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Tech Support Deep Dive – Beamforming Microphone Array – Installing to Avoid Errors

Written on May 11, 2016 at 12:28 am, by

The  Beamforming Microphone Array  was a game-changer for the AV industry, the  first professional-grade with   beamforming and adaptive steering technology and ClearOne’s next-generation Acoustic Echo Cancellation – a first for the industry, and still the leading and pioneering pro-audio beamforming technology.

From our top-notch tech support team, comes a “deep dive” into the finer points of installation requirements for the Beamforming Microphone Array to avoid communication errors. This critical information may save hours of headaches from installation mistakes- but it is also a disclaimer that this article is highly technical, written for integrators who are installing this product.

 

Beamforming Microphone Array Communication Error Solutions and Revised Installation Requirements

 

Most Beamforming Microphone Array  installations require long, custom-installed expansion bus (Ebus) cable runs between the DSP and the Beamforming mic.  Most installers will pull bulk cable and terminate the cable themselves.  Usually the installer will report that the installed cable has passed tests from state-of-the-art cable testers like Fluke hand-held cable testing systems.

 

It is important to note that Converge Pro and Beamformers do not utilize Ethernet protocols, though they do physically use the same specification of cable.  Firmware version mismatch, EMI and grounding issues can have a negative effect on stable Ebus communications and result in poor performance or failure of the Beamforming microphone.

 

The Symptoms

  • Missing post-gate audio meter data in the Console Beamforming mic channel view
  • Missing AEC functionality, even if configured properly for it
  • Poor quality audio from the Beamforming mic
  • Ungated mic audio, even when gating is specified for the channel

 

There are a few ways to confirm Ebus cable-related issues.  If you review the device logs from the Proxy DSPs (CONVERGE® 840T, 880T, 880TA, and 880 can all act as proxies for the Beamforming Mic) you may see repeated Start or Stop ProxyHandler_Task messages.

 

Device Log data taken from an 840T acting as Proxy shows connection losses correlated with anomalous, repeated ProxyHandler messages:

 

ProxyHandler messages

 

The above log was taken from an actual customer site with an 840T and Beamforming mics attached.  The end user complained of losing audio from the Beamforming mic during calls.  Clearone Tech Support was able to test the system in production and confirmed a failure was ongoing, even though the microphone showed up in Console and reported error free data communication.  It was noted that there was no meter activity on the post gate meter of the Beamforming mic, even though the post gain meter showed normal levels.

 

Other instances of communication failures are associated with repeated Ebus device discovery events that can be seen as a repeated broadcast of UID strings.  Establish a telnet connection to a Proxy DSP and observe the connection for a few minutes.  See below for an example of a Beamforming mic attached system with Ebus issues:

 

Ebus issues

 

This cause of this failure was determined to be a Cat 6 cable terminated with Cat 5 connectors connected between the Beamformer and the Converge Pro DSP.

 

The Causes

 

  • Mismatched or outdated firmware (All units should be at 4.4.0 or later)
  • Signal loss / EMI on the installed Ebus cables
  • Ground Loop / voltage differentials on AC ground between different units connected on the same Ebus network

 

Firmware Requirements

 

Firmware should be updated on the Beamforming mics before any other device.  To update the firmware, you must first connect to the site in Console.  You may need to correct cable or AC grounding issues before this is possible.  Use an externally run pre-made cable if you are not certain about the installed cable.

 

If you can’t get Console to recognize the Beamforming mic, try these steps:

 

  • Power cycle the Converge Pro(s), then power cycle the Beamforming mic by unplugging POE module or disconnecting the POE cable.
  • Once rebooted, connect in Console.
  • If this does not work, try the above steps again.
  • If it still does not work, default the Proxy DSP(s) the mic(s) are attached to and connect in Console again. Be sure to have a saved site file to reload later on!

 

If you can’t get connected to matter what you try, contact tech support.

 

Once connected, verify firmware levels by right clicking the unit icon under Site Properties and verify the firmware is 4.4.0 or later.  If it is not, open the Services menu within Console and then open the Firmware Loader.

 

Left click the browse button  buttonto select the firmware file.  Open the bf_mic.mdo file and verify your mics appear in the list.  If they do, left click Upload Firmware.  If not, disconnect and try again.

 

All attached devices will reboot once the Beamforming mic firmware is done uploading.  Reconnect in Console and then perform a second firmware upload for the Converge Pro DSPs.  By default, the firmware loader selects the converge.mdo firmware so you do not have to browse for it.

 

Test the mics again to verify the problem is resolved.  If not continue to troubleshoot.

