Different hosting environments are best served by different audio options. We have several recommendations.
Depending on the specifics of your AVATOUR deployment, you may want to consider a variety of different options for Bluetooth audio. At Imeve we’ve tested a variety of Bluetooth devices, and we’re happy to share our recommendations below.
Basic option: Speakerphone
By default, the Avatour host app will use the speakerphone on your mobile device. This is recommended only for applications in quiet, small areas. Most phones don’t provide significant volume, and the effectiveness of their echo cancellation implementations vary widely. We recommend against using the built-in speakerphone whenever possible.
Standard option: Bluetooth headset
For most Avatour sessions involving a single Host user, a Bluetooth headset will be the best option. After testing over a dozen models at various price points, we prefer and recommend the Jabra Evolve 65 mono for its excellent voice quality, noise rejection, and Bluetooth connection strength. However, any standard Bluetooth headset or earphones may be used.
For outdoor environments, you should consider purchasing a supply of windscreens to place on top of your headset microphone, to cut wind noise.
For industrial environments: Bone-conducting Headset
Industrial environments often require that the Host user’s ears not be covered, for safety reasons. Host users may also be required to wear hard hats or other protective gear. In such environments, standard headsets may not be an option.
Our recommendation for most industrial environments is the AfterShokz Air bone-conducting headset. The AfterShokz devices use bone-conduction drivers that sit atop the skull bones just forward of the ear, and use transduction both for the speaker and microphone. While sound quality is certainly not up to the standard of traditional headsets, it’s quite usable and with acceptable volume. The devices are also IP67 water resistant for additional convenience.
For Multiple Hosts: Bluetooth Speakerphone
If you want multiple Host-side users to join an Avatour session, for example if there is a meeting at the location which you want remote Guests to participate in, your options are unfortunately limited. There is no easy way to connect multiple headsets to the Host device. The only option is to use a speakerphone, and as mentioned above, the phone’s own speakerphone is usually not a great option.
For these situations, a dedicated Bluetooth speakerphone is your best choice. After testing several such devices, we recommend the Jabra Speak 710. It’s got excellent volume and clarity, very effective echo cancellation, long battery life and it’s still small enough to be easily portable. The Jabra Speak 510 is also a good option; it's not quite as loud, but typically about $100 cheaper.
Hearing protection options
Some environments have very high ambient noise levels which require hearing protection. There are several devices which combine hearing protection with Bluetooth connectivity.
The 3M Worktunes Connect is inexpensive and works reasonably well in this context. It offers 24dB of hearing protection along with decent Bluetooth performance. It's not the most durable device unfortunately, but at about US$50 it's easy to buy more if they break.
For more demanding environments, including those requiring intrinsically-safe devices, Sensear offers a line of headsets which achieve as much as 95dB noise reduction, and are built to considerably higher standards than the other options above.