How to Choose a Headset for Transcription Work

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Transcriptionists spend a lot of time in front of the computer. Using a good headset makes transcription work easier by blocking out the noises in your environment and giving you superior sound.

Some speakers may talk softly on recordings you need to transcribe; audios may have background noise that makes it difficult to hear; and you might get distracted from noises in your environment.

Headphones provide several benefits for transcriptionists:

  • Headphones give you better sound. They make it easier to hear what speakers are saying and help you transcribe as accurately as possible — especially when speakers are talking softly.
  • Headphones are helpful to transcribe bad audio with background noise.
  • Noise-canceling headphones block out the noises in your environment.  This feature is especially useful if you transcribe in a noisy environment. It can block out background noise and you will be able to focus better on listening to the recordings.
  • Headphones can boost your productivity. You'll hear better, get less distractions and you'll have to rewind and playback less often.

Headphones work better for transcription than computer speakers because speakers may give distortion when you turn up the volume.

Choosing a headphone for transcription

Choosing a headphone for transcription is different from choosing a headphone to listen to music. Headphone choices for transcription include professional studio grade headphones, lightweight headphones, neckband headphones and ear buds. Most headphones can be plugged into your computer.

Which type will work best for you for transcription work depends on your personal preference. Here are some things to consider when shopping for headphones for transcription work:

  • Choose a headphone that is comfortable for you.
  • A lightweight headphone will give you less strain on your neck and be more comfortable than a heavy one. Many professional headphones and large stereo-type headphones are heavy and can cause neck strain if worn for an extended period of time.
  • Over-the-head headphones refer to the traditional kind of headphones that go over your head.  Choose one that is not too heavy.
  • Neckband headphones lay around your neck and can be more comfortable than over-the-head headphones.
  • Headphones with soft, cushioned ear pads (padded ear cushions) will help you be more comfortable when using for long periods of use.
  • An earbud fits into your ears, like the earbuds for iPods or cell phones. If you have earbuds that came with your cell phone or iPod, try them out and see if they are comfortable for you. They help blocking out background noise. Some people find them irritating after a while but if you like them, choose one that comes with the features you want for transcription.
  • Choose a USB or jack pin headset. Jack pin headsets use your computer’s sound card and the sound quality will depend on your computer’s sound card. USB type headphones come with their own sound cards and bypass your computer’s sound card. Use a USB connection if you don't have a good sound card on your computer.

Below are popular transcription headsets for transcriptionists

The spectra USB transcription headset is a good lightweight transcription headset and one of the most popular headsets of transcriptionists.

  • PROS: It is lightweight, comfortable, sturdy, you can control the volume directly on the headset, 10 foot cable, USB, and inexpensive.
  • CONS: It has smaller speakers which means that it has less power and the quality output is lower than headsets with larger speakers. It's also not good for listening to music.

The ECS Overhead USB is another popular transcription headset. 

Do You Need software and a foot pedal?

Get a bundle! If you need transcription software and a foot pedal as well, you might want to check out transcription kits or bundles that come with foot pedal and headset.

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Buying a bundle is usually the most economical way to go. And you're guaranteed that the foot pedal will work with the software it comes with.

The Express Scribe Transcription Bundle is one of the most popular transcription bundles. It comes with a foot pedal and software and some bundles include headsets as well.

The FlexFone FLX-10 PC headset is one of the best-sounding transcription headsets!  It's also comfortable.

One of the best headphone features for transcription work is a noise canceling feature, also called noise reducing or noise isolating. If you work in a noisy environment, then using a headphone with a noise canceling feature will help. Noise canceling headphones enhance your listening ability by reducing background noise. Reducing background noise allows you to concentrate better and reduce the need to stop, rewind, and play again and again

Transcriptionists spend many hours wearing headphones so you'll want to choose a headset that is comfortable, has good sound quality, is noise-canceling, durable, and within your budget.

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