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BUYERS GUIDE: Conferencing Mics and Systems

Conferencing is everywhere now. Even small businesses, colleges, and tech schools can have room discussion systems and video conferencing equipment always ready to use. Meeting leaders can concentrate on the matters at hand while the system simplifies control. Offsite participants can be added seamlessly without a chorus of attendees saying, “Can you hear me now?” for the first few minutes. The systems outlined here are designed for simple portability or permanent installation, and they are built to make it easy.

The CS5 Reference Digital Conference System from AKG is expandable from a small portable arrangement up to a permanent installation with up to 5,000 stations and the capability of operation in 63 languages. Physical connections are made on an Ethernet cabling loop of shielded Cat-5 for a closed circuit buss with distributed power supplies. Features include ID card identification, three-way voting, five-way polling, and the base unit has everything needed to drive the CS5 IRT1 and CS5 IRT2 infrared radiators for transmission of up to seven languages, selectable on the receiver units. The CS5 BU base unit is a single rack space design that includes five external inputs and four outputs. It can be operated as standalone hardware or controlled from a computer. The CS5 DU reference digital microphone station has an integrated speaker and two headphone outputs while the CS5 VU reference digital microphone station adds five soft buttons, an LC display, and a chip-card reader.

AMX Sereno

The NMX-VCC-1000 Sereno video conferencing camera from AMX has beamforming microphones that can focus on voice capture and filter out noise. Producing 1080p HD video and a 120-degree field of view, the system has a 4x digital zoom that can focus from 15cm to infinity, and when it’s time to shut down, a built-in privacy shutter blocks the lens and electronically disconnects the microphones. The NMX-VCC-1000 Sereno is designed for smaller rooms and conference spaces, and its pivoting stand allows it to be mounted in a wide variety of positions to suit the room seating layout. It also has a reversible, weighted base for table top or wall/inverted mounting, and it receives its power through the USB connection.

Audio-Technica ATUC-50

Audio-Technica’s ATUC-50 Digital Discussion System centers on the ATUC-50CU rack-mountable control unit, which can handle power and control for as many as 50 ATUC-50DU discussion units, and the control units can be cascaded for up to 150 stations on a system. The ATUC-50CU offers four balanced outputs and one unbalanced output, left/right RCA inputs and two mic/line inputs. It can handle two separate language interpretation returns and record MP3 files or wav files up to 2GB. The base unit has front panel LEDs to show USB access, recording, discussion unit power, discussion unit chain, control unit link, remote control, and audio signal level. Multiple modes of operation can be set using the OLED display and navigating by the back button and the jog/enter dial. All of the units in the system are connected in either a ring or daisy-chain topology on Cat-5e/6 cable. Each discussion unit can be configured as either a delegate or chairman station.

Beyerdynamic family

Beyerdynamic has a number of conferencing products including the Quinta TB wireless boundary microphone that uses Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) to offer high immunity from interference and unauthorized listening. The Classis RM 30 vertical array microphone provides a horizontal corridor characteristic that allows the speaker or conference participant maximum freedom of movement with superior intelligibility. Among the newest products are the Classis RM 31 SP vertical array microphone with a programmable button to select between operating modes on/off, push-to-talk, and push-to-mute. Also new is the Classis GM 315 RC remote control gooseneck microphone that is flexible at the top and bottom with a rigid stem between. The RM 31 RC remote control Revoluto vertical array microphone is controlled by an external button, multimedia, or DSP system. Used with the Quinta and Orbis microphone units, the Classis RM 31 Q has an LED ring that illuminates red to indicate the ready-to-speak status of the microphone. The Orbis Reliable Conference System uses the removable gooseneck mics and its components are connected on Cat-5 cables.

