Incredible performance for its price
With Jabra Evolve 20, online students and teachers don’t need to worry about audio quality or noise in the room.
It’s designed to give you better conversations with a world-class microphone and speakers that are optimized for voice.
With a performance that is unbelievable for an entry-level model, this is probably the best headset for online language classes.
- Excellent mics
- Very good headphones
Why a headset for online language learning?
As an online Italian teacher, I can tell you that headsets are a must-have piece of online teaching equipment thanks to their superior sound and voice quality. In online tutoring, they can make a huge impact on both teachers and students. You want the best headset for online language classes.
- If you’re an online student, the quality of your equipment will let you catch every word of your tutor and let them assess your pronunciation accurately.
- As an online teacher, the quality of your equipment can help make the difference between an amateurish and a professional image of you. You look as good as your online teaching equipment. Thus, you should invest in quality equipment like headsets and instead rely on stock options that can be lacking.
Your equipment must allow you to speak to and hear your teachers or students with clarity and reliability. With a top-notch headset, you can focus on your lesson instead of whether they can hear you, you can hear them, or interference from background noises. In particular, this is true in two ways:
- Hear. Unless you’re in a soundproof room, you are going to be competing with outside sounds. A quality headset will ensure you hear only what’s important – your teacher, or your student.
- Be heard. Headsets also have a built-in microphone, so that you’re speaking directly into a mic vs. trying to shout into some invisible hole located on the front of your laptop.
How to choose the best headset for online language classes
There are plenty of headsets out there that are both functional and affordable. You don’t have to spend much to go from ordinary to professional.
These are the features that I expect from a headset for online tutoring:
- Very good microphone. The audio from the onboard microphone on your laptop is hardly acceptable because it’s far from your mouth and catches every distant noise. Thus, you want to buy a pair of headphones that have an attached microphone. You’re not going to sing at the stadium, but you do need to be heard clearly even with some noise around you.
- Good headphones. We don’t need excellent audio but just good audio because we’re basically doing video calls. For this type of setup, you don’t need a top of the line pair of headphones, but you also want to avoid super-cheap headphones that break in a couple of months or just sound bad. You’re not going to listen to a symphony on Skype, but your counterpart’s voice should be clear even if your room is not completely quiet.
- Compact. Quality headphones for listening to music, watching streaming movies or playing video games tend to be big and bulky. This is fine for most instances, but not as an online teacher. You want the student to be focused on you and the lesson, not your goofy giant headphones you have on.
- Comfortable. You should feel comfortable with wearing your headphones when you’re learning or teaching online, especially because that can last for hours each day.
- Affordable. If you focus on audio quality and leave out the fancy options, you can get a good pair of microphones and headphones that can do the job at an affordable price. For me, this means around 50.00 US$.
On the other hand, there are features that are not particularly important to me. I’m glad to give them up for a better deal.
- Wireless connection. Wireless equipment certainly looks fancy, but is it so important to get by without a cable? I do my classes sitting at my desk, not walking in the park. Generally, this option alone doubles the price, so I’d rather do without it.
- Active noise cancellation. This is the feature that shines at the very top of product lines. It shuts you out of the world eliminating any noise. This is certainly useful, but usually not necessary to this extent, especially because it raises the price 5-fold compared with entry-level models.
- Leatherette headphones. They look and feel good, but I’m wearing foam headphones for 3 hours a day without any discomfort. They’re better, but not necessary.
- Busy light. Unless you work in a call center, you hardly need this. Obviously, you’re speaking with someone, which means that you’re busy.
- Analog audio adapter. The headsets reviewed here connect through and USB cable, which is absent on tablets, smartphones, and MP3 players. However, if you’re serious about taking classes online, you should be using a computer to type, share your screen, etc. If you ever need an adapter, you can buy it separately for a few bucks.
- Case. The case or bag with the fancy logo looks nice, but your headset can fit into just anything. You can probably dig out something from your drawers or buy a generic one for less.
My headset for online Italian tutoring: Jabra Evolve 20
If your needs are similar to those I listed above, I’m happy to recommend the same headset that I use for my online Italian classes myself: Jabra Evolve 20.
In my experience, this is probably the best headset for online language classes.
When it comes to office headsets, Jabra is in the premier league, and the Jabra Evolve series headsets are key players on the market. There are several models offering an assortment of features and benefits that have landed them as a key choice for various types of businesses.
Jabra Evolve 20 is the entry-level model of its series and yet its noise-canceling technology already makes it an excellent option for both students and teachers. Both the microphone and the headphones are built for passive noise cancellation: they work to block out sound waves from the environment by the materials they are made of.
Buy it now on Amazon for only $52.00.
Here’s a demonstration of the noise-canceling effect of the microphone of Jabra Evolve 20, compared with the internal microphone of my laptop and the average microphone that came with a smartphone. I compared their performance first in a quiet environment and then in a noisy one.
- Built-in laptop mic (0:44)
- Mediocre headset (1:13)
- Jabra Evolve 20 (1:42)
- Built-in laptop mic (2:14)
- Mediocre headset (2:41)
- Jabra Evolve 20 (3:09)
Better headset models from the same Evolve series by Jabra
I just recommended the headset that I actually use for my online Italian classes, both as a student and a teacher. Jabra Evolve 20 is just good enough for me.
However, if you have money to spend and want a particular feature that this model doesn’t have, you’ll want to pick one of the following models. They range a fair amount between them in terms of features and benefits, though Jabra’s top-notch noise cancellation technology remains throughout. Here are the most popular:
- Jabra evolve 40 ($109) for better noise-canceling headphones (the mic is the same), corded
- Jabra evolve 65 ($136) for wireless connection
- Jabra evolve 75 ($203) for active noise cancellation, wireless
- Jabra evolve 75e ($203) for active noise cancellation and in-ear wearing style, wireless
- Jabra evolve 80 ($240) for over-the-ear wearing style, corded
If compared with my Jabra Evolve 20 ($52), the main upgrades are:
- Better headphone cover material
- More comfortable wearing styles
- Busy light
- Wireless connection
- Active noise canceling
- Accessories (adapter, case, charger)
Best cheap headphones for online classes: Logitech H340
If you’re as broke as I was at the beginning of my teaching career, or take online lessons only occasionally, you don’t want to spend a lot on a headset.
In that case, Logitech H340 ($21) is a solid choice. It’s used by call centers all over the world for Skype calls and video chat. Just don’t expect stellar quality audio for music.
The H340 has gained popularity over time and is a great cheap option when it comes to online teaching equipment because it has a noise-canceling microphone, allowing for clear communication between all parties. In addition, it has adjustable padded headbands and earpads which make it pretty comfortable if you’re going to wear it all day.
Take online Italian lessons with your new headset!
I shared with you my best headset for online language classes.
Now, if you’re serious about learning Italian, invest in a decent headset.
Here’s the conclusion of this very personal review:
- For about $50, you can hear and be heard clearly by your Italian language teacher or student.
- Features like wireless connection, better headphone covers and active noise canceling are appealing but expensive, up to $240.
- If you’re just starting, you can actually get by with $21.
Now that you have a high-quality headset for your online classes, you only need to book an Italian lesson!