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The GN Netcom 2120 Flex Noise-Canceling Single Headset with Universal Amplifier


Whether you work in a regular office setting or at a call center, a headset is becoming today's hands-free device of choice. As callers will readily tell you, speakerphones just can't touch the clarity provided by a noise-canceling microphone on a good-quality headset.

When shopping around, the first thing you need to figure out is which features are most important to you. Do you want one ear to be free, so you can converse with co-workers (monaural headsets)? Or would you rather completely devote your attention to your caller (binaural headsets)? And how much are you willing to pay for comfort and clarity?

After using many headsets over the past few years, I tried out the GN Netcom 2120 Flex Noise-Canceling Single Headset with Universal Amplifier. Comfortable and versatile, the 2120 Flex delivers the best sound of any headset I've reviewed. Yet packaged with a high-quality amplifier and a 2-year warranty, the 2120 Flex costs only $249.99.

You get comfort and clarity
The problem with most monaural headsets isn't the comfort of the ear cushion or the lack of a second speaker; the problem is what manufacturers replace that second speaker with. All too often, the "stabilizers" on monaural headbands dig into your skull or elicit a dull ache after an hour of wear. The 2120's stabilizer is refreshingly comfortable, though. I wore the headset for a few hours and forgot I had it on. And for active people, the cord has a clothing clip and a quick-disconnect, so you can step away from the desk without removing your headset.

On the other ear, I found the 2120's pillow-like speaker cover to be quite comfortable. Specifically, its snugness blocked out ambient noise, so my ear received only top-notch sound. Another cover is found over the microphone that acts as a windscreen. This foam cushion eliminates noise normally picked up from an open window or a desktop fan.

And versatility, too
One unique thing about this headset that I really liked was the design of the microphone boom. Like many others on the market, the boom is flexible so you can perfect the positioning of the microphone. Unfortunately, with other headsets, this flexibility encourages you to move the boom around a lot, and eventually it accumulates kinks and begins to lose its elasticity. But the 2120 has a little extra gizmo that solves this problem: a little hinge where the boom connects to your headband. Whenever you need to take a sip of your coffee, for example, you simply flip the boom away from your mouth. When you want to return to your caller, just flip the boom back into place.

If you want the microphone even further away from your mouth, to eat a sandwich perhaps, the boom can be rotated behind your head. And, although it is capable of rotating 360 degrees, by turning it just half that distance, you can reverse the headset and switch the speaker to your other ear.

An amp for all seasons
The first thing I noticed about this amplifier (Universal Amplifier GN 8000-MPA) is the simplicity of the design. On its face there is a volume control, a click-less mute switch, and a headset/handset switch. Then, hidden underneath a cover, there are less frequently used features, including an outgoing volume dial, a battery compartment, and a battery-conservation switch. Each of these options is easy to operate or calibrate. Setting up the entire amplifier and headset combination, including customization of the features, took just a few minutes.

In addition to the customizable features, the GN Netcom Universal Amplifier also supports voice switching (to reduce background noise) and voice compression (for maintaining consistent volume levels and for protection against sudden decibel spikes). The Flex headset top and amplifier will work with any phone with a modular connector (you can order a 2-prong amplifier for phones with 2-prong connections, as well.

If you would like to use your headset for computer software (such as speech recognition and transcription), consider the 2120 Flex Headset with the GN Netcom Multimedia Amplifier. This amp connects to your computer's Sound Blaster-compatible sound card.

Final comments
The only drawback of this headset/amplifier system—if I had to think about it—is that an AC adapter is not included. But fortunately, the AC adapter only costs $12.99, so it's definitely worth the minor hassle of replacing batteries. Speaking of batteries, this is where the Flex really shines. The new GN Netcom amps work super-efficiently on battery power, and they now come with special power-saving switches that extend battery life far longer than ever possible. In fact, where you used to need to recharge your headset's amp batteries every 6 to 9 months, using your new GN Netcom amp you can go as long as a full year, even a year and a half, without a charge!1

I completely recommend the 2120 Flex Noise-Canceling Headset. It has great clarity, ease of use, and it is truly the most comfortable headset I've come across. And it comes with a 2-year warranty, to boot.

1 If you're using the Flex with the optional GN Netcom Online Indicator for MPA-II Amplifier with 15' Cord and Stand or the multimedia version of this accessory, the manufacturer recommends using the AC adapter, versus the batteries.

What I Liked Best   What I Didn't Like
  • Easy to set up
  • Great comfort
  • Excellent clarity
  • Swing-away microphone boom
  • Easy-to-use amplifier
  • 2-Year warranty
  • AC adapter not included

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