 

Ebus Cable Requirements

 

We suspect some field installed cables are not providing the signal integrity required for stable Ebus operation.  Installers may not use high quality tools, cables or connectors when assembling and running Ebus cable runs.  Variance between vendors, mismatched specifications on cables and connectors, signal loss due to poor construction or poor contact on the connectors, and false positive cable test results all tend to escalate support issues related to this problem.  The consistent remedy in all of these cases has been to replace the installed field-created cable with factory terminated pre-made cable of Cat 6 or better.  The communication issues would disappear or greatly reduce once this was done.  If premade cables cannot be used because of conduit or install space limitations, installers should use high quality Cat 6 shielded cables and terminators.

 

Connectors are important; installers must certify they are using the correct specification and type for solid core Cat 6 when using Cat 6 cable:

 

Cat6 and Cat5

Shielded cable types must be terminated with shielded connectors and ground wires must be connected properly.

 

AC Ground Requirements

Large installations that have several rooms spread out over a large area often result in different AC circuits being used to power the Beamforming mics, DSPs, and attached peripherals.  It is very common for a voltage differential to arise between the ground wires of different AC circuits in commercial buildings.  This can cause Ebus communication failures.

 

Beamformer diagram

 

We have found through testing that as little as 1.8 V between AC ground on any device connected on the same Ebus network can result in Ebus communication failures.  All CONVERGE Pro mixers and Beamforming mic POE supplies must share a common ground, even if devices are distributed across different rooms.

 

Pre-Installation Checklist for Installers

 

  • All Clearone devices connected to the same expansion bus network should be powered by the same AC circuit and a good quality AC ground should be common between all systems. An exclusive technical AC ground may be provided to all CONVERGE Pro equipment to avoid common line interference from attached non AV equipment.
  • POE modules or third party POE switch supplies and CONVERGE Pro DSPs will need to share the same technical AC ground.
  • AC isolation transformers may be used when it is impossible to connect all ClearOne devices to the same AC circuit, or when ground issues are suspected.
  • An electrician can certify power quality and correct ground issues that AV installers may not be able to overcome using the above recommendations.

 

 

 

 

The Premiere Group Hooks up Sigma Chi, Purdue with COLLABORATE Pro Media Collaboration

Written on April 29, 2016 at 3:17 pm, by

 

Sigma Chi Fraternity  – Purdue University

 

Established in 1875, Sigma Chi is the one of the oldest Fraternities at Purdue University.  With the expertise of The Premiere Group, the frat house solved their unique needs for flexibility and dependable video communications with two systems that fully support ad-hoc video and media collaboration meetings.

 

It was essential for the group to be able to host meetings where they could really connect with the audience. The fraternity needed to hold regular fireside chats with Alumni and provide mentoring to remote members. To achieve maximum impact it was clear that Sigma Chi required face-to-face communication, far beyond a simple teleconferencing system. To make these meetings truly effective, the audio needed to be crystal-clear. Moving from room to room, meant smart audio, with the ability to configure itself to ever-changing conditions without losing quality.

 

The solution consisted of two portable AV set-ups: a larger system for use in the Grand Hall, and a smaller, PC-based system for easier ad-hoc video conferencing.

 

The larger video collaboration system includes a 65” screen and ClearOne’s  COLLABORATE Pro 900, which features the CONVERGE Pro DSP mixer, and the industry’s first professional Beamforming Microphone Array, in a sleek, black finish.  The microphone is mounted on the cart, horizontally, just below the screen, and provides they clearest audio pickup possible with it’s 24 microphone elements, intelligently steering pickup patterns in real time. Set up in the presentation room, this system provided the most professional and natural interactions for remote, one-on-one meetings with potential employers, or with anyone requiring more information from the fraternity.

 

The second PC-based system utilizes Clear One Spontania cloud-based collaboration.  This system is the ultimate in portability, usually seen in corporate “huddle room” settings for ad-hoc video conferencing meetings.   The Spontania system includes a smaller 50” screen, camera, and microphone for those quick gatherings and more informal conferences.

 

Purdue Sigma Chi Install

 

‘There are challenges with all portable systems, due to the fact the environment in which they are used is variable”  states Todd Walker from the Premier Group. “What was great for us was the consistent level of support from Clear One, especially when dealing with stakeholders. From an engineering perspective, Jim Mergens was always there to brainstorm and implement new solutions, for non-traditional applications, and that’s what really made all of the difference.”

 

Sigma Chi has already reported a positive return on investment following the implementation of the video collaboration systems, with greater participation from remote members at board meetings, increased donation support from benefactors following fireside chants and many of the Alumni utilizing the Spontania system for job interviews.

