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Dear future colleagues,

I am an interpreting student and will have to sit my final interpreting exam at home. Thus, I believe time has come to think of buying suitable headphones for my exam that I could later use in the booth (provided that I pass). Could anyone recommend a specific brand to me except B&O which are obviously off-budget at this stage or even a specific design of a brand so that I could buy them as soon as possible ?

Thank you in advance for your answers!


asked 06 May, 13:41

Interpreter1995's gravatar image


For PC based tests, a headset with a boom mic seems virtually unavoidable.

At the moment, most makes are sold out (at least on Amazon) or prices have up to quadrupled for entry level brands (e.g. Logitech) as everyone is scrambling to do remote meetings in decent conditions. So maybe just go for whatever you can get your hands on, as long as:

  • it is a semi-open headset (on ear, not around the ear, non-isolating pads, so no faux-leather)
  • it has a boom mic
  • if it connects via jack, it works with yours sound card (laptops nowadays tend to have a single TRRS jack plug, for both mic and headset, while many headsets still feature two distinct TRS jacks, one for input, one for output)

This Logitech product seems to tick the boxes and is also in stock.

As a mere meeting participant, I use the Logitech 960 almost daily:

Pros: - low price - mute button - volume buttons - USB connection

Plantronics does adequate gear for this type of use too. Sennheiser also has a few makes with integrated boom mics.

On top of the headset, it'd very much recommend an external USB sound card with volume control. Having to toggle the volume with the mouse, on screen, and the little precision that it allows for is just too much of a cognitive burden if one has to interpret at the same time.

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answered 06 May, 23:30

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦

edited 07 May, 06:08

Dear Gaspar,

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question so comprehensively ! Your comment was very helpful to me.


(10 May, 10:56) Interpreter1995

You don't need an external sound card to have volume control. Just buy a USB volume control knob.

(13 May, 05:58) Vincent Buck
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answered 07 May, 14:21

Alexander's gravatar image


Dear Alexander,

Thanks a lot for sharing those two reviews with me !


(10 May, 10:58) Interpreter1995

I have B&O earpieces and an entry-level overhead which I bought for about 40 euros, and I honestly cannot hear any difference in sound quality when listening to speech (music of course is a different story).

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answered 09 May, 13:22

Richter's gravatar image


Thank you, Richter !

(10 May, 10:59) Interpreter1995

You say you want a headset you can use to sit your exam at home and later use in the booth.

I assume you'll be sitting your exam on a simultaneous interpreting delivery platform of some sort, using your computer monitor as a soft console. You'll need at the very least a USB headet with boom mic.

The Logitech H650e - Stereo is a good option. The boom mic swivels 360°, so you can place the mic on either side of the mouth, and use either ear as the dominant. A lot of USB headsets must be used with the mic on the right side, so that you cannot uncover your right ear.

Now, you won't be using a USB headset in a regular booth with regular consoles. You'll need headphones with a 3.5mm or 1/4 inch audio jack.

That said, you can plug anything into a good computer and have excellent audio in and out. You'd then need a USB audio interface that you use to connect a good condenser mic (via an XLR cable). That's the typical set-up for voice-over work, with or without an additional compressor, noise gate and/or EQ. On the output side you can either reuse the same interface or plug in an extra DAC (digital-to-analog converter with built-in sound card) with EQ and limiter (useful against acoustic shocks) between your computer and your (1/4 inch or 3.5mm ) headphones. Depending on your computer you may be able to directly plug in headphones with a built-in limiter. There are a few companies producing modified versions of professional headphones (sony, sennheiser, akg, beyer dynamic) with limiters. This is what TV studios use for speakers and also interpreters.

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answered 13 May, 06:23

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

edited 13 May, 12:24


The system I described here is quite standard for voice-over work (or podcasting) but is clearly overkill even for remote interpreting from a personal studio - which everybody very much hopes will not continue past the current lockdown anyway.

The point of my description is to give you to understand that as a student you should care a LOT about audio quality, not just that of the speakers you interpret but your own. It all starts there. You'll never get a client to gear up and invest in suitable equipment unless all the interpreters on a team deliver clear and clean audio.

In my opinion, the single biggest mistake of interpreting schools and trainers in the last 30 years (that I've been around) has been not training interpreters to use a mic properly, practice proper mic discipline and not teaching them that good interpreting is way more than providing an accurate translation on the fly. If you don't have good vocal delivery, you're not doing a good job as an interpreter, however brilliant a linguist you may be.

So do start with a USB headset with integrated boom mic. And record yourself plenty of times to understand how to best position the mic. That's for you upcoming exam. For onsite interpreting or interpreting from a hub (on hard consoles), you'll need to invest in something else, or you can use the standard equipment that every booth should provide.

(13 May, 09:46) Vincent Buck

Thank you for those many pieces of advice ! I finally found what I was looking for.


(27 May, 17:01) Interpreter1995

Vincent, although your recommendations sound like the ideal setup for someone interpreting on a daily basis from home for demanding clients who require flawless, crystal-clear sound (and it would seem to me that most clients don’t), I wonder if it’s not slightly overkill for a student on a budget who is simply going to take a test and who will only be listened to by teachers?

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answered 13 May, 06:46

Richter's gravatar image


edited 13 May, 06:46

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question asked: 06 May, 13:41

question was seen: 797 times

last updated: 27 May, 17:01

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