If there's one thing the global pandemic has taught me, in relation to official meetings and online conferences, it's that the audio and video tech bundled along with your computer or laptop is not enough. The image quality of most internal webcams is nothing to write home about, so if you're the least concerned about appearing professionally in your online meetings, you'd go a step further and purchase an external webcam. Also, you have to place your mouth very close to the microphone to record audible audio, and the microphones in most laptops are placed in unergonomic locations, necessitating the use of an external microphone for serious meetings.
An exception is the speaker as the sound quality from most laptop speakers is passable, but it's always best to have everything related to audio in one device - or at least have them all connected to one interface - when engaging in activities like online official meetings; it's easier to control your audio and avoid being distracted while at it. This is where a speakerphone, a device equipped with both a microphone (or several microphones, in most cases) and a speaker to transmit recorded audio and handle audio playback at the same time, comes in. In this article, I'm reviewing the eMeet OfficeCore M0 Speakerphone.
The eMeet OfficeCore M0 is a portable plug-and-play speakerphone that connects via USB-C, and sports a 4-microphone array with eMeet Technology's VoiceIA audio tech, Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AER), and Noise Reduction technology, complete with a 3W onboard speaker that can be connected to an external speaker for audio output. That's an interesting spec lineup for a device that costs less than $70, so let's find out in this review if this device is as fantastic as it appears on paper.
In The Box
I've had about 6 devices from eMeet in the past couple of months, and their packages are all designed similarly - a white and blue cardboard box with zero bells and whistles.
You'll get all of the paperwork - user manual, warranty card and warranty info manual - is included at the top of the box upon opening it.
Underneath these, you have the eMeet OfficeCore M0 speakerphone itself, and its accessories in a separate compartment beside it. Here's a list of all the contents of the OfficeCore M0's box:
- User Manual.
- 1-Year + 1-Year extended Warranty Card.
- Warranty Info Manual.
- eMeet OfficeCore M0 Speakerphone.
- USB-A to USB-C Power Cable (1m long).
- 3.5mm audio jack (0.84m long).
Design & Build
- Dimensions: 80 * 80 * 40.7 ±0.5mm.
- Weight: 201.3g.
- Ports: USB-C | 3.5mm Audio Output.
- Controls: Volume Control | Mic Mute/Unmute | Speaker Mute/Unmute | Call Answer/Hang Up.
What struck me immediately I took this device out of its box, is how handy and pleasant to hold it is. With dimensions of 80 by 80 by 40.7 mm, it's small enough to be held comfortably in a medium and large-sized palm, and its base is coated in a soft material which makes the experience of holding this speakerphone just... satisfying 👌.
The speakerphone's portable size also makes it easy to transport around, in a suit pocket or your backpack, and it weighs just about 201 grams, so this won't weigh your hands or pockets down.
The base of the device is surrounded by vents which aid in heat dispersion, as the speakerphone is going to get warm during prolonged usage.
At the top of the device is a 4-microphone array, with all of the control buttons nested, in a circular pattern, at the center. There are buttons for controlling the speaker volume, answering/ending calls, and muting/unmuting the microphone system and speaker.
Like the base, the section containing the control buttons is coated with a soft-touch material which greatly enhances the experience of using the buttons.
The buttons give adequate tactile feedback, and the control buttons section is surrounded by a circular LED indicator that turns solid red when the microphone is muted, and lights up in blue to indicate the direction from which the microphone is currently picking up sound. The speaker mute/unmute button also lights up in red when the speaker is muted.
There are two ports at the back of the device; a USB-C port for powering the speakerphone, and a 3.5mm audio output port which allows you to transfer the speaker function from this device to an external speaker. This is useful for situations like a large conference meeting with many listeners, for which the M0's speaker won't be loud enough.
The eMeet OfficeCore M0 is a well-built device, and while I wouldn't recommend dropping anything that contains or is related to speakers and microphones, I expect this device to survive a couple of accidental drops and some rough-handling.
- Rated Output Power: 3W RMS.
- Approximate Frequency Response: 85Hz - 20KHz.
The speaker in the eMeet OfficeCoreM0 has an output power of 3W, which indicates two things right off the bat: it can handle a limited frequency range, and won't get as loud as your regular music speakers. This turns out to be true during my usage of the device, but the end result isn't negative as you would have thought, and is actually in line with the type of product it is - a speakerphone.
The speaker is designed to amplify sound frequencies related to human speech, which ranges between 85 to 255 Hz. Hence, audio frequencies in the sub-bass range (20 to 60Hz) are greatly attenuated, and what this means is that the bass sounds in most songs would be almost completely stripped out when played on this speaker. This isn't a bad thing, since it isn't designed primarily for music playback. That said, the speaker still outputs good audio for music, and you can get away with listening to songs that have little or no bass in them, like classical music.
The elimination of sounds in the sub-bass frequency on this speaker is a good thing for the device's performance during meetings. The voice from the other end comes through clearly and prominently, and echo is more or less non-existent while background noise is significantly reduced.
I mentioned earlier that the M0's speaker doesn't get as loud as regular music speakers, but its 3W rated output power translates to about 95dB, which is loud enough to be heard up to 15ft away in a quiet environment.
- Polar Pattern: 360° Omni-directional.
- Mic Quantity: 4.
- Microphone sensitivity: -26dBFS.
- SNR (Signal-Noise Ratio): ≥ 80dB.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20KHz.
The 4 microphones in the OfficeCore M0 pick up sound from all directions, which is to be expected from a device designed to cater to activities like conferences and online meetings. Unlike the speaker whose audio output frequency starts from around 60Hz, the microphones record the full frequency range of sounds audible to the human ear, which is between 20Hz and 20KHz.
This means that your voice is fully recorded and transmitted (depending on your network bandwidth) to the other side on a call, and though the eMeet M0 itself wouldn't replay the full frequency range when the audio recorded via its microphone is played via its speaker, it is recorded fully nonetheless and you can replay on a more capable speaker if you need to hear sounds in the sub bass frequencies.
This disparity between the frequency response of the speaker and microphones in the eMeet M0 creates some interesting interplay when it comes to noise reduction for the mic recording. Background noise captured with the mic is almost non-existent when the same audio is played on the device's speaker, but you might hear more of that background noise if you play the same audio on a speaker with wider frequency response. Hence, you should consider the possible output medium of the person(s) on the other end of your call if you're going to have some noise in the background while using this microphone.
Note also, that when the speakerphone is connected to an external speaker via its 3.5mm audio output port, the M0 is still restricted to an output power of 3W, so the external speaker would simply be playing the role of transmitting the maximum it is given by the M0 speaker. Hence, you might notice that the same audio file contains less bass and has a lower volume when played on another speaker via the eMeet M0, than when it is played directly on the other speaker.
With the technical specifications out of the way, let's review some audio recording samples I made with the eMeet OfficeCore M0's microphones.
In the recording above, my voice remains clear and audible even as I move about 10ft away from the position of the microphone. This was a very quiet setting, so I expect that my voice would still be picked up if I moved as far as 15ft away from the microphone.
The sample above is the same test as the first one, but this time with an electric standing fan operating at the lowest speed level about 7ft away from the speakerphone. The noise from the fan is almost non-existent when the audio is replayed via the eMeet M0's speaker, but it becomes noticeable when I listen on my Earfun Uboom speaker, albeit without disrupting the quality of the audio.
The sample above is the same test as the second one, but this time with the fan operating at the highest speed level. The noise from the fan is noticeable when the audio is replayed via the OfficeCore M0's speaker, and even more evident when I listen on my Earfun Uboom speaker, but it's still less disruptive in the audio recording than it actually sounds in real life.
Now I'm at my desk, with my laptop in front of me and the OfficeCore M0 speakerphone to the right of the desk, all office-style. My voice comes through clearly, and continues to be audible while correctly conveying the angle and distance of my voice as I swivel my chair around and turn to completely back the device as I'm speaking.
The three samples above were recorded in the same setting as the one above, but with different levels and types of background noise. For the first two of the trio above which have my fan operating in the lowest and highest speed level, respectively, about 2 feet away from me, the background noise is more noticeable than when I was recording with the fan 6ft away from me, which is to be expected.
In the last sample above, I have some music playing in the background on my Earfun Uboom speakers about 2ft away from the eMeet M0 speakerphone while recording. When I replay the audio via the M0's speaker, I can hear only the vocals of the song in the background with my voice in the foreground, but when I play the same sample via my Earfun Uboom speakers, the whole of the song comes out. It's still obvious, though, that the music is playing in the background, and my voice is in the foreground.
Here's my takeaway from this recording experiment: the eMeet M0's microphone system does cancel some background noise, but it should not be relied upon too heavily, especially when the source of the noise is less than 5ft away from the microphone.
eMeet OfficeCore M0 Review - Final Verdict
The eMeet OfficeCore M0 is a simple device that does not lay claim to many functions - it simply plugs into your computer via USB only, works right out of the box with no driver installations or configurations required, works best for meetings with up to 4 participants at once, and does its primary function of simultaneous audio recording and playback on calls well. Hence, if your conference/online meeting needs are consistent with this level of simplicity, then the eMeet M0 is one of the best speakerphones at its price point for you. If you need more connection modes (like Bluetooth and wireless USB dongles) or an even better microphone system with support for more call participants, then you should take a look at other speakerphones from eMeet, like the eMeet Luna, eMeet OfficeCore M1, and eMeet OfficeCore M2.
As of when this review was published, the eMeet OfficeCore M0 is listed for $69.99 on Amazon, with a $10 discount and 20% coupon bringing the final price down to $47.99. That's an absolute steal.