Hands-on review: EPOS Expand 80 Bluetooth speakerphone
EPOS continues to make waves in the professional and gaming audio marketplace. The EPOS Expand 80 may be just what you are looking for as work starts to normalise, but remote Microsoft Teams video calls remain.
The Epos Expand 80 is a premium 300m long Bluetooth speaker with six omnidirectional microphones. There are two 3.5mm audio jacks on the underside of the device for optional external microphones.
The Expand 80 is independently powered. All the cabling can be neatly tidied away for a professional look. There’s also support for a Kensington Lock to stop someone from walking away with it.
Connected directly to a phone, the Expand 80 makes for a very easy to set up a conference call facility. With more business being carried out remotely, high-quality audio (with no technical hiccups) is very important.
The difference between audio the quality in a conference call using a dedicated omnidirectional mic or all shouting into a mobile phone mic sitting on the table is night and day. Similarly, with the speaker audio, which is crisp and unmuffled.
Epos states that the Expand 80 has a Bluetooth range of 30m (line-of-site). The mic will pick up an almost whisper-quiet voice from about three metres away. Larger tables can be accommodated using up to two optional add-on microphones.
The unit’s speaker is powerful and responsive enough to not only reproduce the human voice but also playback and fill any room with high-fidelity music. Its compact size makes it a perfect accompaniment for presentations that may need an audio boost.
The Epos Expand 80 comes into its own, though, when sitting in a meeting room on a Zoom call with multiple local attendees (Epos says that the unit supports up to 16 people in a room). Not on do the remote attendees sound better than tinny PC speakers, everybody in the room can sit comfortably around the Expand 80 and still get picked up by the six mics.
Connecting the Expand 80 to devices is easy. The speakerphone can be connected to a PC, Mac, and mobile via the USB C cable (with USB Type-A adapter) supplied, with the included Bluetooth dongle, or directly to a Bluetooth equipped device. The Expand 80 features NFC Bluetooth pairing with NFC-capable mobile devices. The unit can be connected to up to three devices.
There’s no other software to install, with the speakerphone, essentially behaving like a headset. Installing the free Windows Epos connect software, available for download from the Epos website, allows for user customisation and firmware updates.
The unit has large easy-to-press buttons along the top. There are buttons for NFC Bluetooth pairing (press and wave your phone over the speakerphone) and regular Bluetooth pairing. Calls can be initiated and hung up with the touch of a button. There are also volume and mic muting buttons. Sitting on its own is a button for activating digital assistants.
The Expand 80 is very nicely styled and feels very well-constructed. The natural black with silver trim gives it a premium corporate look that will complement the décor of the room, be it a conference room or boardroom.
With their Expand 80, Epos provides a corporate solution to our ever-evolving workplaces. The need for professional-level communication with remote clients and colleagues has never been more important.
At around NZ$1300/AU$900 the Expand 80 is not cheap, but for that price, you get a premium conference USB/Bluetooth speakerphone capable of picking up everybody in the room and delivering crisp audio from the remote parties.