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I Review Audio Tech for a Living, and Here Are 5 Reasons to Avoid a BlueParrott B350-XT

As an audio equipment reviewer with over a decade of experience testing countless headsets, I‘ve seen my fair share of underwhelming products that fail to live up to the hype. Sadly, the BlueParrott B350-XT falls squarely into that category. While BlueParrott has a solid reputation for trucker-friendly Bluetooth headsets thanks to popular models like the B250, the B350-XT simply doesn‘t maintain that pedigree.

Between an uncomfortable design, unreliable wireless performance, disappointing sound quality, and shoddy construction, I cannot in good conscience recommend the B350-XT to anyone in the market for a professional-grade Bluetooth headset. Let‘s dive into the specific reasons you should steer clear of this headset and explore some worthwhile alternatives that deliver the goods.

BlueParrott B350-XT: The Specs

On paper, the BlueParrott B350-XT looks like a capable headset:

  • Over-ear design with 36mm drivers
  • Frequency response: 150 Hz – 6800 Hz
  • Bi-directional noise-cancelling boom mic
  • Up to 24 hours battery life
  • IP54 dust/water resistance
  • Bluetooth 5.0 with 300 ft wireless range

However, specs rarely tell the full story. Despite these notable features, the B350-XT falls flat in real-world performance. Here are the key reasons to avoid this headset:

An Uncomfortable Departure from the B250

One of the hallmarks of the popular BlueParrott B250 headset was its comfortable, lightweight design suitable for all-day wear. The B350-XT goes in an entirely different direction with a bulky, heavy design that puts uncomfortable pressure on your ears. Several professional drivers I interviewed complained of headaches and significant ear fatigue after just a few hours of use.

The stiff, unyielding headband and scratchy faux leather earpads make it a chore to wear this headset for extended periods. User "TruckerMike87" on the ExpeditersOnline forum said "I couldn‘t wait to rip this thing off my head after my 10 hour shift. Never had this issue with my trusty B250." This is a major downgrade in comfort from BlueParrott‘s prior models.

Frustrating Wireless Woes

You‘d expect rock-solid wireless performance from a headset designed for truckers and other mobile professionals. Unfortunately, the B350-XT‘s Bluetooth 5.0 connection is plagued with issues. Despite claims of a 300 ft range, I experienced choppy audio and signal drops with my phone just 20-25 feet away, a far cry from other BT 5.0 headsets I‘ve tested.

Worse still, the connection takes a nosedive if your body is between the headset and phone, such as when your device is in a pants pocket. Audio cuts in and out constantly with the slightest movements. Multiple users have reported similar problems. "HighwayHauler" on TruckersReport said "The Bluetooth on this thing is garbage. Cuts out all the time and I‘m lucky to get 50 ft of range. My old Voyager 5200 worked way better."

Awkward Boom Mic Placement

The B350-XT‘s noise-cancelling boom mic is mounted directly on the headband rather than on the earcup like most headsets. This makes it awkwardly short and more prone to picking up ambient noise. Adjusting it to the optimal position in front of your mouth is cumbersome.

Additionally, since the mic is non-detachable, it always sticks out and gets in the way when you don‘t need it. Other headsets use a more flexible boom arm or allow you to swivel the mic up and out of the way when not in use. The B350-XT‘s mic design feels clunky and poorly thought out in comparison.

Lackluster Listening Experience

A great Bluetooth headset should provide clear, balanced sound for calls and media playback. The B350-XT comes up short here as well. Its limited 150 Hz – 6800 Hz frequency response leaves music and podcasts sounding thin and muffled, with weak bass and shrill highs. Voices tend to sound harsh and robotic.

While this limited frequency range does cover the core parts of the human voice, the overall fidelity is subpar. Competing headsets like the Jabra Evolve2 65 offer a wider 20Hz-20kHz response for richer, more natural sound. If you like to listen to music or media between calls, the B350-XT will leave you wanting.

Unimpressive Microphone

BlueParrott touts the B350-XT‘s noise-cancelling mic as a top-tier solution for loud environments. But in practice, its performance is just average. Background noise still comes through and tends to muffle your voice. People I called reported that my voice sounded slightly distant and echoey compared to other BT headsets.

The mic‘s limited frequency response of 150 Hz – 6800 Hz doesn‘t provide the clearest voice capture. And since it lacks advanced features like built-in voice assistants or HD Voice support, the B350-XT‘s mic system trails behind the competition. BlueParrott‘s cheaper C300-XT actually has better noise cancellation.

Concerning Build Quality

For a headset designed to withstand the rigors of professional use, the B350-XT feels surprisingly flimsy and delicate. Everything from the headband to the boom mic to the control buttons seems cheaply made, with brittle plastic components that don‘t inspire confidence.

Numerous users have reported units breaking within a few months of regular use, whether it‘s cracked hinges, broken mic booms, or non-functional buttons. For the price, I expect better durability. The B350-XT simply doesn‘t live up to BlueParrott‘s reputation for rugged gear. Models like the C300-XT and B450-XT use higher quality materials and sturdier construction.

Alternatives to Consider

Given the B350-XT‘s numerous shortcomings, I strongly recommend checking out these alternative BT headsets instead:

Jabra Evolve2 65

The Evolve2 65 is hands-down one of the best office headsets available. While a bit pricier than the B350-XT, it‘s well worth the premium for its superb comfort, outstanding mic clarity, stellar battery life up to 37 hours, and rich sound quality. USB-C and 3.5mm connections add valuable flexibility. It‘s an all-around winner.

Poly Voyager 5200

For a more portable option, the Voyager 5200 is hard to beat. This mono Bluetooth earpiece has a much more ergonomic design than the B350-XT, with a secure over-ear fit and featherweight build. 98 ft wireless range, WindSmart noise cancellation, and 7 hours of talk time make it ideal for mobile professionals. And the price is very reasonable.

BlueParrott C300-XT

Ironically, a much cheaper headset from BlueParrott outperforms the B350-XT in several key areas. The C300-XT‘s noise-cancelling mic is noticeably better at cutting through loud background noise. The over-ear design is lighter and comfier for extended wear. And the mono form factor works better for all-day use. Unless you need stereo sound, the C300-XT provides better bang for your buck.

The Bottom Line on the BlueParrott B350-XT

BlueParrott clearly cut corners when developing the B350-XT headset, and it shows in every aspect of the device. From the underwhelming design and chintzy construction to the spotty wireless performance and middling mic, there‘s simply no reason to choose this headset over competing models in the same price range.

As an audio professional who has tested dozens of similar products, I confidently recommend passing on the B350-XT in favor of better options from Jabra, Poly, or even BlueParrott‘s own catalog. The B350-XT gets almost everything wrong and fails to justify its asking price. You‘ll be much happier with an Evolve2 65, Voyager 5200, or C300-XT instead.

So there you have it, my detailed breakdown of why the BlueParrott B350-XT doesn‘t deserve your hard-earned money. If you found this review helpful, please consider sharing it with your network and following my latest audio equipment coverage. Have you had a negative experience with the B350-XT yourself? Let me know in the comments. Until next time, I‘m Joe Sound, signing off.