ClearOne CTS Regional Sales Manager, Pro AV
Recent Posts by Jason DiCampello
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.
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!
Why AV over IP?
Back when I first started my career in AV, signal distribution was much simpler. As we progressed in this exciting industry; along came the need of distributing signals further with much larger matrices. We then began to see the influx of UTP and Category cabling.
The AV industry thought these concepts and said, “Hey we can utilize this!” But this presented the problem of the number of pairs. Category cabling only has four pairs, which means distributing audio, video, and control at the same time becomes a challenge… four pairs just aren’t enough. In order to make things work, we needed to packetize. We needed to become digital – which, as you know is exactly what happened; and, to this day, works extremely well.
It begs the questions why haven’t we completely adopted this as an AV industry standard?
Here are a few points to think about when signal distribution is on your plate.
- Will my design need to expand in the future?
- Do I already have category cable in place?
- Will I need to control the device at the destination of the signal or the source for that matter?
- Do I have the need for a processing of my signal such as video wall modes?
All network media solutions are not the same. ClearOne’s VIEW® Pro allows you to design signal distribution systems that are completely future-proof and fully expandable. VIEW Pro gives you the ability to take any audio, video, or control signals and stream them to virtually any location. This is what you would expect; and what most manufactures offer. However, ClearOne solutions also have processing built right in that allows you to adjust virtually every single part of your signal. In addition, we also have other integrated options such as video-wall processing and composition modes.
Regardless of what your distribution needs may be, please take a moment and review ClearOne’s innovative Network Media Steaming offerings. You may just find yourself also asking why this isn’t the AV Industry standard!
We’re here to help. We’d love to hear from you and discuss your AV distribution needs.
Contact Us today and let’s chat!
When it comes to echo cancellation, microphone gain structure is essential to your success.
Let’s face it. When you break down today’s digital signal processors for audio and video conferencing, all you really have is a metal box with a little green guy inside running faders up and down. Although you tell him things like why, when, and how fast to perform his duties, he’s still relying on you 100% to accurately set up your microphones, otherwise known as the ‘front end’.
After working in this industry for over 16 years and programing many echo cancelled DSP mixers, I’ve seen that nine out of ten issues are due to the same cause. Our little green friend (let’s call him Simon) is usually sampling incorrect information due to the gain structure not being set properly on the microphone input. When this happens, you’ll see what could be referred to as a “domino effect.” Although Simon won’t admit it, our friend is nothing more than a piece of electronics that can, and will, make mistakes. However, when he is receiving the correct information, the number of mistakes he makes is reduced dramatically.
Think of it as if you were an individual who needs to wear glasses to see properly. You drive down the road wearing your glasses, and everything seems fine. Sure, you could have an accident at any time; but the odds are typically slim. Now pull over, take off the corrective lenses you love wearing so much, head on down that open highway, and see what happens. Just as we aim for 20/20 vision with our eyes, in our industry, we also aim for a standard volume level that the average talker uses when speaking.
Believe it or not, the average person speaks right around the 64db mark at a one-meter distance. Now, this isn’t like your average parent, at home with three misbehaving little ones, trying to deal with them after a long day of work. This speaking level is more like the average person talking normally during a casual conversation. Understanding this level will help you tremendously with your setup.
Here are a few tips and procedures to follow to keep in mind while setting up your microphones for conferencing.
Have the proper tools:
- A Sound Pressure Level Meter should be handy.
- A device that will serve as a signal generator will be a huge help.
- Understanding the software of the DSP to which you are connected. I can’t emphasize manufacture training enough. Most manufacturers will be happy to provide training to you, at little or no cost.
Although most people will simply use speech as their source, and watch the meters within the applied software package, I’ll briefly run through another method that is arguably more accurate.
We mentioned earlier that the average talker speaks at 64db at a one-meter distance, and we know that in almost every echo-cancelled DSP we want to see 0db from the signal being picked up by the microphone and reflected on the input. Using our signal generator, we can measure one meter away from the microphone element and place the generator there. Turn the signal on and set it for pink noise. We use pink noise for this process, as pink noise has equal energy per octave. Using your SPL meter, adjust the level of the noise to be 64db at the microphone. Now we are simulating speech, and can set our input levels accordingly to peak at 0db.
Regardless of what DSP you choose for your echo cancellation and mixing, setting your inputs peak at 0db using the method above will ensure Simon has the correct information to sample. When Simon is happy, everything works perfectly.
Today’s digital signal processors for audio and video are so advanced that I ask the question, in your experience regardless of most other settings, when your inputs are set properly, doesn’t your audio system sound pretty good?
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