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Headset Terminology

As telecommunications technology keeps changing and spawning exciting new product lines in headsets, how do you keep up? Is an over-the-head or earbud design right for you? We have a quick solution. Just take a minute to scan the list of commonly used terms and trademarks below, and we can give you a jumpstart on determining which Plantronics headset solution best suits you!

  • A2DP

    Abbreviation for "Advanced Audio Distribution Profile". A2DP is a Bluetooth profile that transmits stereo sounds. Also referred to as the AV profile, it is designed to transfer a stereo audio stream (such as music) from an mp3 player to a headset or car radio. Plantronics products such as Voyager Legend and the BackBeat family support the A2DP profile.

  • AC Adapter

    The unit that provides electrical power to the system and charges stationary batteries; usually plugs into a wall outlet.

  • Active Noise Cancellation

    Also known as active noise control (ANC) or active noise reduction (ANR), it is a method for reducing unwanted sound by the addition of a second sound ("anti-noise") specifically designed to cancel the first.

  • Adapter

    A device used for connecting two or more apparatus.

  • Amplifiers

    Amplifiers make sound louder. This technology enables headsets to be used with corded phones and phone systems. Plantronics manufactures and markets a wide selection of corded, stand-alone amplifiers, such as the M12 and DA82. In addition to amplifying sound, Plantronics amplifiers and audio processors usually include additional features to enhance communication, including mute and volume controls.

  • Analog

    In regards to Plantronics products, it refers to computer headsets that plug directly into a computer's sound card with two round 3.5 mm plugs.

  • Audio Sensing

    A special feature supported by Plantronics wireless devices that can detect audio signal at the USB port and automatically establish a PC radio link between the base and wireless headset without the user having to press the PC call control button.

  • AudioIQ®

    AudioIQ makes wireless conversations effortless and pleasant, regardless of the environment. For incoming calls, AudioIQ automatically adapts to background noise levels and intelligently improves the receive quality, clarity and volume level. For outgoing calls, AudioIQ reduces background noise for listeners up to 7-8 decibels, or by approximately 50 percent. It also minimizes interference from artifacts such as speech distortions to maintain exceptionally clear voice intelligibility.

  • Auto answer

    A switch which allows calls to be automatically answered by putting on the headset.

  • AVRCP (Audio/Video remote control profile)

    A type of Bluetooth profile included in some Plantronics headsets. AVRCP (Audio/Video Remote Control Profile): Enables you to play, pause, and stop music, as well as track forward and backward.

  • Base

    A headset's charging base or amplifier.

  • Behind-the-head

    A headset wearing style where the band goes behind the head and around the neck to provide stability and comfort.

  • Binaural

    Sound to both ears. Binaural headsets cover both ears, while monaural headsets cover only one.

  • Bluetooth®

    A wireless communications system that uses standard short-range radio technology instead of physical cables to connect many different types of communications and computing devices.

  • Boom microphone

    A boom microphone is a directional microphone mounted or attached to a pole or arm.

  • BT

    Abbreviation for Bluetooth.

  • Call button

    The button on the headset used to answer or terminate calls.

  • Call Clarity™

    A proprietary Plantronics technology that uses electronic signal processing to enhance transmission and reception through innovative noise reduction techniques.

  • Clearline™

    A Plantronics audio technology that helps to reduce common problems with business conversations that stem from poor audio quality, including repeats, errors, and listening fatigue. It is compatible with both traditional phones and headsets as well as wideband VoIP phones and headsets. It provides advanced echo management, delivers consistent and comfortable call volume, reduces background noise, and protects against loud noises.

  • Configuration dial

    Configures volume, desk phone, peripherals, etc.

  • Control Panel

    Control Panel is part of the Windows operating system. Going into the "Sound and Audio Devices" section of the Control Panel allows you to change the settings for your computer's sound devices.

  • Convertible

    A headset that offers the choice of two wearing styles: over-the-head or over-the-ear. These headsets can easily be "converted" from one style to the other in a few simple steps. Plantronics convertible headsets include the DuoPro® (H171/H171N), the DuoSet® (H141/H141N), and the M170/M175 mobile headsets.

  • Cordless Amplifier

    These units connect into the phone's hand receiver port and come with a remote that can be used away from the desk; they make the sound louder. Abbreviated as CA.

  • Cordless System

    A set of products that comes with both a cordless amplifier and a headset. Abbreviated as CS.

