Since then I’ve used it around my home office a number of times, mostly in G.722 based wideband. To my ear it sounds fine. But my ear is not necessarily instrumentation grade, so I’ve made a sample recording to have some measurable results to look at.
This recording was made by recording directly into Cool Edit Pro v2.1 at 16 bits in mono with a sample rate of 48 kHz.
I tried to be consistent with the testing technique I used previously with the Yamaha PSG-01S. I set my dining room table up like it was a small board room, then walked around the table to each of the four side, speaking a little at each location.
Happily, the Chat 160 proved to be truly omni-directional. The recording level was consistent regardless of my location.
In the spectral graph of the recording I’ve added a pair of lines denoting 4 kHz and 8 kHz on the vertical axis. Even though the sample rate of the recording was very high it’s clear that the Chat 160 rolled off the high-frequency response just below 8 kHz. So while it’s perfectly satisfactory for G.722/G.722.1 based wideband telephony, it’s not quite up to the best capabilities of “super-wideband” codecs like SILK, CELT, or G.722.1C. Nonetheless it seems more than satisfactory for common voice applications.
Unlike another USB attached conference phone that I’ve tried, the Chat 160 showed no sign of problems with unacceptable noise level or DC shift in the output.
The absolute output of a bus-powered USB device is in part limited by the amount of power available to drive the output amplifier. The Chat 160 output seems loud enough to service a small room with 3-5 people around a table, just like the situations we faced at Astricon.
I purchased my Chat 160 from Amazon.com for $330. At that price it’s certainly not cheap, but it’s not unreasonable either. Most personal speakerphones are in the $140-200 range, but are simply not appropriate for use with a group. A freestanding SIP conference phone, like the Polycom Soundstation IP5000, costs over $400 but is much less convenient for portable applications.
I accept that not everyone needs a portable, USB attached conference phone. It’s clearly a niche application. If it happens that you have such a need, I find the Clear One Chat 160 to be worthy of consideration.