I make quite a bit of Skype calls for work, and I occasionally make podcasts and screencasts which require me to record audio. I need a good multipurpose microphone headset that’s affordable, and having used the Sennheiser PC 36 for 2 weeks, I’m glad to say that it fits the bill. Here’s my uneducated and imbalanced Sennheiser PC36 review.
Summary: At USD60, this headset is an excellent mid-range USB headset with microphone for making VOIP calls, recording audio and listening to music. Highly recommended if you’re not a fussy audiophile.
It’s not the best quality headset mic you can buy, but it’s not the cheapest either. The Sennheiser PC 36 holds it’s own against the other microphones that I have – a Logitech Clear Chat Pro, a MXL USB.006 condenser microphone and my MacBook’s built-in mic. Listen to how it sounds in this 5-minute audio clip I made.
The PC 36 sounds much better than the Clear Chat headset. My condenser mic which costs slightly more gives a more natural sound, but it lacks the convenience of the headset.
It has built-in noise-cancelling which works great. In the test I recorded the audio in a room facing a busy highway with the window open. See if you can hear any highway noises. In comparison, you can clearly (but faintly) hear the highway noises. Not everyone can afford a studio so it’s really useful if you’re using it in an office or home environment.
Unfortunately the PC 36’s mic does have a slight hiss, which is quite normal I think. The sound it sounds ok to me – not tinny or too distorted to my untrained ears. Still, I would definitely clean up the output with Sound Soap.
Build Quality & Ease of Use
One of the main reasons why I wanted a new headset mic was because the vinyl covering on the old Logitech Clear Chat Pro had worn out and started to peel. Every time I used it I had black, rotten vinyl stuck to my face and falling all over the place – it was horrible. The PC 36 should have no such problems because it only has foam ear pads.
My old Logitech Clear Chat Pro (left) and the new Sennheiser PC 36 (right)
The PC 36 sports a very simple design – no padding and no adjustable ear pieces. I was worried that my ears would hurt from wearing them longer than 15 minutes, because that was my experience with the Logitech. No such problems with the Sennheiser. The ear pads are small enough and indented so that they sit right in front of my ear canal and the headband arms don’t press against my ears. The mic boom can flip up and away from your face if you don’t need it.
This is a USB headset, so there’s no setup at all. Just plug it into your Mac or PC and it should detect it and be ready to go. The cable length is 3 metres and very light so I don’t feel tethered to my MacBook when using it and am even tempted to get up and pace during my Skype calls LOL :P There is also a convenient mute switch, volume control and button to answer Skype calls on the dongle in the middle of the cable.
Conclusion: The Sennheiser PC 36 USB headset is a great option for a mid-range audio recording setup. It’s better than the Logitech Clear Chat Pro, which I would only rate as Decent. The PC 36 plays audio well, the audio it captures sounds good and it’s comfortable to wear. You can definitely find cheaper headset microphones but I think the build quality of the PC 36 makes up for it.
Where to Buy & Alternatives
The Sennheiser PC 36 is available from Amazon.com for USD59.95
The Sennheiser PC 31-II is more affordable yet higher rated at about USD35.00
The other headset microphone I seriously considered was the Plantronics DSP-400 which goes for about USD75.00
And below are some additional options for you to consider.
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