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Yearly Archives: 2017

Video Codecs, they’re not all created equal

Written on December 8, 2017 at 2:29 pm, by

 

We see h.264 used in so many applications.

 

 

This is one of the most incredible things about ClearOne’s ViewPro AV over IP solution.  ViewPro can decode streams that some other device encodes, or native H.264/265 devices like IP cameras.  Or, send a stream to ViewPro directly from a PC/Mac, iOS or android device or others.

 

Same is true at the other end, you don’t need one of our ViewPro decoders, simple devices like an AppleTV, or an IPTV set-top box can decode our streams.  Recording or playback on an NVR (network video recorder) is easy, watching streams on a PC/Mac/iOS/Android, etc is easy too.

 

 

It’s the beauty of being standards based.  But h.264 isn’t known for its high quality streaming, or so we are conditioned to think.  H.264 and 265 High Profile, in both 4:2:0 and 4:4:4 variants are what we use in ViewPro. With High Profile h.264 compression, you would be hard pressed to notice any difference in signal or image quality, with fast motion video, or fine text like spreadsheets.  Whatever the content, High Profile, h.264 encoding and decoding will give you an output that looks just as good as your original content.

 

 

High Profile H.264 is the codec used on BluRay discs, and most often in broadcast/Cable TV, it is extremely powerful in its compression capability, and the key is, within ViewPro we put the priority on low latency, latency that comes extremely close to some of the other AV over IP products that require 10 times, or even 100 times the bandwidth of ViewPro.

 

 

When you come across a project that needs long-distance signal distribution, and/or a large number of sources or displays, you really should give ViewPro a chance.  Once you see everything ViewPro is capable of, I’m sure you will agree it is ideally suited for the Pro A/V community.  And we haven’t even discussed advanced features like TRUE VideoWall processing.  We can save that for next time.

 

Please share your comments below and if you have any questions on how VIEW Pro streaming encoders and decoders can integrate into your business, contact us today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be the best presenter you can

Written on November 16, 2017 at 3:20 pm, by

 
After more than 37 years of eating out of every bowl of dog food in the equation (End-User, AV Integrator and Manufacturer), I have watched presentations and the technology used evolve from tin can & string to NASA technology.

 

By no fault of anyone involved, 8 out of 10 primary “presenters” in fact have drawn the short straw and are as nervous as cats when they walk up to the podium. And, for all the advancements and money we spend to outfit a conference room with the best ClearOne equipment money can buy, it will only work as good as the person speaking and how prepared they are.

 

So, this is the first installment of just a few of the best practices and common sense tips I’ve picked up from hundreds of articles and real world experience along the ways to improve your presentation:

 

  1. Realize 90% of Nervousness Doesn’t Show: The audience usually can’t see the butterflies, or shaky hands, or sweaty palms. The problem occurs when we start thinking about these symptoms rather than focusing on the audience and our topic. By human nature, most people are focused on themselves not on you. Focus on them and two things will happen: 1) they will like you more, and 2) much of the nervousness that you feel will go away.

 

  1. Butterflies are Normal: At this point, as you practice, you might start to feel butterflies in your stomach or other symptoms of public speaking fear. Don’t worry. This is normal. However, as you practice once or twice, the nervousness should drop pretty dramatically.

 

  1. Learn from Mistakes: When you or your team has challenges, tell the story about the challenge or mistake, and then add the moral at the end to show how you learned from it. A lot of times, this can add some self-deprecating humor as well.

 

  1. Lose Train of Thought?If you lose your train of thought and feel some panic, then one of a couple of things might be happening. You likely have a bunch of bullet points that are difficult to remember. If so, go back through the earlier tips and design your speech differently. If you are feeling light headed and confused, though…

 

  1. Energy and Enthusiasm: Enthusiasm is the absolute most important public speaking secret. If you have energy and enthusiasm, your audience will love you. Be excited about your topic, and your audience will be excited about your presentation.

 

  1. Talk with Your Hands: We all naturally speak with our hands, but for some reason, when we stand up to speak, we tend lock up our body language and lose a lot of our natural energy. Drop your hands when you start a speech, then use them to explain you points. (By the way, if you tell a lot of stories, this will happen naturally.)

 

  1. Make Your Gestures Bigger than Your Body: Small gestures below the shoulders and close to your body make you look weak and timid. The higher and wider your gestures are, the more confident you appear. When we get nervous, we want a barrier between us and the threat, so the small gestures show the audience that you are threatened by them. Make the gestures bigger.

