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Legrand|AV on Conferencing Audio

Retzlaff Sound ADVICE
(Image credit: Future)

AVT Question: Intelligible audio is the lynchpin that holds the entire conferencing experience together. What are some best practices to help ensure reliable, intelligible audio as the demand for hybrid solutions grows? [November 2021]

Thought Leader: Brian Retzlaff, solutions engineer, Legrand|AV

For conference rooms, there are basically two types of microphones to consider: table mics and ceiling mics. Before picking, consider the conditions of the room, including ceiling height, aesthetics, control panels, existing audio standards in the same building. 

For ceiling mics, installation requires an assessment of the immediate environment. — Brian Retzlaff, Legrand|AV

Table mics can provide 360-degree coverage. Because of the table, there can be an acoustic gain in efficiency with the sound bouncing off the hard surface. A table mic can provide access to mute buttons and volume controls. 

[ Adapting to the Hybrid Workplace ]

For table setups, mics should be approximately two feet (0.6 meters) away from a presenter—a placement that optimizes voice pickup while minimizing ambient noise. This is fairly easy to accomplish when dealing with smaller spaces such as huddle rooms that are designed to accommodate a small group of people sitting around one table. For best audio results, echo cancellation and processing should occur at the mic, rather than within a soft client application such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. 


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For ceiling mics, installation requires an assessment of the immediate environment. Ideally, mics should descend to no more than approximately five feet (1.5 meters) above the person who is speaking. Extension cables can be used with higher ceilings, but they should be no longer than 15 feet (4.6 meters) in length. Otherwise, the mic and cable will act as an antenna and pick up ambient noise.

Cindy Davis is the brand and content director of AV Technology. Davis enjoys exploring the ethos of experiential spaces as well as diving deep into the complex topics that shape the AV/IT industry. In 2012, the TechDecisions brand of content sites she developed for EH Publishing was named one of “10 Great Business Media Websites” by B2B Media Business magazine. For more than 20 years, Davis has developed and delivered multiplatform content for AV/IT B2B and consumer electronics B2C publications, associations, and companies. From 2000 to 2008, Davis was the publisher and editor-in-chief of Electronic House. From 2009 to present, as the principal of CustomMedia.Co, Davis developed content plans and delivered content for associations such as IEEE Standards Association and AVIXA, content marketing for Future Plc, and numerous AV/IT companies. Davis was a critical member of the AVT editorial team when the title won the “Best Media Brand” laurel in the 2018 SIIA Jesse H. Neal Awards. A lifelong New Englander, Davis makes time for coastal hikes with her husband, Gary, and their Vizsla rescue, Dixie, sailing on one of Gloucester’s great schooners, and sampling local IPAs.