I have Bluetooth headphones I’d like to be able to use with my phone.
September 23, 2021 9:52 PM   Subscribe

The only person I ever speak to on the phone is my mom and she doesn’t have the patience for all of the “can you hear me now?”, “is this louder?”, and so on. Is there a phone number or other service that I can call that has either a person or a bot to tell me if they can hear me or not? No more inside.
posted by bendy to Technology (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Assuming you're on a mobile device, and you're trying to address your microphone setup, you should be able to cut out the third party and just use whatever phone you have's built in voice memo app.

If you're talking about a land line, and you HAVE a mobile number, you can leave yourself voicemail to test it.
posted by aubilenon at 9:58 PM on September 23, 2021

Just press the main button and ask google assistant.
posted by Arun77 at 10:00 PM on September 23, 2021

Response by poster: I have a dusty Alexa lying under my desk because I dislike Alexa. Would my iPhone work with that?

Do I call a number (what number?) or ask Alexa... something?

(I'm a 90's geek and this modern stuff makes no sense to me at all.)
posted by bendy at 10:18 PM on September 23, 2021

I had the same problem with my mother. She was on a landline. Me, on a cell. After much testing, I found that most cell phones have software built in or it is part of earbuds, that creates what I call Vox. Not sure if that is the technical term. Vox, to me is when the mic is turned on or off automatically depending on who is talking. With background ambient noise, the noise sometimes locks on the mic because the software thinks you are talking or trying to communicate. Then the other person cannot be heard because their mic is not getting its turn. I don't know if I am being clear. Here is a link to a Wikipedia page on Vox.

If you are in a bad cell tower area, not much you can do. If you know you are in an area that gets good reception, see if you can turn off vox on your phone or earbuds or headset. What my brothers and I ended up doing too was to set appointments to speak with my mother so that we could be in a location with known good reception. Or I would use a landline that I kept for years mainly to speak with my mother and my father.

Also, sometimes there is a lot of congestion on the tower and that causes gaps and poor reception.

I am not sure calling a test number would be beneficial. Every call is independent. If you have a lot of bars, that is probably the best indication that your reception will be good. Also, I will turn off my wifi on my phone when making an important call so that the phone does not use wifi for the calling. Sometimes switching between the two is problematic or just using wifi when there is good cell reception screws things up for me.
posted by AugustWest at 10:21 PM on September 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If you want to test the headset, your best bet is probably to download something like the zoom app and use their audio test function. Of course I already have the zoom app so for me it's very easy but that's probably what I would do just as a quick and dirty check to make sure my headphones were working, that my phone didn't think it was a headset with mic if it was actually only headphones, etc.
posted by Lady Li at 11:31 PM on September 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you have a smartphone, you can use https://www.onlinemictest.com/.
posted by Cheese Monster at 3:57 AM on September 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

The other thing you might do is experiment with a friend to make sure that you aren’t inadvertently messing things up when you answer. On my iPhone, I have found that when there is an incoming call, if I answer with the touchscreen instead of with the button on my Bluetooth headset, it often pipes things through the built-in speakers and mic instead of through Bluetooth, and then I have to manually switch it over.
posted by rockindata at 5:09 AM on September 24, 2021

"Vox" is an interesting theory - similar to what I have found personally is that as everything has gone digital (VOIP essentially) - there is no "line-noise" anymore, so - if no one is talking the line (to us old-timers) can sound like it has gone dead.

I find this is worse with headphones (especially Bluetooth) - speakerphone is better.
posted by rozcakj at 7:36 AM on September 24, 2021

@rozcakj So that's why I'm always asking if the other person is still there. Woe to the generation that cannot have a difficult phone conversation with the sustaining presence of the other party's breath.
posted by DeepSeaHaggis at 2:48 PM on September 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

I have done this a lot testing different bluetooth headphones in order to find ones that met a bunch of specific criteria I had AND had a decent mic for phone calls. I just use the voice memo app on my iPhone and make a voice recording (I have a ton of different voice memos where the title is just the brand and model of headphone and Test 1, Test 2, etc). It is helpful to do a separate recording talking in an area with a lot of background noise or outside as some of the better headphones also have some features that block background noise.

One important discovery -- I use over-the-ear headphones, and I have discovered that some of them sound terrible if you have them on the opposite way as directed (i.e. left ear on right side). I didn't even realize it mattered since they seemed symmetrical, but the mic hole was too far from your mouth if they were on backwards.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 5:08 PM on September 24, 2021

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