Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC Review | More Than Just Work Gear

Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC Review
Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC Review
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The Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC, usually branded without owner Hewlett Packard’s name, is marketed as a pair of communication-orientated premium work headset. Or an over-the-head “voice first” headset. In today’s audio gear market, though, where even budget earpieces claim to be capable all-in-one hybrids, just what do these descriptions mean? Are such work headsets unsuitable for use beyond the office?

A closer look at the design and tech specifications provides the answer. While the Voyager Surround 80 UC is perfectly fine to use for entertainment and music, everything from the physical build to the key features, to the partnering app and even the sound signature suggests emphasis on work and communication efficiency. Each earcup comes with three microphones for high-clarity audio capture. Once powered on, the headset is all business and ready to go, too, with a secretary-like voice declaring connectivity status and battery levels.

The Poly Lens app, a must-download to enjoy the full deal, is full of customisation options but the majority are for call and voice management. In contrast, music enhancement functions are minimal.

So yup, this is a pair of made-for-work headset, designed for comfort and productivity, works hard too to ensure you’re properly heard. But hang on, just because it’s that doesn’t mean you can’t use it for entertainment. Even with equaliser levels set to “flat” in the app, the headset delivers music that is rich and superior.

Fine-tuned for vocal clarity, the Voyager Surround 80 UC is, of course, equally lovely for movies.


The following was written with a review set.


Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC Key Specifications and Features

Key Specs

  • Speaker Size: 40 mm
  • Speaker Bandwidth: 20 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Speaker Sensitivity: 132dBspl/V, 1kHz
  • Microphone Bandwith: 20 Hz to 16 kHz
  • Microphone Sensitivity: -37dBFS/V, 1kHz
  • Microphone Frequency Response:100 Hz to 6.8 kHz
  • Bluetooth Version: 5.3
  • Supported Bluetooth Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP, AVDTP
  • Wireless Range: Up to 164 ft/50 m
  • Battery Capacity: 1,100 mAH
  • Weight: 275 grams / 9.7 oz

Key Features

  • Boomless microphone
  • Adaptive ANC with Customisable Transparency Mode
  • Touch controls on the right earcup
  • Multipoint Connectivity of up to 2 Bluetooth devices at any one time
  • Up to 21/24 hours of talk/listen time, respectively
  • Busy light function (the earcups light up when you’re connected to a call)
  • Wireless charging
  • Microsoft Teams Open Office Certification
  • Advanced Sidetone function to ensure you’re aware of how loud you’re speaking
  • Dynamic frequency response adjustment to enhance listening experience

To go a bit more into the “voice-first” design, the Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC is the first boomless headset to achieve the Microsoft Teams Open Office Certification. This certification ensures microphones on the headset deliver optimum performance even in noisy environments and open workspaces.

Unboxing and Box Contents

I’ll be blunt. The environmentally sensible box for the Voyager Surround 80 UC is best described as functional. If you’re gifting the headset, you would want to wrap it with something.



On opening the box, well, the hardshell, clam-like storage case likely wouldn’t make you go wow. Again, I use the word “functional.” What’s contained inside, on the other hand, will immediately make you feel you’ve gotten your money’s worth.

Other than the headset itself, there are three types of USB connection cables, a Bluetooth dongle, and a USB-C to USB-A adapter. As far as connectivity is concerned, the Voyager Surround 80 UC covers all major ground.

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Poly Headset Unboxing
The box and the storage case. Minimal decorative touches on both result in a certain … industrial feel? But this headset does work hard to please. (Read on)
Voyager Surround 80 Documentations
The package comes with a lot of documentation, far more than what’s usual. But none of these are absolute must-reads. What’s important is instead …
Poly Headset for Voice
The headset in semi-folded state, with the must-read Quick Start Guide tied to it. Note that while the earcups of the Voyager Surround 80 UC can be folded flat for storage, they can’t be collapsed or folded inwards.

I should highlight that the storage case measures 22 cm long and 8 cm at its thickest. You’ll need a big bag to carry it.

The included connectivity wires and the BT700 dongle; the dongle includes a USB-A adaptor. (Nope, tou didn’t see wrongly. For whatever reason, my review set had an extra 3.5mm to USB cable. I’m not complaining!)

Physical Design, Touch Controls, and Comfort of Wear

I feel Poly did a great job in balancing work formality and style.

Being mostly black and without unusual curves, the Voyager Surround 80 UC will sit well in most office environments, if not all. The silver trimmings, however, ensure that it’s not all work and dreary. As long as you have no intention of making a loud fashion statement, this headset won’t dampen your style.

Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC Touch Controls
All controls are located on the right earcup, i.e., where the power switch and Microsoft Teams logo are.

