Comparing Audio Codecs In Work Headsets: Why It's Important

Comparing Audio Codecs In Work Headsets: Why It's Important

Work headsets typically use audio codecs that prioritize voice communication over music playback, as they are designed for use in professional settings such as call centers, offices, and at home. Here are some of the most common audio codecs used in work headsets and what they mean:

Wideband Audio (HD Voice)

Wideband audio is a codec that provides high quality voice transmission by increasing the frequency range of audio signals that results in a more clear, natural sounding speech.

Digital Signal Processing (DSP)

DSP is an audio codec that enhances audio quality by filtering out background noise and adjusting volume levels for consistent sound.

Noise Canceling

This feature uses multiple microphones to detect and cancel background noise around you. Not only for your speakers, but also for your microphone. This is especially important when you're working from loud workspaces like a home office, open office, coffee shop, airport and anywhere else that can be distracting. 

Unified Communications (UC) 

This audio codec are specifically designed to work with communication software like Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, RingCentral and many others to ensure compatibility and reliable performance. For example, if you don't have a headset with a UC optimized codec being used with a call software like Microsoft Teams, you won't be able to answer/end calls when away from the computer. Or when you press the mute button on your headset, you won't see a mute status to know if you're on mute for certain or not.

DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications)

DECT headsets use a proprietary narrowband audio codec optimized for voice communicaton. Some DECT headsets also support wideband audio, which can give you better audio quality for music and other non voice applications.

Overall, DECT headsets are best made for voice communication. Typically for a deskphone (Polycom, Cisco, Yealink etc.) or computer softphone (Teams, Zoom, Google, Webex and more). This type of headset is not best if your main concern is a headset with good music quality.

SBC (Subband Coding)

This is a basic codec widely used in consumer Bluetooth headsets but is also used in many work headsets that use Bluetooth as well. In simple terms, SBC is an audio codec that helps make music or souns play on your headphones or speakers when you use Bluetooth. It's like a secret language that your music usese to go through the air from your phone or computer to your headset. SBC helps make the audio you're listening to sounds good.


The AAC audio codec is like a magic spell that helps make the music you listen to in headphones sounds really good. AAC takes away parts of the sound or music you may not hear or notice, and helps the audio come out of your headphones really quickly, clear and crisp.

Difference between SBC and AAC

Both are audio codecs that help produce audio in headphones. AAC is a bit more fancy by removing audio you may not notice so sound quickly plays in your headphones, whereas SBC is a bit slower by breaking audio into different parts, making it a little slower then AAC.

Why don't I get stereo sound when my microphone is active?

For most headsets when your microphone comes active, you audio will switch to mono mode because it's designed to prioritize audio input over output. When the microphones active, it needs to capture audio from your environment or your voice, which puts your headset into mono mode to give you better sound quality and avoid interference. By switching to mono mode, power is conserved and audio latency is reduced. 

If you required a headset that gives stereo sound while the microphone is active, the work around is to find a headset with separate channels for audio input and output.

There's a couple solutions you can consider if you want to keep stereo sound while your microphone is active.

  1. Get a pair of headphones of your choice, and and a condenser microphone or ModMic. This will allow you to have two different audio sources for input and output.
  2. Use an audio source and USB wired headset that support stereo sound.

How to find which audio codecs headphones have

tech specs

You can typically find the audio codecs on the manufacturers website or manual. Some devices allow you to check in the Bluetooth settings to see which audio codec is in use as well. 

For example, on Android phones you can check which codec is being used in the settings by following these steps:

  1. Go to your settings menu.
  2. Select connected devices or Bluetooth devices & connections.
  3. Find the headset in the list of connected devices and press it.
  4. Look for the option called "Bluetooth audio code", then press it.
  5. The audio codec should then be displayed.


Overall, most modern work headsets will have similar audio codecs, but some will have added codecs like you'd have in consumer headphones, which gives you a better user experience for a work headset that can also be used for personal use. Hopefully this guide will atleast better inform you so you better understand what all of this means when you look in tech specs.

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