Yamaha PSG-01S USB Speakerphone Review
Hands-free calling is a very liberating alternative, especially for conference calls and working while you talk. The barrier that keeps people from using speakerphones often is compromised audio quality. Listening and being heard clearly is crucial in business. As a major contender in the pro audio market, Yamaha knows a thing or two about good sound. They have managed to raise the bar, making this one of the best USB speakerphones out there. Exacting Skype users willing to shell out some extra cash for a quality unit will be pleased. However if you can’t take advantage of its flexibility, it may be overkill.
The exterior resembles a miniaturized skyscraper with a helicopter landing pad on the top. Casing is made of rugged aluminum, giving the PSG-01S enough weight to give it a quality feel. Five large square buttons run down the side of the device. Here you can adjust the volume, pick up or hang up a call and initialize recording or microphone mode.
By flipping the tower horizontally, the Yamaha can be used as a portable speaker system. This automatically switches the microphone off and switches speakers into stereo playback mode. Since the small drivers are only a few inches apart the stereo separation isn’t very pronounced. Still, it sounds a fair bit better than laptop speakers and is a great companion to an iPod. This setup is ideal for listening to music in hotel rooms.
When set upright the PSG-01S goes into speakerphone mode. The ring on the top of the device lights up signifying that the microphone array has been enabled. Four small condenser microphones are employed to pick up sound from a variety of directions. This makes it a great choice for conference calls. Sound is just as clearly picked up at the sides as at the front of the enclosure. Voice directed at the rear start to sound distant so coverage isn’t a full 360 degrees.
The sound quality is so impressive that people on the other end had no idea a speakerphone was being used. With proper placement, it sounds nearly identical to talking into a headset. Audio beyond 7 KHz has been rolled off which is disappointing since Skype supports sample rates well beyond 16 KHz. This might have been necessary in order to comply with the majority of wideband telephony codecs.
Skype certification assures smooth integration with the Skype client. When you use the controls at the side of the unit Skype software responds as expected. For example, pressing the off-hook button makes the dialling dialog appear on your computer screen. Pressing the on-hook button terminates the call.
Yamaha guarantees compatibility with PCs running Windows only. Controller software isn’t available for the Mac but this won’t limit functionality. The PSG-01S works with Mac OS X once it has been changed to an audio output device in System Preferences.
There is a threaded socket at the bottom of the unit that allows you to attach it to a camera tripod. This is an especially handy idea for audio recording applications. A mini tripod can also be used on a desk to bring the unit closer to the height of your lips.
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Yamaha PSG-01S Review Verdict
Yamaha’s PSG-01S manages to be one of the most impressive USB speakerphones out there. Unfortunately Skype users are often looking to pitch pennies and it is a pricier calling device. Business travelers and audiophiles will probably be the ones willing to make the investment of over $200. The fact the PSG-01S doubles as a mini speaker system perfect for use with an iPod or laptop adds a lot of additional value. On top of that, it can be used as USB microphone for podcasting. So if you are a person that can take advantage of all its capabilities the Yamaha is actually a spectacular deal.