Best Speakerphone in 2022 for Working From Home


Many people have been returning to their offices in droves, but quite a number have gone for the convenience and safety of working from home, with pajama pants on under the desk and a USB speakerphone at their side. In fact, it’s become very normalized for a number of jobs that rely on computers, which is why remote workers require proper equipment to create a functional home office environment more than ever. A quality supportive chair and a study standing desk are ideal additions to your home office, and a work PC or laptop are practically mandatory, but if you’re currently working from home, you already know you’ll need more than that for the sake of efficiency. And one great office addition is a high-quality speakerphone with sharp audio quality to help you sound more professional through those all-too-frequent virtual meetings.

Standard speakerphone functionality often lacks a little bass, focusing instead on midrange performance (designed for voices). Because they don’t work like your usual portable speaker, you wouldn’t necessarily want to watch a movie or play music with one. Still, they’re louder and sound fuller than the speakers in your phone or laptop, so the best speakerphone is important when you need wireless, amplified volume in a pinch.

Read More: Best Cheap VPN

I’ve tested all of the best speakerphone models listed here, and given thorough reviews on the speakerphone functionality for many of them. Note that the ones with USB connections work with Windows PCs and Macs, whereas a Bluetooth speakerphone model will also work with your tablet and mobile phone. And most of these are compatible with the universal communication format that’s essentially the industry standard.

Watch this: Pioneer’s Lightning-Powered Mini Speaker Is Weird, But…

So, keep reading if you’re looking to buy the best home office speakerphone for yourself or someone who owes you a phone call.

David Carnoy/CNET

I liked Beyerdynamic’s earlier Phonum speakerphone (see below), which retails for about $100. But the new-for-2022 Space is a slicker product and nice “personal” speakerphone that works well in home office environments. It also has more bass than the average speakerphone and works decently for listening to music, though it doesn’t support the higher-fidelity AAC and AptX codecs — only SBC. If you can afford it, you can wirelessly pair two of them for stereo sound. 

The speaker comes in a few different color options and has touch controls on the top along with LED lights that indicate whether you’re connected via Bluetooth, on a call and whether your microphone is muted. You can also connect directly to your computer with the included USB-C cable — the speaker charges via USB-C — and a USB-C to USB-A adapter is included (you can store it in a slot in the base of the speaker, where you’ll also find a threaded tripod mount). Battery life is rated at up to 20 hours, and a 10-minute charge gives you two hours of juice. The speaker is splash-proof and dust-resistant with an IP64 rating.

Callers said I sounded clear and were generally impressed with how I sounded, saying they couldn’t tell I was on a speakerphone. Weighing 354 grams, the speakerphone is quite portable and a carrying pouch is included, While Beyerdynamic describes it as a personal speakerphone, it does have four microphones and is suitable for conference calls with up to six people sitting around it. While it’s a bit expensive at its $179 list price, I do suspect it will come down in price with time.

David Carnoy/CNET

The Luna is eMeet’s latest speakerphone and a good value with a list price of $80, though it sometimes dips to even less with an instant coupon at Amazon. It’s designed to compete with Anker’s PowerConf (see below). 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. 

David Carnoy/CNET

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 conference speaker 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.

David Carnoy/CNET

The Poly Sync 20 is available with and without a Bluetooth dongle, and there’s also a Microsoft Teams-certified version. Additionally, there’s a new pink version to support Breast Cancer Awareness that currently costs $100 without the dongle.

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.

The Sync 20 Plus version with a Bluetooth dongle lists for $200 but can be had for less. Poly also has the larger Poly Sync 40 for around $200 and the line-topping Sync 60 is around $450. 

David Carnoy/CNET

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 with a list price of $250 (you can get certain colors for over $50 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.

You’re receiving price alerts for Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 2nd Gen

Jabra

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.

You’re receiving price alerts for Jabra Speak 510

David Carnoy/CNET

With Jabra’s Speak 710 wireless Bluetooth speakerphone (around $205, 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. 

You’re receiving price alerts for Jabra Speak 710-UC Speakerphone

David Carnoy/CNET

The best things about the Cyber Acoustics Essential Speakerphone are that it’s compact, lightweight and simple to use. Callers said they could hear me clearly, and the speaker outputs a decent amount of volume for its size. That said, my voice didn’t sound as natural as it did with some of the more expensive models on this list.

This is a fairly basic speakerphone, but it offers Bluetooth connectivity along with a USB wired option. It’s definitely easy to slip in a bag. With a list price of $70, you can sometimes find it cheaper with an instant coupon at Amazon. 

David Carnoy/CNET

Beyerdynamic’s Phonum is arguably the sleekest-looking speakerphone on this list and speakers’ voices come across with audio quality that sounds 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. 

David Carnoy/CNET

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. 

Amazon

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 $200, 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.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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 several 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.

 

More WFH necessities

Related Posts

Top Foldable Phones for 2022: Motorola Razr 2020, Galaxy Flip, Galaxy Fold 2 and More

Foldable phones seem like something right out of a sci-fi movie. Yet here they are, making waves, and becoming increasingly popular. With Samsung’s Galaxy Fold 2 and Motorola’s Razr…

All the Best Headphones for Working at Home in 2022

Headphones that are good for working from home are also helpful in a hybrid working world. Whether you’re fully or partially working from home, you still need…

You Should Clear Your Android Phone’s Cache This Weekend

Clearing out your Android phone‘s cookies and cache can remove tracking cookies and excess data that may have built up while using your web browser. Whether your Android…

Want Your iPhone to Run Faster? Clear That Cluttered Cache Today

iPhones are handy, versatile devices used by more than half of American smartphone owners. They can help you easily find a new recipe, see what the weather is…

Should You Upgrade to iPhone 14? We Compare It to the Past 6 Years of iPhones

This story is part of Focal Point iPhone 2022, CNET’s collection of news, tips and advice around Apple’s most popular product. Apple’s iPhone 14 and iPhone 14…

4 True Wireless Earbuds Worth Buying for Under $40

Believe it or not there are cheap wireless earbuds out there. True wireless earbuds aren’t just premium products: There’s cheap and then there’s as cheap as possible. But you…