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On Conferencing Audio: Sennheiser

Charlie Jones Insights Manager, Global Alliances, Business Communications Sennheiser
(Image credit: Future)

AVT Question: Please share insight into ensuring a successful and intelligible videoconference or hybrid learning experience. [July 2022]

Thought Leader: Charlie Jones, Insights Manager, Global Alliances, Business Communications at Sennheiser (opens in new tab)

The most important thing to remember is that it’s a microphone, not a miracle. While we can adjust audio settings to try and improve the audio, you can never overcome problems caused by improper microphone placement and use. You can have the finest studio microphone ever made (my colleagues in Neumann would be happy to sell you one!), but if you have your laptop open in front of the microphone, audio will suffer. Accordingly, we recommend getting the microphone off the table and into the ceiling, where it’s free from obstruction.

The most important thing to remember is that it’s a microphone, not a miracle." —Charlie Jones, Insights Manager, Global Alliances, Business Communications at Sennheiser

A benefit of installing the microphone in the ceiling is cable management. Architects love to design flexible spaces with tables that can move, making cables a significant tripping hazard. However, traditional ceiling microphones weren’t without their own problems. The microphones would hang in front of projectors or cameras, interfering with sightlines, while doing a fantastic job of picking up as much HVAC noise as the participants’ voices. The latest ceiling tile microphones overcome these obstacles by using beamforming technology to pinpoint the person speaking, regardless of their location in the room.

Remembering that the laws of physics are laws and not suggestions, one must consider the impact of room acoustics on microphone performance. Lesser beamforming mics can struggle to differentiate between a presenter’s voice and any resulting echo, which can cause poor speech intelligibility. Unfortunately, current conference room designs tend to feature many hard surfaces, such as glass walls and tile floors, which create a highly reverberant space. Innovative beamforming microphones, such as the Sennheiser TCC2, use a narrow beam that tracks the presenter in real-time, reducing sensitivity to echo caused by poor room acoustics. The beam tracking ability can also be used to connect a camera system that can follow the presenter in real time, creating a better far-end experience.

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Contributing Writer

Macy O'Hearn has been a contributing writer to AV Technology since 2019 where her focus is working on the Technology Manager's Guides. In addition, O'Hearn has contributed articles to SCN, and the editor for the 2022 Digital Signage magazine.