How Distributed Audio Can Facilitate More Productive Meetings
Audio is Still Critical in a Visual World
In an era of email, Slack, text, and videoconferencing with screen sharing, is audio still as important? It may be true that with all the communication and collaboration tools available to businesses these days, some meetings might be less necessary. It’s also true that with hybrid work environments, with workers both in and out of your Phoenix, AZ offices, meetings may not be as convenient to hold as before.
However, that doesn't mean communicating by voice has gone out of style. Unfortunately, voice sometimes takes a back seat to more visual communication. That is sometimes reflected in the choice of equipment for conference rooms. The trend in many spaces is to install all-in-one soundbar-style videoconferencing systems with a microphone, camera, and speaker. While the microphones and speakers in these systems might work well in ideal conditions, sometimes they're not up to the task. Stay with us below as we explore audio issues in modern collaboration spaces and how distributed audio can help.
No doubt you've been to a trendy restaurant in Phoenix where the overall noise level is high. You might find it hard to converse with your partners at peak dinner time without raising your voice. The decor trend in current restaurants tends to be modern and edgy, with many hard surfaces causing reflections. Hard tables, chairs, flooring, walls, and high ceilings all contribute to the din. Add a bit of music soundtrack to the cacophony, and you get a space with lots of impedance to effective conversations. Conference rooms may not be as bad, but the design trends now also favor hard surfaces – including lots of glass – affecting sound quality. When people are far away from microphones, such as those in the all-in-one system mounted at the front of the room, the intelligibility of voices suffers at the other end.
Conference room sound issues aren't just inside the room. Ambient noise sometimes causes problems. For example, a room with big windows overlooking a busy street might get a lot of traffic noise. Beyond the hum, noisy trucks and motorcycles might seep into the room at the worst moments overriding the conversation. If a conference room is next to an open office area, the buzz from that space might also contribute to a background that needs to be overcome. Finally, other noise, like a strong fan from the HVAC system, can cycle in and out of the room, necessitating volume and voice level adjustments.
How Distributed Audio Can Help
Sometimes, the all-in-one solution isn’t the best approach, in the same way that three people crowded around a laptop is not a great way to do a video conference. Specifically for audio, distributing audio to external speakers in the room (ceilings and walls) can help all participants get the same sound level along with improved quality. For microphones, adding individual table microphones puts them closer to the speaker so that they can use natural voices and not be shouting at a microphone across the room. Microphone arrays can also be used on tabletops or in ceilings to bring the mic closer to where the participants are. The separate speakers and microphones are built to a higher performance standard than all-in-one products for a superior experience. Beyond the equipment, other sound factors can be addressed, like balancing the HVAC system to minimize air noise and using fabric shades or drapes for windows to block out sound and soften the reflections within the room.
Don't misunderstand; we love specifying and deploying easy-to-use all-in-one systems in many meeting spaces. But we also understand the aural challenges of today's rooms, and we can help ensure that audio quality never takes a back seat in your meeting facilities. Level 3 Audiovisual is a Tempe, Arizona-based national managed services provider helping organizations of all sizes across the U.S. design, deploy, and manage AV systems and infrastructure. Learn more by reaching out to Level 3 Audiovisual or clicking the chat box below to connect instantly. We look forward to working with you.