Many people are confused about whether a sidetone on a headset is good or bad. The simple answer is that it depends on the user and what the headset is actually used for.
Personally, I would rather have a sidetone on my earpieces or headphones, especially when I talk to someone using my mobile phone. Aside from that, I also want to have complete control of its volume so I can adjust it or mute it when I need to.
Some people prefer not to have a sidetone while others seemingly cannot live without them. You might be wondering what it is about a sidetone that users have differing opinions.
Here are five interesting facts about a sidetone on a headset that you ought to know.
What Is Sidetone and in What Industries Is It Used?
Sidetone, or sometimes referred to as sidetone, is the sound of a user’s own voice from a headset or headphone when engaged in a call. Technically, it is audible feedback which could help you verify that the person on the other end of the line is hearing you.
Since sidetone is an indication of active transmission, some people prefer to hear it as an assurance that they are heard or clearly understood by the person they are speaking with.
In my case, it makes me feel more comfortable when talking on the phone. It is natural that we hear our own voices when we talk to other people every day, and I want to feel the same when calling someone.
While most users want it, the preference varies when it comes to the volume of the sidetone. Some just want a little bit of it on their headset, while there are also people who want it to be as loud as possible.
Old analog, landline phones have always had a sidetone, and the practice has been around for many decades. The original purpose of a sidetone is to make the caller recognize the volume of his voice. Back then, old transmitters get distorted when someone is talking too loud on the phone.
In the advent of VoIP and mobile phones, the sidetone has increasingly become expendable. Modern telephony practitioners have discovered that removing sidetone is the easiest way to inhibit line echo, which will be discussed in detail later.
Today, sidetone on headphones is typically used in the telephony, radiotelegraphy, and aviation industries.
Telephony is the most obvious field of technology where we can use a sidetone. It is in this industry where it actually all began. Its primary function is to prevent a user from speaking too loudly when using a telephone.
Sidetone has been on telephones since the 19th century. In the early part of the 20th century, a more controlled or softer version was used, where the effect is just enough to let the user know that the device is working.
Meanwhile, in radiotelegraphy, or wireless telegraphy, a sidetone is utilized as a marker that transmission between two devices is active. Like in telephony, the sidetone feedback indicates that the receiver had successfully received the information sent by the sender.
The information transmitted could be in the form of a human voice or Morse code. Sidetone has been more useful with the latter.
In the aviation industry, sidetone is extremely important since a little error in communication could lead to disastrous consequences. Aircraft pilots ought to be sure that tower personnel clearly understood their messages during lift off and landing.
Hosts or announcers using public address systems often use headphones with sidetone as well. With it, the speakers could hear themselves instantaneously rather than waiting for the delayed output coming from a loudspeaker.
Why Is It Important to Landline and Mobile Telephony?
Having the proper amount of sidetone on a headset or telephone device has gradually become overlooked these days. Perhaps, it is because most people right now tend to rely on email, chat, text, and video messaging applications to communicate with one another rather than the traditional voice call.
Most of the popular mobile phone brands have removed sidetone in all of their devices. However, there are still some mainstream brands that do incorporate the feature into their products.
As explained before, sidetone is quite important when it comes to landline telephony because you are able to modulate your voice while talking properly. The right level of sidetone allows you to speak with the right volume. This is favorable to you, to the person you are talking to, and to the people around you.
Sidetone should be as necessary for mobile telephony as well. For one, having the ability to hear yourself while talking contributes a lot to enhance the whole user experience. It is just more natural, being able to hear yourself while talking to someone else.
Without sidetone, you may feel the need to raise your voice or even shout just to ask the other person on the line if they could hear you.
I believe that sidetone is much more needed in mobile phones because we use them out in public, compared to landlines where we use in the comforts of our own homes. Other people do not have to hear what we talk about on the phone and we also do not need to disturb them with our loud voices.
Another importance of sidetone is connectivity guarantee. As long as you hear a sidetone, you are sure that you are connected to the other line. It is quite often that we keep on talking while on the phone with someone, only to later realize that the other line had already dropped.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Sidetone?
Some of the advantages of sidetone has already been discussed above. Such as hearing your voice while talking and making sure you are still connected to the other line.
Sidetone could also benefit gamers who need to talk to their teammates or competitors while playing. I also play online games using my laptop and have enjoyed using headphones with sidetone quite a lot.
The difference is immense. At first, I could not believe that as something as simple as a sidetone could dramatically improve the gaming experience. Now, I no longer remember the time when I used to wear headsets without sidetone.
Overall, sidetone improves the whole communication process. It allows for a more precise understanding between two parties. It prevents any mistakes or confusions especially for those who are working on high-risk vocations.
Despite the benefits you can get from having sidetone on your headphones, there is one major drawback to it.
According to sound experts, sidetone could reduce the sound quality coming from your headphones. Technically speaking, it is because of having that extra noise (which is your voice) that competes with the audio transmission coming from the other line.
This is the reason why most of today’s well-known mobile phone brands have chosen to create their products without sidetone.
Some companies design headphones that could separate the headset signal from the microphone signal. It gives the effect of a sidetone, but the two signals do not compete with each other.
What Is the Difference Between a Sidetone and an Echo?
Some people think that a sidetone is the same as an echo. They are not the same in the sense that a sidetone, like your normal voice, can be heard simultaneously as you speak.
An echo, as the name implies, comes with a noticeable delay that is annoying for both parties of a call. A slow server or inferior connection turns a sidetone into an echo, which would be an unwelcome occurrence for any user.
For a sidetone to be classified as an echo, it ought to be loud and delayed. In public telephone networks, sidetone is usually either subtle and delayed or loud and simultaneous.
In the first case, the delay is so soft that you could not almost hear it. While in the second one, the sound happens almost at the same time, so it is not considered as an echo.
Echoes commonly appear in VoIP and mobile phones. This is why these networks typically apply echo cancellation software and equipment.
How Sidetone Affects the Future of Office Work
Upgrading audio technology at work has become a priority for most businesses today. Proper communication has always been crucial in the success of a team or a company. Thus, investing in the latest audio devices has become the trend.
Call handlers should be able to hear their voices well while talking to customers on the phone. It is not only to avoid having any miscommunications but also to prevent shouting at a client. Even among the employees themselves, communication lines should be as clear as possible for them to work together with more efficiency.
Today’s workplace has had to endure new sources of noise that have not existed before. Most modern offices have already ditched the cubicle set up and went for a more open one with multiple workers usually sharing one single table.
Noise management in the office has become crucial and having something as simple as a sidetone on a headset would be a great deal of help.