 

  1. Breathe: When we get nervous, we tend to breathe more shallowly. When this happens, the speaker will not have enough oxygen which makes the panic even greater… Which alters the breathing even more. When you feel this happening, just stop, and take a deep breath from the diaphragm. To keep this from happening, take a nice deep breath before you say your first sentence.

 

  1. Props can Add Showmanship: When legislators were trying to get people upset about the healthcare legislation in 2009, they just printed out the thousands of documents that made up the bill. The piles and piles of unreadable pages was pretty overwhelming and made a valid point. When I was starting out teaching leadership classes, I found a toy that was a tiny shipping box that, when I pushed a button, shook and said, “Let me out of here!” I used it as a prop when I talked about self-confidence saying, “we all have that confident person inside of us who is struggling to get out and be seen.”

 

  1. Have a Contest: Divide the audience into small groups and have a contest of some kind. This could be a test to see what they remember from the speeches from previous presenters or it could be a contest to see who can come up with the most creative solution to a challenge or problem that you are experiencing. Get creative, because people learn more when they are having fun

 

The Seven Deadly Sins of Presenting
 

  1. Thou Shan’t Not Go Overtime without Consent
  2. To “uh” is Human, but Too Many is Annoying
  3. Thou Shall Not Speak Monotone
  4. Thou Shall Not Use Shop-Talk
  5. Thou Shall Not Speak Whilst the Audience Reads Thy Slide
  6. Thou Shall Not Read Endless Excerpts to Thine Audience
  7. Thou Shall Not Dump Endless Data Upon Thine Audience

 
The good news is that if you follow the prior tips, you will never violate any of these deadly sins!
 
 
 

And It Was Good

Written on November 3, 2017 at 4:09 pm, by

 

 

Day 1, Let there be light.  I know, that’s not the Genesis order of creation, but it sounds good and it leads me to my real Day 1 scenario.  Day 1…let there be a friend.

 

Did you remember starting something new and exciting but having a lot of fear too because of all the unknowns?   Going to a summer swim camp at age 6 and staying away from home for 5 days.  Leaving home to move to Gainesville for my first day at University of Florida.  My first day on the new job after 27 years at the old one.

 

What was so scary about these experiences?   I didn’t know anyone.   I was there alone, not knowing a single friendly face.  That can be traumatic.   Looking back, maybe I shouldn’t have been so on edge, but even writing about it now takes me back to those feelings and it isn’t pleasant.

 

I now have the solution, and I just used it to hopefully help another poor soul avoid some of the unnecessary angst.  It’s called Video Conferencing.  Yes, who knew it could be such a useful tool to get rid of the Day 1 jitters.

 

It is my, or our department’s task, to on-board new employees.   It is normally a week of training at the home office which, since many of our employees are remote ones, is not their home city.  I, become the first person to really meet our new comrade-in-arms, and consequently, I have the opportunity to start this new relationship off well…or not so well.

 

Before it starts for them with a flight to a new city, a new hotel, a new office, I choose to start it with a Spontania video conference call.  Looking and sounding normal, like I am right there in front of him or her, is important to building openness and starting to build a relationship. All I needed was their phone number.  I call, introduce myself, and verify that they have access to a computer.  I send them a link to join me in my virtual conference room.  I just did this again yesterday.

 

In 5 minutes time, we were face to face in each other’s home office.  We got to know each other quickly and became more than a name or position.  Just as important, I was able to talk him through his first 24 hours on the job.  He knows his entire schedule from walking down the jet way, to getting his luggage and a shuttle to the hotel; where to eat; how to find the office the next morning; AND who to ask for when he shows up on Day 1… me, a friendly face he already knows.

 

With Spontania on my computer and my Chat 50 at my side for amazing audio, I made a difference.  This is just one example of the power of quality video conferencing.   Spontania gives easy access to meetings for people in and out of your organization.  For smaller meetings, just add a Chat microphone to your computer and go for it.  For larger meetings, you can add multiple video cameras, up to 4, and Converge Pro 2 to meet the audio demands of larger rooms so that everyone can be heard in a natural and normal conversation.  Invite up to 25 people to join remotely from inside or outside your organization. They can even use their smart phone to join with a free app.  You can share media, spreadsheets, pictures, or just show live video to all.

 

The applications will vary as much as you who are reading this vary.   Job interviews, on-the-job training, project management, weekly meetings, just to name a few that I use all the time.  I am the remote employee that doesn’t feel remote.  And, I can help remove the Day 1 trauma for others.  Welcome to our new reality.

 

 

Flexible Frequencies – Versatility and Security of ClearOne Wireless Mic Systems

Written on September 29, 2017 at 1:09 pm, by

View for yourself the power behind the WS800 Wireless Microphone System, and join such discriminating users as the U.S. Department of Justice.

