How to Choose the Best Conference Room Speakerphone

What is a conference room speakerphone?

A conference room speakerphone is a device that sits on a conference room table. It has a microphone to pick up sound and speakers to project sound. Conference room speakerphone enables you to have a productive conference call with team members in different locations.

What are the business goals for a conference room speakerphone?

Your conference room speakerphone needs to:

  • Be powerful enough to pick up sound from all speakers in the room.
  • Project sound into all corners of the room.
  • Easy enough for your team to use quickly, without technical help.
  • Able to plug into your phone system, if required.
  • Be able to be used wirelessly via USB, or Bluetooth.
  • Some businesses may wish for their conference room speakerphone to plug into their video cameras to video enable their conference room.

Speakerphone interoperability requirements and considerations

If you use Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or other video call software, you need to ensure that your conference room hardware is compatible with these before you purchase. Compatibility is always preferred. If your hardware needs to use APIs and codes to run Teams, for example, your user experience becomes clunky and more prone to encounter technical issues. Technical downtime during calls eats time and thwarts productivity. This defeats the purpose of installing video conferencing kit.

You also need to ensure that your choice of the speakerphone is compatible with the network that you are plugging into.

What conference room speakerphones do we recommend?

Our AV team has worked with a huge number of conference call hardware providers. They have vast experience of the best providers for audio quality, simplicity of use, and budget-friendliness.

Check out this article, Enabling Microsoft Teams on Your Existing Video Hardware Standardizes your Video Meeting Estate, and learn how to work on your available hardware.

For smaller conference rooms, our audio-visual experts recommend the Poly (was Polycom/Plantronics) Calisto 5200. This is a huddle sized speakerphone good for 2-4 people. This speakerphone requires a laptop (via USB connection) or mobile phone (via Bluetooth connection) to drive the call.

For larger conference rooms (5-30 people in the right configuration) we recommend the Poly C60. We are going to explore the reasons for these options.

Visit this article, Why the Poly X Series Video Device is a Total Game-Changer, and find out how poly x series improves your video conferencing experience.

Why do we recommend the Calisto 5200 speakerphone for smaller conference rooms?

best conference speakerphone for small pax

The Calisto 5200 is an affordable speakerphone that delivers professional-grade call audio in a small, portable device. The device has 360° audio coverage with simple touch controls and omnidirectional microphones. It compares well against other speakerphone manufacturers within a similar budget. For smaller rooms, the 5200 speakerphones perform well for budget, robustness (they don’t break), and audio clarity. Digital signal processing technology, (DSP) helps prevent dropouts and echo.

USB plugin or Bluetooth connected device, it is easy to use and quick to get going. You simply plug in the device and use your phone or laptop to drive your call. You can choose from USB-A, USB-C and 3.5 mm. Integrated cord storage enables easy portability. For the budget.

Capabilities of the Poly C60 speakerphone for larger conference rooms

best conference speakerphone
  • Hold conference calls from 5 to 30 people in larger sized conference rooms.
  • The C60 can be configured to work with Zoom, MS Teams, Skype, and many others. This enables “1 touch join” for meetings, to keep your meeting time super productive and glitch-free

Plugs straight into standard SIP/PTSN or cloud telephony platforms such as Ring Central, 8 x 8, Chime, Wildix, BT, etc.

Visit this article, Huddle Room Solutions vs Conference Room – What’s the Difference? for a complete guide on selecting options that are best for you.

The versatility of the Poly C60 conference room speakerphone

The Poly C60 is a speakerphone that is favoured by our AV team because they are so versatile. It can be used in a vast number of different ways. If you need your conference room to evolve with your business plans, this device is a good option for you. The Poly C60 has a vast array of capabilities in an AV setting. Having a trusted piece of kit that does lots of different jobs saves time, money, complexity, and future proofs your conference room.

Various uses of the Poly C60 Speakerphone:

  • Can be used as a normal telephone in a conference room. Connecting up to 3 lines.
  • Can be used as a touch screen to your conference call or video call
  • You can plug expansion microphones into each Poly C60 to extend your room’s audio pickup.
  • For larger conference rooms, you can “daisy chain” up to 3 devices down the centre of a large table and they will work together. This solution enables you to kit out larger conference rooms with exceptional audio pickup and the auditorium quality sound that Poly are famous for
  • The Poly C60 can be set up to expand the capabilities of all-in-one video conferencing devices like the Poly X series. (Poly X30/ X50) A simple reset of the Poly C60 device and software upgrade enables the speakerphone to process video as well as audio

You can also use the C60 to process just audio for the X series devices.

