Better Audio with Microsoft Teams
It's just the same if you use Teams, Zoom, Bluejeans or any video conference system.
Videoconference on a laptop is great for one-to-one but in a meeting room....
We can easily take audio for granted.
Look at that high definition picture, it’s fabulous, surely the sound will be just as good?
Unfortunately sound continues to follow some well established laws of physics. If you are speaking close to the microphone you will be picked up clearly. If you speak from several metres away then the background noise in the room may drown your voice out.
If you expect your laptop to pick up the sound of a board meeting you will be disappointed.
It would be just the same if you put a webcam on top of your 70″ monitor screen.
How can we improve the sound pickup quality?
The first thing to consider is the room you are using.
- If there is a lot of background noise that will make clear speech in a video conference much harder to achieve. If there are noisy machines running – turn them off. If you can hear people outside, shut the door.
- Reverberation and echo can also spoil conference audio and may require acoustic treatment to deal with them.
- Adding some soft furnishings can help to absorb these noises and if that’s not possible then acoustic absorbent panels can do the job. These can also be decorative if you want.
Once you have sorted the room then think how best to collect the audio.
If the room layout is fixed then putting suitable microphones on the table can work well.
If the room layout is changeable then ceiling hung microphones mean all the cables can be left alone. Most boardrooms can get really good coverage with just two ceiling microphones.
In either case the right microphone needs to be chosen for your particular layout and connection system. For systems like Microsoft Teams, Zoom etc. where the conference is hosted on your laptop or PC then you need a microphone system with a USB interface.
We've got good audio, now for the camera.
Once you have decided on the microphone system then you might also want to look at improving your camera. The little wide angle camera that is perfect for a one-to-one meeting means everyone is a tiny dot once you put it in a larger room.
There’s a huge range to choose from here. We have cameras with 4k resolution and a 120 degree wide filed of view that have intelligent automatic zoom built into them. They will pick out the person speaking from the group. Then there are the more traditional looking PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) cameras. These can allow you to control and select exactly what your far end viewers will see.
The ultimate system would probably be the Poly Director, which uses two 12 x zoom cameras along with a multi element audio system. This system will show you a wide view of the group then cut cleanly to a close up of the person speaking. If there are two people speaking in turn it can cut cleanly from the one to the other and back. We can supply this to work with dedicated video conference codecs or we can connect it into a USB based cloud conference system.
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