REVIEW: Sennheiser SP 20 Portable Speakerphone

Sennheiser, best known for its high-end audio equipment, is also a player in the business market with its computer headsets and speakerphones. The SP 20 (£99.99 ex. VAT) is a stylish portable speakerphone for hosting both personal and small group conferences on a computer and mobile phone or tablet. It sure is gorgeous looking, but sound quality may frustrate your participants.

HERE ARE 10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE SENNHEISER SP 20

  1. Through its Speakerphone Series (including the SP 20 reviewed here), Sennheiser is delivering a new category of portable conferencing solutions for office and field workers. The company already offers a wide range of wired and wireless headsets for the office, Contact Center and Unified Communications.
  2. The SP 20 is an impressive looking gadget that’s built to Sennheiser’s high quality standards. The silver-and-black accents are smart and sophisticated, yet have a high-tech appeal, and the hardware buttons on the top of the device provide a reassuring click when pressed.
  3. Portability is the name of the game and the SP 20 is tough yet pocketable (110x30mm, 210g) – there’s even a Sennheiser-branded soft protective carrying pouch included. The condenser microphone/speaker grilles are also tough enough to survive everyday knocks and bumps.
  4. There’s little point in a portable solution if it’s permanently connected to a power outlet. The SP 20 sports a relatively long talk time of up to 20 hours from a 2.5-hour charge using a PC/Mac’s USB port. Battery status is relayed via LED indications and there’s also voice prompts for low battery warning so you should always have sufficient talk time to finish your conference call.
  5. A built-in wrap-around cable system offers both USB and regular 3.5mm options for connecting to a computer and mobile phone or tablet. If you want to share a phone call with a group of people in a meeting room, for instance, you only need unwind the 3.5mm audio cable. Likewise, if you’re using Microsoft’s Lync or Skype on your computer, the USB cable will suffice. Furthermore, the SP 20 ML model (£99.99 ex. VAT) allows call participants to be connected via mobile phone and computer simultaneously.
  6. Using the SP 20 couldn’t be easier. Features include call and volume controls, mic mute, microphone volume LEDs, a dual talk function that enables users to interrupt a conversation more naturally, echo cancelling, and even a music function. The device can be placed anywhere on a table surface for 360-degree voice capture.
  7. The speakerphone makes it easy to ensure fuss-free call management and “hands free” use, whatever the location. Compatible with all main UC providers, the SP 20 is also optimised for Microsoft Lync on both Microsoft Windows and Mac and compatible for use with UC providers such as Avaya, IBM and Cisco.
  8. In addition to making personal and small group conference calls on computer/softphone in the office or when travelling, the SP 20 doubles up as a mono speaker for listening to music on the move, with a dedicated Sennheiser HD optimised sound profile. Don’t get crazily excited however, as the SP 20 won’t blow the house down with its low-volume output that’s also severely lacking in bass.
  9. There’s nothing personal about the SP 20. For private audio/video calls you’ll have to further invest in a headset.
  10. The SP 20 delivers a flexible speakerphone solution for those wanting exceptional design and user-friendly functionality. Unfortunately, when used for small group conference calls, participants can sound a touch distant and will often find themselves having to huddle around the device to improve call “warmth”. Nonetheless, it’s a very good solution to replace the speaker and microphone on your laptop and/or mobile phone and will make a clear style statement on any office or meeting desk.
SUMMARY
  • Lightweight yet robust styling
  • Fitted USB & 3.5mm cables
  • Tidy cable management
  • UC compatibility
  • Soft carrying pouch included
  • Can't use regular batteries
  • No wireless support
  • Callers can sound "distant"
  • No headphone jack
  • Music playback is lacklustre