  • Cross talk

    Unwanted signals in a communication channel (as in a telephone, radio, or computer) caused by transference of energy from another circuit (as by leakage or coupling).

  • DECT

    Abbreviation for "Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications". A radio technology for voice data applications (such as cordless telephones, wireless offices and even wireless telephone lines to the home). DECT is designed especially for a smaller area with a large number of users, such as in cities and corporate complexes.

  • Device Manager

    A Windows or Android program. It allows users to view and control the hardware attached to the computer. One feature of Device Manager is its ability to list the drivers installed on your computer system.

  • Docking station

    A term for headset base, i.e., where the headset is docked for charging. See base.

  • Drop-out

    A momentary loss of audio signal.

  • DSP

    Abbreviation for "digital signal processing". Mathematical manipulation of an information signal to actively reduce background noise for improved sound quality. This can include equalization (bass and treble adjustment), AEC, noise reduction and audio leveling. For Plantronics products, DSP refers to computer headsets that connect via the USB port rather than the computer's sound card.

  • Dynamic noise reduction

    Used on many Plantronics products where noise in the environment is detected and noise reduction algorithms are adjusted automatically to address the noise.

  • Earbud

    A small, discreet earphone that fits in the ear while the microphone is positioned along the cord. Also referred to as in-the-ear style. The BackBeat GO, BackBeat GO 2, and BackBeat GAME are some examples of Plantronics products which use earbuds.

  • Earloop

    A device with minimum rigidity used to secure over-the-ear style headsets to the ear.

  • Eartip

    A foam or plastic tip that attaches to a headset and fits snugly inside of your ear.

  • Full duplex speakerphone

    This term pertains to speaker phones that have minimal reduction of gain on the microphone when the far end is talking. This enables better two-way communication.

  • Firefly® On-Line Indicator

    Firefly is the unique in-use indicator light that lets others know you are on the phone. No more interruptions! You can find it on the CT12 cordless headset telephone.

  • Hand Receiver (Port)

    The portion of the telephone that you hold in your hand when talking. It is generally attached to the phone with a coil cord. The hand receiver plugs into the phone's hand receiver port (usually a square, modular plug).

  • Handset

    The part of a telephone system you pick up and put to your ear and speak into.

  • Headset port

    Some, but not all, phones have a headset port. This headset port may be a round, 2.5 mm plug, or a square modular RJ9 plug. However, most Plantronics amplifiers are designed to plug into the telephone's hand receiver port rather than the headset port.

  • HFP

    Abbreviation for "hands-free profile". A more advanced version of the HSP Bluetooth profile. It allows voice dialing activation, redial, call transfer, and call answer/end capabilities.

  • HSP

    Abbreviation for "headset profile". A Bluetooth® profile used for voice, mono music, and internet chat programs. This is the most commonly used profile, providing support for the popular Bluetooth® headsets to be used with mobile phones.

  • Inline Controls

    Manual control device, usually located in the headset cord, for enabling the mute function of the microphone and changing the volume level of the headset.

  • Link Dropping

    Link dropping means that the signal between the headset and the telephone periodically disconnects. If you experience link dropping, we recommend that you establish a new signal between the headset and the telephone by re-pairing or resubscribing your headset.

  • Modular

    Modular means square and generally refers to modular RJ9 plugs. Most Plantronics amplifiers use modular ports.

  • Monaural

    Sound reception in one ear. Monaural headsets cover only one ear, whereas binaural headsets cover both.

  • Multipoint technology

    Multipoint is also known as "multishifting." Although all of our Bluetooth headsets can pair with up to four different devices, multipoint technology allows some Bluetooth headsets to switch active connections between two paired devices. Non-multipoint headsets can be actively connected to only one device at a time.

  • Mute alert

    An audio alert that lets the user know when mute is turned off. 

  • Noise cancelling

    A microphone design that greatly reduces the transmission of background noise, enhancing headset sound quality. noise-cancelling headsets are especially effective for offices with employees in close proximity to one another. In mobile applications, noise-cancelling microphones reduce background noise in cars, airports or on the street. Headset model numbers that end with "N" are noise-cancelling models.

  • Omnidirectional mic

    A microphone that will pick up sound from all around it, in all directions. Plantronics uses omnidirectional microphones in a number of products, as well as noise-cancelling mics.

