Monday, June 10, 2013

Speakerphone Tips You Never Knew

Back in 2012 I was given the task of specifying a speakerphone for a conference room.  The needs analysis determined that the end user needed a low budget analog telephony solution for enhanced audio.  Pretty much anything would have been an improvement over the practice of having remote participants call into a meeting with an iPhone, Droid or Blackberry set to speaker mode.  For a conversation between 2 or 3 people smart phones set to speaker will get you by.  However, for a 15-20 person conference room the results are not practical.  The microphone pick-up range and maximum volume on any given smart phone won't deliver the type of audio you need to communicate effectively in a conference room environment.

I briefly considered a VOIP solution but that was quickly ruled out due to lack of network bandwidth and infrastructure.  After discovering that an analog phone line already existed down the hall from the conference room I set out to find a good old cordless telephone.  I landed on the Polycom SoundStation 2W because the technology met all the requirements I was looking for in terms of battery life, microphone pick range, audio quality and wireless transmission.  RF interference from local wifi and cell phones can be very distracting so I wanted a solution that was designed to reject or at least resist RF interference.

Printer Friendly PDF Diagram (Free Download):
Low resolution PDF: Polycom SoundStation 2W Diagram (356 kb)
High resolution PNG: Polycom SoundStation 2W Diagram  (5.2 mb)

Audio Expansion & Adapters:
If you think you may need to add extended audio coverage in the future the SoundStation 2W EX is a good option to consider.  It's more expensive but it will allow you to connect expansion microphones if they are required in the future.

Two different adapter cables ship with this product as shown in the video.  The Y-cable adapter for a computer and the  2.5mm to 2.5mm cable for cell phones.  This selection of adapter cables was great circa 2007.  Today the majority of smart phones double as MP3 players so they have 3.5mm ports instead of 2.5mm for stereo audio.  As a result you probably won't find the 2.5mm to 2.5mm adapter cable useful anymore.  You'll need a 3.5mm to 2.5mm adapter cable or a connector adapter designed to fit over the 2.5mm plug and convert it to a 3.5mm plug.

Most likely the Y-adapter will still be useful when connecting the speakerphone to a computer as long as your computer has independent mic in and line out ports.  However, my new Dell laptop has both of these ports mic in / line out combined into a single multi-conductor 3.5mm port.  So there is a good chance you'll need to buy a third party adapter cable if you plan to connect the SoundStation to a smart phone or computer.

Common Additional Adapters:
3.5mm to 3.5mm, 4 Postion, TRRS Cable: Stereo Audio + Mic
3.5mm to 2.5mm, 4 Postion TRRS Adapter: Stereo Audio + Mic

1 comment: