How to make voice calls almost as good as face-to-face

If you’re a remote/hybrid software engineer, invest in a microphone and headphones.


  1. It makes you sound more credible

Fig: Studies show that people are gullibleFig: Studies show that people are gullible

In an experiment, people rated a physicist’s talk at a scientific conference as 19.3% better when they listened to it in high quality audio vs slightly distorted, echo-prone audio.

  1. It’s easy and cheaper than you might think

Paraphrased from Behn Kuhn’s blog [2], do the following in the prescribed order for best results:

  1. Don’t work in a noisy space where your noise can bother other people, or vice versa.
  2. ($10-30) Run an ethernet cable between your computer and router. You’ll probably need an adapter
  3. (~$100) Buy open-back headphones, which let you hear your own voice normally and are extremely comfortable.
  4. (~$30) Get a headset mic attachment (and pop filter), which will sound much better and pick up less noise. Note this requires a headset with detachable cable.

Ben goes on to list 6 more tips, but since I’m only trying to improve voice calls, they’re omitted from this post. See Ben’s blog for the rest of the (excellent) post.


January 9, 2023