B&O Cisco 980 overview: Protecting your calls clear and safe

B&O Cisco 980

MSRP $549.00

“Bang & Olufsen and Cisco companion to make conferencing clearer and safer.”

Professionals

  • Wonderful design
  • Very good audio high quality
  • Webex integration
  • Comfy match
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Integration does not prolong to different apps
  • Costly
  • Overkill for noncorporate use

Is there a necessity for a pair of high-end headphones when working within the workplace (or just engaged on workplace duties)? Bang & Olufsen (B&O) and Cisco assume so, and that’s why they got here collectively to craft a pair of cans which are as a lot about convention calls as they’re about your favourite tunes.

On the floor, this is able to appear an odd marriage. Whereas Bang & Olufsen is definitely famend for its sonic chops, Cisco’s repute rests virtually fully on its networking experience — not precisely the sort of firm you’d count on to be concerned in a private audio machine.  So what makes the Bang & Olufsen Cisco 980 headphones particular, and why do each B&O and Cisco say they had been developed for the hybrid workforce? Let’s verify them out.

What’s within the field?

Opening the field reveals the protecting clamshell case, the headphones, and equipment. The case, with its material cowl and semi-hard shell beneath, has an aesthetic look, and the 2 firm logos on the entrance remind you they’re not only your backyard selection B&O cans (as if there have been such a factor). There’s a flap throughout the case housing the three.5mm line-in cable, USB-C charging cable, and a wi-fi USB-A adapter. A welcome sheet additionally features a QR code to obtain the Bang & Olufsen app, which is the place you’ll discover the person guide.

Design

B&O Cisco 980 laying flat.Ted Kritsonis / Digital Developments

Does it make sense to make use of a full-size set of over-ear cans for convention calls? When you concentrate on that almost all individuals could make do exactly high quality with a primary set of wi-fi earbuds — which additionally occur to be approach much less cumbersome and apparent whereas on a video name — it makes you marvel who these are for. The reply, no less than so far as the Cisco/B&O partnership is anxious, is that the 980s are imagined to convey collectively business-grade communications with excellent sound. In different phrases, you get the sort of readability, integration, and administration you’d count on from a Cisco headset, solely packed right into a pair of B&O cans. Truthful sufficient.

When you do just like the premise behind the B&O Cisco 980, you’ll virtually definitely respect the thought each manufacturers put into the design. A few of it’s clearly impressed by the Beoplay HX, the place the earcups and headband use the identical type and supplies. They only don’t have the identical articulating arms. The scarf makes use of a cloth cushion topped with leather-based that falls properly towards the earcups and enhances the entire package deal. Plush cushions really feel comfy with out clamping too tightly in your ears. The brushed metallic covers on the surface accent the cans — and once more — make clear the collaboration as they’re emblazoned with each firm logos.

Each cans additionally twist to flatten the headphones for simple storage within the included case. You will even see that both sides has its share of onboard controls. The fitting aspect has the ability button that additionally doubles for Bluetooth pairing, plus a 3.5mm jack and USB-C charging port. The left has a mute-unmute button. As you would possibly count on from headphones aimed toward enterprise communication, there are three microphones per aspect. Either side contains touch-sensitive metallic covers that present quite a few gestures: Swipe up/down for quantity on the correct, and swipe down on the left for lively noise cancellation (ANC) and up for Transparency/Personal Voice. Double-tapping on both aspect will play/pause music.

The included USB-A wi-fi adapter is prepaired with the headphones, making it a quick various to the same old pairing course of when working with computer systems. It’s additionally very useful in case your machine is one in all these uncommon beasts that doesn’t have a Bluetooth connection of any form.

Setup and the 2 apps

B&O Cisco 980 ports.Ted Kritsonis / Digital Developments

There are just a few methods to make use of the B&O Cisco 980, and whereas I knew that vide conferencing was the important thing focus, I first paired them with each an iPhone and an Android telephone. The explanation was the Bang & Olufsen app, which I assumed (rightly) could be the most effective solution to study every thing about them. Numerous options appeared entrance and middle, whereas the product information throughout the settings menu supplied perception into what else they may do.

