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Troubleshooting Common Headset Equipment Problems

Posted by Bonnie on

Corded headsets take a lot of abuse in a call center environment. The most common problem we see is damaged cords. If you're using corded headsets, remove the device directly at the adapter (quick disconnect, RJ9 port, USB port, etc). Never pull or tug on the cord -- this will cause the wires to loosen or fray, causing static or outright breakage. Twisting the cord is often done unconsciously. This is a bad habit that can cause damage to the wiring and will shorten the life of the headset. Also, don't wrap the cords around the headset to store it away; this will weaken the cord and can cause the covering around the wires to deteriorate over time. Hang the headset on a headset hanger, place in a storage bag or lay in a desk drawer. With proper care and maintenance your equipment can last for many years. But even with the most conscientious care, you could still encounter some of these problems.

Static in the headset.

This is a common problem, usually caused by a loose connection or wire, either at the RJ9 clip (where the headset plugs into the phone or base), in the headset cord wiring, or in the headset speakers.

If the RJ9 clip is loose where it plugs in or the clip is broken, you might need to replace the headset lower cord. If the cord doesn’t have a QD option you’ll most likely need to replace the entire headset.

If your headset has a “QD” (“quick disconnect”) option (an area in middle of the headset cord where it can be disconnected without unplugging it from the phone or base), the pins may be bent and not making a good connection.

Look at the pins — both on the headset side of the cord, and on the lower cord side. If they are misaligned, you could use needle-nose pliers to straighten them. If this doesn’t fix the problem, you could try replacing the lower portion of the cord. You will need to make sure the new lower cord is compatible with your headset and with the telephone or base.

If after checking the RJ9 clip and the QD pins, you still have static, the problem may be loose wiring in the headset speakers. At this point, you should probably replace the headset with a new one.

People say they can’t hear me very well.

To start, make sure the mic is properly positioned. The correct placement of the mic boom is important to guarantee a clear, consistent voice level. The optimal placement of the mic is typically 1/2″ – 1″ from the mouth, or about a 2-finger width.

If your headset has a windscreen (foam over the mic), remove the windscreen to ensure that the mic speaker is turned towards your mouth.

Also, check for obstructions in the mic speaker holes, such as dust, food particles, makeup and the like. If the mic is clear and positioned correctly, and you still have a problem, increase your volume on the phone or dial pad. It may be set too low.

I can’t hear the caller very well.

Make sure your headset ear pad(s) fit securely on your ear(s). If need be, replace the ear pad(s) to ensure a snug, comfortable fit. Verify that the volume on your phone or base is set to a level high enough for your listening and speaking comfort. There should be volume controls or switch settings to adjust the transmit volume (your voice out through the mic) and the receive volume (what you hear in the headset speaker[s]). Refer to the user's manual for instructions on how to adjust these levels to your personal preference.

If you’ve done all of the above and are still having problems, contact a reputable headset vendor. A headset expert will guide you through additional troubleshooting steps to determine if your equipment is repairable, or if new equipment is needed.

Comfort Telecommunications specializes in headset equipment sales and repairs for the call center community. Their line of Smith Corona headsets can be seen at, or email for more information.