Plantronics M55, best headset ever

Review Category: 

Review: 

I've now owned around 5 bluetooth headsets, and the first 4 were unsatisfactory. After repeatedly hearing that bluetooth had gotten honestly better, I decided to try one more time to find something suitable.

The Plantronics M55 is everything I wanted. I spent a long time reading reviews and comparing models. I also kept a list of what I hated about my previous headsets. Let's visit it to see why the M55 is such an improvement.

Previous headsets, even those that claimed noise cancellation, made me sound garbled and distant to callers. The microphone on a wired headset or on my phone always had better fidelity. I experimented calling my voicemail with the M55 and thought it sounded slightly clearer than the wonderful noise-canceling mic built in to my iPHONE. Siri understands my dictation through the headset fine as well, though accuracy does fall off in noisier places.

My previous headsets were plagued with a plethora of tiny buttons. If you pressed button A a microscopic blue light would flash. If you pressed button B an equally miniature red light would glow steadily. If you held down button C the device did something different than when you simply tapped button C.

A manual detailed all these headsets' features but after a few days of not using them, I'd forget and have to read the documentation yet again.

By contrast, the M55 has only two buttons, and though indicator lights are present, you don't have to see them to operate the thing. Pressing the wrong button on my previous headsets had them running down the battery in my purse. The M55 is turned on with a slide switch, which cannot be activated by mistake. When it turns on, a pleasant and loud female voice announces that it's powered up, that it's paired with Phone 1 and how many hours of talk time remain. There are 11 hours on a full charge and in practice, switching it off at bedtime, that lasts about 3 days for me.

Sliding this switch to off also provides audible feedback: "Powering off" the voice announces.

On the bottom edge of the M55, a small button rotors through five preset volume settings. With each press, the voice announces, at the appropriate volume, whether it's going up or down. All five levels can be heard in a quiet environment and the highest two work fine inside a noisy vehicle. In a very loud environment -- I was at a flyball tournament last Saturday -- I had to use the highest volume on the headset combined with the highest volume my iPHONE was capable of. If you plan to be at very loud events regularly, this is probably not the best headset for you.

The final button comprises the entire front face of the unit. Holding it down for a second invokes Siri. Tapping it quickly answers or ends a call. Tapping it twice quickly redials the last number, the only feature I could live without, as I accidentally kept redialing unwanted numbers when trying to rearrange the headset on my ear. Holding the button for about seven seconds causes it to pair or unpair. The voice will indicate the status.

My previous headsets had a distressing habit of pairing only when they felt like it. If your phone is in range, the M55 pairs without intervention. You can switch it on and off all day and it will always pair without fuss. It is capable of staying paired simultaneously with two phones, and will announce them as Phone1 and Phone2.

When I leave my phone in my office and wander down the hall with the M55, it announces when it's out of range, and my phone gracefully unpairs. When I'm back in range, it connects again. Previous headsets required that I find the bluetooth menu, find the device and pair it all over again if I wandered out of range.

The last thing I hated about my previous headsets were their bulk and weight. Whenever I bent down to harness the dog, or pick up a dropped item, the headset would fall off. Even tossing my head would dislodge the thing, and I always thought their designers were ergometrically challenged.

At 8 grams, which is less than a third of an american ounce, the M55 never feels heavy or clunky. It's been designed with a loop that curls around the earlobe and an optional rubber plug you can stuff in your ear. I found it balanced fine on my ear even without the rubber plug, though that's necessary in a noisier environment. After some adjusting, I found I could wear it comfortably all day.

This is one of the lower-end headsets from Plantronics, and at $34 on Amazon I found it a real steal. It's last year's model but got better reviews than the newer ones which replaced it this year. Most reviewers gripe that it has no bass, but for audio books, podcasts, NPR and other spoken-word sources, who cares? I figure if you want to listen to music, you should use a real stereo headset. Voiceover sounds very crisp, and it's a big improvement over previous headsets which didn't even support the a2DP bluetooth protocol.

Another pleasant surprise was how well it worked with VOIP clients. Unlike other headsets which often came unpaired in the middle of a VOIP call, the M55 never has.

Looking on Amazon, I'm so happy with this thing, I have no idea why people would pay upwards of $300 for fancier single-ear models. The M55 works fine for my needs.

Devices Accessory Was Used With: 

iPhone

Rating: 

5 Stars

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18 Comments

#1 one star?

Hi. You seemed to go nuts with this review, you enjoyed the headset, so why did you give it one star? I suspect you hadn't intended too? Not picking on you, just was curious. Great job btw.

#2 Me Too!

I'm really happy with my M55.

I wear it all day at work and it's comfortable once i got used to it.

I agree that in loud situations, it is not the right choice. I'm okay with that.

I use my old MW600 and a pair of decent headphones for critical listening around the house. I like that I can choose which headphones I feel like using, and that i have full media controls on the device.

When I'm out and need a headset, it's M55 all the way. I love it at work where Siri is just a slight tap away. I found the MW600 would almost always unpair after every phone call, or chat with Siri. The M55 has never failed to instantly pair, and stay that way until I was either out of range, or I manually unpaired it.

I am glad I got it.

I also ordered an assortment of ear loops and tips. I am using the stock loop, but I found another tip I like better.