It’s additionally the place I enabled firmware updates throughout testing, and got here to grasp the extent of how the ANC and Personal Voice labored, on condition that they function on adjustable sliders within the app, too. The educational curve on the music and audio aspect isn’t all that steep, and it’s clear this was the realm B&O took care of.

The opposite app that issues right here is Webex, for each cellular and desktop. Cisco’s conferencing software program is a giant motive why it joined with B&O to make these headphones and it serves one thing of a twin function. On the one hand, higher sound high quality on both finish makes video calls sound extra full of life, and on the opposite, there’s a simple transition to speaking to somebody, regardless of what different audio content material you is likely to be listening to. For example, if a name is available in whilst you’re listening to music or a podcast, you simply have to double-tap both earcup to reply. Not on Webex’s cellular app, although. In that case, you’d have to go to the app first after which take the decision.

Sure Webex options will work on PCs and Macs, however not cellular gadgets. Mute sync is one instance, the place urgent the mute button on the headphones additionally mutes the pc. Urgent unmute on both the headphones or the pc does the reverse. Cisco says this is just for Webex at once, and it’s trying to improve help by integrating with third-party apps, although its focus will all the time be on Webex first. It’s not clear if cellular gadgets is likely to be a part of that sooner or later.

Safe headphones?

When you’re pondering to your self, “OK, so these are only like several premium set of wi-fi headphones — why do I would like them?” you would possibly not be the meant viewers for these cans. However the Cisco 980 possess a function that can put a smile on the face of the oldsters whose job is to maintain prying eyes and ears away from worker communication.

Embedded throughout the B&O Cisco 980 is Cisco enterprise {hardware} and software program safety. This know-how, Cisco claims, retains hackers from remotely or bodily tampering with the headphones, whereas concurrently giving IT directors the power to replace the headphones’ firmware with none intervention by the one who’s utilizing them.

For most folk, the concept of somebody eavesdropping in your wi-fi headphones will appear far-fetched. Nevertheless it’s been confirmed to be a official menace — a lot in order that many firms and federal companies refuse to let their individuals use Bluetooth headsets for enterprise calls. The hope is that with Cisco’s safety tech embedded proper into the Cisco 980 headphones — the place it’ll do its job whatever the software program or {hardware} you’re linked to — these establishments will lastly undertake wi-fi gadgets.

When you’re actually anxious about wi-fi safety, you’ll be able to select to make use of the included USB-A-to-USB-C cable as a digital audio connection to the headphones. When you do, you’ll have the opportunity to keep up two Bluetooth connections as nicely, supplying you with a very safe hyperlink to your computer-based Groups or Webex calls, whereas letting you wirelessly stream music out of your smartphone or pill.

Sound high quality

B&O Cisco 980 listening.Ted Kritsonis / Digital Developments

Since sound is imagined to set the B&O Cisco 980 other than others on this context, it was price wanting into it extra carefully. As over-ear cans for music, podcasts, and audiobooks, they received’t disenchanted. The sound signature has B&O written throughout it. Crisp, clear, refined, they really had been a pleasure to get pleasure from good content material. Bass is stable, mids are resonant, and highs keep heat all through.

The B&O app helps additional the trigger with a stable EQ function that provides you a handful of presets, plus the power to create your personal customized ones. The one downside is that it’s not your quintessential EQ, which means you progress the needle the place you would like inside 4 quadrants, not a extra conventional set of bands. That’s not unusual for headphones today, however once you’re at a premium stage like this, I can see some individuals not liking this type of format, subjective as it might be.

Crisp, clear, refined, and by no means too far throughout the spectrum, they really had been a pleasure to get pleasure from good content material.

