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Strother Bullins on Sennheiser TeamConnect - Sound & Video Contractor

Strother Bullins on Sennheiser TeamConnect

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Over seven decades, German pro audio manufacturer Sennheiser secured its legendary reputation by building worldclass microphones, headphones and wireless systems, yet arguably some of its most interesting products have hit the market within the last few years. For example, ClipMic and MKE2 Digital are iOS-ready digital lavalier microphones made of Sennheiser transducers and Apogee converters. Meanwhile recently, Sennheiser has deeply invested in the virtual reality (VR) content creation movement through its trademarked AMBEO audio technology and corresponding product, the AMBEO VR Microphone for 3D audio capture.

Somewhere along the way, Sennheiser also tapped into the conferencing needs of modern firms and organizations. Perhaps they were inspired by their own successes in savvy technological blending, as described above. Here, I audition a great example of corporate audio innovation in Sennheiser’s TeamConnect Wireless, reportedly the first portable wireless conference system for online meetings.

It’s simply a brilliant solution, if a bit costly. That said, investing in such a system would be wise for any group that takes audio quality seriously, works in a wide range of environments and wants a system built to last.

TeamConnect Wireless is designed to allow for wireless remote conferencing anywhere, as it is configurable in literally seconds and provides communications for up to 24 people in essentially any environment. It operates in the license-free 1.9 GHz band with RF output power of maximum 100 mW (EIRP).

TeamConnect Wireless requires no power source in operation; it is comprised of four satellite conference units, each powered by a Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, packaged within a hardshell charging/ transport case with an external power supply unit. To recharge, simply plug the case into a power source, place the satellites in the case, and charging will commence.

The system allows three ways to connect: wirelessly via Bluetooth, wired via mini USB, or analog input via 2.5mm audio jack. USB to mini USB and 3.5mm (eighth-inch) to 2.5mm TTRS cables are included.

Of its four satellites, one serves as master with analog and USB ports on its base and touch-sensitive input, level and microphone mute controls on its top; each of the three slave units simply offer touch-sensitive mic mute and level adjustment. Further, touch-sensitive Bluetooth pairing and USB connection deactivation functionality resides on the master; NFC (Near Field Communication technology) status and jack plug icons light up when either is in use.

Battery levels for all units is checkable via the master unit’s battery button, which momentarily changes all satellites’ white audio level “smileys” to green ones notating battery power levels (displaying a range from empty to 4 hour to 8 hour talk/playback times).

Charging time of the rechargeable battery is ten hours. As such, the system is perfectly engineered for all-day use and subsequent all-night charging.

In use, the system’s audio quality is, on the whole, very impressive. With a dual microphone configuration per each satellite, one captures the ambient conference audio while the other is used for diffuse noise reduction. Each satellite’s Bluetooth-provided musical playback is surprisingly high quality thanks to its built-in speaker featuring a 200 Hz – 9 kHz frequency response.

I set up the system in several unique applications including an elementary school’s teacher conference with its central office in a traditional meeting room via Bluetooth, another makeshift conference at the school in the echo-prone cafeteria (where noise reduction capabilities came in handy), across a sprawling house-of-worship’s various offices and classrooms, and more. Notably, it has a master-to-satellite wireless range of over 65 feet, which allowed it to work interference-free much more impressively than I expected.

I also applied three of the units at a house-of-worship as listener assistance units, where it worked like a charm; three church members simply brought the slave satellites to their chosen place in the pews.

While the cost of the TeamConnect Wireless kit is hard to justify for this application alone, it does help justify it when it can be used for conferencing purposes during the week, then used in a completely different manner (listening assistance) on Sundays.

At $3,899.95 street, TeamConnect Wireless is low-cost conferencing solution. However, it is unique to the market and is honestly worth the investment for those groups needing truly flexible conferencing configurations. Made by Sennheiser, buyers can trust it’s a high-quality and serviceable system, built to last for years to come.

Strother Bullins is Technology Editor for NewBay Media’s AV/Pro Audio Group. sbullins@nbmedia.com

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