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    Categories: Audio

Plantronics Voyager Pro UC 2

Introduction

The Voyager Pro UC 2 is the latest in a line of fairly well respected Bluetooth headsets from the popular audio firm Plantronics. The Voyager lineup emphasises a good balance of sound quality, convenience and special features – for the UC 2 this is reflected in a premium earpiece and microphone with noise cancellation abilities and a rather clever ability to turn on when it’s placed on your ear.

Still, all of this comes at a fairly steep price – is the UC 2 a worthy continuation of the Voyager lineup? We’ll find out after the break.

 

Packaging

Let’s start by having a look at the unboxing process. We’ll start with the box – but unfortunately there isn’t much to write home about here, Voyager Pro UC 2 comes in a rather unexciting white piece of cardboard.

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Once we slide out the inner tray, we can see you get rather a lot for your money – as well as the headset itself there’s a Bluetooth USB dongle for use with PCs, a selection of differently sized earpieces, a carrying case and a rather short USB cable for charging. The outer box was slightly damaged in transit, but the inner tray seems to have protected the contents perfectly.

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The Headset

The Voyager Pro UC 2 is a good looking headset, with a relatively short and stubby mouthpiece married to a supple and comfortable frame.

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The changeable earbuds sit at the center of the spiral, and can be freely rotated to allow the headset to be used in the left or right ear. You get quite a few different earpieces in two different styles.

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The look is quite a nice one, and is to be expected of the Plantronics line. It’s not overly technoxious or too old school; a contemporary unflashy creation.

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The Bluetooth USB dongle is small and unassuming. It’s barely larger than the USB port itself, with a moderately strong blue LED mounted at the top to let you know that it’s connected. Don’t let your dog or children swallow it.

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The case is not something I can imagine using, but seems relatively well constructed. The faux-leather case looks professional enough, but headsets are not fragile enough beasts to merit the additional bulk – at least to me.

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That’s about it, beyond a large stack of paper manuals that repeat the same information in very many languages. The initial setup instructions are simple, so it’s no bad thing that so many tongues are represented.

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Testing

Methodology

In order to properly research the abilities of this Bluetooth headset, I decided to use it wherever possible in my daily life – using it for mobile phone calls, Skype, casting StarCraft matches and listening to music – for a period of approximately two weeks.

 

Testing Results

Voice Communications

As a Bluetooth headset for calling people on the phone, as you might expect the UC 2 excels. Sound quality is top notch on both ends, with the noise cancelling dual microphones and AudioIQ2 DSP working effectively. It’s a similar story with Skype, where everyone I spoke to sounded crystal clear and reported the same on their end – indeed, the higher audio fidelity of Skype (and PC WideBand) allowed the quality of the headset to really shine through.

The ‘Smart Sensor’ tech which enables the headset only when it’s on your ear worked flawlessly – I was quite surprised, but Plantronics really nailed this one. It’s a useful ability to be sure, although I’d be interested to know how much battery it saves, if any – while it’ll turn itself off when it’s not in use, it also has to keep an accelerometer or proximity sensor running to work out when it should turn back on again.

Casting and PC Use

The UC 2 performed almost as well for casting games of StarCraft and recording speech. The ESL Go4SC2 on Sunday generally takes about 6 hours in all, and the UC2 almost lasted that length without needing to be recharged. While there were points in which my co-casters reported the headset cutting out, I believe this was more to do with the streaming of the audio than the headset itself; similar problems were reported with my normal wired headset.

For PC use the UC 2 is quite good, as it appears as a separate audio device that can be used exclusively for voice communication, meaning you can use it in concert with speakers for your game sounds.

The headset also made good use of its Multipoint capabilities, connecting to both PC and smartphone and then switching intelligently based on what was happening. Sometimes it got confused and had to be disconnected from one or another, but these instances were generally few and far between.

Range

The only problem I had when using the UC 2 in this configuration was that of range – I expected the UC 2 to continue to work in the next room over, but this was simply not the case. I don’t have a lot of experience with Bluetooth headsets so I’m willing to put that down as a limitation of the Bluetooth tech rather than the headset, but I was disappointed to not be able to listen to GSL matches while cooking, for instance. Even at a range of about 10 meters, sound would become very inconsistent, with upwards of 50% being cut out for a few seconds at a time. Definitely not as good as true wireless headphones for this usecase, then.

Music

The sound quality of the UC 2 is indeed good enough to warrant listening to music in this way when it’s convenient to do so, although obviously you’re limited to mono sound. There wasn’t much bass, but mids and highs were clear enough and proved perfectly listenable – I’m not an extreme audiophile though, so your mileage may vary.

Comfort

Generally I found using the Voyager UC 2 to be a lot more comfortable than any traditional PC headset; there’s a lot less weight on your ears and you can even switch from right to left if it starts to hurt. After six hours of casting I was still glad to be rid of them, but that’s a good result for me. The headset is definitely well designed in this regard, with a good combination of light weight and soft materials.

Battery Life

The Voyager UC 2 headset lasts for about six hours of constant use. This is a lot easier to reach with a PC listening to music or a TV show than it is with calls-only on a smartphone, but it could certainly be longer. I suppose the tradeoff is that this would increase the weight, but I certainly wouldn’t mind the balance to be tipped a little onto the battery life side of the scale – an extra two hours would have been brilliant.

Still, the voice alerts meant that I was at least kept informed of the battery’s current state instead of running of out steam mid-cast and not noticing.

 

Conclusion

I can’t fault the Voyager Pro UC 2. It is a mid to high range Bluetooth headset that performs precisely as you’d expect, with stellar audio quality and some really clever technology behind the scenes. There were a few complaints – namely range and battery life – but these can be attributed to the form factor and communication method of the headset rather than any true failing. If you’re looking for a solid and sensible headset that ticks all the boxes, then you can’t do much better than the UC 2.

Pros

  • Good sound quality
  • Can be connected to multiple devices at once
  • Solid build quality
  • Voice alert lets you know when battery is running low

Cons

  • Not the greatest range
  • A little extra battery life would be nice
William Judd :Editor-in-Chief for XSReviews. Find me @wsjudd or on G+.

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