Sidetone on a Headset: Meaning, History, & Pros/Cons - Swift Moves (2023)

Many people are confused about whether a sidetone on a headset is good or bad. The simple answer is that it depends on the user and what the headset is actually used for.

Personally, I would rather have a sidetone on my earpieces or headphones, especially when I talk to someone using my mobile phone. Aside from that, I also want to have complete control of its volume so I can adjust or mute it when needed.

Some people prefer not to have a sidetone (also called “mic monitoring”), while others seemingly cannot live without it. You might be wondering what it is about a sidetone that causes users to have such differing opinions.

History & Interesting Facts About Sidetone on a Headset

1. What is sidetone? In what Industries is it used?

Sidetone is the sound of a user’s own voice from a headset or headphone when engaged in a call. Technically, it is audible feedback which could help you verify that the person on the other end of the line is hearing you.

Since sidetone is an indication of active transmission, some people prefer to hear it, as an assurance that they are heard or clearly understood by the person they are speaking with.

In my case, it makes me feel more comfortable when talking on the phone. It is natural that we hear our own voices when we talk to other people every day, and I want to feel the same when calling someone.

While most users want sidetone, the preference varies when it comes to the volume of it. Some just want a little bit on their headset, while other people want it to be as loud as possible.

Old analog, landline phones have always had a sidetone, and the practice has been around for many decades. The original purpose of a sidetone was to make the caller recognize the volume of his voice. Back then, old transmitters became distorted when someone was talking too loud on the phone.

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In the advent of VoIP and mobile phones, the sidetone has become expendable. Modern telephony practitioners have discovered that removing sidetone is the easiest way to minimize line echo,. This will be discussed in detail later.

Today, sidetone on headphones is typically used in the telephony, radiotelegraphy, and aviation industries.

Telephony is the most obvious field of technology where we can use sidetone. It is in this industry where it began. Its primary function is to prevent a user from speaking too loudly when using a telephone.

Sidetone has been on telephones since the 19th century. In the early part of the 20th century, a more controlled or softer version was used, where the effect was just enough to let the user know that the device is working.

Meanwhile, in radiotelegraphy, or wireless telegraphy, a sidetone is utilized as a marker that transmission between two devices is active. Like in telephony, sidetone feedback indicates that the receiver has successfully received the information sent by the sender.

The information transmitted could be in the form of a human voice or Morse code.

In the aviation industry, sidetone is extremely important, since an error in communication could lead to disastrous consequences. Aircraft pilots must be sure that tower personnel clearly understand their messages during takeoff and landing.

Announcers using public address systems often use headphones with sidetone as well. With it, the speakers can hear themselves instantaneously, rather than waiting for the delayed output coming from a loudspeaker.

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2. Why is sidetone important to landline and mobile telephony?

Having the proper amount of sidetone on a headset or telephone device has become overlooked in modern times. Perhaps it is because most people now tend to rely on email, chat, text, and video messaging applications to communicate with one another, rather than the traditional voice call.

Most of the popular mobile phone brands have removed sidetone in all of their devices. However, there are still some mainstream brands that do incorporate the feature into their products.

As explained before, sidetone is important when it comes to landline telephony because it allows you to modulate your voice while talking. The right level of sidetone allows you to speak with the proper volume. This is favorable to you, to the person you are talking to, and to the people around you.

You could argue that sidetone should be necessary for mobile telephony as well. For one, having the ability to hear yourself while talking contributes a lot to enhance user experience. It is more natural being able to hear yourself while talking to someone else.

Without sidetone, you may feel the need to raise your voice, or even shout, just to ask the other person on the line if they can hear you.

I believe that sidetone is actually more needed in mobile phones because we use them in public, compared to landlines which we use in the comfort of our own homes. Other people do not have to hear what we talk about on the phone and we also do not need to disturb them with our loud voices.

Another importance of sidetone is to function as a connectivity guarantee. As long as you hear a sidetone, you can be sure that you are connected to the other line. It is quite often that we continue talking while on the phone with someone, only to later realize the other line has already dropped.

3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of sidetone?

Some of the advantages of sidetone have already been discussed above. For example, hearing your voice while talking, and making sure you are still connected to the other line.

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Sidetone could also benefit gamers who need to talk to their teammates or competitors while playing. I also play online games using my laptop and have enjoyed using headphones with sidetone quite a lot.

