Hearing is Understanding
It wasn’t too long ago that conference room audio consisted of a lowly speakerphone. In the U.S., some of the first speakerphones were speaker add-ons to the ubiquitous Bell system phones in executive offices and boardrooms. In the 1980s and 1990s, Polycom’s (Poly today) popular Soundstation speakerphones did much to diminish the use of the phrase “can you hear me now” at the start of every conference call.
Audio is still critically important in today’s age of video conferencing, hybrid workplaces, and fully remote teams. For individuals working on a laptop or even a smartphone, being heard is not problematic with the ever-higher quality of microphones in these devices and software DSP that can mitigate ambient noise. In a small huddle room, all-in-one devices like a Poly soundbar with a camera and microphone employ beam-forming microphones that do a reasonably good job capturing a small group. However, put a large group of people in a conference room, and the auditory challenges increase significantly.
Let’s take a closer look below at some of the issues and ways to improve sound quality and intelligibility in conference room audio-video systems.