Conferencing / Collaboration

TECHNOLOGY SHOWCASE: Conferencing Mics and Systems

10/23/2017 10:27 PM Eastern
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Face to face communication has never been easier and more natural looking with new ways to capture and transmit video and sound. Once confined to special networks and requiring a team of technicians to set up, conferencing systems have become as ubiquitous as laptop computers and WiFi. Some of these systems emphasize simplicity in setup while others can handle very large and complex layouts using a wide array of variants and components. Our entries here illustrate both examples.

AKG designed the CS3 Plug and Play Conferencing System to support up to 60 microphones with a single base unit and it offers several modes of operation selectable on the front panel which can also provide bass, treble, volume, and a number of open mics control. The system can connect to a PA and other external audio devices on a balanced XLR line and it can interface with camera control equipment through an RS232 port. The Line In connector can accommodate audio sources such as CD players and conferencing phone outputs. The system includes CS3 Chairman and Delegate Units with gooseneck mics and ports for headphones.

The AMX Acendo Vibe AVC-5100 is a conferencing sound bar with JBL speakers and an integrated 120-degree wide angle camera. Available in three colors, the unit is equipped with a wall mount that handles cabling and with rubber feet for table placement. The camera can pan through about 175 degrees and tilt down 5 degrees and up 15 degrees. Through CEC display control, it can be turned on and switched to a laptop’s video output by just connecting the cable. The AVC-5100 includes Bluetooth and USB connectivity along with HDMI input and output, analog stereo in/out on 1/8in., mini and an optical stereo input on TOSLINK. These work to accommodate the BYOD environment and with Acendo Core for complete conference functionality.

The ATUC-50 Digital Discussion System from Audio-Technica offers 24-bit/48kHz uncompressed digital audio and a 12-band feedback suppressor. The system consists of the 19in. rack mountable ATUC-50CU Control Unit, a number of ATUC-50DU Discussion Units, ATUC-50INT interpretation units, the ATUC-50IU integration unit, the ATLK-EXT165 Link Extender and either the ATUC-M43H Gooseneck Microphone or the longer ATUC-M58H Gooseneck Microphone. As many as 50 ATUC 50DU discussion units and 6 ATUC-50INT interpretation units can be connected in either a ring or daisy chain pattern to each ATUC-50CU control unit. Up to three control units can be linked via CAT5e or better and offer three operational modes; Free Talk, Request to Talk, and Full Remote.

The versatile Audix MicroPod microphones use an M1250B miniature condenser microphone combined with either a 6, 12 or 18 inch gooseneck. The ATS series table stands to which they connect provide a lighted ON/OFF switch. The MicroPod mics are available in a non-reflective black finish and they require 18-52 Volts phantom power. With a frequency response of 50Hz to 19kHz, the microphones have a 3-pin XLR connector to fit the ATS bases. These have a heavy duty die cast base, noise free on-off switch, LED indicator, and standard XLR connectors for input and output.

Beyerdynamic has an extremely versatile solution with the QUINTA wireless conferencing system that can mix wireless hand held mics with the MPR-210 ceiling mic, boundary mics, table mics such as the Classis RM 30 and gooseneck microphones. The operational frequency can be automatically or manually switched between 2.4, 5.2, and 5.8GHz. The base of the system is the Quinta RS which can run in either microphone mode with four mics or in conference mode with as many as 20 mics. With four mics at once, the unit can use its NOM (number of open mics) mixing function while the mix-minus feature allows integration into videoconferencing systems. The whole thing can be turned off using either a control command or a push of the Stand-by button on the front panel. The assigned transmission channel of each microphone is displayed on front LEDs. For larger conferences the Quinta CU can handle up to 150 microphones. The desk microphone units can swap gooseneck mics and they operate on NiMH batteries for around 20 hours on a charge. Each mic unit has a headphone jack for translation.