ClearOne’s WS800 Wireless Micophone System is the most economical, versatile, and easily scalable wireless system in the market today with unprecedented ease-of-use and simple installation.

 

This system has a Receiver, all types of Transmitters (Microphones) Boundary Tabletop, Gooseneck Podium, Beltpack, Handheld Microphones, Charging Station and Extension Antenna kits. WS800 Receiver comes with and without Dante built-in audio networking.

 

The WS800 and DIALOG® 20 systems complement other professional audio products from ClearOne including CONVERGE® Pro 1 & 2 Mixers, INTERACT® Mixers, and CONVERGE® Matrix products.

 

Learn more about the WS800 Wireless Microphone System today!

 

 

All about Power over Ethernet (PoE) – ClearOne Tech Note

Written on September 7, 2017 at 3:03 pm, by

The purpose of this tech note (full link below) is to describe information related to Power over Ethernet (PoE) and ClearOne’s PoE supported CONVERGE Pro 2 (CP2) P-Link Peripheral Pro Audio products.

 

Power over Ethernet or PoE refers to passing of electric power through twisted-pair Ethernet cable, allowing  a single Ethernet cable to provide both a data connection and electric power to devices; giving new flexibility to installations.

 

Powered Devices (PD’s) that can operate within the power specification of PoE can be located almost anywhere, without the need for electrical outlets. Power Sourcing Equipment (PSE) all provide DC power on the Ethernet cable (such as PoE Ethernet Network Switches, and PoE Power Injectors).

 

PoE has been standardized by IEEE 802.3 standards, and has two types:

  • PoE: This is covered by the 802.3af standard and provides up to 15.4 Watts of DC power.
  • PoE+ or PoE Plus: This is covered by the 802.at standard and provides up to 25.5 Watts of DC Power (over two pairs).

 

ClearOne’s CONVERGE® Pro 2 peripheral connections are supported by PoE, with the ability to daisy-chain multiple peripherals with mixers through our P-LINK connections, sharing resources and power.

 

 

Two standard PoE modes exist – A, and B, which differ as:

 

Mode A:

  • Delivers power on the data pairs of 100-BASE-TX or 10-BASE-T cable.
  • That is, pins 1 & 2 form one side of the DC supply and pins 3 & 6 form the other side.
  • These are the same two pairs used for data transmission. That is, mixed data and power.
  • This is similar to the phantom power technique used for powering microphones.
  • In summary, this mode A uses only 2 pairs for data and power.

 

Mode B:

  • Delivers power on the spare pairs of 100-BASE-TX or 10-BASE-T cable.
  • That is, pins 4 & 5 form one side of the DC supply and pins 7 & 8 provide the return.
  • These are spare pairs and these spare pairs are used for power. That is, no mix of data and power.
  • In summary, this mode B uses 4 pairs for data and power.

 

The table below shows ClearOne products that support PoE (i.e., PD’s), PoE modes supported for powering from PSE, PoE Power injectors (i.e., PSE’s) that we offer and the number of PD devices that can be supported.

 

S. No.

ClearOne PD’s

Supported PoE Modes

ClearOne PSE’s

PoE Power Injector
(910-001-004)

PoE+ Power Injector
(910-3200-202)

Product

Part Number

Mode A

Mode B

Mode A or
Mode B

Support
One PD

Support
Daisy-Chain
up to 3 PD’s

Support
One PD

Support
Daisy-Chain
up to 3 PD’s

1

Beamforming Mic Array 1 (White)

910-001-003

YES

YES

YES

YES

NO

YES

NO

2

Beamforming Mic Array 1 (Black)

910-001-003-B

YES

YES

YES

YES

NO

YES

NO

3

Beamforming Mic Array 2 (White)

910-3200-201

NO

YES

NO

YES

NO

YES

YES

4

Beamforming Mic Array 2 (Black)

910-3200-201-B

NO

YES

NO

YES

NO

YES

YES

5

CONVERGE Pro 2 GPIO Expander

910-3200-301

NO

YES

NO

YES

NO

YES

YES

6

CONVERGE Pro 2 USB Expander

910-3200-302

NO

YES

NO

YES

NO

YES

YES

7

DIALOG 20 Wireless Receiver

910-6100-201

NO

YES

NO

YES

NO

YES

YES

8

Touch Panel Controller *

910-3200-501

YES

YES

YES

YES

NO

YES

NO

* This must  be the last device in the P-link chain when daisy-chained with other PD’s.

