Conference calls are a staple of small to medium sized businesses. As companies open new locations, hire remote employees, and service widespread customers, these calls allow dispersed teams to stay connected on a regular basis. And as the technology behind conference calling has advanced, so has the hardware supporting it.
Most VoIP desk phones come with a built-in speakerphone for hands-free calling, but the microphone isn't ideal for pick up input from more than one person. For group calls, a business conference phone provides a much better calling experience. These devices are designed to accommodate large spaces with multiple speakers.
Conference phones typically offer HD voice, echo cancellation, and detachable microphones, all of which help render sounds clearly on both ends of the call, creating a more fluid and organic meeting. When paired with a conference bridge, these phones can handle a very large number of meeting participants.
Here at OnSIP, we've reviewed many conference phones over the years. We also use conference phones daily in our capacities as a business. Using this knowledge, we decided to publish a list of four exceptional business conference phone models. Check out our condensed reviews below to learn more about stand-out features, pricing, design, and other considerations.
VTech ErisStation VCS754
The VTech ErisStation is an ideal conference phone for users who need to cover a wide range of spaces during their calls. The four wireless mics can be deployed with ease, and offer a wide range of coverage. If your company's conference calls are thrown off by conference phones that do not seem to capture every voice in the room, or if you just want to increase the volume of every voice, the ErisStation is for you.
Stars: 4 out of 5
Price: $372.20 (Telephony Depot)
The VTech ErisStation VCS754 has a full-duplex design and echo cancellation to avoid jumbled cross talk. The phone comes with four wireless mics that use Orbitlink Wireless Technology and DECT 6.0. Each mic has up to 8 hours of talk time, with up to 70 hours of standby time. To eliminate background static, the VCS754 uses dynamic noise cancellation.
The conference phone has a 2-line backlit display that features the date and time and can support up to 50 CID log entries, 10 speed dial entries, and 50 name/number phone book entries. The VCS754 also comes with Bluetooth support..
The voice quality of the VCS754 is good, but not outstanding. A standard desk phone with HD voice sounds better—that being said, the voice quality is functional, and won't stand in the way of daily office communications.
The Grandstream GAC2500 is at the top of its class in every department. Its slick Android interface is more than just for show. It gives the GAC2500 unique customization options and capabilities that other conference phones simply lack. This cross between voice/video conferencing is a new domain for conference phones, and features such as auto scheduling calls separate it more than just aesthetically from other leading models on the market. Even without the smartphone-esque interface, the device still goes beyond what other options are offering.
Stars: 5 out of 5
Price: $425.00 (Telephony Depot)
The Grandstream GAC2500 is a touch screen Android device with a smartphone-esque design. The phone supports up to 6 SIP accounts and includes WiFi capabilities, a Bluetooth integration, a 4.3” touch screen, 3 detachable cardioid microphones, a Gigabit Ethernet port, 7-way conferencing, and HD audio with Opus and G.722 codecs.
The GAC2500 has a thin build, but the construction is sturdy, composed of matte black plastic that does not pick up fingerprints. The 4.3" touch screen is well-placed and easy to operate. The conference phone offers app downloads from the Android store and allows you to take Google Hangouts and Skype chats directly from the touch screen.
The GAC2500 has superb sound quality that rivals desk phones. The volume is very powerful and robust, but doesn't distort the crisp voice quality that the phone conveys. It can also double as a USB speakerphone for use with softphones.
Aside from a few quibbles with the voice quality, the Yealink CP860 is a solid conference phone. The feature set is impressive, and the phone has everything you need to conduct conference calls with clarity and precision. Yealink’s SIP software continues to remain very reliable and easy to use. The conference phone's UI and the online admin portal are well-designed.
Stars: 4 out of 5
Price: $499.00 (Telephony Depot)
The Yealink CP860 offers Optima HD voice, 10-feet 360 degree sound pick up, and full duplex technology. In addition to these voice-enhancements, the CP860 has extension microphones that can be detached from the device. The phone also boasts echo cancellation and can be connected to mobile phones and PCs for conference calls.
The CP860 is a subdued phone, design-wise. The buttons are smooth and responsive, and laid out in a simple, efficient fashion. The screen is small but effective, and the chassis is solidly built. The conference phone also comes with a local phone book, four soft keys, multicast paging, USB call recording, and ringtone selection.
The sound quality on the CP860 is decent. The audio speaker has a lot of sound power, but it's a bit tinny. We noticed that the highs were quite high for a conference phone, and people with deep timbres sounded somewhat hollow. Besides these observations, the sound quality was great.
Polycom Soundstation IP 6000
The Soundstation IP 6000 is a fantastic conference phone that delivers excellent audio performance. We’ve been using it ourselves for the past couple of years, and I’m convinced that it would make a great addition to any medium sized conference room.
Stars: 5 out of 5
Price: $729.00 (Telephony Depot)
The Polycom Soundstation IP 6000 has microphones at each of the three endpoints to ensure equal sensitivity to sound input from all directions. The phone uses patented Polycom Acoustic Clarity for audio output and enables Polycom HD Voice technology for calls up to 14 kHz. The IP 6000 supports one SIP registration, but can handle up to 8 simultaneous calls.
The IP 6000 has integrated Power over Ethernet (PoE), resistance to interference from mobile phones and other wireless devices, along with advanced call handing, security, and provisioning features.
Although more expensive than the other phones in this blog, the Polycom Soundstation IP 6000 is still a best-in-class conference phone with superior voice quality. One might take issue with the fact that the phone only supports a single SIP line, but most conference phones don't switch between accounts as rapidly as a desk phone might.
Conference Phones: Crystal Clear Group Calling
As your business expands, in both size and geography, it might make sense to purchase conference phones for your office locations. Deploying conference phones with your business phone system can create easier logistical setups, enable clear, wide-scale communication within your company, and increase efficiency during meetings.
Putting conference phones in your meeting rooms saves your employees the trouble of having to dial into calls with personal desk phones or smartphones. This method can actually decrease meeting cohesion, because it doesn't allow your employees to occupy a single space together, which degrades the organic nature of staff meetings. Multiplying the number of devices required can also lead to technical complications and failures, which can delay and disrupt the call.
The conference phones in this blog are some of the best we've seen on the market. You can't go wrong with any of these options, but it will ultimately be up to you to determine which one offers the best price, design, and feature set for your business.