Designed primarily for conference rooms and council chambers, the Biamp Systems TesiraFORTÉ AI has 12 analog inputs and 8 analog outputs and provides signal routing and mixing, equalization, filtering, dynamics, and delay, as well as control, monitoring, and diagnostic tools through the Tesira configuration software. The Tesira Forte AVB AI includes Audio Video Bridging and that system can be scaled up as needed from a stand alone device to a more complex configuration with other Tesira devices. Speech is enhanced with SpeechSense technology and it is controllable with 4-pin GPIO, RS232, and Ethernet. At InfoComm 2017, Biamp Systems also introduced an expansion to their line with the TesiraFORTÉ VT4 for telephony conferencing in smaller conference rooms with 4 inputs/outputs and 4 channels of AEC. The VT4 provides a choice between AVB/TSN and Dante technologies to best suit the specific installation.

Based on the Bosch open media networking architecture OMNEO, the DICENTIS Wireless Conference System can be expanded to include many audio devices including those with Dante networking. The DICENTIS system uses WiFi technology to expand with wireless mic bases DCNM-WD and DCNM-WDE (with a 4.3 inch capacitive touch screen). Both base units can switch batteries quickly using a rechargeable battery pack. These bases can support the unidirectional extendable stem microphones while the DCNM+HDMIC High Directive microphone is a discrete unit that sits directly on the conference table. Signals can be transmitted through the stand-alone DCNM-WAP wireless access point with WPA2 encryption for secure communication. Other compatible devices include the HD Conference Dome Camera with a 10x optical zoom, 360-degree high speed continuous pan, and control/configuration via Ethernet.

The Clearone Unite 200 PTZ camera has USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI, and IP connection ports to suit a variety of conferencing systems and technologies. It can be integrated with videoconferencing systems, lecture capture applications and surveillance along with many others. The 1080p HD camera has a 12x optical zoom to get detail in large conference rooms but it also uses its 73-degree wide angle view to show the whole room. The signal can be output to USB, HDMI, and IP simultaneously. Control options for all of its movement and zoom include USB, RS232, and IP web-based operation. Supporting H.264 and H.265 encoding, the camera can also accept and transmit sound received from external sources including the ClearOne CONVERGE Pro mixer. The UNITE 200 is also compatible with the ClearOne COLLABORATE Pro system.

Not only providing a clear and natural sound pickup, the Clockaudio C 3E-RF Series microphones also allow users to exercise a wide variation in conference room styles. There are models such as 27in. long goosenecks down to the very short and unobtrusive 7in. C 31-RF. Fixed base arrangements on long goosenecks provide adjustment within a limited range while the movable base models insure a wider field of mic location. The finish can be satin black or white to suit any décor and the semi-rigid or flexible gooseneck stems allow easy positioning for best pickup. The C32E-RF operates on 9-48V phantom power and exhibits a cardioid pickup pattern. The mics have a 50-18kHz frequency response and a signal-to-noise ratio of 64dB.

The “heads-up” user interface on the LifeSize 800 makes operation very simple and, along with this, it provides four HD video inputs and outputs, seven audio inputs, four audio outputs, and two USB 3.0 data inputs. This and the Lifesize app make possible connections for a wide range of devices. Two video monitors can be used and for the sound there is echo cancellation along with seamless call escalation to a group call. Intended for smaller conference spaces or huddle rooms, the Lifesize Icon 450 features a smart-framing sensor that intelligently adjusts its sharp, wide-angle camera lens to automatically capture and include everyone in the picture. It’s all part of an integrated, full-featured solution that includes directory-based calling, one-on-one and group calls and chat, instant and scheduled meetings, and high-definition recording and sharing.

It is an integral part of a full-featured conferencing system that includes chat, instant and scheduled meetings, and high-definition recording and sharing. The BC-24T microphone bases from Mipro add wireless performance to the MM Series gooseneck mics by holding the ACT- 24TC transmitter PCB in the mic base. This allows the operational controls and indicators to be used right on the conference table. The talk-mute button is right on the top and the mute condition indicator is easy to see. The same gooseneck mics such as the MM-204 can be used as part of a wired system as well, with an XLR connector included on the back of the BC-24T. The choice of the MM-204, MM-205, and MM-206 electret condenser gooseneck mics offer the stem length needed for the specific conference environment and the stems are flexible. Powered by an ICR 18500 rechargeable lithium battery, the BC-24T has built-in charging circuitry. The black finish fits well into a room or table décor.

