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Innovations: Bose SoundComm B40 Headset

Matt Ruwe, senior product manager for Bose, discusses the thought process behind the creation of the Bose SoundComm B40 Headset, intended for use on the road and in the field by live event professionals.

Bose SoundComm B40 Headset
Bose SoundComm B40 Headset

“You can’t make something better unless it’s different.” That principle, first stated by our founder, Dr. Amar Bose, drives the Bose approach to innovation. So before we enter a new market, we ensure we can truly make a difference.

We’ve earned our understanding of what makes communication clear and audio intelligible through decades of research. To create the Bose SoundComm B40 Headset, we applied that hard-earned knowledge to benefit live event professionals who, until now, have not had a headset tailor-made to meet their needs.

Three significant features differentiate the B40 from its competitors—but it’s the way these features combine and work together that make the B40 a must-have for live event professionals.

Active Noise Cancellation—The B40’s acoustic noise cancellation technology monitors the noise environment and creates an opposite signal to cancel noise, instant by instant. This reduces background noise in loud environments, enabling improved communication and intelligibility.

This technology is similar to that used in globally acclaimed Bose headphones—but professional headsets need to excel in situations far beyond the capacity of consumer-grade headphones. To withstand both indoor and outdoor environmental extremes, we augmented the B40’s active noise cancellation system to allow greater durability and more powerful noise cancellation.

Additionally, electronic noise reduction circuitry allows greater freedom in the headset’s physical design. By relying less on passive noise cancellation, we can reduce the headset’s clamping force and weight, making it more comfortable.

Active EQ—Electronic circuitry brings another big benefit: Active equalization. This allows us to optimize incoming audio for the human ear—typically frequencies between 300 and 6,000 Hz—and add another layer of clarity to the sound input. Passive headsets have to do all their shaping of the EQ in the acoustic structure of the headset.

Dynamic Microphone with Far-Field Noise Rejection—Dynamic, or noise cancelling, microphones themselves are not groundbreaking; they pick up sounds in front of them and filter out sounds coming from other directions. However, far-field noise rejection can fall short in noisier environments. The B40’s far-field noise rejection capability is advanced, so excess sound does not saturate the microphone and get delivered to everyone on the system.

The trade-off for this combination of significant features is a battery pack—something the user may not expect when wearing a headset. The battery pack enables active noise reduction and active equalization, significantly increasing comfort—a combination not offered before—so though there is a trade-off, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, especially as the battery pack provides up to 48 hours of power.

For many reasons—hygiene being one, prolonged wear another—headsets are very personal pieces of equipment. One size, design or orientation doesn’t fit all. Unseen or overlooked details can have a significant impact on long-term comfort.

The B40’s ear cushions were chosen for their comfort and ability to dampen noise. Dual-cup versions of the headset have dedicated left and right earcups, which improve fit and comfort. While many single-ear headsets reverse to fit the right or left ear, that design sacrifices the long-term comfort that the B40’s dedicated earcups offer.

These modifications, plus lightweight cabling and various clip options on the belt pack, all work to make the B40 comfortable for extended use.

Professional headsets face a lifetime of abuse—co​nstant usage, being transported from venue to venue, extreme weather conditions and temperatures. That’s why we use many of the same durable materials in the B40 that we use in our NFL and military headset products, and then test them in real-life environments and extreme temperatures to make sure they don’t fade, become brittle or break.

Many headsets have dynamic microphones and good audio. Some are comfortable, and others cancel noise. But an effective combination of these features is hard to achieve.

We’ve made a significant investment in making the SoundComm B40 an innovative and worthwhile long-term investment. We built the B40 to provide unparalleled clarity of communication between live event professionals, whether that’s between coaches on the sidelines or a stage manager and her sound techs. These professionals’ success depends on clear, unobstructed communication in critical moments. Those are the human insights that drive the technology and features in our products.

It’s the same real-world, scenario-driven approach we’ve applied in other markets: Bose Aviation headsets cancel intense engine noise, reducing pilot fatigue and allowing effortless communication with air traffic control. Bose military headsets offer much-needed noise cancellation and hearing protection to soldiers in military vehicles and other extreme environments.

There’s no substitute for hands-on experience. As the B40 is a premium offering in a market new to Bose, we want professionals to be confident in their headset investment. That’s why we encourage potential buyers to take advantage of our risk-free 90-day trial.

Matt Ruwe is senior product manager for Bose.

Bose Professional •