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

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.

 

 

 

 

ClearOne Highlights Another First – Beamforming Microphone Array Integrated Directly with New COLLABORATE Room Pro Media Appliance for the Ultimate Audio in Video Conferencing


 

Contact

Brent Johnson
Sr. Corporate Marketing Manager
801-303-3577
brent.johnson@clearone.com
 

New breed of group video conferencing adds Beamforming Microphone Array without the need for external mixing or DSP processing.

 

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH — June 16, 2014

 
Visitors to InfoComm Booth #N1827 will experience the first of a new line of media appliances from ClearOne (NASDAQ: CLRO). The new COLLABORATE® Room Pro all-in-one appliance combines high-definition 1080p60 video with ClearOne’s revolutionary and wildly popular Beamforming Microphone Array for the best audio available on any self-contained video conferencing solution. This new ground-breaking system, available with a 9-party MCU, also includes many media collaboration tools that must usually be purchased separately, such as: streaming, recording and content creation, presentation, and in a future free software upgrade, wireless projection and interactive white boarding.
 
“ClearOne is demonstrating a unique ability to understand the customer’s needs both in the conference room and at the desktop,” said David Moss, ClearOne’s Vice President of Media Collaboration. “The new COLLABORATE Room Pro with the Beamforming Microphone Array is the first in a series of new, fresh, and exciting solutions that will offer high-definition video and integrate the best of ClearOne’s audio capabilities while also delivering other media collaboration tools. With the introduction of our Spontania cloud service, the COLLABORATE Room Pro also integrates with the ClearOne Spontania cloud allowing users to join the meeting from PCs, Macs, and any mobile device easily and affordably.”
 
The COLLABORATE Room Pro with the integrated Beamformer Microphone Array is available in two models, 520 and 620. Additional models with other ClearOne audio solutions are also available. Future models will be introduced later this year.
 

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. More information about the company can be found at www.clearone.com.
 

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Please find the printable release in our Investor Relations area at http://investors.clearone.com.
 
 

Clearone to open India Product Service Center for Regional Support


 

Contact

Brent Johnson
Sr. Corporate Marketing Manager
801-303-3577
brent.johnson@clearone.com
 
 

Clearone to open India Product Service Center for Regional Support

New regional product service center to be located in Bangalore

 
 

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH — June 09, 2014

 
ClearOne (NASDAQ: CLRO) today announced the June 20, 2014, opening of its India Authorized Support Center in partnership with Bangalore-based Midas Digital Services Pvt. Ltd. The new support center will serve the Indian market with efficient, timely, and economical product service options.
 
“We look forward to providing this enhanced level of service for ClearOne clients in India,” said Babu Prasad Dorairaj, Director of Midas Digital Services Pvt. Ltd. “Partners and customers here rely on ClearOne’s industry reputation and product quality. This expanded support initiative further solidifies that trust.”
 
Midas will initially focus on service for ClearOne’s industry-leading audio products: CONVERGE®, INTERACT®, MAX®, CHAT® and the Beamforming Microphone Array. These audio products, whether in warranty or out of warranty, will be eligible for service. To initiate a product service request, partners and customers should first contact ClearOne’s Tech Support team with product information, and Tech Support will issue an RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization). Partners and customers can then direct their products to Midas Digital Services and will be able to work directly with the regional support center for any further logistics and completion of services.
 
To request a product RMA number, contact ClearOne Tech Support at:
techsupportapac@clearone.com
+86 108 446 3262, + 86 186 1274 9641
 
To direct a product for service, contact Midas Digital Services at:
indiaproductservice@clearone.com
+91 819 796 6677
 
For all other sales support, contact the local India sales team at:
global@clearone.com
+91 993 078 2195
 

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. More information about the company can be found at www.clearone.com.
 

###

 
Please find the printable release in our Investor Relations area at http://investors.clearone.com.
 
 

ClearOne Launches the First In an Industry-Leading Portfolio of Group Conferencing Solutions with Advanced Beamforming and Cloud Service

New breed of group video communications solution endpoints sport advanced features and functions unique to the videoconferencing industry.

 

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH — March 13, 2014

 
Visitors to Enterprise Connect 2014 Booth #942 will experience the first of a new line of video collaboration products from ClearOne (NASDAQ: CLRO). The new COLLABORATE® Room Pro group video conferencing system combines high-definition 1080p60 video with ClearOne’s revolutionary Beamforming Microphone Array for the best audio available on any self-contained video solution. This new, ground-breaking system has the ability to conference nine locations in a single call, stream the video meeting to a larger audience, and even record it for future reference.
 
“ClearOne is demonstrating a unique ability to understand the customer’s needs and provide features and functions for which the market is asking,” said David Moss, ClearOne’s Vice President of Video Collaboration Products and Services. “The new COLLABORATE Room Pro is the first in a series of new, fresh, and exciting products that will offer high-definition video and integrate the best of ClearOne’s audio capabilities. Additionally with the introduction of our Spontania cloud service, we will fully integrate the endpoint directly into the cloud, allowing our customers to scale video easily and affordably across their enterprise environments. This upgrade will be a no-charge update when ready.”
 
The COLLABORATE Room Pro is the first of many new systems that ClearOne will bring to the market this year. The products have features and functions not available on competing systems without heavy infrastructure or peripheral investments. These features include the industry’s best balanced audio, up to nine-way multipoint conferencing capability, recording, streaming, simultaneous two-camera operation in a single call, and soon, the full integration into the ClearOne Spontania cloud.
 

