Handsfree calling devices are often a great blessing especially when you need to discuss something and access another device at the same time in addition to facilitating group calls. Beyerdynamic is a German audio brand with almost a 100-year history behind it, and the Phonum is a Bluetooth speakerphone for conference calls.
The Phonum is beautifully designed, with a cylindrical cross-section, flat base and a mesh speaker dome on top. The flat base is metal with soft anti-slip padding, while the main unit has a polycarbonate exterior. The speaker dome is surrounded by a ring-shaped touch-responsive control panel that gives access to Bluetooth connection, Volume control, Microphone mute/unmute and Microphone mode control, which are permanently marked, in addition to Accept Call and Reject Call buttons that light up when you receive a call on your connected device. There are also eight LEDs indicating the microphone pick-up direction. The power button and USB-C port are at the side. Contrary to the most likely perception, the upward-facing speaker dome houses a 360-degree downward-firing speaker, which allows all participants to hear clearly. The speaker is designed for clear vocals and offers distortion-free output with optimal volume. The speakers feature echo cancellation for speech legibility. The Phonum can be connected with a smartphone or laptop via Bluetooth or with a non-Bluetooth device via USB.
Apart from the regular features of a speakerphone, what makes the Beyerdynamic Phonum special is the Gecko 360-degree technology and the intelligent microphone system. This system lets you customise the microphone pick-up pattern to suit the conferencing setup. The Microphone Mode Control button cycles between three modes of voice tracking. The Gecko Fix mode switches the microphone to single direction pick-up, which is ideal when there is only one speaker participating in the call. This filters out disturbances from other directions. In Gecko Follow mode, the microphone follows the speaker even if the person moves around, making it perfect for situations where one person has the floor. In Gecko 360-degree mode, the microphone assumes omnidirectional pick-up so that all people gathered around a table can freely participate in the conversation and is clearly audible. In each of these modes, the LEDs around the touch panel illuminate, indicating the microphone’s active pick-up direction. The strongest pick-up direction is indicated by the brightest LED, while the peripheral LEDs are dimmed, and those in the direction of least pick-up remain off. In omnidirectional mode, all LEDs remain switched off.
We found the Beyerdynamic Phonum to be extremely portable and quite responsive to touch input. Connection proved quick and seamless, facilitating quick set-up. In Follow mode, the microphone quickly changes direction according to the speaker’s position, making it a versatile conference device. If you plan to use this as a music player, you will be disappointed simply because the device is not designed for that purpose, and the volume is quite low for music playback. The device offers 12 hours of operating time on a single charge and features quick charging via the USB-C port. The Phonum is sold in India via headphonezone.in .
WE’RE IMPRESSED Light, portable and sturdy design, responsive touch panel, Gecko 360-degree system, good battery life, sturdy case
WE’D IMPROVE Speaker volume
THE LAST WORD Beyerdynamic Phonum is an extremely versatile speakerphone for any type of conferencing situation with a highly functional intelligent microphone system