Today we wanted to talk about three audio conferencing companies that have added USB 2.0 connectivity to their professional audio conferencing product line. ClearONE, Phoenix Audio and Vaddio. Phoenix Audio has actually had USB in the product for a very long time, more than 10 years actually. Phoenix started with a product called the Duet in June 2005. The Duet has a built-in microphone and speaker with echo canceling and noise reduction capabilities. More are on the USB technology timeline here: http://software.conferenceroomsystems.com/ .
ClearONE actually introduced it's first USB product the Chat150 in 2007. ClearONE is known for the best in class audio conferencing on a large scale. In fact, ClearONE is the largest audio conferencing company in the world. The Chat 150, which still popular today, provides 3 microphones with echo cancellation and USB 2.0 outputs. This unit can be daisy chained with up to 2 units.
Finally, Vaddio has a brand new line of EasyUSB products that can cover anything from a small conference room to large training room scenarios. The EasyUSB solution is quite different from ClearONE and Phoenix Audio because Vaddio's EasyMic solution uses Cat-5e cabling from the EasyUSB Amp all the way to the microphones. Vaddio has made things extremely easy by going with a standards based cable like Cat-5 which everyone in the industry is familiar with (not that we aren't familiar with XLR) but it's a nice standard and it can always be extended up to 300'.
If your interested in hearing a comparison of these units check out our USB speakerphone comparisons here.
But today we want to compare the professional side of audio conferencing mixers with capability to integrate multiple XLR microphones and still output a USB 2.0 signal for web video conferencing with software like GoToMeeting, WebEX and Skype. The SlideShare below compares each solution for an ideal scenario.
When you are looking for a ceiling microphone solution it's worth noting that the popular Phoenix Audio Quattro microphone can be ceiling mounted and daisy-chained up to 8 without additional power needed. But for this presentation we have assumed you are looking for a audio conferencing mixer that includes a amplifier to power ceiling speakers like the EasyUSB Amp, the ClearONE Converge Pro or the Phoenix Audio Octopus.
As you can see the Vaddio EasyUSB solutions are ideal for small conference rooms where you want a quick and easy installation that will be a reliable set up. The Phoenix Audio solutions take things a step further by adding the option functionality of SIP or Analog telephone interfacing along with USB 2.0. Phoenix Audio's Octopus line offers a great deal of flexibility not only because you can add SIP or Analog conferencing but also because you can order any unit with or without a built in amplifier. This can add additional cost savings if the room you are using already has a amplifier installed.
Finally the comparison between Phoenix Audio and ClearONE is on the last few slides. As you can see both offer extremely similar features (this comparison was done by Phoenix Audio) so some features were left out that ClearONE has always had. For example ClearONE still make the only audio conferencing mixer that allows for a wireless controller. That being said the Phoenix Audio Octopus only offers a dial pad if you have the analog telephone version and it looks extremely dated at that. So yes, ClearONE has a superior product if you compare every detail but Phoenix Audio certainly has a competitive product priced accordingly.