If you are in the market for a premium set of over-ear headphones that focus on calls, the Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC should be on your radar. With a comfortable fit, great call quality, good audio quality, lots of connectivity options and more they feel worth the outlay of over £200. Where they fall down is in versatility, they won’t be the best headphones for most people, but then they don’t try to be. But for a bit more portability and info on the audio they would be an easy recommendation.
- Very comfortable design
- Lots of connectivity options
- Great mic quality
- Large design
- Not very portable
- No stated Bluetooth codec support
Adaptive ANCAutomatically adapts noise-cancelling strength to sounds around the wearer
Microsoft Teams Open Office CertificationCertified to work with the Microsoft Teams app
Bluetooth multi-pointConnect to two devices at once
It’s a well-trodden trope by now. Work from Home is here to stay and as a consequence it pays to have a high-quality home set-up, whether that be a sharp webcam or a trusted set of headphones.
The question as to whether you should have a home set-up is now moot, what now needs answered is quite how much people are willing to invest. Is it enough to make do with the £10 wired headsets, or is it worth spending over £100, or even over £200 to achieve absolute call quality?
Poly, owned by HP, has answers for every price bracket, but its latest all bells and whistles offering is the Voyager Surround 80 UC. These over-ear headphones purportedly sport advanced microphones, high resolution audio and all of the mod-cons one would expect of headphones at the price point.
Whether it lives up to the promise is what I’ll explore in my full review, but the other questions are: does it do more than a more consumer-centric set of headphones costing less? Is it worth the price premium over more mass-market offerings?
- Hard, fibre case
- Very comfortable fit
- Focus on touch controls
From the moment I pick up the Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC, the thought that has gone into its design is clear.
These headphones are as slick and modern as any on the market. They don’t sport any flourishes of note, and for that exact reason they are totally office appropriate as might be expected. They are constructed from a sturdy soft-touch plastic that’s pleasant to the touch and which repels grease well.
One criticism I’ll make concerns size and portability. These are big headphones with large comfortably padded earcups, but they look a little like an air traffic control headset. This is exacerbated when travelling. Though they have a handy hard carry case, they can’t fold down and become smaller. It isn’t a big issue, but it impacts their versatility a little.
They may not be portable, but they’re comfortable to wear. Using them across a full workday there was no heat build-up that we noticed and no skin irritation. It’s perfectly possible to put them on and forget them, though you won’t completely given their size. To top it off they feel sturdy and well-constructed.
Coming to the controls, Poly takes an interesting tack, with most interactions the headset uses touch inputs. There’s two buttons on the right cup, one a slider that turns the headset on and allows pairing over Bluetooth, while the other simply mutes the microphones.
For volume, answering calls, ending calls, skipping tracks and more, swipes on the earcups are required. The gestures required are generally simple enough, the surface area is big enough to easily swipe on, and the headset is generally good enough at interpreting your input. There are still lots of accidental presses – ending a call when adjusting it on your head is an embarrassing mistake to make, but for the most part these are easy to control. Touch controls are nearly always fraught with issues, and the Surround 80 UC don’t escape them, but here the execution is better than much of the competition.
As might be expected there’s no stated level of water resistance or waterproofing, but these aren’t intended to be used for exercise. If you are commuting, they may withstand a short shower of rain, but I wouldn’t guarantee it – these are meant to be utilised at a desk.
- Free app
- No adjustable EQ
- Charges over USB-C
As might be expected for a premium modern headset, the Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC doesn’t scrimp on features.
To begin, there’s more cables and paraphernalia included in the box than one could shake a sensibly sized stick at. There’s a USB-C Bluetooth dongle that also has a USB-A adapter, there’s a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone jack cable and a USB-C to USB-C cable, giving you a host of options to connect to your device of choice. The latter cable also charges the headphones while you listen. These can all easily be bundled in the included hard case; they can be taken anywhere you like.
Given that call quality is a focus of the Surround 80 UC, there can be no surprise that it sports no less than ten ‘boomless’ microphones on the front, five on each cup. In practice I found these worked very well to provide crystal clear voice call quality, though with an improvement when using the wired USB-C to USB-C option.
As these are intended first and foremost as a call headset, here they succeed with aplomb.
The Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) is similarly effective if not quite as good as the very best out there. The likes of the Sony WH-1000XM5 can block out more, such as the drone of an aeroplane, but the Surround 80 UC will work well to tune out the hum of the average office.
Bluetooth 5.3 is supported, as is multi-device connectivity – it is possible to be paired to two devices at once which is very useful if working from a phone and a laptop. Once a connection was in place, it was rock-solid, even through multiple walls. Battery life is a stated 22 hours for calls, and I found this to be mostly accurate. If you use these for work, you’ll need to recharge every couple of days or so.
Poly Lens is the app offered to customise the headset through your smartphone or computer. Despite its slightly weird name, it allows you to adjust settings, update the headset, see the manual and more. It’s also possible to ‘find’ your device using the app, playing a tone through it if you can’t see it. This is dependent on a Bluetooth connection as might be expected, but it does a decent job of helping you find the headset under a pile of papers when necessary.
- No stated advanced codec support
- Good sound quality
- Surprisingly warm bass
With such a focus on call quality and on being a call headset, whether the Surround 80 UC can also function well as a set of headphones is a legitimate question to ask. This is especially true given there is no stated advanced Bluetooth codec support. Where most would wear proudly that they support the likes of AAC, SBC, LDAC or AptX, the Surround 80 UC leaves me in the dark.
It’s a pleasure to report then that this doesn’t seem to have affected the quality of output. As might be expected, there is an emphasis on voice and trebles, meaning that the likes of calls yes, and audiobooks work very well. Though they may not be designed for the commute, they function well in the role of bus-companions, the 40mm drivers proving their worth.
For other genres of music, it generally shines. There’s enough warmth and energy in the bass to work well with punk and dance, enough clarity in the trebles to allow individual instruments to be picked out in more complex orchestral tracks. There is a nice degree of stereo separation, in all you’ll be well served using these to listen to music between calls while working.
It would have been nice to see a little more pizazz in this area and stated support for high-resolution audio, but the Surround 80 UC are accomplished sonic performers.
Should you buy it?
If you take lots of calls
If you have a call-heavy workflow there’s few headsets that will serve you better, even for the price.
If you want something portable
The Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC are not foldable and are quite large, you’ll struggle to fit them into a compact bag.
The question was set in the beginning: is it worth paying more for great mic performance? Take the Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC as an example and the answer but with many caveats.
These are accomplished as a call headset, with a comfortable design, great microphone quality, lots of connectivity options and a rock-solid bluetooth connection. If you are someone sat at a desk in an office or in a house, taking lots of Teams calls and meetings through any given day, the investment made in the Surround 80 UC will be worth it.
If however you are looking for a headset that can double as a commuting companion, you’ll be put off by the large size and the inability to fold them into a more portable profile. The lack of stated codec support then means that similarly priced options from Sony and others might be a more sensible investment.
Taken as a whole, the Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC is an accomplished premium headset with a lot to recommend it but specialised a little too much to appeal to everyone equally.
How we test
We test every set of headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Tested with real world use
Tested across several weeks
Curently, the Surround 80 UC is certified to work with Microsoft Teams
Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC
VOYAGER SURROUND 80, ECOMM