#3 Voice Over on Call

I think someone was looking for a headset that would allow access to caller ID. I have had this work, as a call was announced, but it's not consistent. I haven't tested extensively, but it doesn't seem like accessing the screen while a call is ringing works well. I tend to use distinctive ringtones for important callers.

The M55 lets you answer or ignore calls by voice. If it's a ringtone I don't need to deal with, I can dismiss the call without touching the phone or headset.

#4 Re: Voice Over on Call

Hi, I'm still looking for a Bluetooth device that can let me use VO to dismiss a call or hear who's calling when the call comes in. Are you saying the m55 allowed you to do that at some point? What do you hear through the headset when the phone rings, the phone's ringTone or the bt saying the caller's name etc.

I've tried all that I found around here, my next option is online, but I have to research first, since return polacies online are a hassle.
Finally, what iPhone and iOS version were you using?

Regards

#5 Five stars

Yeah, well had a power failure before I could change it to five stars! Have done so now.
The comment about using your voice to answer or reject calls is correct. Unfortunately, if you are talking with someone else when it rings, it often thinks you said "answer" when you did not.
There is also a very accessible app to compliment the headset. Lets you learn how to do things, check talk time and use a subscription-based feature in which I'm not interested.
The status bar on the iDEVICE also shows the battery status of this headset.

#6 Five stars

Yeah, well had a power failure before I could change it to five stars! Have done so now.
The comment about using your voice to answer or reject calls is correct. Unfortunately, if you are talking with someone else when it rings, it often thinks you said "answer" when you did not.
There is also a very accessible app to compliment the headset. Lets you learn how to do things, check talk time and use a subscription-based feature in which I'm not interested.
The status bar on the iDEVICE also shows the battery status of this headset.

#7 Caller ID

I must have been dreaming. When I test the Caller iD when the phone is ringing, here's what i get.

I first hear the alert in my headset that a call is incoming, and on which of the two possible paired phones.
I can say Answer or Ignore.
No Caller ID is spoken.
Shortly after the headset alert starts, the phone starts ringing. I can swipe around, and hear the answer, ignore, and caller ID, but, and this is a big but, all the Voice Over output is over the phone's speaker, while it's still ringing in my ear, and the actual phone ringer is going off. It's a cacophony.

I'm sorry D J X If you are looking for VO caller ID on the headset, you need to keep looking.

#8 Re: Caller ID

Well it sounds like this idea of using a BT headset to answer or reject calls with voiceOver is a dream. Out of all the ones I've tried, none of them worked. I can't believe nobody has mentioned this or looked into this before. Guess I'll keep looking, but not so optimistic anymore lol

Regards

#9 How does it compare?

I don't know if i got an answer to this elsewhere so sorry if this is the case, but how does the M55 compare with the Voyager Legend? I'm interested to hear how it compares both when it comes to sound from both ends, voiceover and voice guide features. I don't want to buy a headset with excellent accessibility but with poor sound quality or performance.
/Krister

#10 Can't Say

Sorry, I can't offer you a comparison. I have not used the legend. I considered the Legend, and while it has some nice additional features, I chose the M55 because of its smaller size and longer battery life. Hopefully someone else can compare the two devices for you.

#11 Love this headset!

Thanks so much for posting your detailed review of this headset. I got mine today and am loving it!

#12 Has anyone used this with an iPad?

Has anyone used this with an iPad?
I always hated Bluetooth headphones - especially the ones at work: one ear only, and wearing it all day especially if using it as a phone headset gave me a headache.
But I need something wireless now, and Bluetooth seems like the only choice.
I would love to use a wireless headset with iPhone 5 (iOS 8), AND the same set also on iPad mini (2nd gen, also iOS 8) (and my MacBook Air, Yosemite, but thatʻs probably just dreaming with this one). When Iʻm out of my home, itʻd be neat if it took primary the iPad as the primary source as that has the internet connection.

#13 Activating Siri

There's one problem I've found with this headset which if it wasn't there then would make this the perfect Bluetooth ear piece. If you press the call button for a second then it's supposed to activate Siri but I find this feature very unreliable. It hardly works for me. I would like to know how other Bluetooth ear pieces compare in this regard.

#14 Summoning Siri

With my M55, here is what works for me.

Press and hold the button. You will hear a beep as soon as you press it. Keep holding until you hear the second beep, and then release the button. It will make another sound, and then you will hear the Siri chime.

It works for me every time.

#15 I do that but that doesn't

I do that but that doesn't work for me reliably. I hear the second beep but Siri isn't activated always.

#16 Now I think about it.

I have occasionally had it where the Siri chime to say she is listening is immediately followed by the chime to say she has stopped listening. I power cycle the M55, and it works fine. This has only happened a handful of times for me.

I wish I could offer you another suggestion as I find this headset to work as expected the vast majority of the time.

#17 problems with my bluetooth headset.

Hi. just wanna ask if that headset works just fine with voice over? cause with my experience, usually if i'm using a bluetooth one it has a delay of some sort of me tapping on to my screen the response of the voice on my bluetooth. but it works fine when i'm using wired headsets. i just find it weird. thanks.

#18 Want to know about pairing with two phones

Hey, I want to pair it with two phones. In this respect I want to know few things. Can I connect this M55 to my iPhone SE and iPhone 6 simultaneously? If both of my devices are connected to it, can I hear voiceover of either phone whenever needed? And also tell me if you are wearing this headset, how much noticeable is it in the ear? Will the public notice that you are wearing some device to aid hearing?