Plantronics today announced the launch of the .Audio 655 USB Stereo headset, the first to take advantage of Skype's new super-wideband SILK audio codec.

The SILK codec delivers very clear conversations and achieves wideband audio quality (16KHz) using half the network bandwidth than previously required.

It also introduces a new standard for speech quality – super-wideband audio (24KHz) – which it is claimed delivers crystal clear, richer and warmer sound to those using a compatible-headset and a high quality broadband connection.

Smooth as SILK?

Skype recently announced that would license the SILK code to developers free of charge, potentially opening it up for use in everything from mobile phones to PA systems in train stations.

"Skype's new super wideband audio is a breakthrough in providing consumers with even richer voice and video calls, so they get the feeling of true 'face-to-face' conversations," said Matt Miller, director of PC and Entertainment at Plantronics.

The Plantronics .Audio 655 stereo headset has 40mm speakers, includes a noise-cancelling microphone for clear conversations, and features Fast Mic Mute technology that lets users quickly mute the microphone by raising the boom.

The .Audio 655's also boasts soft, swivel-mounted ear cushions and lightweight design for "all-day wearing comfort" , a plug-and-play USB connection and one-touch volume controls on the earpiece.

The Plantronics .Audio 655 USB stereo headset will be available from the start of April for £40.