  • OpenMic™

    A Plantronics feature that lets you hear the surrounding sound without taking off your headphones. This is a process where one or more of the microphones on a headset are activated to pick up ambient sounds, then feed them into the user's ear. This is also called "open listen" mode.

  • Over-the-ear

    Over-the-ear is used to describe Plantronics headsets that have over-the-ear earloops or other devices to hold headsets in place. Plantronics CS530, Savi 730, and Savi 430 are some examples.

  • Over-the-head

    The most common style of headset, with a headband that goes up and over your head. Typically available in monaural and binaural styles.

  • Pairing

    Pairing refers to establishing a wireless connection between a headset and a phone. It is often used to describe the initial set up between a Bluetooth headset and phone.

  • Pairing Mode

    Indicates when a device is discoverable or looking to be discovered. Typical of BT situations. Indicated on Plantronics products by rapidly flashing lights.

  • Passkey

    Passkey refers to a password needed to connect a Plantronics Bluetooth headset to a Bluetooth device. For most Plantronics products, this passkey is 0000. Sometimes referred to as a passcode.

  • Radiolink

    A two-way radio communication system. An active radio link means that your headset has a live connection with your mobile or VoIP phone. An inactive link means that your headset is not in use.

  • Receive

    Your receive volume refers to the volume of what you hear. Increasing your receive volume will make the caller sound louder for you. It will not affect the way that your voice sounds to the caller.

  • Reject call

    Function of headset which disconnects the call or sends the call to voice mail depending on the device

  • Reset

    Resetting your wireless headset can clear static and correct other acoustic issues. See our Knowledge Base on to find reset instructions for your headset.

  • Resubscribe

    See pair.

  • RJ9

    RJ9 is a standard modular plug on most corded telephones. RJ9 has four positions and four contacts (4P4C). Many Plantronics amplifiers also use this plug size.

  • Smart lock

    A screen lock/unlock capability based on proximity detection of a Plantronics Legend Bluetooth® headset.

  • Smart sensor technology

    These sensors detect whether or not you are the wearing the headset. Sensors are located in the headset body and speaker housing.

  • Softphone

    A software program for making telephone calls over the Internet using a general-purpose computer rather than dedicated hardware such as a standard desktop telephone.

  • Soundcard

    A sound card is a computer component that processes sound and provides ports for audio devices such as microphones, headsets, and speakers.

  • SoundGuard®

    An automatic gain control system found in Plantronics adapters that provides natural voice tone and removes loud tones as well as occasional noises and crackles on the line.

  • Standby mode

    A low power mode in a computer. Also called "sleep mode," the screen and hard disks are turned off, but the memory (RAM) chips are continually refreshed in order to retain their contents. In addition, the CPU is throttled down to its lowest power state. 

  • Stereo Sound

    Stereo sound refers to sound that sends different signals to the left and right sides of the headsets, as opposed to mono sound, which sends just one signal. Stereo headsets are headsets that support stereo sound.

  • Subscribe

    Synonym for pair, but used exclusively for enterprise DECT products. See pair.

  • Talk time

    The number of hours you can talk on your headset before it must be recharged.

  • Transmit

    Transmit volume refers to the volume of your voice and your headset's microphone. If you increase your transmit volume, your voice will sound louder to the caller. It will not affect the way that the caller's voice sounds for you.

  • USB

    USB stands for "Universal Serial Bus", and refers to a common port on computers. Some mobile phones also use USB or "mini-USB" connections to transfer data.

  • USB adapter

    A USB device that enables UC functionality.

  • Vechile power charger

    Allows a headset to be charged in a vehicle, usually via the vehicle's lighter socket. Abbreviated as VPC.

  • Voice alert

    A recorded notification message that informs the user about a change in the state of the phone or headset (turned on or off, pairing status, incoming call, etc.).

  • Voice prompt

    A recorded notification message that asks the user to take action, such as accept or reject an incoming call.

  • Voice tube

    Also called Attitubes or "mic sticks", voice tubes are translucent, plastic tubes which serve as microphones in some Plantronics headsets. Voice tubes are removable and can be replaced.

  • VoIP

    Abbreviation for "Voice over Internet Protocol". The technology used to send voice signals and phone calls over the Internet.

  • Windscreen

    A protective covering for headset microphones that mitigates wind noise to enhance microphone performance.

  • Y training cable

    A cable that allows two headsets to be connected to one phone, enabling two people to listen to the same call (for training purposes).