Plantronics Voyager Legend Review

I like listening to audiobooks and podcasts when I’m out for a walk, doing yard work, or doing chores around the house. An iPhone and a bluetooth headset are great for this, and for years I’ve been looking for the perfect headset.

Img 2268My criteria for a headset are pretty simple. It’s got to fit comfortably, sound good, and have a good control scheme for pausing and resuming playback (for when I need to talk to people, for example).

The ones I’ve been using are from the Plantronics Voyager series: First the Voyager Pro+ and then the Voyager HD. I’ve reviewed them here.

I don’t feel comfortable with headsets that don’t have a loop that hooks over your ear. Maybe it’s just psychological and I need to spend more time with them, but I bought a Jawbone Era a year or so ago and just couldn’t get used to it and ended up returning it. The bulk of the Voyager goes behind your ear, with a loop that hooks over your ear and an adjustable boom that folds out for phone calls or that you can leave up when just listening. This works well for me.

The previous Voyager headsets had one problem, which is shared by every Bluetooth headset I tried. Sound cuts out when I have the phone in my pocket. I wear the headset in my right ear, and keep my phone in my left pocket. Often the signal would cut out while I was using it this way – audio would cut in and out, sometimes depending on how I moved my head. I often end up having to put the phone in a shirt pocket or on some surface nearby to keep a good connection between the headset and my phone. I’ve found this to be true with a number of headsets and with various iPhones over the years, so it’s not just a bad device.

This is a problem that Bluetooth 3.0 addresses, with a new feature called “Enhanced Power Control”:

Updates the power control feature to remove the open loop power control, and also to clarify ambiguities in power control introduced by the new modulation schemes added for EDR. Enhanced power control removes the ambiguities by specifying the behaviour that is expected. The feature also adds closed loop power control, meaning RSSI filtering can start as the response is received. Additionally, a “go straight to maximum power” request has been introduced. This is expected to deal with the headset link loss issue typically observed when a user puts their phone into a pocket on the opposite side to the headset.

Enter the Plantronics Voyager Legend.

The previous Voyager headsets were Bluetooth 2.0 devices; the Voyager Legend is Bluetooth 3.0. The iPhone 5 is Bluetooth 4.0 (meaning it also supports Bluetooth 3 features). And this fixes the signal dropout problem!

The Voyager Legend improves on its predecessors in a couple of other nice ways as well.

It has a dedicated physical power switch. It’s easy to click “on” when you put it on your ear and click “off” when you take it off. With the previous devices, you had to hold the power button down for a couple of seconds, and it was easy to forget if the device was on or off, and the only way to tell was to tap the power button and hold it to your ear and listen for the nice lady’s spoken voice telling you how many hours of talk time were remaining.

Talk time has increased from 6 hours to 7 hours.

The ability to pause and resume A2DP streaming media is a necessity when using the headset mainly for listening, and it’s a feature that not many headsets support. The Voyager series has always supported this, but with a slightly awkward gesture of holding down both volume buttons. The Voyager Legend has a new button on the mic boom arm that serves as the play button. Another nice improvement.

And even the volume up/down switch has been improved, turning into a lever that you push up or down.

In all this makes for much less fumbling for the right button while the thing is on your head. Thumbs up on the new control scheme.

There’s one drawback to the Voyager Legend. The proprietary charging scheme.

Previous devices used a Micro USB port to charge, as do most other headsets on the market, but Plantronics went with something custom. To be fair, their custom connector is very nice. It’s a Magsafe style magnetic connection that’s easy to use, and clicks the phone into it with a solid connection. I like it. But it means I need to have a dedicated spot for charging this device, rather than using any old USB port to charge it. (You can use any old USB port, since the other end of the proprietary charge connector is a USB plug, but you need this custom wire to charge).

This is only really a drawback because it means I need to buy another charging cable if I want to charge the thing in the car.

Some people may find the Voyager headsets bulky. It is a bit bigger and heavier than some headsets, but I don’t mind it at all.

The Voyager Legend is the best headset I’ve found for listening to streaming audio.

Here’s an Amazon link: Plantronics Voyager Legend.