Clear Call, by Octivox
Posted: 13-Mar-2004

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Octivox Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Hazel Valera Class: HARDWARE

Overview
Octivox Clear Call is a phone device that corrects the audio level on all incoming calls, no matter how many parties are on the line. Clear Call automatically adjusts the loudness of each individual caller to an optimal level so everyone can be heard loud and clear. Clear Call uses a technology called multi-band dynamics processing, previously used only by professional broadcasters and recording engineers, to adjust the audio signal for each call participant. Even the quietest person at the back of the room will be intelligible with Clear Call's 24dB of correction, strong enough to compensate for a distance of 32 feet from the microphone. Additionally, Clear Call eliminates background noise from the area where the Clear Call is installed so that all other callers can hear your voice better.

This device is intended for people who conduct conference calls and experience distortion or low voice levels with one or more parties during the conference call. This device is a telephone accessory and attaches to your speaker phone or telephone.

Price
Suggested retail price is $249.

Setup
I found installation of the device to be easy. Just plug in the AC to power the Clear Call device, then connect your Clear Call to your wall jack with the RJ11 cable, and then plug your analog phone into Clear Call. Then make a call to a number provided in the manual to download software for the device and your ready to go. There are a few steps to initiate testing the device which takes about 3 minutes. The manual  provides easy to follow instructions.

In Use
I attached the Clear Call device to the wall jack and then to my Polycom Soundstation Speaker Phone at my office. I felt it would be a good match for testing since I use this speaker phone for conference calls all the time. Before using the Clear Call, during calls where there were more than 3 people on the line, from various locations throughout the nation, everyone's voice came in at different levels and I always find myself leaning into the speaker phone to hear what everyone is saying.

I initiated 2 conference calls to test the Clear Call. The first call was made with 3 people on the line including myself. One person in Washington on a cell phone and the other in North Carolina on a home speaker phone. I was on the Polycom Sound Station Speakerphone. With the Clear Call attached, all of the callers sounded clear and all of the voice levels were the same. It was as if both callers were in the same room. The conference was pleasant for me and I could hear exactly what everyone was saying without leaning into the speaker phone. Both parties stated that I sounded very clear and that my voice did not have the echo sound that it normally did. I was very pleased with this first test call.

The second call I made was to my brother on his cell phone while he was driving in his car with the windows rolled down. In this situation, he normally sounds very distant when I call him from my Polycom and it's difficult to hear him. In addition, I have a server rack full of computers running in the same room where the Polycom is located. Callers often ask what the noise is in the background. The Polycom is one of the best speaker phones available because of its ability to pick up voices throughout the room, but that also means picking up background noises such as the computer fans. During this second call, my brother could not hear the servers or any hissing noise that normally accompanies my Polycom calls. On my end, he sounded very clear and there was no noise in the background that is normally associated with cell phones while traveling in a vehicle.

In an effort to perform a real-time comparison, I disconnected the Clear Call device and called my brother back to hear the difference. It was a world of difference. He could hear the servers blaring in my background in addition to the hissing. His voise was overwhelmed with the sound of the wind and with other people's voices talking within his car. I didn't even know he had people in the car with him when the Clear Call was attached.

No words can fully convey the difference between using the Clear Call and not using it. It is something you really need to experience to appreciate. There are samples on the Octivox web site at
www.octivox.com that demonstrate some of the differences (posted below). These samples are true to my experience; in fact, my tests provided even a wider gap of difference.

Description   Sample
Conference call without Clear Call  
Conference call with Clear Call  
Unstable call without Clear Call  
Unstable call with Clear Call  

Summary
Speakerphones, and even the most expensive conference phones money can buy, cannot deliver consistent volume, as people calling are sitting at varying distances or calling in from different locations and using different devices. You will almost always have at least one person you can't hear and one person that's too loud. Clear Call solves this problem by automatically adjusting the loudness of each individual caller to an optimal level so everyone can be heard loud and clear. Installation and set up was easy and the manual was simple to follow. Octivox offers software upgrades that can be easily downloaded right to the Clear Call unit over the phone, so that Clear Call will always be up to date. Not only does the Clear Call balance the voice levels and reduce background noises of the other participants, it also eliminates background noises from the location where the Clear Call is installed (so that you are heard more clearly by others).  

I was very pleased with the performance of this device. From the easy installation to the automatic volume matching for the different scenarios, Clear Call by Octivox is exceptional and delivers instant satisfaction. I would recommend this telephone accessory to any user who is involved in a lot of conference calls and wishes to hear everyone clearly and at the same level.

Pros

  • Compatible with most conference phones and speakerphones.
  • Normalizes callers voices and reduces background noises.
  • Nice compact size
  • Easy Installation

Cons

  • Pricy at $249 - May not be practical for users who do not engage in many conference calls or multi party calls.


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice