Offers 4 wireless DECT 6.0 microphones combined with 2 onboard mics for full capture of full-duplex, realistic conversation with digital mixing. Each wireless mic lasts 8 hours on a single charge. Connects via a landline RJ11 telephone jack for standard telephony.
Customers have difficulty connecting it to VoIP systems.
Includes a built-in microphone and 2 wireless microphones. For use by several people at the same time. Wireless mics charge from main base unit so they're always at hand. Phone with full-duplex design so everyone can speak and be heard simultaneously.
Audio quality through the microphones is not consistent.
Full duplex speaker with mic unit for smooth real-time conversation. Pairs with smartphones, computers and other devices over Bluetooth or USB adapter. Optimized for Unified Communications protocols including Microsoft Skype for Business. Excellent sound quality.
Pricey. Requires connection to a smartphone or audio/video conferencing service.
Offers a 6 microphone array to capture multiple voices in 360 degrees. Compact design is easily portable. Attractive fabric housing. Connects via USB or Bluetooth and charges via USB-C. Compatible with most popular videoconferencing platforms.
Requires smartphone or other device to make actual connection.
Includes technology that mutes sound from outside a 3 foot radius from the unit, ideal for conference from loud or outdoor surroundings. Offers connection via NFC as well as Bluetooth and USB 3.0. Offers 3 unidirectional mics with human voice detection for muting during pauses.
Requires separate device for connection. Uses Bluetooth 2.1. Expensive.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
If you’ve ever tried to pull together a face-to-face meeting, you know how difficult it can be to fit it into everyone’s hectic schedules. If participants are coming in from different floors, buildings, or even states and countries to participate, the difficulty and cost can add up fast.
The right conference phone can prove itself a vital tool for your busy office or organization, saving you both time and money. The sheer number of conference phone systems currently on the market, though, can make deciding which one is right for your needs difficult.
We're here to help you examine some of the key features and other considerations you’ll face when choosing a conference phone. From microphone selection and audio quality to features such as Bluetooth connectivity and call recording, we drill into the elements of these systems so you’ll know what to keep an eye out for when selecting one.
The microphones in a conference phone — in terms of both quantity and capability — largely determine what size of room you can use the conference phone in and the number of people who can participate. Capabilities such as 360-degree voice pick-up allow participants to be anywhere in relation to the microphone and still be heard, while mute buttons help cut down on speaker ID confusion and overall background noise.
Conference phone microphones generally are one of three types: built-in microphones, wired extension microphones, and wireless microphones. Conference phone systems can have one or more of these types of microphones.
Built-in microphones: These are microphones that are built into the base of the conference phone. Some systems only offer base microphones, usually anywhere from one to four of them within the base. These microphones should be able to pick up far-afield voices easily.
Wired microphones: Like wireless microphones, wired microphones allow you to extend the effective range so you can hold a conference call in a larger room. With wired microphones, you should know how long the wires are, and the number of wired microphones that are included.
Wireless microphones: While not available in all conference phone systems, wireless microphones provide you with the greatest flexibility. Similar to wired microphones, these are best for larger rooms, particularly where participants are moving around (ex. giving a presentation). You should know the number of wireless microphones that ship with the system (typically two to four), the range of the microphones, how long they can hold a charge, and how long it takes to recharge them. Wireless microphones are usually charged on the base unit itself, which helps to keep them from being misplaced.
The audio quality for conference phones can vary quite a bit from unit to unit. The quality should be high enough that everyone can be clearly understood. All systems should include some form of variable volume control.
The majority of these systems also utilize some form of noise reduction to cancel out background noise. This can be achieved through features such as dynamic noise reduction filters, acoustic echo cancellation, and automatic gain controls.
The majority of conference phones offer full-duplex capabilities, which allow people in both the room and those speaking through the phone to speak and be heard simultaneously. This allows for a much more normal conversation between the call participants and will likely be on your “must-have” features list.
Some conference phone systems work with Bluetooth so that you can use wireless headsets, smartphones, and other devices with your conference phone. This can greatly extend the capabilities of a conference phone and is another “must-have” feature for some. One big plus with a system that allows Bluetooth is that you can easily expand the size of the participant pool just by having everyone show up with a smartphone.
While not a standard feature, some conference call systems have a built-in call recording function. This is a handy way to retain a record of the call and any discussion or decisions that resulted from it.
If a conference phone allows for call recordings, you should verify whether the calls are stored on the phone itself or via something like a USB flash drive. If just the former, find out how large the available memory for storage is.
The majority of conference phones feature some form of display, from simple two-line LCDs to larger touch screens. With these, you can more easily interact with the phone and receive information regarding a call. For clarity, any display should be backlit.
Displays are the primary way to access the caller ID (CID) or address book features within the phone. While not all conference phones offer these functions, if the model you are considering does, you should know how many names and numbers you can store on the phone.
The cost of conference phones can be a big factor, particularly if either you or your business are on a tight budget. While you can find a few cheaper models, the majority of conference phones worth considering start out around $150 to $200 and reach up to $400 or more.
At lower prices, expect to find phones geared toward fewer call participants and with fewer features.
Phones in the upper range will offer more microphones — usually wireless — for larger spaces with more call participants. Models in this range also often have advanced features such as Bluetooth connectivity and call recording, in addition to improved sound quality.
Q. Is it possible to add extra microphones to these systems?
A. While this will vary model to model, scalability — or the ability to add additional microphones — does not show up with systems of this nature that often. One way around this is just to pick up two conference phone systems. A cheaper way is to go with a system that incorporates Bluetooth. This will allow everyone with a Bluetooth-capable smartphone or other device to participate in the call.
Q. Do these need a phone cord to work, or do they work via the internet?
A. Some conference phones are analog and will require a phone service (and a cord) before you are able to send and receive calls. Others can be used with VoIP to WiFi networks to place and receive calls through programs such as Skype and Facetime.
Q. In addition to conference calling, can these be used as a regular phone to place and receive calls?
A. So long as you have phone service, a conference phone that works with an analog line should function much like a regular phone and with largely the same features.