MXL’s AC-406 USB Desktop Speakerphone Has Multiple Uses

| Quick Look Review

MXL specializes in microphone and sound equipment, and the AC-406  is one part of their line of products. Sound is their business, and it is reflected in this product.

 

MXL AC-406

The black AC-406 has a small footprint 4.5 x 1.75-in (11.4 x 4.4 cm). It is made from plastic and the bottom is lined with suede. It is powered by a USB cable. The speaker is 4 ohms, 5W, the frequency response is 40 Hz to 16 kHz, and it is both USB 1.1 and 2.0 compatible. It offers 180-degree sound coverage and a mute button. 

View of attachment options

It is compatible with both Mac and PC, and extension and headphone jacks are present. The headphone output jack allows for private conversations . When headphones are plugged into the AC-406 the speaker automatically mutes, regaining function as soon as the headphones are unplugged. While the headphone jack accepts most headphones, the maximum headphone volume will vary by manufacturer and model. The extension jack can be used for additional microphones in a panel setting or to increase one user's degree of coverage.

Jack options

The package includes the speaker, a USB cable, and a Microfiber cleaning cloth. 

Contents of packing

Using the product

This is a plug and play product when used with a Mac. I tested it in two situations. One was a Skype conference call. Actually, I have used it several times for these calls because I have discovered I prefer it to wearing headphones. Because I use an external monitor for my Mac, I previously had two options for Skype conference calls — headphones or disconnect my third-party monitor and open my Mac so that my built-in speaker could function.

The headphones were the least intrusive option, but in either case, I had to make preparations before I could participate in a call. With the AC-406 plugged in all I have to do is push a button to turn it on and I am ready to go. Since it works through a Hub, I can keep it plugged in all the time. The other individuals participating in the calls, scattered in other states, were not able to tell that I was not using my headphones.

I also needed to test it in a group setting. I prevailed upon a friend to try it for a conference call. There were four people in the office where the AC-406 was used, one on the other end. Skype was used for the call. The four participants were required to sit near the computer, but not right on top of it, as the USB cable was approximately eight feet long. The AC-406 was placed in the middle of the table and each person spoke as needed. The one person on the other end of the call did not express any problems hearing any of the four participants nor did she ask anyone to repeat themselves. The four participants in the call expressed their satisfaction in using the AC-406 for their Skype conference call.

The AC-406 works as a speaker. When using it as either a microphone or a speaker your sound needs to be set so that it recognizes the AC-406 as the device for sound input/output. Chances are that your sound input will be recognized automatically when the unit is plugged in, mine was. But you may need to designate it as the choice for sound output. (Apple menu > System Preferences > Sound > Output Tab) The correct choice for either input or output is USB audio CODEC. The sound was satisfactory and it was handy to have the speaker function without adding something else to my crowded desktop. It is not the best speaker by any means, but it is certainly satisfactory.

Do I Recommend it?

I do. It is a nice alternative to headphones for a single user, and an inexpensive solution for multiple users. The MSRP is US$149.95, but I found it on the Internet for less, including Amazon where it was available for less than US$78.00.

Product: AC-406

Company: MXL

List Price: US$149.95

Pros:

Small footprint desk speakerphone, works with Skype and lets multiple users participate in phone call. Good speakerphone sound. Audio jack for override heaphones.

Cons:

Must be connected to computer via USB.

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