 

For the full, downloadable tech note, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONVERGE Pro 2’s New Control Modules

Written on August 29, 2017 at 8:30 am, by

 

As part of our ongoing commitment to provide commercial AV integrators with solutions that are easy to adopt and integrate into all of their AV system designs, we recently engaged Control Concepts, a leading AV software and services provider, to create a suite of AMX, Crestron and Extron control platform modules for our new CONVERGE® Pro 2 series of DSP Mixers, which we believe are the industry’s most advanced professional audio DSP platform for conferencing and sound reinforcement applications.

 

Control Concepts was uniquely positioned to support us in this capacity because of their ability to deliver a consistent solution across multiple control systems platforms precisely because they are an authorized solutions provider of Crestron, AMX, and Extron control systems.  The modules that were developed by Control Concepts allow our consultants, resellers, programmers and users to have a uniform and standardized experience regardless of the platform they prefer to work with.

 

The ClearOne CONVERGE Pro 2 outperforms in any size room, audio environment and application and is optimized to work with 2nd generation Beamforming Mic Array 2 and DIALOG® 20 2-Channel Wireless Microphone System through its native connection.

 

From the perspective of Control Concepts the newly developed modules help to simplify control system programming and integration of the CONVERGE Pro 2, ultimately

ClearOne CONVERGE Pro 2 Digital Signal Processor- Crestron Controller

creating more effective and adaptable solutions for consultants, integrators, and programmers working with the equipment.  In fact, this partnership provided Control Concepts with a valuable opportunity to collaborate with us during the critically important development stage, which helped to ensure that their clients’ control system needs are fully supported upon product release. Having multi-platform, consistent modules and a support relationship will help us to increase adoption and integration of their products.

 

The CONVERGE Pro 2 DSP mixers give further flexibility and affordability in choosing features and functionality. Scalable connectivity and powerful architecture provide up to 12 mic/line inputs, each with next-generation Acoustic Echo Cancellation®. Noise Cancellation with Adaptive Ambience with advanced microphone gating, and faster convergence span the full line, with different options for built-in VoIP, Telco, USB, and Dante. It creates a neat, economical solution to what might otherwise require a more expensive design.

 

 

Case Study: VIEW® AV Network Streaming at Unilever Singapore

Written on August 15, 2017 at 11:25 am, by

 

 

ClearOne® VIEW® AV Streaming System Powers AV System at New Unilever Singapore Training Facility

 

 

With 24 AV zones spread throughout two buildings, the company now has full, simple control of its expansive AV system.

 

 

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, August 15, 2017 — When Unilever, the world’s largest consumer goods company, built its new training facility in Singapore, perhaps the most crucial component was a robust audio/video system that would be easy to use, had no audio lag and could deliver multiple sources to a total of 49 endpoints including digital signage displays. Working with Principle One, a leading technology integration firm with offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and Tokyo, the company turned to ClearOne (NASDAQ:CLRO), the leading global provider of audio and visual communication solutions, and the ClearOne VIEW network streaming system based on Streamnet®-patented technology TCP/IP solution to provide the 24-zone, four-source system that makes the training center more efficient and enjoyable for both employees and trainees…

 

Download the full article

 

 

 

ClearOne’s Unique Solution to Comb Filtering Issues in a Conference Room

Written on July 27, 2017 at 4:41 pm, by

 

In conferencing situations, it is quite possible that multiple microphones at different distances may gate on for a single person’s voice. Due to the delay time in traveling to the more distant mic, peaks and notches are created in the frequency response of the mixed signal called “comb filtering, “causing a hollow, distant feeling; like sound traveling through a tunnel.

 

This will reduce the intelligibility of voice transmitted to the far end during a conference call.

 

We at ClearOne deal with this problem in a unique way, by implementing our very effective First-Mic-Priority Algorithm to our Audio Conferencing solutions.

 

First-Mic Priority  helps maintain maximum audio intelligibility by allowing only one mic to gate on a participant’s voice. The algorithm does allow more than one microphone to be activated at same time— but it simply restricts mics from gating on to the same audio source. The first-mic priority feature evaluates each channel and  only allows the microphone with the loudest pickup to gate on.

 

If this feature is disabled, users will notice the undesirable effect of two or more microphones gate on when only one person speaks. Keeping the First-Mic Priority feature enabled in your mixer configuration which will translate into a cleaner pickup of voices with less “phasing” of the audio.

 

Take a look at CONVERGE® Pro 2 and hear the best quality in the industry.

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, 4K Really DOES Matter!