With ANC on, the headphones had been improbable. Wonderful noise cancellation helped drown out the background and produce in additional of the audio. With Transparency or Personal Voice, that are each basically the identical idea, I might dial in as a lot of the background noise as I desired to hear my environment or refer to somebody. Personal Voice takes it up a notch so you’ll be able to virtually really feel such as you’re not sporting headphones in any respect. It’s not fairly that good, however nonetheless spectacular, nonetheless.

The earcups’ swipe gestures are surprisingly efficient. Moderately than simply wildly swinging between quantity ranges or abruptly switching between ANC and Personal Voice, sliding my finger up and down weaved by way of the settings easily.

B&O Cisco 980 facing up.Ted Kritsonis / Digital Developments

Conferencing and telephone calls

I waited to see if anybody I spoke to on video heard a distinction and pointed it out first. That solely occurred as soon as, when somebody requested what headphones I used to be sporting, and upon answering, he talked about that I used to be coming by way of clearer. In different circumstances, once I didn’t hear any feedback in regards to the sound, I might simply outright ask for an sincere opinion. Nobody ever complained or critiqued what they had been listening to on their finish, nor did I even have any points with how they had been coming by way of.

Like with any videoconferencing app, Webex wants an excellent web connection to not solely make video look higher, however to additionally go through higher-quality sound. Assuming each side of a name have good connections, the B&O Cisco 980 profit from the consistency. What I appreciated much more was how good the microphones had been at each selecting up my voice clearly and drowning out background noises to maintain it that approach. If I used to be on calls for many of a mean day, I could be very completely happy doing it whereas sporting the Cisco 980.

You received’t derive the entire similar advantages when utilizing different third-party conferencing apps. For instance, I didn’t discover the identical stage of verbal efficiency with Zoom or Sign, and that’s largely by design. Cisco all the time meant to make the 980s sound higher with its personal software program first. That’s to not say that audio all of the sudden reverts to some pedestrian state, simply that the optimization isn’t essentially there.

Battery life

B&O Cisco 980 open case.Ted Kritsonis / Digital Developments

B&O claims the headphones can last as long as 24 hours per cost. That is usually true, although it depends upon quantity stage and connectivity. I discovered battery life held up higher when utilizing the USB adapter over normal Bluetooth, and I believe it’s primarily since the connection is so regular. It’s not a drastic distinction, thoughts you, however I seen a slight enchancment when checking on the app.

Our take

B&O and Cisco proved that the idea behind the 980 headphones works. The indisputable fact that they’re additionally solely accessible by way of choose channels, like instantly from Cisco, makes clear that they made them for individuals who want one thing higher for conferencing. The hefty $549 price ticket clarifies that additional. You’d have to be an avid Webex person to get essentially the most out of these options, in any other case you’ll be able to get related outcomes with different cans.

Is there a greater various?

With such a dear proposition, it’s simple to look elsewhere for potential alternate options, even when you don’t get the identical Webex integration. The Jabra Evolve2 85 are over-ears that embrace a pull-down increase mic and an LED “Busylight” to serve discover to others who would possibly interrupt you. Jabra squeezed 10 microphones into these headphones, together with a slew of different options, at a less expensive $494 price ticket.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 aren’t particular to the workplace, however they’ve confirmed themselves to be glorious for calls, and are simply amongst the most effective for sound high quality at the moment accessible. Plus, they’re significantly cheaper at $348. The identical may very well be stated for the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700, which additionally supply nice sound, name high quality, and luxury, and all for $379.

How lengthy will it final?

These are high quality headphones that ought to final a reasonably very long time. Protecting them of their case once you’re not utilizing them must also assist preserve them going. You’re not going to put on these in adventurous conditions, so water injury shouldn’t be one thing you run into. Bang & Olufsen and Cisco supply an ordinary one-year guarantee to cowl practical issues, however not bodily injury.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure, when you’re an avid Webex person and also you really need a combination of nice audio and name high quality. The Webex integration is the important thing right here since it’s not one thing one can find with different headphones. Don’t spend the cash when you aren’t going to make use of them half the time for calls.

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