Touch controls, located on the outer panel of the right earcup, are intuitive and easy to execute. Like all such controls, you need to at least have a glance at the Quick Start Guide to know what is what and at where, but memorising everything requires little effort. With the outer panel being substantial in size, there is little possibility of undetected swipes, wrong taps, etc., too.

All controls are located on the right earcup, i.e., where the power switch and Microsoft Teams logo are.

The above being said, I suspect left-handers will be unhappy with all controls, including the power switch and the Microsoft Teams button, located on the right earcup—I acknowledge controls were intuitive for me because I’m right-handed. Speaking of the power switch, this is the only design feature of the Voyager Surround 80 UC that made me frown. The only feature that made me wonder why Poly decided to design it that way.



Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC Power Switch
The power switch is located at the bottom of the right earcup. It’s small. It’s also manual, which means you have to remember to switch off the headset after use.

I wouldn’t say the manual switch is flimsy. It’s just … tiny? Hard to use without the risk of your fingernails scratching the surface? The same switch activates Bluetooth pairing, too, and so unless you’ve hardwired yourself to always push backward to activate pairing, you could accidentally switch off the headset.

Coming to comfort of wear, both earcups are cushioned with about an inch of plushy leatherette and they are oh-so-very lovely to wear. They didn’t get warm, too, when worn indoors indoors. For me, the overall grip of the headset is also just right; neither too loose nor too enthusiastic. The flexible carbon fibre headband has an ergonomic gap in the middle to improve pressure distribution too.

In other words, well-suited for hours of extended use.

Generous cushioning for all-day comfortable wearing.

Bluetooth and Wired Connectivity

The short version of this section is that I recommend using the included BT700 dongle as much as possible if you’re pairing the Voyager Surround 80 UC with a desktop or laptop.

Let me elaborate.

The headset had absolutely no difficulty connecting to my smartphone via Bluetooth. In fact, it was probably one of the fastest pairings I ever created. I merely had to switch both devices on, tap the right name, and it’s done.

Connection with the Poly Lens mobile app was similarly a breeze.

Things were different with my laptop and desktop, though. Again, connecting the headset using Bluetooth was no issue. However, the Poly Len app for desktop or web was simply unable to detect the headset if I used my laptop or desktop’s built-in Bluetooth. The app can only detect the headset if I use the provided BT700 dongle.

I might be imagining things. Sound quality seems better when the connection is managed by the BT700. For a start, it’s louder.



Wired connections are where things get even more “interesting.” Unlike what any audiophile would tell you, wired connections don’t result in the Voyager Surround 80 UC sounding better, at least not to me. A USB-C to C connection with my Samsung Galaxy smartphone produces a marginally livelier audio but the overall volume becomes softer. The same connection with my Acer laptop likewise delivers a very slight audio quality improvement but volume controls then become erratic.

USB-C to 3.5 mm connections is pointless, if you ask me. In exchange for that minimal audio improvement, you lose all touch controls.

To sum up, I think Poly provided a generous bundle of connection wires to ensure you can use the Voyager Surround 80 UC with most devices. Some of those wires are also to facilitate optional charging connections. But to get the best from the headset, and to be able to use the configuration abilities of Poly Lens, you need the BT700 dongle.

Of note, I had to deactivate my desktop/laptop’s built-in Bluetooth to properly use the BT700. The dongle also doesn’t work with other Bluetooth devices. This could create certain inconveniences. For example, if you’re relying on a Bluetooth keyboard.

Fortunately, configurations created with Poly Lens stay even if you’re not using the dongle. You can do your stuff and then revert to your usual Bluetooth setups.

Noise cancellation isn’t exceptional, but it does a decent job at removing environmental din. You can also customise it within the Poly Lens app.

Voyager Surround 80 UC Noise Cancellation
Noise cancellation isn’t exceptional, but it does a decent job at removing environmental din. You can also customise it within the Poly Lens app.

Noise Cancellation

Poly adopted a different approach to noise cancellation here, as in, when compared to other true wireless audio gear of recent years.

Noise cancellation is activated the moment you switch on the headset. Unless you have reconfigured using the app, adaptive noise cancellation is activated by default too.

This setup feels logical to me. I mean, why pay for the function in a pair of premium headset and not use it all the time, or have to go through another step to activate it? (Having noise cancellation always “on” doesn’t seem to whack battery levels, too, if you’re wondering)



Within the app, you’re also able to toggle between adaptive and standard noise cancellation, and how you wish for transparency mode to be managed. The latter, I presume, is useful for work scenarios where you want to suppress environmental din but still be able to hear people speaking to you.

As for the quality of cancellation, I’ll say it’s decent but not quite at the levels of similarly equipped earbuds that I’ve tried in the past year. Adaptive mode generally drowns out most environmental din but could sometimes struggle with sounds like those from fans.