Written on July 13, 2017 at 11:58 am, by

 

I recently read an article titled “Does 4K even matter?” It was a good article with some salient points. I would argue that 4K does matter for a variety of reasons; and I agree with the author that 4K is a tool…and the right tool is going to depend upon the job. 4K makes sense when all the parts in the entire system support 4K or when a customer wants to future-proof an installation and install as many 4K-compatible devices as possible in the project.

 

VIEW® Pro 4K – Encoder

Just as our currently-shipping 2K version of VIEW® Pro; the 4k version supports all of the awesome licensed features that make our ecosystem unique. We offer a composition feature that allows the user to create video walls and/or multi-viewer compositions. The number of sources that can be shown on a video wall or even a single screen is virtually unlimited — and it’s incredibly scalable with no requirement for a video wall processor. Applications span almost any vertical market- from Command and Control Centers to medical appliactions; any customer that requires the highest resolution, best color space (4:4:4), and finest detail.

 

Using both H.264 and H.265 video coding compression, VIEW Pro 4K can ride on existing networks. These streams are 1/10 to 1/100 the size of comparable streams using Motion JPEG or Uncompressed Video offering incredible scalability. In addition, our current VIEW Pro 2K solutions can be intermingled and work in the same installations as our 4K solutions.

 

Another important feature of VIEW Pro is the ability to both ingest and create RTSP streams to work with 3rd-party decoders like VLC. 4K video playback on VLC does have some specific requirements for it to work successfully, including enabling the GPU accelerated feature in VLC. By using the processing power of the graphics card, it will reduce the load on the processer. Newer operating systems with the latest drivers will be required for 4K decoding to work smoothly. Consider an application in a medical or dental school where a professor streams 4K via RTSP for students to pick up on their laptops. Through a 3rd-party control, the professor can switch these streams at will.

 

ClearOne’s 4K VIEW Pro continues the lineage of providing the best value, greatest flexibility, and interoperability with 3rd-party control systems that earns it’s moniker of being the only “true video DSP” in the streaming marketplace.

 

4K encoders and decoders have their places in the AV world, and adoption will continue to grow as the entire industry matures and expands, with all pieces in the chain become 4k-enabled.

 

Learn more about the ClearOne VIEW® Pro 4K Multimedia Networked AV Streaming Solution that was Awarded InfoComm 2017 – Best of Show.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Beamforming Technology with Adaptive Steering?

Written on July 5, 2017 at 2:07 pm, by

 

Why remain seated?

 

Let’s face it, when it comes to most meetings, conferencing etiquette is not a top priority. No matter how much everyone tries, most attendees can’t sit with perfect posture while speaking up; and some may even be a little shy. While there are many ceiling-style microphone solutions to choose from; they are all very different and far from equal.

 

Here are a few bullet points to think about when you are about to choose a ceiling microphone solution:

  • Do I need microphone coverage across the entire meeting space?
  • Are there members who speak extremely quietly most times?
  • Is my room multipurpose and will the furniture need to be moved around depending on the meeting style?

 

Despite the large variety of ceiling-style microphones available; today’s most popular are beamforming arrays such as the ClearOne’s Beamforming Mic Arrays. Beamforming technology has been around for quite a long time; however, ClearOne was the first to innovate this technology into a conferencing environment with powerful echo cancellation.

 

 

One of the most important features— still not to be found anywhere else—is the incorporation of adaptive steering (thinks of it as “smart beam selection”) into the ClearOne Beamforming Mic solution. This important feature truly makes the array very different from any other offerings. It’s very important to note this feature, and how it moves far beyond static beams that are simply focused in any one area.

 

Beamforming Microphone Array table mount

Beamforming Microphone Array table mount coverage.

Beamforming Microphone Array ceiling mount coverage

Beamforming Microphone Array ceiling mount coverage

Beamforming Microphone Array wall mount

Beamforming Microphone Array wall-mount coverage

 

 

The Beamforming Array’s adaptive steering allows the microphone’s beams to adapt to attendees in a meeting in real-time, as they move around the room, without ever being lost. Despite speakers who may be on their feet, moving around as they speak, they are never “out” of the pickup pattern of the microphone. Arrays that do not have this technology certainly work well; but they only pick up the static, given area which has been pre-programmed for coverage. There may be scenarios in which these static coverage areas may be desired; but certainly not ideal for most audio or video conferencing environments.

 

It seems that the point of using a Beamforming Mic Array in a conferencing environment is to know your participants’ audio will be picked up no matter where they are or how softly they talk. Using a ClearOne Beamforming Mic Array gives you piece of mind knowing that you won’t miss a word during that all important conference call.

 

If you are thinking of using a beamforming style microphone array please take a moment and review ClearOne’s innovative offerings and don’t hesitate to ask for a demo!