EPOS EXPAND 80 – USB/BT Conference hands-free speaker/mic par excellence
Name: EPOS EXPAND 80 – USB/BT Conference hands-free speaker/mic
Price (RRP): $899
The EPOS EXPAND 80 – USB/BT Conference speaker/mic has exceeded all our expectations. It is scalable from a workgroup huddle to a 16-person conference room.
Whether you use unified communications (UC) or run it from a smartphone – it is an excellent addition to any small to large business that needs ultra-clear hands-free communications.
Where do you start with this? Perhaps that the EPOS EXPAND 80 USB/BT Conference speaker/mic is a product of a joint venture with Demant A/S and Sennheiser Electronic GmbH & Co. KG.
It sells to business professionals, UC users, and gamers – what a dichotomy. The EPOS AU website is here, and its pillars are performance, pioneering, crafted to last, and designed to excite. Its competitors include unified comms companies like Logitech, Jabra and Poly.
Where to start with the EPOS EXPAND 80 – USB/BT Conference speaker/mic
If in doubt start at the essential specifications
- Six digital MEMS omnidirectional microphones for up to 16 pax. Clear voice frequency response of 150Hz-7.5kHz (for clear voice and excludes higher level noises). All mics give a 360° coverage.
- One Neodymium ring magnet speaker for up to 85dB with low distortion (excellent)
- It supports BT Profiles A2DP 1.3.1 + AVCTP 1.4 + AVDTP 1.3 + AVRCP 1.6 + DID 1.3 + GAVDP 1.3 + HFP 1.7 + HSP 1.2 + RFCOMM 1.2.
- When used in BT HFP hands-free mode, it has a 50 – 7.5kHz (communication) mode 3% THD
- When used as USB or BT A2DP, it has 50Hz-20kHz (audio streaming).
- Maximum volume is 85dB – more than enough for a 25m2 space
- Comes with power supply, 1.5m USB-C to USB-C cable and USB-A adapter
- Also comes with a BT4.2 BTD 800 USB-A Dongle to enable BT on a host device
- Two models – the EPOS EXPAND 80 for UC modes and 80T for Microsoft Teams
- EPOS Connect app for Remote call control, firmware updates and settings. There is an overall EPOS manager app for all EPOS devices.
- 118.6 x 46.1 x 318.8 x 980g
- Optional expansion by up to two external mics
- AU website here
- Warranty 2-year ACL
- Price: $899
What does it do?
If that is not obvious by now and you don’t know what UC means you don’t need to read on. There are hundreds of low-cost hands-free speaker/mics.
It is approx. $899, but you buy it from UC specialists so you may bag a bargain.
Connect it via BT (supports NFC for quick pairing) or USB, and it becomes a business-grade hands-free speaker/mic.
That is all you need to do.
From there you have buttons for volume up/down, mute, answer/reject call, swap/hold calls, BT and NFC pairing. There is also an audio playback button that appears to switch to A2DP. But a long hold summons the voice assistant of choice.
Boardroom – EXCEED
We place it in the middle of a 5 x 5m area, not dissimilar to a corporate boardroom size. Tests were on BT (using the built-in BT 5.0), and USB-C connected to a Microsoft Surface Pro 6 and a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G.
I was seated in two test positions – 1m and 2.5m (at the edge of the room). I also walked around the room.
While mic sensitivity is subjective, the caller commented on the crystal-clear clarity of the beamforming mics. You can also add up to two more mic units to suit 24/32 people.
Maximum volume at 1m from the EPOS EXPAND 80 was 85dB and a very loud 75dB at 2.5m. Even at that level, there was no reverb or feedback – the speaker fires upwards, and the mics cover outwards.
Another test was to have three people speak at the same time. The caller said that the three conversations were quite distinct, and he understood all.
But the big test – a noisy environment – EXCEED
I took it to my local friendly café, where there are dozens of conversations ranging from whispers to shouts.
The aim was to see how effective the mic’s beamforming is. Again, this is subjective because we can only qualitatively measure results. The DSP (digital signal processor) did an amazing job of cutting ambient noise and focusing on those closest to the unit.
As a video conference hands-free – EXCEED
I suspect that I don’t need a $900 hands-free speaker/mic, but it sure makes a difference to the inbuilt mic on the Surface Pro 6.
I heard nuances in remote voices that I missed with a traditional speakerphone. But they could also hear me with no lag or reverb.
As a music device – EXCEED
It is a mono speaker and most of the time focuses on clear voice clipping at 7.5kHz.
Press the Audio button (or change to A2DP on the host device), and it opens up as an almost perfect, loud 80dB speaker.
You get strong hints of upper bass then it is flat to 10kHz where it dips to remove harshness and then back to flat almost to 20kHz. The sound signature is bright vocal (for clear dialogue), but it has just enough bass for jazz and blues too. In other words, it was pleasant to listen to, albeit a mono speaker.
EPOS Connect and EPOS Manager
We did not try the Windows EPOS Connect app. It can update firmware, controls calls, set up audio profiles (boardroom, office, etc.). It also supports the majority of UC protocols.
EPOS Manager is for managing a fleet of EPOS products.
GadgetGuy’s take – EPOS EXPAND 80 – USB/BT Conference hands-free speaker/mic should be in your boardroom or huddle
EPOS may not be a name on your UC shopping list, but it should be. Lovely Sennheiser sound and quality manufacture.
EPOS has a try before you buy program for qualifying business – it is no risk.
Rating this is easy – it exceeds all tests and expectations for UC use.
You can read other EPOS news and reviews here