Pros: Great audio and voice quality.
Cons: Uncomfortable, awful cord setup, too expensive for what you get.
I decided to purchase a computer microphone for myself as a gift because I'm always interested in new computer related "toys," particularly if I don't have to shell out much money for them. I immediately looked to Lab Tec as my solution as I've purchased their headphones before and been completely satisfied.
Lab Tec offered two general choices for PC microphones: stand-alone desktop models and headsets that combine the microphone and headphones. I opted for the Lab Tec Axis-502, which is a headset model, as I liked the idea of a hands-free setup that didn't require anyone in the room with me to hear both sides of any conversation I may be having.
The Axis-502 is Lab Tec's middle of the road PC headset. It retails for $24.99 and the company markets it for basic voice, music, and gaming use. It's a stereo headset and features a microphone with "microNCAT-2" technology that is supposed to cancel out background noise.
The Axis-502 is a normal pair of headphones with a small boom microphone attached on the side with a swinging arm. The microphone can be worn on either side of the head by simply flipping the headset around. The microphone also swings around two waysit can be moved side to side, or up and down to better adjust to your mouth and also to flip it away from your face.
The other major feature of the Axis-502 is the switch on the cord, which allows you to flip the microphone off and on and lets you adjust the volume for both the headphones and microphone. It also has a clip on the back so you can attach it to your clothing.
This headset has great audio quality, particularly for listening to music. The Axis-502 are my choice for audio, even if I am not intending to use the microphone at all because the sound quality is that good. I find the swing-out feature of the microphone to be very convenient and I get decent sound quality from it. While wearing the headset you dont have to remove it to have a drink or do anything else where the microphone being right next to your mouth will get in the way. The built in volume and mic switch is a nice perk as wellturning the volume up or down is a breeze and it's nice to be able to turn the mic off with the flick of a switch.
Unfortunately, I have quite a few gripes about the Axis-502. First, the headset is uncomfortable for any even remotely extended periods of time. What Lab Tec describes as "ultra-soft" headphones are more like thin padding over hard plastic and they hurt my ears if I wear them for more than an hour. This was disappointing as my other Lab Tec headphones are comfortable all the time.
Next, even though the total cord for the headphones is eight feet long it splits at the end to accommodate the two plugsone plugs into your speakers, the other into the back of your hard driveand these are only about six inches apart where the cord is split into two. This meant I had to move my main speaker with the plug onto the floor with my hard drive to that the cords would reach. This is completely aggravating, as most people have their speakers on either side of their monitor and now one of them is out of easy reach on the floor.
I'm also frustrated with the volume/mic control switch, which is about half way up the cord. Unless you want to attach it to your clothes (which I don't, Im not a phone operator!) it tends to slide around the desktop or gets caught up elsewhere.
The best thing about the Axis-502 is easily the audio quality with the quality of the microphone a close second. I do often use these over regular headphones just to listen to music. However, if you are looking for the best possible combination of microphone and headphones for your money, this isnt the best option. The whole cord situation is really frustrating, but I just could not justify spending more money to get an extension cord for a "toy."
If you need a microphone for anything longer than an hour, the Axis-502 is definitely not for you. I find myself not wanting to use the microphone anymore because the headset gets so uncomfortable. I'm confident that less expensive headsets without the swing arm and other features of the Axis-502 would probably be a much better deal.