especially true when they're connected to a small pocket-sized device, such as a smartphone or MP3 player. As convenience is one of the modern world's most desired commodities, here are six reasons that will help justify buying a headset with volume control for the added convenience that it offers.
1. Added Volume When Needed
When listening to speech, especially phone-quality speech, via a headset, external sounds in a noisy environment can make it difficult to hear clearly what's being said. When listening to music, external noise can ruin the listening experience. More volume in the headset loudspeakers is the obvious answer in both cases. Although that can be done from the audio player, the presence of a volume control in the headset cord enables the sound to be adjusted far more conveniently. Set the headset's volume level to around 75 per cent of its maximum, and then set the phone or music player's volume to the required listening level. The headset speakers will perform at their best and produce their highest listening quality at that level, and, whenever necessary, the volume can be raised (or lowered) on the headset without needing to adjust the phone or music player's volume.
2. Avoiding Noise Pollution
When travelling on buses and trains most people have experienced, at some time or other, the annoying insect-like buzzing coming from the headphones of a fellow passenger playing music at full volume. While it's obviously music to their ears, it's just noise to anyone else unfortunate enough to be within earshot. The addition of a volume control to the headset makes it easy to avoid being that person, while still enjoying listening to music via the headset. By keeping a hand on the volume control, loud passages of music can be instantly lowered and softer passages can be safely increased without incurring the displeasure of fellow travellers.
3. Avoiding Ear Damage
It's well known that constantly listening to loud music, especially via headphones, can damage hearing. When listening to loud music many people may feel that the volume level is slightly too high, but unless the music player is within easy reach, they don't want to make the effort to lower the volume. The player may be a stereo system at the other end of the room, or it may be a smartphone or MP3 player tucked away in a pocket. The effort involved in having to lower the volume means that many don't bother. As it's only slightly higher than the optimum level, they can easily put up with it. This, according to current medical advice, should be avoided over long periods. Having a headset volume control always there within easy reach avoids the inconvenience of having to change the player's volume, especially as the optimum volume may change from track to track. The same is also true for phone calls received by the headset connected to a mobile phone. Line and transmission quality varies from call to call, and if a headset is being used, it's far easier to adjust its volume control where necessary than the phone's volume control. Many mobile phone users, in fact, don't know how to adjust the volume of their phone. They've either forgotten how or they've never learned in the first place. The volume controls on modern headsets, by contrast, are simple and obvious and should present no obstacle to even the most technically-challenged user.
The most basic headset volume control does exactly what it says; it controls the volume and nothing more. More advanced headsets, however, offer a lot more functionality.
Stereo Volume Controls
Having a separate volume control for each of the two stereo channels can also provide some stereo balance control in addition to simple overall volume control.
Volume limiting control sets a maximum peak volume level that can't be exceeded. It's an effective hearing-protection feature.
The stereo-off switch converts the stereo audio signal to a mono signal. This has limited use for most users, but can improve the sound of badly recorded music tracks, where one stereo channel may be very faint or missing completely. The stereo-off function would then send the same sound to both headphones. DJ headphones often have this switch so that the DJ can temporarily hold one headphone speaker to one ear while someone is shouting instructions or requests in the other ear. As the signal has been made mono by flicking the stereo-off switch, all the music will be sent to each stereo headphone speaker equally, so whichever headphone speaker is being listened to, the whole (formerly stereo) musical content will be heard in that ear, and no musical cues will be missed.
Volume muting instantly cuts the volume to the headset completely. Headphones are well known for their isolating properties. They cut the listener off from the real world to an extent. However, sometimes it may be necessary to immediately cut the sound and rejoin the world at a moment's notice. This switch enables that to be done very simply and quickly.
More advanced USB headsets may offer more sophisticated playback controls that can provide features such as music track selection, rewind, fast-forward and repeat functions in addition to volume control.
In-line controls on a modern headset are designed to look good. Compared to the earliest headsets with volume control, they have a more professional and stylish look that makes the headset more attractive as well as providing greater functionality. The volume control on modern headsets is small enough to be sleek and slimline, but it's still large enough that the various controls can be easily and conveniently accessed. The controls can quickly be adjusted with simple thumb or fingertip actions.
6. Falling Prices
Improvements in headset manufacturing techniques in recent years have meant that volume control can be incorporated more easily and less expensively into the design of headsets. The advantage of that for consumers is that adding volume control to headsets no longer adds significantly to their price. It's already a standard feature of many headsets supplied with mobile phones and smartphones from major manufacturers, and it looks set to become a standard feature throughout the whole headset manufacturing industry in the not too distant future.
How to Find Headsets with Volume Control on eBay
As might be expected, headsets are a very popular item on eBay. If the search term "headset" is typed into the search box on eBay UK's homepage, a drop-down list of suggestions appears containing the word "headset". These suggestions include various headset types such as Bluetooth headsets, PC headsets, gaming headset, and more. Choose any suggestion if it mentions a certain type of headset that is of interest; otherwise, just enter "headset" and ignore the search box suggestions. What can't be so easily ignored, however, is the fact that that search term returns many pages of results containing thousands of new and used headset listings. On the left-hand side of that list are the categories that headsets appear in. Mobile Phones & Communication is the top level category, and it has various subcategories displayed underneath. Click the most relevant subcategory, which is Mobile Phone & PDA Accessories. This reveals the final and most relevant category: Headsets. Click that and then look below the categories to the filtering options. Click Features and select Volume Control from the options. This tailors the list to a much more relevant set of search results populated by a large number of 'headset with volume control' listings.
For such a small addition to a common audio accessory, volume control makes a surprisingly significant improvement in terms of functionality and convenience to any headset. Headsets with integrated volume control are becoming more common as the demand for them rises and manufacturers compete with each other to satisfy that demand and carve out as big a share of the headset market as they can. That's good news for consumers. It means the range of headsets available is large and looks set to get even larger. As more users begin to view integrated headset volume control as a standard feature, headsets without volume control are increasingly being seen as dated and missing a basic essential feature - volume control.