Features of the Poly C60 Speakerphone

Centralised, easy device management – RealPresence Resource Manager enables your IT team to centrally and remotely manage, support and upgrade your Poly C60 devices

Crystal clear audio – Poly’s signature Acoustic Clarity technology provides full-duplex conversations, acoustic echo cancellation, and NoiseBlockAI background noise suppression.

Attractive design – The device has a sleek new design that means it simply looks good on your conference room table. The modern device complements your décor while hiding all your cables underneath.

Total control – Simple to use touch screen display enables visual conference call management.

Diverse connectivity – Wireless via Bluetooth, USB, PoE/PoE+, Wi-Fi network (2.4/5GHz).

Calling features – Connect up to three phone lines. Call waiting, call timer, hold, transfer, divert, and do-not-disturb functions. One-touch speed dial and five-way local audio conferencing.

Ease of use – Conveniently located and illuminated mute and volume buttons.

Proximity sensor – The device saves energy by sleeping when not in use. It awakens when some-one is detected close by.

Device security – 802.1X authentication, EAPOL, SRTP, TLS, Digest authentication, Password login, HTTPS secure provisioning.

Why do our audio experts favour Poly conference speakerphones vs other AV manufacturers?

Poly is a full spectrum video conferencing supplier with over 30 years of trading history behind them. Their audio products are solid and robust. Even with heavy use, they last for years. Supported by Poly and easily maintained. They’re reliable and come with trusted warranties. Poly products have a robust developmental roadmap behind them. Over time, their products’ audio capabilities evolve, the ease of use gets even better and the devices become more feature-rich.

Poly’s speciality is audio quality. They provide amazing sound, both for room-filling, rich sound and audio pickup with acoustic echo cancellation and AI-driven noise block. Being a bit geeky about sound, our AV team favour products that deliver outstanding sound production. Our experts believe that, with the clever use of Poly’s product range, it’s possible to deliver the same sound quality as a £25k Cisco conference room with a tiny budget.

High-end conference room kit specifications can get really bespoke, really quickly, with a huge price tag to match. In the AV world, there is always a high-end piece of kit that will deliver 1 element of audio production to a very high standard. That’s why many AV companies only specify bespoke conference configurations. The advantage of Poly’s kit is that it is an all-rounder, doing “1 size fits all” very well indeed. If you lack the budget, time and energy to build a bespoke audio configuration, choosing Poly as a single supplier will meet your needs well.

As full-spectrum telephony and conferencing hardware provider, Poly enables you to standardise your hardware right across your business. Bespoke hardware configurations can seem like a good idea until something goes wrong. A typical multi-vendor, bespoke conference room solution can have up to 16 different hardware manufacturers. Which are distributed via 9 different distributors. Trying to figure out which bit has malfunctioned and how to claim via which warranty can give you a headache.

Standardised IT hardware

Having one single provider for phones, desktop headsets and video room equipment enables much easier management of your IT estate.

What preparation is needed to install these conference room speakerphones?

Very little preparation is needed to use the Calisto 5200 or Poly C60 devices. They simply plug in and go, or connect automatically via Bluetooth. Minimal technical expertise is required to set up and configure. There is no drilling, cabling, or decorating in your conference room. Your business disruption is kept to a minimum and you start conference calling in minutes, not months.

The business value of a video-enabled conference space

If you are considering equipping your conference room with just a speakerphone, there are very strong reasons why you should consider upgrading to a video-enabled conference room.

  • Only 5% of conference rooms are video enabled
  • Video usage is set to continue its huge growth curve (video usage on our own video platform is up by over 500%)
  • Collaborative apps like MS Teams rely heavily on video calling and speed up decision making by 17% (Microsoft)
  • Video calls offer an immersive, face to face meeting experience. This builds more rapport for stronger business relationships
  • Video enabled companies to save up to 50 wasted trips per person, per year (Forrester Consulting)

Video usage is undeniably an explosive trend within the business world. Our team recommends the Poly Series X video conferencing devices. They are simple, all-in-one (microphone, speaker, and camera in one device) video conferencing devices. They offer production quality filming and auditorium quality sound. Jam-packed full of features, the price differential between a Poly conference speakerphone and a Poly series X video device is minimal. Our AV team would encourage you to consider this as an option that will take you to another level in your video conference calls. The devices need no room preparation or drilling and are easily configured to get you started on your video journey.

Why work with our expert AV team?

  • Our friendly team are seasoned experts within the AV space
  • We have worked with numerous AV suppliers over the years
  • No overselling – We won’t bamboozle you with complex AV specs. We favour trusted, simple and affordable solutions that aren’t loaded with unnecessary professional services for things you can do yourself
  • A brief conversation with our team can tell you what specification of audio-visual kit you need for your size of room space to deliver an outstanding conference experience without the huge price tag

Speak to our expert team today about your conference room requirements.

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