Battery

I have absolutely no complaints in this area. Wait, I should say, I’m completely satisfied.

My review set arrived with less than five percent charge. I was able to juice it up to over 35 percent with just a 10-minute charge. (Interestingly, quick charge is not indicated as a feature in the specs list)

After a full charge, I was able to use the headset for two hours, watching the final two episodes of Percy Jackson and the Olympians without the battery level dropping below 80 percent. This is with noise cancellation always on.

To repeat, completely satisfied here. If you’re using the headset for work, I’m confident you can last one or two days, or more, without having to worry about power levels.

* Just to highlight, the Surround 85 UC package comes with a stylish wireless charging stand.

Poly Lens Mobile App Screenshots
Screenshots from the mobile (Android) version of Poly Lens.

Poly Lens

A quick word on the Poly Lens app before I move on to the section on audio quality.

This app is a must-have to enjoy the full abilities of the Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC, but let me be clear, you can still make good use of the headset without it. The many configuration options in the app are for quality of work/life. The app is not needed to operate the headset.

I appreciate that Poly offered a web-only option for the app, too, and that you can fully use everything without registering. This is refreshing in an era where everyone is struggling with too many compulsory apps and online accounts.

The call-management options within the app are furthermore extensive and thoughtful. Here’s a sample of what’s available:



  • Whether to display LED indication when you’re on a call
  • Mute on/off alerts
  • Which call statuses to assign voice prompts to
  • The action to perform when the headset is removed during a call
  • Whether to disable streaming audio to conserve battery life
  • Anti Startle and Noise Exposure features

For users who have to endure hours of Zoom meetings and team conferences each week, these configuration options will undoubtedly brighten up the day.

Voyager Surround 80 UC Sound Quality
The audio signature for the Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC is an excellent all-rounder, with an emphasis on vocals (highs).

Voice and Music Quality

I give the Voyager Surround 80 UC a straight five stars when it comes to voice and music quality.

Being a made-for-talk headset, voice transmission is expectedly top-notch. I had a friend speak while holding the headset at arm’s length. On my smartphone, I could still hear every word he said, albeit with a bit of airiness and softness of volume. Once he’s wearing the headset, every word because crisp and clear. The three-microphone arrays in each earcup are certainly doing their job well.

Music-wise, I feel the Voyager Surround 80 UC favours vocal tracks, likely because it’s tuned for voice communications. Not exaggerating but certain vocal tracks are phenomenal even with the (app) equalizer set to flat. I tested with Diana Krall’s Just The Way You Are and Fujii Kaza’s Kirari via Tidal and was completely blown away by how every nuance, breathiness, and silkiness was artfully captured.

The better news: despite this emphasis on voice, lows aren’t compromised. Bassheads might prefer more thump, but for me, the basses are defined and energetic enough. By the way, panning and separation are similarly excellent, while the soundstage is an intimate presence.

The Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC is loud. Markedly louder than any Bluetooth audio device I’ve owned in recent years.

Moving on to movies, it’s as you’d expect. Superb voice clarity and separation empower dialogue with that extra magic touch, creating a truly immersive watching experience that places you in the scene. Hereby, I highlight the word “surround” in the product name. Curiously, there’s no elaboration about this in official literature, and so I can only share that music and audio “flow around you” with the Voyager Surround 80 UC, a sensation enhanced by top-quality panning and separation.

Like I said in my introduction, this headset might be made for work communications, but they more than adequately function as entertainment gear too.

Price and Review Summary

I’ll say it straight. The Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC doesn’t have a budget price tag. You might be able to convince your company to buy a set for you, lucky you if you can, but chances are, this is something you splurge on for yourself to make work communications more comfortable and efficient. Or should I say, more bearable?

The good news is that if you’re willing to spend, you won’t end up with just fancy work gear on your office tabletop. The Voyager Surround 80 UC easily doubles up as entertainment gear; in some areas, it even excels. As long as you don’t mind the bulkier build, you could, of course, also use them while on the move.



Plus, it’s comfortable to wear. With controls that are a breeze to execute and a long list of thoughtful customisation features in the Poly Lens app. I’m inclined to say anyone who has to attend call conferences regularly will dream of owning this headset.

Pros

  • Superior voice quality either way
  • Superior audio (music) quality
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Sleek design
  • Impressive battery management
  • Lots of thoughtful customisation within the app
  • Generous bundle of connectivity wires including a dongle

Cons

  • Slightly bulklier & heavier
  • Poly Lens app for desktop/laptop requires use of the dongle
  • The power switch could be better designed

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Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC Review | More Than Just Work Gear
Article Name
Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC Review | More Than Just Work Gear
Description
The Poly Voyager Surround 80 UC works hard to be a premium headset for work communications. But it’s equally fine for entertainment too.
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