Sennheiser; new UC devices

The latest batch of UC devices to cross our reviewers’ desks contained one absolute gem, one that is OK and one that, frankly, left us scratch- ing our heads – or at least would have done if the touch sensitivity had not triggered a range of unpredictable responses.

Sennheiser SP 30/30+

So let’s start with absolute gem – the Sennheiser SP 30 porta- ble wireless speakerphone for personal conferencing for up to 8 people. One of the hot topics in UC is the choice between all- in-one display-based solutions, like the Windows Collaboration Devices from Avocor, Sharp and others, where everything you need, including audio or a camera is included in the stan- dard package, or a solution in- tegrated around a selection of best-in-class products for the specific user’s requirements. There

are some absolutely

cracking products on offer in this space, and while many of the all-in-one solutions are also first class, they do offer a great deal of flexibility for very spe- cific collaboration needs. The SP30 offers a natural conver- sation experience and excep- tional audio performance and sound quality via Bluetooth or USB-C, from a device which can be portable for those who work in different locations. As a portable wireless speak- erphone it comes in a carry case, is light weight and has a diameter only a little bigger

Sennheiser MB 660 UC MS

OK so enough gushing praise, now for the one that left us scratching our heads. The Sennheiser MB 660 UC MS is described as a "wireless, Skype for Business Certified, adaptive ANC headset”

designed for

knowledge workers “demand- ing business-grade communi- cation and premium Sennheis- er sound quality for maximum productivity in open offices.” The idea is to constantly monitor the background en- vironment for noise, to apply Sennheiser’s NoiseGard hybrid adaptive ANC technology


seamlessly adjust the level of noise reduction in the head- set. “This unique technology enables you to take control of your sound environment, so you can have a productive, disrup- tion-free workspace.”

All good. No one could quib- ble with the build quality of the product, but the operation of the MB 660 UC is another mat- ter. In the name of innovation, Sennheiser has introduced call and media controls direct from the touch pad built in to the ear pieces of the headset: various

touches allow you to answer/ end call, reject, hold, mute/un- mute, redial, play/pause music, change track and move volume up or down. Unfortunately, it is far from immediately apparent which touches trigger which commands.

Should an audio headset re- quire a training course to use it?In today’s BYOD world, the exact participants in say, a Skype for Business meeting, are hard to predict. If the meet- ing start is delayed because of the need to train people on how to use the headset, in what way is the product, as claimed, op- timised for UC? To be fair, the good points include both the quality mate- rials used in the MB 660 and the 30 hours of battery life with features like turning the device on and off by

turning the ear cups. As for the rest, one owner reports that: “I do not know all the commands – just the most important ones.” We were con- cerned that we might acciden- tally unmute the device at an unfortunate moment – give us

a switch or a button to remove any chance of this happening. Crusty I know, and we are probably

not attributing true

credit for some of the clever technology in this product. For example, SpeakFocus technol- ogy features 3 digital micro- phones for clear sound against the noisy background of an open office. The Advanced Own-Voice-Detector detects the user’s voice and optimises speech intelligibility, as well as reducing background noise for the listener.

Room Experience “externalis- es” the sound giving the user the impression that conversa- tion is taking place with a lis- tener in the same room. Finally, Sennheiset’s TalkThrough tech- nology allows the user to hear announcement of train and plane departures, for example, without removing the headset. Clever – but too clever for its own good?

“For a compact and light weight device, the Presence Grey UC packs a good deal of technology, including some of the elements we liked in the MB 660 UC.”

for Unified Communications and certified for Skype for Busi- ness.” Or review sample came complete with a neat little car-

had as cheap as £99.77 (mi- nus the carrying case) from Amazon UK.

than a CD. The SP30 provides personal conferencing for up to 8 people. It is possible to set up a conference call at a mo- ment’s notice in any location

or use the device as part of a permanent conference room or huddle space solution. We set our review sample up with a Logitech camera, Intel NUC

and a LG display, and also with a laptop for a solution that is dead easy to move around and set up.

Sennheiser markets its SP series of speakerphones with the tag line: “A conference call in your briefcase.” A choice of Bluetooth or USB-C connectiv- ity provides freedom and flex- ible connection options. Two long-range, noise and echo cancelling microphones and an ultra-low distortion speaker with clear voice reproduction allow a natural, conversational flow even in challenging envi- ronments. Our test confirmed the manufacturer’s claims and it should also be said that the SP30 is as cute as ninepence, with clever design touches like secure storage for the USB dongle.

American pricing is $209 to $259, which translates to a UK street price of around £123 (SP30

at Best4Sytems) to

£158 (SP30+ with the dongle at Best4Sytems). At these pric- es, we are definitely convinced.

The Sennheiser SP 30 portable wireless speakerphone for personal conferencing or up to 8 people.

Sennheiser Presence Grey UC

After our recent office reorgan- isation spread our resources over four floors and two build- ings, the usefulness of the Sennheiser Presence device became immediately apparent. No more ‘hunt the handset’ or ‘find the device’, the Presence Grey UC keeps the user in touch with desktop computers, laptops, smartphones and tab- lets.

The manufacturers describe the Presence Grey UC as suit- able for “mobile professionals who require a consistently ex- cellent communication solu- tion.” The device is “Optimized

rying case and a USB dongle. For a compact and light weight device, the Presence Grey UC packs a good deal of technol- ogy, including some of the ele- ments we liked in the MB 660 UC, like the Own-Voice-Detec- tor, SpeakFocus and WindSafe technologies(which filters wind noise).

Again,the device features three digital microphones and Sennheiser’s noise filtering technologies. We found that Presence Grey UC delivered audible clear sound and was a genuine time saver. Not at all bad for something that can be

The Sennheiser MB 660 UC MS - a wireless, Skype for Business Certified, adaptive ANC headset: too clever for its own good?

P8 AV News May 2019

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