Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC Review – Are You Sure These Are For Office Usage?



These office headphones outperform their use case. At the price you’ll wind up paying for them, they bloody better. Active noise cancellation is great, the audio is slightly better, but these excel at making you heard during online meetings, if you’re still attending those. Maybe swing some of the IT division’s budget in the direction of a batch of these. For work reasons, of course.

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When you think of excellent over-ear headphones, you don’t think of laptop and printer maker HP. Maybe you should. The new Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC over-ears surprised us with their audio, proving that you probably shouldn’t judge a product by its sensible cardboard cover.

The Voyager Surround 80 UC overs are marketed as work headphones. Anyone who has worked in an open office is aware of the importance of a great set of office cans. We were expecting… well, office cans – something serviceable enough to keep the surrounding din out and optimised for Zoom meetings but nothing special otherwise. To our surprise, these might be some of our favourite over-ears of 2023. They’re not without their faults, of course, but we’re laying that at the door of Poly not having a massive amount of experience with this format.

Pretty Poly

Poly is HP’s audio division. The company is used to making the sort of headset that makes office workers look like fighter pilots ordered from Wish.com. This attractive set of headphones is a little outside their usual style but the solidly padded but still lightweight earcups, padded headband, and integrated controls make for comfortable wear.

The left earcup (they’re both marked inside the cup so you don’t mix them up) features little in the way of controls. That’s the fun ear. The right earcup does all of the work. The charge port, power button, and Bluetooth sync control are here. The outer panel of the cup also acts as a touch control. Optimised for Microsoft Teams, you can also use it to play, pause, and navigate your music when not listening to someone with a PowerPoint presentation talking about company overheads.

Charging is via USB-C but there’s a USB-C-to-3.5mm cable included in case you’d like to go old school with a little wired listening. You’re more likely to use this than you think, thanks to an error that we’ll get to now. Also included is a C-to-C charge cable and an adaptor so you can also charge via USB-A.

Actually wearing the Voyager Surround 80 UCs is comfortable enough, even if the headband seemed a little iffy at first, but there is one small problem with the headphones. It might be the only real issue with the Voyager Surround 80 UC, in fact. That would be the power button. It’s entirely and wholly manual, meaning you’ve got to turn this thing off when you stick it into its compact hardshell case. Call us spoiled but for around R8k (these cans aren’t widely available in SA yet) we’d expect them to automatically shut down when the earcups are twisted for storage. Still, HP isn’t that used to this game. We’re sure they’ll get it next time.

Time at the office

You don’t get to demand large sums of money for headphones unless they’re something special. As these are business-focused, the ‘something special’ is Poly Lens, the customisation app that lets you control most of the functions and features. Whether that is the touch controls or the vocal feedback you get when turning on and connecting the Voyager Surround 80 UC, you’ll have plenty of options. Really. The app is available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, meaning you should be able to use these with any device you own.

You’ll get better results if you use the included BT700 USB-C dongle. It offers a better Bluetooth connection and extended range if you’re the sort to get up from your desk to perform other tasks but are loathe to leave your tunes behind.

Sounds like we need a raise

Audio performance is the really surprising factor here. We didn’t expect much initially, based on the box and the fact that we’d barely heard of Poly before it turned up on our desk. If you’re an audiophile, you can put down the oscilloscope. It’s good but it’s not that good. Audio is bright and clear but it’s obviously biased toward vocals. See above, where we mentioned that these things are optimised for online meetings. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck, particularly if you’re fond of muddier music like the various shades of metal. It’s not over-heavy on the bass, and you can hold it against them if you’re a techno freak, but there’s decent separation in most music genres without being overbearing.

You can get a little creative with the EQ in the Poly Lens app but we didn’t do much to alter the default sound profile. It handles most of what you can throw at it, from meetings to music to podcasts, without requiring intervention but you might feel the need to adjust the curve a little. You do you.

Adaptive active noise cancellation is a thing here and the Surround 80 UCs are good at what they do. Not as good as Sony or Bose or Jabra, perhaps, but effective enough to (mostly) cancel out the drone of a load-shedding generator.

Circling back to that power button, the Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC cans support up to 24 hours of uptime. That’s an optimistic figure and it’s cut shorter if you’re using the ten-microphone array but you should get at least twenty hours on a charge. If… and that’s a big IF, at least at first… you can remember to turn the bloody things off before you return them to their case.

Voyager Surround 80 UC verdict

Sure, you can repurpose any number of excellent over-ears as office headphones. But with the Voyager Surround 80 UCs, there’s a small chance that you can convince your IT department to pay for them. They’re intended for audio clarity while in online meetings, whether that’s via Teams or Zoom or… you know what we mean. But they’re also a solid choice for all-day use. You’ll get most of a work week from a charge if you remember to turn them off when you’re done. At least they charge to full in about an hour. Plug ’em in when you go on lunch and you should be ready to tackle that mountain of TPS reports without interruption.

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