The team can truly connect with a range of devices in the Sennheiser TeamConnect conferencing system including smartphones, tablets, and laptops. The system is compatible with Skype for Business, OpenSpace, GoToMeeting, IBM, Cisco, and Avaya so that it is easily integrated into whatever tool is normally used for conferencing. TeamConnect is versatile enough to be installed in different bundle configurations in an assortment of components to fit the specific office environment. The SpeechLine beamforming ceiling mic is actually a 29-microphone capsule array that blends into the room with its metal case. At the center of the system are the TeamConnect Central Unit and Communication Box. They connect audio to the conference through landline and PC/VoiP for clear speech pickup. The Central Unit has eight mic/line inputs, two line inputs, and eight line outputs along with LAN, Link, Telco, and RS232 ports on the rear panel.

In addition to their MXA910 ceiling array microphone with its 8 separate pickup lobes and the MXA310 table array mic, Shure has introduced the new P300 IntelliMix Audio Conferencing Processor. Using the proven IntelliMix technology, the P300 provides 8 channels of acoustic echo cancellation, noise reduction, automatic gain control, and automixing. Its conferencing connections include ten Dante inputs, USB, analog audio, and mobile device connections through a 3.5 mm TRRS jack. Power connection is simplified through PoE+ and the unit is compact enough to fit just about anywhere. At the microphone end, the MXA910 ceiling array mic can automatically position its 8 lobes through control software to aim them at each participant’s voice. The MXA310 table array mic can allow selection of its various polar patterns to help carry voices over fans and room noise.

Unveiled at InfoComm 2017, the Taiden HCS-8368 G3 Multimedia Conference System uses 14in. (1920x1080) multi-point capacitive touchscreens with PoE and an onboard 8MP video camera. In desktop sharing mode, one of the most handy features it has is annotation. The G3 series offers the same features that have come to be known with Taiden conferencing including VOD, file server access, Internet access, microphone control, and electronic voting. G3 is also compatible with separate wireless systems from Taiden and others. Capable of operation with Taiden array or retractable gooseneck microphones, the touch screens connect in a closed loop daisy-chain topology. Sound control includes venue layout map, speaking list, request-to-speak list, and corresponding microphone control functions for the currently authorized unit.

TOA Electronics has upgraded the popular TS-900 wireless conference system to the TS-910 which can handle up to 96 chairperson/ delegate stations, three level voting, and simultaneous translation audio channel. Combining wired and wireless units, as many as 192 stations can be used. The TS-800 and TS-910 chairperson/ delegate stations can be operated on AC or on a Lithium-Ion battery for up to ten hours. The units also have external source inputs and PA/record outputs. The TS-910 can use wired (CAT5) or wireless components with infrared transmitter/receivers, expansion units, and bridge units. Failure in one station leaves the others functional and these can be externally controlled on RS232 or USB. The system includes a built-in feedback suppressor and when the speaker is on, chairman/delegate unit mic is turned off automatically to avoid feedback, and vice versa.

The ConferenceSHOT AV from Vaddio gets a lot done inside a tiny space on a wall mount shelf or table. The camera features a 10X optical zoom, 74-degree field of view, 1080p resolution, and USB 3.0 connectivity. It also has an Ethernet port with PoE, two EasyMic ports, and a four-pin audio output. This can be used to connect to the speaker unit with its internal 20W amplifier and dual 2in. full range drivers. The system’s echo cancellation makes conversation sound more natural and either one or two EasyUSB table MicPODs can be connected for sound pickup. The system provides plug-and-play functionality with Skype for Business, WebEx, and Google among other UCC soft clients. The built-in web server allows control and monitoring from PCs, Macs, and mobile devices including iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.

The Yamaha CS-700 video sound collaboration system is a remotely manageable wall mounted unit that upgrades any huddle room for central control and an easier user experience. The unit’s camera is designed with a very wide angle view especially suitable for the huddle room environment to require less camera movement. The beamforming array microphone can pick up clear speech from all angles while the four speaker elements allow participants to have direct sound in any seat. Its single USB cable connects to any Unified Communications platform, removes conference tabletop clutter, and provides invaluable screen-sharing capabilities. The CS-700 also provides a SIP interface to the corporate call manager, eliminating the need for a separate phone. The unit can be mass-deployed and remotely managed by any IT manager. The CS-700 mounts quite easily on a wall and it has a special pivot mount to allow access to cable connections.

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