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. More information about the company can be found at www.clearone.com.
 
© Copyright 2013, ClearOne, Inc. All rights reserved. ClearOne ®, the ClearOne logo, and the names and marks associated with ClearOne’s products are trademarks and/or service marks of ClearOne, Inc. and are registered and/or common-law marks in the United States and various other countries. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.
 
Please find the printable release in our Investor Relations area at http://investors.clearone.com.
 
 

ClearOne’s Beamforming Microphone Array featured in Sound & Communications Magazine

In the latest version of Sound & Communications magazine (Vol. 59 no. 12) published on December 23, 2013, ClearOne’s game-changing Beamforming Microphone Array was featured in the article titled “Business Evolution by Design.” Franklin Electric in Fort Wayne, Indiana has grown from a small motor manufacturer into a global company that produces and markets systems and components for moving water and automobile fluids. The company serves customers around the world, and has more than 14 manufacturing and distribution facilities. When the company wanted to move their headquarters from Bluffton, Indiana to Fort Wayne, they wanted to have cutting edge technology installed throughout the building. Earl Almack, Business Development Manager at Integrator Sensory Technologies said “They wanted to set themselves apart, technology-wise. That was one of the challenges and goals; to get them equipment and systems that nobody else, or few companies, had.”
 
For their audio conferencing, Integrator Sensory Technologies installed the ClearOne CONVERGE® Pro 880 which works in conjunction with a ClearOne Beamforming Microphone Array. The CONVERGE Unit offers Distributed Echo Cancellation®, Noise Cancellation, First Microphone Priority, and Adaptive Modeling that all work in tandem to provide the unmatched sound quality you expect from ClearOne.
 
ClearOne’s 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. The ultra-sleek design fits into any conferencing environment and delivers the clearest audio pickup available. Twenty-four microphone elements steer pickup patterns towards participants and reject unwanted noise and reflections, offering superb and unmatched performance for group conferencing environments.
 
Modern companies are looking for reliable technology that provides crystal-clear audio without visual intrusion. The Beamforming Microphone Array offers a variety of mounting options – ceiling, table, and wall mounts are all available. The variety of mounting options, together with the Beamformer’s adaptive acoustic processing which automatically adjusts to room configuration, offers you the best possible audio pickup regardless of room setup and design.
 

 

 

 
You can read the entire Sound & Communication article here.
 
 

Witness the Game Changer at InfoComm 2013


 
Pro Audio has never seen — or heard — anything like it, the industry’s first professional-grade microphone array with beamforming and adaptive steering technology and ClearOne’s next-generation Acoustic Echo Cancellation.
 
The ultra-sleek design fits into any conferencing environment and delivers the clearest audio pickup available with adaptive acoustic processing. Twenty-four microphone elements can steer its pickup pattern towards participants in the room and reject unwanted noise and reflections, thereby offering superb and unmatched performance for group conferencing environments.
 

  • Beamforming & adaptive steering technology
  • Next-generation Acoustic Echo Cancellation
  • 24 microphone elements
  • Mono and stereo modes for diverse applications
  • Flexible mounting for ceiling
  • Works with CONVERGE® Pro products: 880, 840T, 880T, 880TA
  • Expandable for larger room applications by daisy-chaining up to three arrays per CONVERGE Pro unit
  • Adaptive acoustic processing automatically adjusts to room configuration for best possible audio pickup
  • Replaces up to 10 traditional microphones, with twice the pick-up range

 

Stop by the ClearOne booth #2059 and find out why Pro Audio will never sound the same.

 
We have new tabletop and wall mode configurations for this must-see microphone – you won’t find anything like it on the InfoComm show floor!
 
Download your free InfoComm pass with the VIP code: CLE771
 
Questions:sales@clearone.com
 


 

ISE 2013 Recap

We had a tremendous time at ISE 2013 in Amsterdam this year! From meeting with dealers and end-users on the show floor, to talking to our partners, dealers and integrators around Amsterdam, we leave more excited for the future than ever before. ClearOne is about integrating solutions and finding better ways to help our clients succeed.
 
We enjoyed sharing our latest developments in Pro Audio like the the Beamforming Microphone Array, Pro-Audio industry’s first professional-grade microphone array with beamforming and adaptive steering technology, and our new Wireless Microphone System – adding four new wireless microphone options and two receiver models to our Pro Audio lineup.
 
In the video conferencing industry, we continue to be at the forefront of the movement toward software-based codecs for flexibility and scalability. Moving away from bulky and outdated dedicated hardware systems is the future, and we are leading the way.
 
When it comes to digital signage, the cloud based MagicBox Websuite has been enhanced, and has you covered. This new upgrade allows you to either pull or push content and schedule information from the server, supporting workgroup and playlist capabitilies.
 
Our end users want the flexibility to deliver the ultimate IP AV experience by streaming high-definition audio and video (multimedia) and control over TCP/IP networks. ClearOne combines the audio and video content into a single stream, which allows for easy networking over existing IP networks for digital signage, enterprise multimedia streaming and home entertainment.
 
As always, ClearOne believes that it’s all about creating solutions for our clients in the fast-moving market – solutions that are reliable, scalable, and compatible, so you can focus on your business. We are busy working on the ideas that will next revolutionize the market, and can’t wait to share them with out at ISE 2014!