High-Quality Skype Calls on the Cheap

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Normally when I catch wind of a product that promises to be “enhanced for this” or “optimized for that” I chalk it up to marketing spin and assume it’ll be priced higher than it should be with the hopes of duping casual consumers into buying it. Such was the case with the Freetalk Everyman Headset for Skype, a product that promises “state-of-the-art super wideband audio for perfect Skype calls every time.”

Something was odd, though. The price. Only $23? Shouldn’t it cost $100 if it’s optimized for Skype?

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The Everyman Headset was developed in conjunction with Skype and makes use of Skype’s proprietary audio codec, SILK, which uses about half the bandwidth than other codecs to deliver high-quality audio. So I pitted the Everyman Headset against my trusty old Plantronics .Audio 750 headset in a Skype sound test. The Plantronics set isn’t optimized for Skype’s codec (this set is from 2007, though, and newer Plantronics sets feature Skype optimization) but it does feature digital signal processing and noise¬†cancellation at an original MSRP of $80.

Here are the two sample recordings.

Sample #1: Recorded with the Everyman Headset: everyman

Sample #2: Recorded with the Plantronics set: noteveryman

I’ll admit that I’m not much of an audiophile, but even I can tell the difference between the two. The first sample sounds cleaner and more lifelike. Perhaps it’s not a glaring difference, but let’s keep in mind that the Everyman costs less than half of most lower-end “premium” headsets.

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Other features of the Everyman include a foldable, portable design, USB connection, and a detachable analog headphone jack for using the headset with your digital music player. It’s a nice touch and music sounds pretty good for a $23 pair of headphones.

Bottom line: If you’re a Skype user and you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a fancy headset, there’s not too much to think about with the Freetalk Everyman Headset priced at $23.

Freetalk Everyman Headset [Skype.com]

Want more video reviews from Doug? Find them all here.

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