 

Collaborate 900 offers a complete media collaboration solution.  It’s a great solution for multiple applications – videoconferencing, professional audio conferencing, wireless presentation and collaboration, capture and recording station, streaming and distribution, all from a single appliance.

http://www.clearone.com/products_collaborate_900

 

 

Spontania is ClearOne’s cloud based software solution. It allows dozens to thousands of users to collaborate in real-time, sharing high-quality voice, video and data on any device they choose— from cell phones to standards-based group systems.

http://www.clearone.com/products_spontania

 

 

 

Vote ClearOne as a rAVe 2016 Finalist!

Written on April 25, 2016 at 6:30 am, by

Help us Continue to be Your #1 AV Partner!

 

ClearOne has made the FINALS!

 

Click below and vote for ClearOne in the rAVe 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards! Let everyone know about the product quality and support you’ve experienced by voting for ClearOne or ClearOne products in the nomination categories.

 

 

Final Categories:

  • Favorite Manufacturer-Based Training Program: “ClearOne”
  • Favorite Systems Product: “ClearOne COLLABORATE”
  • Favorite Conferencing / Collaboration Manufacturer: “ClearOne”
  • Favorite Audio Manufacturer: “ClearOne”
  • Favorite Microphone Product: “ClearOne Beamformer Microphone Array”
  • Favorite New Product: “ClearOne COLLABORATE”

ClearOne Awarded a New Patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Written on January 6, 2016 at 10:56 am, by

PRheaderSALT LAKE CITY, Jan. 6, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — ClearOne (NASDAQ: CLRO), a global provider of audio and visual communication solutions, announced today that it has been awarded a new patent for acoustic echo cancelation methods.

 

On December 15, 2015, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) issued United States Patent number 9,215,327 entitled “Methods and Apparatuses for Multi-Channel Acoustic Echo Cancelation.” The ‘327 patent describes and covers the technology for an audio conferencing system to map a high-quality, multi-channel audio profile from a remote location to a multi-speaker audio profile locally (and vice versa), preserving the spatial sound qualities of the audio signal while still performing echo cancelation.

 

As an audio-video conferencing technology, this is important when preserving the audio and sound configuration qualities from a remote conference location and then replicating them in another location with a multi-speaker system. However, the technology has broader applications, providing a high level of acoustic fidelity and echo cancelation in any situation that requires transmitting a complex audio signal between locations. Virtual reality, a burgeoning technology area, is one such application.

 

The recently issued patent that ClearOne has been awarded is part of a patent portfolio that includes over 67 patents and an additional 33 pending patent applications covering multiple new technologies in the fields of audio and video processing, audio and video streaming, and communication technologies. This ongoing development of new patents continues ClearOne’s leadership position and strong history of product innovation and developing cutting edge media collaboration technology.

 

About ClearOne

 

ClearOne is a global company that designs, develops and sells conferencing, collaboration, streaming and digital signage solutions for voice and visual communications. The performance and simplicity of its advanced, comprehensive solutions offer unprecedented levels of functionality, reliability, and scalability.

 

Printable releases are available in our Investor Relations area at http://investors.clearone.com.

 

Contact:
ClearOne Marketing
801-975-7200

 

SOURCE ClearOne

 

Don’t Miss ClearOne’s Newest at ISE 2015, Stand# 3-A106

Written on February 11, 2015 at 1:14 pm, by

clearone_at_ISE2015

FIND US AT ISE (CLICK HERE)

• CONVERGE Matrix – The ClearOne CONVERGE Matrix audio mixer and router supports up to 512 x 512 audio channels using Dante technology for audio-over-IP networking and distribution applications. (CLICK FOR MORE)
• Wireless Dante – ClearOne’s new version of its Digital Wireless Microphone System is now supporting built-in Dante networking technology. (CLICK FOR MORE)
• CONNECT Dante – The CONNECT Dante network bridge provides networked audio distribution capability to CONVERGE® Pro and SR products with its flexible Internet Protocol (IP) and Ethernet-based audio network technology. (CLICK FOR MORE)
•Spontania – Software-based cloud collaboration solution, combines benefits of video conferencing and web conferencing into a unique, effective, and powerful enterprise solution. (CLICK FOR MORE)
• COLLABORATE Room Pro – Standards-based conferencing enabling up to nine locations to be easily and inexpensively bridged together, with built-in video streaming, recording, and multicasting. (CLICK FOR MORE)
• Integrated COLLABORATE Room Pro and Beamforming Microphone Array System – The world’s only professional video collaboration system to integrate beamforming microphone technology without the need for a DSP mixer. (CLICK FOR MORE)
• VIEW Pro – The newest multimedia streaming solution, offering the best in high-profile, 4:4:4 multimedia streaming with lossless compression. (CLICK FOR MORE)

InfoComm 2013: Wooing India – Are You Ready?

