For calling your friends and family on Skype, there are a few options.Â You can a) use the on-board speakers and mic on your laptop, b) buy a headset which offers better audio (a good headset is the Everyman headset for Skype), or c) you can buy a speaker-phone type device for your computer.
However, up until this point, my opinion on these speaker-phone devices has been less than stellar.Â Most of them sound very tinny and don’t pick up my voice very well, compromising my voice quality to those I call.
So, when the Yahama USB Microphone Speaker came to me for review, I was anxious to give it a shot.
This little aluminum device plugs into your USB port on your computer and, under Windows, is immediately recognized as an speaker and microphone-enabled speaker device.Â This worked under Windows XP and Windows 7.Â Also, Skype automatically notices the new device and sets itself to utilize the Yamaha for calling purposes.
The Yamaha is metal and black in color and composed of tough aluminum.Â It comes with a handy little pouch for holding the USB cable and the soundbar itself.Â The construction is so rugged that this device could easily survive being toted around in your bag while traveling.
The PSG-01s serves two functions.Â First and foremost, it’s a speakerphone for Skype and other computer-based telephony programs.Â But also, it can be used as external speakers for your PC as well!Â This Yamaha device has some really nice-sounding speakers inside.Â They are a definite improvement over the on-board speakers on your laptop or netbook and would be great for rocking out while you’re traveling, for instance.
There must be an accelerometer in the Yamaha sound bar because when you have the device sitting upright, the mic and speakers are both engaged.Â However, when you turn it on it’s side, the Yamaha dings and becomes just a speaker device with no mic activity at all.
As for buttons and interface, the Yamaha PSG-01s has 5 buttons on the side.Â There is a mute button for the mic for ad hoc mic muting when needed, a volume up and down button, and a call send/end key for interact with Skype calls.
How does it sound?
The Yamaha PSG-01s, as a Skype speakerphone, sounds incredible.Â I had low expectations for this device and they were pleasantly blown away with my testing.Â I sat about 1-2 feet away from the device and called a number of people on Skype.Â Most of them thought I was on an actual headset based on the audio quality I put out.Â My callers sounded great to me as well.
The PSG-01s’ noise-canceling microphones effectively eliminat ambient noise.Â One room I was in had a low hum put out by the HVAC system.Â When I asked – the caller couldn’t even notice it.
I tested the device by calling Skype contacts and regular landlines/mobiles with the Yamaha.Â Each time, my callers said I sounded great and they sounded good to me as well.
If you are in need of a speakerphone for Skype calling, the Yamaha should be at the top of your list. It is a solidly constructed device that makes calling a joy and the audio quality can’t be beat.
The only caveat I found about the Yamaha is on the Mac.Â Upon plugging the device into my MacBook Pro, it automatically worked as a micrphone.Â However, you have to go to System Preferences and set it as the audio output device of choice.Â On Windows, this happened automatically and this was my expectation on the Mac as well.
The Yamaha PSG-01s can be found at the Skype Store and is priced at around $220 US Dollars, including deliver and all taxes.
If you order before December 31, 2009 – there’s a promotional price of $199.90, also including deliver and all applicable taxes.