The difference is immense. At first, I could not believe that something as simple as a sidetone could improve the gaming experience so dramatically. Now, I struggle to believe that I used to wear headsets without sidetone.

Overall, sidetone improves the whole communication process. It allows for a more precise understanding between two parties. It prevents any mistakes or confusion, especially for those who are working in high-risk occupations.

Despite the benefits you get from having sidetone on your headphones, there is one major drawback. According to sound experts, sidetone could reduce the sound quality coming from your headphones. Technically speaking, it is because the extra noise (your own voice) competes with the audio transmission coming from the other line.

This is the reason why most of today’s well-known mobile phone brands have chosen to create their products without sidetone.

Some companies design headphones that can separate the headset signal from the microphone signal. It gives the effect of a sidetone, but the two signals do not compete with each other.

4. What is the difference between a sidetone and an echo?

Some people think that a sidetone is the same as an echo. They are not the same, in the sense that a sidetone, like your normal voice, can be heard simultaneously as you speak.

An echo, as the name implies, comes with a noticeable delay that may be annoying for both parties of a call. A slow server or inferior connection turns a sidetone into an echo, which would be an unwelcome occurrence for any user.

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For a sidetone to be classified as an echo, it must be loud and delayed. In public telephone networks, sidetone is usually either subtle and delayed, or loud and simultaneous.

In the first case, the sound is so soft that you could not almost hear it. While in the second one, the sound happens almost at the same time, so it is not considered as an echo.

Echoes commonly appear in VoIP and mobile phones. This is why these networks typically apply echo-cancellation software and equipment.

5. How sidetone affects the future of office work

Upgrading audio technology at work has become a priority for many businesses today. Proper communication has always been crucial in the success of a team or a company. Thus, investing in the latest audio devices remains important.

Call handlers should be able to hear their voices accurately while talking to customers on the phone. It is not only to avoid having any miscommunication, but also to prevent shouting at a client. Even among employees themselves, communication lines should be as clear as possible in order to work together with more efficiency.

Today’s workplace has to endure new sources of noise that previously never existed. Many modern offices have already ditched the cubicle set up in favor of a new, more open layout with multiple workers sharing a single table.

Noise management in the office has become crucial, and having something as simple as sidetone on a headset could provide a great deal of improvement.


What is sidetone on headset? ›

Sidetone is audio feedback from one's own voice, that a headset/headphones user hears when speaking into the microphone. Voice is picked up by the microphone and transmitted to the speaker. You can typically adjust the sidetone level on a Jabra device.

Should sidetone be on or off? ›

Most people do prefer to have sidetone enabled, as it mirrors the experience of talking on a mobile phone or land line. You may want to enable sidetone temporarily to test your headset's microphone to ensure it is working properly.

What is the advantage of sidetone? ›

Sidetone lets you hear your own voice when speaking into a microphone. It helps you confirm your call is connected at an audible but not overly loud volume level and not producing an echo.

What is the purpose of a sidetone microphone? ›

What is the sidetone function? The Sidetone function is a feature that makes it easier to talk using the headphones. This function helps the headphone microphone to pick up sounds and replay your voice naturally.

How do you adjust your sidetone? ›

To adjust the sidetone setting of your headset, follow these steps:
  1. Open the Windows Control Panel.
  2. Click Sound.
  3. On the Playback tab, select the headset to adjust, and then click Properties.
  4. Click the Levels tab.
  5. Adjust the level of the sidetone. ...
  6. Click OK.

Do all headsets have sidetone? ›

Not all communications systems give headset sidetone and it is usually not an essential feature but it can be very useful because it gives on or more of the following information to the user; That their Microphone is picking up their voice.

Why do I hear my own voice in my headset? ›

This is usually because you've enabled microphone monitoring on your device. This is a feature that loops your mic input straight to your speakers or headphones, allowing you to see how you sound.

Is sidetone mic monitoring? ›

Sidetone (also known as microphone monitoring) allows you to control the amount of mic input that is routed back into your headset, so you can choose how much of your own voice and surroundings to hear.

How do I stop hearing myself in my headset? ›

Microphone Boost

To disable the setting return to the Sound window as described in the previous section. Click the "Recording" tab, and then right click on your headset and select "Properties." Click the "Levels" tab in the Microphone Properties window and uncheck the "Microphone Boost" tab.

What is anti side tone? ›

The anti-sidetone circuit is an assemblage of transformers, resistors, and capacitors that perform a number of functions. The primary function is to reduce sidetone, which is the distracting sound of the speaker's own voice coming through the receiver from the transmitter.

What is the purpose of the sidetone in the VHF communication system? ›

Sidetone is often mistaken as a function of the headset. In reality, it is a function of your radio or intercom.
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Jan 4, 2022

Does Iphone have sidetone? ›

I asked a genius at the store on Mich ave in Chicago and he said that the iphone does not support any sidetone (piping your voice when you talk through the headset back to you so you can hear yourself talk).

What kind of microphone picks up sound from all sides? ›

Omnidirectional Microphone Pickup Pattern

These microphones pick up sound equally from all directions. The sound is picked up in a circular pattern so that the front, sides, and back of the microphone can pick up sound clearly.

How do you use a side address microphone? ›

Unlike directional microphones, which will have you point the top of the microphone towards the sound source, a side-address microphone will require you to direct the sound source towards the side. If you're singing, you point the microphone directly towards the ceiling and sing towards the side of it.

Is it normal to hear another voice in your head? ›

Hearing voices is actually quite a common experience: around one in ten of us will experience it at some point in our lives. Hearing voices is sometimes called an 'auditory hallucination'. Some people have other hallucinations, such as seeing, smelling, tasting or feeling things that don't exist outside their mind.

Why do I hear another voice in my head? ›

Hearing voices may be a symptom of a mental illness. A doctor may diagnose you 'psychosis' or 'bipolar disorder'. But you can hear voices without having a mental health diagnosis. Research shows that many people hear voices or experience other types of hallucinations.

Why does my ear sound like a microphone? ›

Tinnitus is the medical term for "hearing" noises in your ears. It occurs when there is no outside source of the sounds. Tinnitus is often called "ringing in the ears." It may also sound like blowing, roaring, buzzing, hissing, humming, whistling, or sizzling.

How can I monitor my voice? ›

How to turn on mic monitoring on PC and other devices?
  1. Open the Control Panel, find Sound and click it. ...
  2. Click the “Recording” tab on the top of the small window, and then double-click the default microphone.
  3. Click the “Listen” tab on the top of another window.
  4. Choose “Listen to this device”.
Mar 30, 2022

How can I monitor my own voice? ›

How to enable mic monitoring on PC
  1. Right-click the Sound icon on the taskbar and click Sounds. Sound icon right-click menu.
  2. Click the Recording tab, look for the device you're using and click Properties. Recording menu and list of devices.
  3. Click the Listen tab and tick the box that says Listen to this device.

How do I stop microphone monitoring? ›

How can you disable Mic Monitoring on Windows?
  1. Click the Sound icon in the Control Panel.
  2. A small window will appear. Choose the “Recording” option.
  3. Select the default microphone device by double-clicking it.
  4. A new window will appear. ...
  5. Next, uncheck the tab that says “Listen to this Device,” then click “OK.”
Jun 27, 2022

Do any headphones block out voices? ›

In Your Quiet Place

There's no question that noise-canceling headphones are the best at blocking low-frequency noise, such as the droning of jet engines heard inside an airplane cabin. But while some models can almost completely eliminate the sound of airplane cabin noise, others have close to no audible effect.

How do I stop my headset mic from picking up background noise? ›

If are using a noise-canceling microphone, make sure it is positioned close to the mouth, approximately 2 centimeters or less than 1 inch away from the mouth. This filters out unwanted background noise, so it is important that you position it correctly to avoid audio issues.

How do I stop my headset from picking up background noise? ›

Turn off any fans, televisions, radios, or audio output systems that may be picked up by your microphone. Make sure that any nearby devices aren't causing interference as well. Another problem that you can solve by looking over the room quickly is that of electrical cables running over your audio input cables.

Do cell phones have sidetone? ›

Almost all land-line (wired and wireless) telephones have employed sidetone, so it was an expected convention for cellular telephony, but is not standard. The amount of sidetone on land-lines is typically 8%, and is 4% for cellular phones.

What is Sennheiser sidetone? ›

"Side Tone" is the term given to the sound that is generated when a user hears their own voice in their own ear piece.

