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Poly Voyager Focus 2 headphones review: made for work

Long battery life, unfussy design and an innovative approach to better microphone performance make the Poly Voyager Focus 2 Bluetooth headphones a solid work-from-home performer.

Poly Voyager Focus 2

At a glance

For:Battery life, Acoustic Fence feature
Against:Expensive, not optimised for music
Maybe:Lacks passive noise cancelling, can be used with voice assistants
Verdict:Emphasis on productivity uses means Poly offers something different.
Rating:4.5 out of 5
Price:NZ$520
Web:Poly NZ

Noise-cancelling headphones or ear buds make working from home easier. They cut out the background noise allowing you to focus on your video calls.

Poly takes this idea a step further with the Voyager Focus 2.

Acoustic Fence

A feature Poly calls the Acoustic Fence uses noise cancelling to cut out extra sounds picked up by the headset’s boom microphone.

Poly talks about “creating a noise-free bubble in front of your mouth”. That’s marketing nonsense-speak.

The factual story is better. The same active noise cancelling (ANC) technology that cuts the background noises you hear, reduces them as you speak into to the microphone.

It means your voice cuts through. People at the other end of a conversation get to hear your voice above any background hubbub.

Active noise cancelling

Shared flats, family homes and business offices can be noisy places. Active noise cancellation will cut through a lot of that.

ANC technology is best when drowning out constant sounds, say a jet engine, road traffic or air conditioning. It manages to do a decent job if you need to make important work calls when kids are yelling or dogs are barking.

Voyager Focus 2 has three levels of ANC, you can switch between them using controls on the headset. The highest level removes most, but not all external sounds.

The lowest level means you might hear if someone in the same room wants to get your attention or a flight attendant is telling you to put the tray table up.

Passive noise cancelling

Headphones tend to have two types of noise cancellation. ANC is electronic, passive noise cancelling works by having the headphone cups fit tight around your ears.

That’s not the case with the Voyager Focus 2. The speakers sit on your ears, they don’t surround them.

Because there’s no passive noise cancellation you won’t get perfect silence, plenty of nearby noise will leak through.

In practice that’s less of a problem than you might thing. Full noise cancelling is important if you want to drift off to sleep listening to music on a long haul flight. It’s not always the best choice when working.

Comfortable

Over-ear headsets need to be comfortable for the long haul. Voyager Focus 2 start with an advantage, it is the lightest Active noise cancellation (ANC) headset I’ve tested to date.

Because they don’t have ear cups for passive noise cancelling they don’t need to clamp tight unlike the JBL Live 660NC.

This loose fit makes them idea for long calls. You won’t forget you are wearing them, but they won’t be a burden.

Battery life

Active noise cancelling means there are small computers in the headset doing the work. This needs power. So does the Bluetooth wireless used to connect the headphones to other devices.

Wired headphones draw power through the cable. Wireless ones need batteries.

Poly says the Voyager Focus 2 can go 19 hours between charges. That’s hard to check without extensive testing. What I can tell you is that the headphones’ batteries last longer than in rival models.

The review model came with a charging stand which you can connect to a spare USB port. It uses USB-A, not USB-C which would make more sense in 2021.

Does the Voyager Focus 2 stand out in a crowded market?

Headphone sales are booming as people adapt to working from home. Almost electronics device brand offers products in this space. Poly brings something unique to the party.

While headphones and earbuds can be hard working tools, you wouldn’t know that from the marketing. Most brands treat them as consumer devices and emphasis the features that matter when your are relaxing.

Poly takes the opposite approach. The Voyager Focus 2 headphones are made for productivity first.

You can have fun with them. But that’s not Poly’s selling point. These headphones will make you more productive, they will help you work better.

This was obvious from the moment they headphones arrived. Rival models come in fancy packages. These came in a plain brown box. Poly employs the style of packaging that enterprise computing firms use to send pallet loads of hardware to corporations.

There’s a good chance that if your employer is buying headphones, this is what you’ll get.

Poly’s plain box packaging sends a clear signal: This is not a consumer toy, it’s a tool for work.

Voyager Focus 2 verdict

Work-from-home headphones is a crowded and competitive market. There are plenty of options. You can find many cheaper alternatives to the Poly Voyager Focus 2.

Yet if you need headphones for work more than for entertainment, these are an excellent choice. You’ll get the productivity benefits of being able to hear video conversations and being heard at the other end.

What’s more they’ll will stay comfortable for longer than many rival headphones and the batteries will go longer between charges.

If you’re paying your own way, you might choose a headset that’s better for fun activities and is good enough for work. If your employer is paying the bill or you are an employer buying headphones for your workers, the Poly Voyager Focus 2 will be better for your productivity.

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