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I've noticed that the mayority of the well-known brands (Sennheiser, Logitech, Plantronics, Razer, SteelSeries, Audio-Technica, Phillips, etc) tend to make headsets with the microphone on the left, is there any UX related reason for that tendency? If not, what's the reason of that choice?

The position of the mic would be equidistant to the the mouth when placed on the right side, so there's no difference when recording.

My improbable theories:

1) Maybe it could be useful for people who eat (or make something using with their right hand and mouth, like smoking) while wearing their headphones, supposing that the person is right-handed(what it's true in most cases) and the mic is neither in front nor too close to their mouth.

2) I think we usually align our body more to the left side of the keyboard (centered between 'g' and 'h' keys or so, and probably to center of monitor too, to avoid neck tension) for writing comfortably, and right-handed ones place the mouse on the right, so the mic on the left could go along with the "left side weight" and avoiding the possible sensation of the microphone "being in the middle". This theory is enhanced in the case that the cable is not divided in two to reach each side and just reach the side where the microphone is placed, so the cord will hang closer to that side and not centered to your body.

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Apple earbuds, one of the most-worn headphones [citation needed] with mic have it on the right. –  msparer Jul 3 at 10:14
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rewobs, as worded right now this question is likely to generate a lot of discussion and not many useful answers. Is there a specific problem you are facing regarding the placement of microphones on headsets? –  Joshua Barron Jul 3 at 13:50
    
my headphones have mic on right. haha. –  colmcq Jul 3 at 15:11
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Related meta discussion: meta.ux.stackexchange.com/q/1650/24775 –  Chris Jul 3 at 16:08
    
It is an industry standard to feed the cables from the left side, maybe that includes the microphone? I mean, given that the mic wire would have to run extra distance if it were placed on the right, it would make sense for it to be on the same side as the rest of the wires. –  Justin Jul 3 at 16:14

2 Answers 2

My thinking is along your theory #1.

As some people have commented, the microphone can also be on the right side, which indicates to me that this isn't an absolute design standard. It seems to be more convenience based then. So what is convenient about it?

As stated in your first theory, it frees up space, allowing for uninterrupted interaction with the face. People naturally eat using their dominate hand, related. With the mic on the non-dominate side, it doesn't impede eating/drinking. I see this being one of the largest factors.

From personal experience, I find that when using a headset, it's dependent on the situation I am in whether or not it being on one side or the other is better. If I am at my computer, I use my right hand for the mouse, and typically rest my head on my left hand. With a microphone that is close to the face, this can be restrictive. However, when eating, it is beneficial.

In the end, it's up to personal preference, which is why a lot of companies make headphones that allow for the mic to turn 180 degrees, to be usable for both kinds of preferences.

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The cord on headphones is usually on the left, so it makes sense for the mic to be on the left too so that the mic's cable doesn't have to cross all the way over to the right side, thus reducing the wiring/complexity. That's my guess anyway.

Why the cord is on the left, I don't know.

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