How do I turn off the sidetone on my Jabra headset? ›

To turn on/off sidetone and adjust the sidetone volume, follow these steps.
  1. Open the Jabra Sound+ app.
  2. In the Headset menu, tap the Settings icon on the top right.
  3. Tap Headset settings, Call experience.
  4. In Your voice in a call, adjust the settings according to your personal preferences.

Should I enable sidetone? ›

Sidetone is even more important for those who are hearing impaired. For anyone who's hearing impaired, having the ability to hear the effects of sidetone helps them to have a better chance at a normal phone conversation. Many times those who are hearing impaired struggle while on the phone.

How can I spy on an iPhone hearing? ›

Use Live Listen
  1. Open Control Center on your iPhone or iPod touch, or your iPad.
  2. Tap the Hearing button .
  3. Tap Live Listen.
  4. Place your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch in front of the person that you want to hear. If you can't hear well enough, make sure to adjust the volume on your device.
Sep 22, 2022

Do iphones have listening devices? ›

According to Apple, the Live Listen feature has been developed to help users hear conversations in noisy areas or in case someone is speaking across the room. The efficacy of the feature depends on Bluetooth connectivity. An orange microphone icon appears on the top left corner of the screen when the feature is in use.

Why does my mic pick up background noise better than my voice? ›

A: The mic with higher quality will be more sensitive, and it will pick up more noise - unwanted ambient sound like typing and mouse clicks. Unless you're recording in a vacuum, it's impossible to get rid of all ambient sound from recordings.

What are hidden microphones called? ›

A covert listening device, more commonly known as a bug or a wire, is usually a combination of a miniature radio transmitter with a microphone.

What is the 3 1 rule of microphone placement? ›

This rule deals with minimizing the audible phasing problems when summing several microphones to mono. The rule states that the source-to-microphone distance of numerous microphones should be three times the distance between the sound source and the nearest microphone.

What is the best position for a microphone? ›

Hold it below or to the side of your mouth to avoid noise from breathing. Keep the microphone element about 1 to 3 inches away from your mouth. Point the front of the microphone toward your mouth. Don't talk into the side of it.

Is it better for mic to be upside down? ›

The rationale behind hanging a mic upside down comes from tube mics. The heat rising from the tube can cause the diaphragm to change temperature over time, which will change the sound of the mic. Placing the tube above the capsule will let the heat rise without passing over the diaphragm.

Is sidetone the same as mic monitoring? ›

Sidetone (also known as microphone monitoring) allows you to control the amount of mic input that is routed back into your headset, so you can choose how much of your own voice and surroundings to hear.

Why can I hear my own voice on my headset? ›

This is usually because you've enabled microphone monitoring on your device. This is a feature that loops your mic input straight to your speakers or headphones, allowing you to see how you sound.

What does sidetone mean on Sennheiser? ›

"Side Tone" is the term given to the sound that is generated when a user hears their own voice in their own ear piece.

What microphone picks up sound equally from all sides? ›

Omnidirectional. Omnidirectional microphones are microphones that hear everything that's going on around them. They are equally sensitive to sound from all directions. This would be the equivalent of us humans “taking in the whole scene.” Omnidirectional microphones are often used for orchestra recordings.

What does headset monitoring do? ›

Mic monitoring is a feature that allows you to hear yourself accurately. It does this by feeding your mic input to your headphones. What is this? This feature is useful for gamers who constantly deal with chaotic voice channel.

Why is my computer listening to me? ›

Nearly all voice-activated technology uses microphones that listen for “wake words.” It also means companies like Apple, Facebook and Google hear all your commands and can pick up conversations if your device thinks it hears the wake word. And these devices are accidentally activated far more often than you might feel.

Why can I hear myself through someone else's mic? ›

Mostly its someone who isn't wearing headphones and thus, your voice from their speakers is going back into their microphone and you can hear yourself again. Sometimes this happens even if they are wearing headphones. Generally, a simple unplugging the headphones and plugging them back in works.

How do you turn off microphone monitoring? ›

You should be able to turn off microphone playback through the speaker's Control Panel settings:
  1. Right-click the speaker icon in the notification area.
  2. Select Playback devices.
  3. Right-click the output device.
  4. Select Properties.
  5. Click the Levels tab.
  6. Find the Microphone device.
Jan 30, 2014


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