Written on July 30, 2013 at 10:36 am, by


 

If you are going to InfoComm India 2013, stop by the ClearOne stand #B105 and find out why Pro Audio and Video Conferencing will never sound – or look – the same.
 
The game-changing Beamforming Microphone Array is the Pro-Audio industry’s first professional-grade microphone array with beamforming and adaptive steering technology and ClearOne’s next-generation Acoustic Echo Cancellation.
 
COLLABORATE® soft-codec-based video conferencing is a complete VC portfolio featuring desktop video applications, room systems, infrastructure, and management solutions.
 
VIEW® multimedia streaming and distribution delivers a superior AV experience by streaming high-definition audio, video, and control over TCP/IP LAN networks.
 
MagicBox® digital signage is scaled and optimized for corporate or light commercial environments with entry-level solutions for comprehensive content management and cloud-based solutions.
 
ClearOne’s new Wireless Microphone System provides the freedom and clean installation of a wireless solution with the flexibility to expand up to 32 channels and the security of full 256-bit encryption.
 
CONNECT™ CobraNet™ and CONNECT™ AVB network bridges provide networked audio for CONVERGE® Pro devices without changing main mixer hardware
 
The new CONVERGE® USB network peripheral provides plug-and-play USB connectivity between popular desktop and laptop UC applications and CONVERGE Pro for full, rich, professional sound — without any firmware or software upgrades
 

It all comes together as ClearOne establishes its mark as the one-stop manufacturer for audio and visual communications.
 
Pre-Register online today at https://infocomm-india.com/
 
Admission to the 3-Day exhibition and education seminars is FREE!
 
16 September (Monday) 2pm-6pm (By Invitation Only)
17 September (Tuesday) 10am-6pm
18 September (Wednesday) 10am-4pm
 
Invest in the future of your business – Pre-Register online today at https://infocomm-india.com/
 

 

Unified Communications 101: Four Audio Technology “MUST HAVES”

Written on July 1, 2013 at 8:40 am, by


Whether you’re new to unified communications (UC) or a seasoned veteran, we all know the importance of audio quality for effective conferencing, collaboration and other communications. In fact, good audio quality is as important as the actual words used during a conversation.
 
With the aim of offering a high-quality audio conferencing experience to unified communications users, companies such as ClearOne have developed a wide range of advanced technologies, which should be considered as “must-haves” for top-notch communications:
 

Echo Cancellation

One of the challenges in delivering good sound quality during a conference call is eliminating acoustical echo. Acoustical echo arises when sound from a loudspeaker is picked up by the microphone in the same room and transmitted to the far end of the conference. . The problem can exist in any communications scenario where there is both a speaker and a microphone, causing, far-end participants to hear their voices echoed as they speak. For this reason, some form of acoustical echo-cancellation technology should be used on every microphone on the system.
 

Noise Cancellation

Noise Cancellation stops ambient room noise from being picked up by conferencing microphones and headsets. Examples of ambient noise sources include HVAC systems, laptop computers, projectors and fluorescent lights. The latest systems use spectral content analysis techniques, which isolate a talker’s voice from ambient noise and only applies noise cancellation to ambient noise sources. This allows the voice signal to pass to the far-end phone device with a much higher sound quality.
 

First Microphone Priority

When multiple microphones are active simultaneously during an audio conference, voice signals arrive at different microphones at different times due to the reflection of the sound from walls, ceilings or other surfaces in the environment. This causes sound distortion, which participants typically describe as a “hollow” or “tunnel” sound. First microphone priority technology minimizes this distortion by using intelligent voice detection methods to activate only one microphone at a time based on proximity to the person speaking.
 

Adaptive Modeling

In any conferencing environment, a number of factors can cause changes in the room’s ambient noise level, including the HVAC system cycling on and off, an increase or decrease in the number of people in the room, changes in seating arrangements and other similar acoustical events. These events can cause a variety of audio problems, such as feedback and residual echo. Adaptive Modeling monitors key acoustical elements to predict and adapt to such changes, ensuring high quality audio, regardless of varying room dynamics.
 
These are just a few samples of the many ways your company can benefit from the technologies powering unified communications. But the possibilities are endless, limited only by your creativity and the ingenuity of your service provider. As always, you can contact us for more specific suggestions and recommendations related to your company on the web at http://www.ClearOne.com or by phone at 1-800-945-7730
 
 

Really Hear the Difference with True Full-Duplex Audio

Written on May 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm, by

Hear the difference with true full-duplex audio. This quick interactive piece makes it easy to see the need for echo cancellation, full-duplex audio and professional audio processing – even if the solution is as small and portable as a deck of cards!  Click here to learn more!

Two UC Technologies You Should Be Using Now

Written on December 27, 2012 at 4:13 pm, by

There are many unified communications (UC) technologies available in the market, at a variety of price ranges and levels of complexity. Through our experience, we see two good ones that you can use now, quickly and easily, which have the potential to provide immense benefit to your organization and you.

 

1. Skype™

 

You may be familiar with Skype™ for personal use, but did you know that businesses are using it for conferencing and collaboration, too? Millions of individuals and businesses use Skype™ to make free video and voice calls, send instant messages and share files with other Skype™ users. Every day, people everywhere also use Skype™ to make low-cost calls to landlines and mobiles.

 

Skype™ delivers innovative, real-time communications and collaboration solutions to businesses of all sizes. It enables businesses to lower costs and expand how employees, customers, partners and suppliers communicate and collaborate with greater convenience and efficiency.

 

Greater numbers of companies are adding Skype™ calling to IP-based enterprise communications systems, providing a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) communications channel. By adding Skype™ Connect to your existing SIP-enabled PBX, your business can save on communication costs with little or no additional upgrades required.

 

More about Skype™ Connect can be found online at http://www.skype.com/intl/en/business/skype-connect.

 

2. Microsoft

 

Microsoft® Lync® is an enterprise-ready unified communications platform. With Lync®, users can keep track of their contacts’ availability; send an IM; start or join an audio, video, or web conference; or make a phone call—all through a consistent, familiar interface. Lync® is built to fully integrate with Microsoft Office.

 

Microsoft® Lync® 2010 gives users real-time presence information—including photos, availability, and location—and enhanced instant messaging (IM) to help them connect more efficiently and effectively.

 

With integrated conferencing capability, Lync makes it easy for users to create, moderate, and join pre-planned and on-the-fly audio, video, and web meetings with people inside and outside the organization.

 

Case studies illustrating how companies are currently using Lync® can be found online at http://lync.microsoft.com/en-us/why-choose-lync/Pages/case-studies.aspx.

 

As always, you can contact us at ClearOne for more specific suggestions and recommendations related to your company.

 

Visit us on the web at www.clearone.com or contact us by phone at 1-800-945-7730

Skype™ is a trade mark of Skype™ and is used with the permission of Skype™ Limited

Microsoft® and Lync® are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies in the United States and/or other countries.

Unified Communications: A Competitive Advantage

Written on December 5, 2012 at 9:37 am, by

Trio of Headsets from ClearOne

The Chat 150 from ClearOneThe Chat Attach 150 from ClearOne

 

Successful companies are achieving greater impact by using unified communications (UC) technologies to transform inefficient business processes. By using the right technologies, UC is powerful, natural, and simple to implement.

 

What Is UC?

 

Unified communications (UC) is the integration of real-time communication services such as instant messaging (chat), presence information, telephony (including IP telephony), video conferencing, data sharing (including interactive white boards), call control, and speech recognition with non-real-time communication services such as unified messaging (integrated voice mail, e-mail, SMS, and fax). UC is not necessarily a single product, but a set of products that provides a consistent unified user interface and user experience across multiple devices and media types.

 

Trends and Benefits

 

In its broadest sense, UC can encompass all forms of communications that are exchanged via the medium of the TCP/IP network to include other forms of communications such as Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and Digital Signage Communications. As they become an integrated part of the network communications deployment, they may be easily be directed from one-to-one communications to broadcast / conferencing communications. The technology allows up to 9 separate locations to connect with each other, without needing to add any hardware infrastructure. With the proper hardware, users may add over 36 locations to their broadcast.

 

Unified communications technology allows users to seamlessly collaborate with other people on a project, even if the two users are in separate locations across the globe. For example, a user can quickly locate another person by accessing an interactive directory, engage in a text messaging session, and then escalate the session to a voice call, or even a video call.

 

In another example, an employee receives a call from a customer who wants answers to a question that the representative is unable to answer. Unified communications enables that employee to call an expert colleague from a real-time list and respond to the customer faster by eliminating rounds of back-and-forth e-mails and phone-tag.

 

These are just a few samples of the many ways your company can benefit from the technologies powering unified communications. But the possibilities are endless, limited only by your creativity and the ingenuity of your service provider.

 

 

INteract AT Skype

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As always, you can contact us for more specific suggestions and recommendations related to your company on the web at www.ClearOne.com or by phone at 1-800-945-7730