There’s nothing more important than hearing and being heard when you’re dialing into a meeting. Yes, the speakers and microphones on our laptops and mobile devices will do in a pinch, but with moredue to the pandemic — many of whom will be sticking with this arrangement permanently — a good home speakerphone is essential. After all, and video conferences are very necessary when you’re trying to stay connected to people you used to see daily in the office. Buying a set of that’s good for making a phone call is one option, but not everyone wants to be wearing a headset all day every day.
Because speakerphones tend to lack a little bass and focus instead on midrange performance (in other words, they’re designed for voices), they’re not like your typical portable speaker. That means you don’t necessarily want to grab one when watching a movie or. That said, they are louder and sound fuller than your phone’s speakers, so they’re better than nothing if you need a wireless speaker and you’re in a pinch.
I’ve reviewed or at least tested all of the best speakerphone models listed here. Note that the ones with USB connections work with Windows PCs and Macs, whereas a Bluetooth speakerphone model will also work with your mobile phone and tablet. And most of these are compatible with the universal communication format that’s essentially the industry standard.
So, read on if you’re ready to buy the best home office speakerphone either for yourself or as a holiday gift.
The Luna is eMeet’s latest speakerphone and a good value at about $80. It’s designed to compete with Anker’s PowerConf (see above). It’s not quite as sleek as the PowerConf, nor does it come with a protective carrying case like that model does. Also, its microphone performance is good but not on the level of the Jabra Speak 510 (see below) in terms of clarity. That said, it offers good noise reduction.
The speaker does sound clear and loud, and it’s versatile: You can go wireless over Bluetooth, plug the speaker into the USB port on your PC (with an included cable) or plug in the wireless dongle for a more reliable Bluetooth connection.
It can be daisy-chained with other eMeet speakerphones to add more people — up to 12, eMeet says — in case you’re running a business with multiple employees from home or just have a really large family.
Anker’s PowerConf offers solid performance for the money, with six microphones arranged in a 360-degree array to pick up the voice of up to eight people in a room. This Bluetooth speakerphone charges and connects via USB-C to your computer (if you want to go the wired route) and easily connects to your cell phone and tablet via Bluetooth technology. With an integrated 6,700-mAh battery, you can also charge your devices with the speakerphone. Battery life is rated at 24 hours for call time.
The speaker performed well, with good clarity and similar sound quality to the Jabra Speak 510. Jabra’s Speak 710 delivers a little fuller sound with a little more bass, but that speaker costs substantially more. While this can also be used as a speaker for listening to music or watching movies — and is a significant step up from the built-in speakers on your smartphone or laptop, particularly in terms of loudness — Anker says it’s first and foremost a conference speakerphone. Whether you’re in a large conference room or smaller conference rooms, it can pick up voices anywhere for up to eight people. A carrying case is included.
Note that you can’t connect more than one Bluetooth device to this at the same time. It’s also worth noting Anker also makes the newer PowerConf S3, which is currently selling for $100. I have not tried that model but it seems very similar to this one with an updated design.
The Poly Sync 20 is available with and without a Bluetooth dongle, and there’s also a Microsoft Teams-certified version. It’s unclear if you need the dongle because the speaker has an integrated USB-A or -C cord to plug directly into a computer and charge the device, but the dongle makes for easier pairing.
This has everything you want in a compact but portable speaker phone. Along with the USB-A connector, it has Bluetooth. A protective carrying case and lanyard are also included. There’s also a USB out port for charging a phone. Battery life is rated at up to 20 hours.
Performance was solid. I was able to stand up to about 7 or 8 feet away from the speaker and callers said they could hear me clearly. The speaker puts out a decent amount of sound, so volume wasn’t an issue. It’s also worth noting that the touch button with the rocket icon is programmable using the Plantronics Hub app: You can choose between play-pause music, last-number redial and voice assistant as well as hold/resume call. The Microsoft Teams-certified version adds a Teams button next to the rocket button. That said, any model works with Teams.
I played some music through the speaker and it sounds decent though not great for a compact Bluetooth speaker. As you might expect, it’s strongest in the midrange, where vocals live, so it does well with acoustic music.
Bang & Olufsen has upgraded its dome-shaped aluminum-clad A1 speaker with improved battery life, better speakerphone performance (it now has a three-microphone array) and slightly improved sound. It’s not only the smallest wireless speaker from the Danish company, but also the most affordable at $250 (you can get certain colors for about $25 less). While it doesn’t have the more robust speakerphone-centric features of other products on this list, this speaker easily sounds the best for music playback.
The speaker drivers remain the same as those in the previous model, but the Qualcomm chipset that powers the speaker has been upgraded (the speaker uses Bluetooth 5.1), bumping the sound quality up a tad, particularly at higher volumes, with better digital signal processing. It remains one of the best-sounding mini Bluetooth speakers, with richer more tonally balanced sound than other Bluetooth speakers its size — and it should sound good, considering its elevated price point..
It’s also worth noting that the A1 has multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can connect this to your PC and smartphone at the same time and easily switch back and forth between the two if a call comes in on your phone. Additionally, the speaker is Alexa-enabled, meaning you can activate Amazon’s voice assistant by just saying “Alexa.”
Battery life is rated at up to 18 hours at 50% volume (the earlier A1 didn’t live up to its battery life claims, but this number is more accurate) and if you can afford it, you can link two A1 speakers to create a stereo pair. The speaker is waterproof with an IPX 67 rating that allows it to be submerged briefly in shallow water.
The Jabra Speak 510 wireless Bluetooth speaker, which has been out for a few years and is sometimes discounted to closer to $100, can be connected directly to a computer with a USB cable or wirelessly via Bluetooth. It doesn’t offer as much volume as the step up Speak 710 Bluetooth speakerphone, which costs more than twice as much. Jabra says the speaker is suitable for smaller rooms with coverage for four people in a meeting. This portable speakerphone has a 360-degree omnidirectional microphone and its rechargeable battery will last up to 15 hours of battery life in wireless mode. A carrying case is included.
You can get this model with a UC (universal communications) USB dongle that allows you to have a direct wireless connection with a PC. But the wired USB option is fine, and it offers the same softphone features for Windows PCs or Macs.
With Jabra’s Speak 710 wireless Bluetooth speakerphone (around $230, you’re getting a noticeable bump up in sound and microphone quality from the Speak 510 Bluetooth speakerphone (it is bigger but still compact). While it costs more, if you’re looking for top-notch performance with excellent noise reduction in a consumer-grade speakerphone, the 710 delivers it. Jabra says this is rated for up to six people in a conference room, but you can daisy-chain a couple of these in a larger room to get twice the number of people involved. It also has an integrated USB cable for connecting directly to a computer and includes a UC (universal communications) USB dongle for reliable wireless connections with a Windows PC or Mac without installing any software (there is a companion app for both).
Don’t expect it to sound great for music or movie watching, but it does have more bass than the Speak 510 and the Anker.
Beyerdynamic’s Phonum is arguably the sleekest-looking speakerphone on this list and speakers’ voices come across sounding loud, clear and natural. Music performance is only OK, but it also makes for a good Bluetooth speaker for listening to podcasts and news reports.
Compared to some of the other speakerphone models that cost more than $200, its feature set isn’t as robust and its noise-reduction doesn’t seem quite up to the Jabra 710’s level, but it picked up my voice well (Beyerdynamic says it’s equipped with its Gecko 360-degree technology with three modes of voice tracking) and I enjoyed using it. You can connect it to your computer or smartphone via Bluetooth or plug the speaker into your PC via USB. It comes with a nice carry case.
Note that there’s currently an instant $60-off coupon available for this on Amazon that brings the price down to $159.
The eMeet M0 is a compact USB speakerphone that connects to your computer with an included USB-A to USB-C cable. No drivers are required — it’s plug and play — but there is no wireless option. It has a four smart microphone array, acoustic echo noise cancellation, noise-reduction technology and is suitable as a conference phone for meetings with up to four people. This conference speakerphone is louder and more clear than your typical laptop speakers and picks up your voice well from several feet away.
The M0 lists for $70 but a 20%-off instant coupon brings the price down to $56. That’s currently around the same price as the eMeet Luna, which is the better value at its discounted price.
If you can’t afford the Jabra Speak 710 and are looking for a compact, more “professional” Bluetooth speakerphone, the eMeet M2 costs less than $175, has a strong feature set and performed well in my tests (it plays louder than you’d think for its size). It’s equipped with a four microphone array, acoustic echo along with noise reduction technology and can operate with clear sound in larger rooms with five to eight people participating on a conference call. You can opt to plug the speakerphone directly into a computer (Mac or Windows) with a USB cable or go wireless with the included Bluetooth USB dongle. You can also use Bluetooth connectivity for your smartphone or tablet. A carrying case is included.
The iPhone-friendly Pioneer Rayz Rally has been around for a while — I reviewed it back in 2017 — but it’s still being sold and is down to $70.
The little personal speakerphone fits in your pocket and has an integrated Lightning cable so it plugs directly into your iOS device and draws power from it, though not much (it has little impact on battery life). Due to its size and portability, you can even use it as a car speakerphone. It’s not in the same class as the other speakerphones in this roundup in terms of sound quality or microphone performance, but it does give a little bump in sound quality from your smartphone’s speakers. The latest-generation iPhones have improved internal speakers, so the difference isn’t as great as it was a few years ago with the iPhone 7 or 8, but it still has more volume (it’s all midrange, of course).
The single button on the speaker serves as a mute button during phone calls (so callers can’t hear you) or a pause/play button while listening to music or videos. And like the Rayz Plus headphone, there’s a pass-through Lightning port integrated into the speaker that allows you to charge your phone with a separate Lightning cable.
Read our Pioneer Rayz Rally review.
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Originally published earlier this year. Updated with current deals.
Source from www.cnet.com