Biamp Devio

For huddle rooms and other small spaces, the Biamp Systems Devio is the solution for conferencing with its beamforming microphone providing three 120-degree zones of coverage. The microphone is available in two form factors, the DTM-1 tabletop microphone and the DCM-1 ceiling microphone. The system’s echo cancellation, automatic gain control, and noise reduction work to make clear reception at the far end of the conference. The mic has a capacitive touch button for manual muting and an additional mic can be daisy-chained. The local output can be used with the internal 20W amplifier or sent to an external amp from the unit’s RCA line out connector. For single AV input connectivity there is a USB 3.0 input. One or two displays can be connected for local content sharing and the USB connections can be used with an external web camera.

Bosch CCS 1000 D

The CCS 1000 D Digital Discussion System from Bosch consists of the control unit with web browser interface for advanced set-up and meeting operation via a tablet and connection capability for up to 40 discussion devices. Up to 245 discussion devices can be connected using extension units. Recordings can be made on MP3 using internal memory and USB drives. The unit’s builtin Digital Acoustic Feedback Suppression (DAFS) makes possible superior speech intelligibility and there is onboard support for HD camera control. There is also an energy saving mode for automatic switch-off after two hours of inactivity. Discussion devices have white, green, and red LEDs to notify users when it is possible to speak, when they are in the queue, and when their microphone is on. Each also has a built-in speaker and a headphone jack with a volume control. All system components connect through a simple daisy-chain cable topology.

ClearOne COLLABORATE Pro 900

Single-site and multi-site interactive collaboration are made easy by ClearOne with the COLLABORATE Pro 900 and its ability to connect with PCs, mobile devices, room endpoints, and telephones to join up to 25 locations through traditional SIP/H.323 video conferencing and cloud video collaboration. The 24-element beamforming microphone array and ClearOne Converge Pro 840T mixer with its builtin telephone interface handle sound, while on video there is multi-source capture with up to four video input sources. As many as four presenters can share content at the same time and use an interactive whiteboard and annotation. Participants can also use it as a capture station for voice, video, and data. Small rooms can be used with the 73-degree wide angle view and the 12x optical zoom provides detailed close-ups, all of which can be remote controlled in pan, tilt, and zoom on the ClearOne UNITE 200 USB PTZ camera.

Mipro BC-100DT

The BC-100DT digital rechargeable wired/wireless conference microphone from Mipro encloses an ACT-80TC transmitter and the operational controls and LCD display of operating parameters are located on the upper panel. The talk/mute button controls the mic and an LED indicates talk/mute status. It is powered by an ICR 18500 rechargeable lithium battery and has built-in charging circuitry. The BC-100DT can be fitted with Mipro’s three gooseneck conference microphones: the MM-204 (15.1in.), MM-205 (19.1in.), or the MM-206 (23in.). The housing has an XLR female connector for the mic and an XLR male on the back for wired conference systems. The BC-100 can be used as boundary microphone or connected with a gooseneck mic to be a desktop conference microphone. A Mipro Act Series bodypack transmitter can be inserted into the BC-100 base as a wireless conference microphone. The back panel has an XLR connector with a switch to select the audio source from either the internal boundary microphone or the optional gooseneck microphone.

Revolabs Executive Elite

Revolabs developed the Executive Elite as a wireless rack-mounted microphone system for audio and video conferencing. Any combination of Revolabs tabletop, wearable, and gooseneck microphones can be used with the 4-or 8-channel system versions and there are adapters for using handheld, headset, or lavalier mics. The system frequency response is optimized for speech and up to 44 microphones connected. The processor and RF antennas can be separated for expanded installation options while RF Armor technology prevents interference from other electronics. The remote antenna receiver and base DSP units are connected by Cat-5e/Cat-6 and support PoE. Mic signals are perfectly secure with 256-bit AES encryption and automatic rekeying every few minutes for the most sensitive applications. The system is capable of local, remote, and cloud-based management. Revolabs was an early adopter of digital audio over the network (audio, video bridging (AVB), time-sensitive networking (TSN)).

Sennheiser TeamConnect Wireless

Sennheiser’s TeamConnect conferencing system centers on the Central Unit CU-1. It features auto-mixing of eight line/mic inputs, two line inputs, and eight line outs. It connects with the CB1 through its RJ-45 terminal and it can be remote controlled through the RS232 port. A telephone loop-through connection and a LAN port are also available on the rear panel. The CB1 Combobox is used to add USB audio and headset audio to the TeamConnect system. It can also interface with a telephone for processing the audio signal of the headset or the enterprise telephone in the TeamConnect system. At InfoComm 2016, Sennheiser unveiled the new TeamConnect Ceiling system using the SpeechLine Ceiling microphone as an alternative to tabletop conference mics. The ceiling-mounted microphone focuses automatically on a conference speaker’s voice and it can cover up to 646 square feet. The new charging tray option enables the user to slide the four units from the case and have them automatically power up and link together.

Shure MXA Group Ceiling Array

Shure MXA Group Table Array

The Microflex Advance Ceiling and Table Array Microphones from Shure provide a means to customize any conference room for sound pickup from above or out front. The MXA310 Table Array Microphone rejects HVAC noise and it can be set to any of four polar patterns. Up to four separate audio channels can be sent out on a Dante network and set up with the IntelliMix DSP Suite software for coverage patterns, automix, and EQ. Each has a programmable capacitive-touch mute switch and a multi-colored LED to show mute status and confirm coverage areas, and auto mix settings. The MXA910 Ceiling Array Microphone uses eight separate lobes for accurate sound pickup with lobe adjustments made through an automatic positioning tool in control software. These mics can work with Shure’s ANI4IN and ANI4OUT network interface units to connect to a Dante network. Web-based software allows remote control and configuration.

Taiden HCS-5300 Series

The New Generation Digital IR Wireless Conference System from Taiden allows many conference management capabilities using web control, including request-to-speak list administration. Users can access the IP address of the main unit from any web browser and use any device with Internet access. HCS-5300/80 Series digital infrared wireless conference microphones can now be combined with wired and multimedia conference units into one system. The wireless solution offers plenty of flexibility with room combining capability of up to four meeting spaces. A variety of chairman and delegate discussion units with various discussion, voting, and language interpretation channels can be used and by selecting among the transceiver models and base units a customized conference system can be created to suit any facility.

TOA TS-770

The TOA TS-770 Series Conference System is designed as a mobile system for conference and boardrooms and it comes complete with a central unit that supports up to 70 chairperson/delegate stations. Any system can be easily expanded with up to three central units to connect as many as 210 chairperson/delegate units. An optimized unidirectional gooseneck microphone and wide frequency response speaker are included in every participant’s unit along with a recording output jack. The talk button activates the mic and deactivates the local unit speaker to prevent feedback. An optional recording device can be connected to the central amplifier. The automatic mic-off function automatically switches off the microphone after a preset interval elapses. This can be set to Off, 20, or 40 seconds. Each station can be equipped with either the TS-773 or TS-774 microphone. The TS-773 has a 14.5in. stem and the TS-774 is about 20in. long.

Vaddio AV Bridge Conference

The AV Bridge CONFERENCE from Vaddio is an HD encoder that bridges the room’s analog audio and video into a computer and it has two-way analog audio to send the near-end audio to the far-end and return the far-end audio. The settings on its built-in web server can be viewed and set on the unit’s front panel menu and the Ethernet port provides access to internal web pages for control, setup, and software updates. It integrates with Vaddio’s HD cameras, presentation systems, video mixing consoles, and other pro audio products with Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC). The system can handle video resolutions from composite 480i to HD 1080p/60 in HDMI and YPbPr. The AV Bridge CONFERENCE unit allows users to easily retrofit existing conference rooms by plugging a USB cable into a Host PC or connecting to an IP network. The front panel provides separate video and audio mute buttons, an audio level knob and power reset along with video and sound source indicator LEDs.

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