The world has changed in a number of ways following COVID-19. There are different considerations, new protocols, with one of the biggest being the move to work from home. A lot of people found themselves needing to adapt to a new landscape; resulting in businesses trying to address these new situations. Among the most notable is Audeze’s take on the speakerphone, Filter. As the name suggests, Filter is more about removing the unavoidable annoyances that come with these lifestyle changes. This resulted in them being one of Time’s best inventions of 2022, a massive achievement for Audeze. Now that we finally have the opportunity to check it out, does Filter live up to the hype, or are these claims exaggerated.
One thing I love about Audeze products is the amount of effort that goes into presentation. Filter might not give an amazing first impression, as it comes in a fairly nondescript black box with the company logo on it, opening it immediately changes things.
On the top you’ll find Filter inside a leather pouch. This is a very soft and high-quality pouch. Below that is a good quality USB-C to USB-C braided cable, Audeze branded USB-C to USB-A adapter, and while it isn’t mentioned on the site, there is also a small pad so you can place Filter anywhere without the risk of damaging it.
Think of it as a small and thin mousepad that you can use anywhere. It’s a great addition, especially since that is both how I’d solve this problem. The only thing I’d note is the pad is roughly the same size as Filter, so there is almost no margin of error for placement. Tilting it helps a lot, though don’t be surprised if you end up having to find another solution.
Before talking about Filter, I wanted to touch on the included pouch. It’s essentially form fitting to Filter, so much so you can’t slip the aforementioned pad into it without bending it. Some will find the lack of belt clip, or anything external annoying, though it’s better than nothing. It also leaves the bottom corners exposed, something that could potentially result in damage to it, or other devices. The cases corners should prevent much of that, though still keep it in mind.
Unsurprisingly, Audeze went with a dual magnetic flap enclosure. It’s extremely secure, instantly snaps into place, and looks great. While removing Filter can be something of a struggle, Audeze included a small tab that, when Filter is inserted correctly, will effortlessly pull it out of the case. Best of all, it’s clear Audeze put a lot of thought into this case, as you can not actually pull too hard and shoot Filter out. Once it’s about 66 percent out of the case it can not be pulled out any further. It’s a small, but much appreciated feature.
As pictures suggest, Filter is an extremely compact device. At 11mm x 76mm x 152mm it’s essentially the same size as my iPhone 12 or Google Pixel 7 in a case. In fact, you can use the aforementioned pouch to hold the iPhone 12, or Pixel 7 without a case if you wanted to.
Filter vs iPhone 12
Despite the small size, Filter has some weight to it. At roughly 10 ounces it’s considerably more than my iPhone 12 (5.78 oz) or Pixel 7 (6.95 oz). It’s something you’ll absolutely notice the second you lift it. While the weight might be a slight turn off, it helps keep it securely in place. I didn’t have issues of it moving if my table wobbled, or I lightly tapped it.
Construction is also very impressive. The speaker portion is three pieces of metal delicately assembled to give it a sleek look. On the component side is plastic, with a physical button, and touch sensitive buttons. Simply tapping any of them will change Filters settings, often with a vocal indicator. They also illuminate when in use, making it extremely easy to see if you’re muted, have filtration on, or even have power. Hidden behind a small rubber cover is the USB-C port that is accessible by tilting the speaker up. This gives Filter an even sleeker look that certain consumers will absolutely appreciate.
Such Tiny Feet
On the bottom there are four rubber feet. These are extremely small, almost to the point where they’re flat on the bottom. I strongly suggest using the aforementioned pad, or another item to safely place Filter if you’re worried about damage.
Tilting is pleasantly robust. While many Devices will have set tolerances, or struggle at certain configurations, I had no issues using Filter at any angle. I just grab the bottom, pull it forward, and stop when I get it where I want. Even though these are all great aspects, they really don’t matter if Filter performs poorly.
Setting up Filter is incredibly easy. Holding the power button turns it on, double tapping enters Bluetooth pairing mode, and any relatively recent Mac, PC, Android, or iOS device can pair with it.
When paired you can answer calls by pressing the Audeze button. The same button can be used to reject calls, as well as play/pause music. Many of the buttons have additional features, like volume controls let you move forward/backward on music tracks.
A Look at the Android App
There is also a dedicated application that gives users full access to Filter. I wouldn’t say it’s necessary, outside of updating the device, though good if you want to set Filter to specific things without cycling through options, or touching it.
Sound performance is unsurprisingly good. Even if I didn’t plan on using the phone aspect, having a speaker that I can angle, and use in such a small space is huge. For example, at max tilted height it still comfortably fits under my iMac. This is also a nice addition, as you can still use for phone calls if any were to come in.
What Unpowered and Powered Look Like
For the big feature, filtration, I was pretty impressed. I had two major tests I wanted to try with Filter, each offering a different common occurrence to overcome.
When I used it with my Dyson air multiplier, Dreo Air Purifier, and television, it did very well at filtering out two of those annoyances. You honestly couldn’t tell my Dyson was at full power, something that was abundantly clear for anyone actually in my office. It struggled with the Dreo, largely because it happens to be directly behind me. I couldn’t beam form in a way that prevented it from being in the capture area. When I moved it to a different location Filter was able to handle it as well as the Dyson.
This is something I suggest keeping in mind when using Filter. It does a good job of blocking sounds, you just have to work with it. When used without stress testing I couldn’t tell my Dreo was on. So even if the worst case isn’t perfect, more common use cases should be fine.
The other was something of a unique situation that I had to wait for. Once a month my mom goes to her sewing guild meeting. I guess there are 20 or so women that meet, discuss their projects, talk about future events for members, and things like that. Back in 2019 they set it up so they could have Zoom meetings, something they kept doing after for members that couldn’t attend.
Shortly before getting Filter my mom mentioned an issue they had with voice capture. As you might assume, so many people meeting up will have a variety of conversations with the various members. These additional conversations were captured, making it hard to understand the main speaker. She wanted a solution to correct this, so I suggested they try Filter.
After a couple minutes it was set up and ready to go. By making strong use of the beam formation, along with enabling the filtration, it immediately corrected the issue. It helped a lot, especially since it could effortlessly shift from a single person set up to a group, to even the whole room. This makes me optimistic about it performing very well in your average meeting for office use. Especially if you face similar issues.
As far as the actual voice capture on Audeze Filter, it’s about what you’d expect from a similar microphone. It sounds slightly better than my iMac, though nowhere near a dedicated microphone solution.
Audeze Filter Review Verdict
It’s hard not to be impressed by the Audeze Filter. It looks great, has simple controls, and great accessories. Overall I would say I was impressed and could see it being perfect for anyone looking to correct external noise, or even just get a smaller speakerphone. All that being said, I did experience some technical issues, and slight hiccups, but for the most part the experience was impressive enough where I could see buying it and not being disappointed.[Editor’s Note: Audeze Filter was provided to us for review purposes.]