A common problem in larger conference rooms is to have a conference phone that provides sufficient audio room coverage so all participants can hear and be heard. This blog article will provide some useful information on conference room phones, and more specifically, the best tabletop conference phone for large rooms.
Traditional conference room phones are typically a single unit that houses a central loudspeaker and has between one to three embedded microphones. Though this configuration is fine for smaller work environments, it cannot provide the level of audio needed in larger size gathering rooms.
Here are some of the typical issues most people experience when using an undersized, underpowered conference room phone.
- Near end participants cannot hear well because there’s only one central speaker.
- Near end participants cannot be heard clearly due to microphone distance limitations.
- Far end participants are required to ask others to repeat themselves as the conference room phone doesn’t have the reach to pick up voices adequately.
All this works against productivity as a result of participants having to repeat themselves, while others risk not obtaining a clear message, or even the wrong message entirely. And, when you stop to consider variations in people’s ability to hear, the issue is compounded.
Conference room phones aren’t the kind of product you see widely advertised, and as a result, it takes some digging to find the make and model that’s right for you and your specific situation. The most common brands you’ll see promoted include Polycom, Konftel and ClearOne. Though other brands are available, these are the most prevalent brands with variations that include Analog, Digital and VOIP models.
It's all about connections
Know your connection. Before you can shop for your new conference phone, you need to be 100% sure what the conference room phone will connect to.
- Will it connect to a digital phone line?
- Will it connect to a standard Analog phone line?
- Will it connect to a VOIP line?
This is a very important starting point in your journey to find the conference phone system. If you have Digital phone lines for example, and you order an Analog conference room phone, it’s not going to work. That is, unless you purchase a Digital to Analog converter, but you might be unaware what the problem is and why it doesn’t work when you attempt to hook it up.
Another example of this is if your office is using Voice Over IP (VOIP) and you don’t buy a VOIP conference room phone. Again, it won’t work when you try to connect it.
So, the important message here is to be sure what type of phone line the conference room phone will be connected to. You want the best conference phone experience, and getting the connection type right is the first big step to getting there.
Ok, now that you’ve got that figured out, where do you go from here?
Wired or wireless, that is the question. In the conference room phone world, the products are divided into two categories, wired models and wireless. When asked to decide, most people opt for the wireless because it’s, well, wireless. But, when they see the price and expansion limitations, they typically begin to look elsewhere. So for now, we will leave wireless conference phones out of this conversation.
The most common configuration on a desktop conference room phone is one of the following two:
- Base conference phone
- Base conference phone with two extension microphones
When trying to accommodate the needs of a larger group in a large conference room, the two options noted above simply won’t cut it. There are too many limitations such as:
- Not enough speakers to allow everyone to hear well
- The central microphone can only pick up voices between 7-20 feet
- Though expansion microphones add to the reach, it’s not enough for larger groups.
Looking far and wide, you will only come up with one really good solution for a desktop conference room phone for larger groups. Again, I’m leaving out custom designed, or installed audio systems here.
Clear the way for ClearOne
How would you like the ability to have a conference room phone that can grow from one unit all the way to four? In the process, have four speakers and twelve microphones to give you that great sound you need and microphone coverage that leaves other brands coming up short.
If you have a large conference room with an analog phone line available and you’re struggling to find a conference phone that works well for a larger group, you owe it to yourself to check out the ClearOne MAXAttach.
The MAXAttach is unique in that it can start small with one phone, but grow into a full four pod connected conferencing system. Each pod contains one central loudspeaker and three microphones. Each microphone is individually activated upon detecting sound to the nearest mic.ClearOne calls this feature First-Mic Priority.
This feature avoids having all microphones on at once and picking up undesired sound from various points around the room. This helps to keep the communication targeted to the speaker while helping to provide a crisper, cleaner, more professional sounding conference call.
The ClearOne MAXAttach has the technology that you’d expect in a professional conferencing system. Echo cancellation, noise suppression, HD audio, full duplex performance and automatic level controls all come standard and work together to assure your call will always sound great.
Let's stay flexible
Whether you have a layout that’s “U” shaped or even classroom oriented, the ClearOne MAXAttach is adaptable to many design layouts. Having the ability to expand the number of units with each having a speaker, means you’ll have significantly more sound being piped into your conference room. This translates into better hearing for all meeting participants, even the guy who’s sitting over there in the corner. He may look like he’s sleeping, but he’s hearing every word that’s being spoken.
Image below is how the ClearOne MaxAttach can adapt to your conference room needs.
There isn’t any other make or model of conference room phone that is as flexible as the ClearOne MAXAttach. This unique product even gives you the ability to scale down. If you don’t need it for use in a large room, you can unplug pods to downsize it to accommodate a smaller group. The ability to scale, combined with the superb sound quality and plug and play setup all help to make this a great value to consider when looking for the best conference room phone for large rooms. Oh, and did I mention it’s very affordable? For all you get, this is a great deal on a great product that you really need to check out.