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Tech Roundup: Boundary Mics and Automixers 2022

Boundary microphones and automatic microphone mixers have made a huge difference in conferencing, classrooms and room recording, allowing tech people to set up such events in multiple rooms and facilities to run simultaneously. Putting microphones on people and riding levels in unscripted formats previously required a lot of sound op time and considerable expertise but now the normal office or education staff can come in, push a button or two, and the class or meeting is ready to go. Featured here are the leading tools that have ushered in the new era.

The proud Crown name in microphones is continued with the AKG PCC130 SW cardioid boundary layer microphone. The mic is capable of being adjusted to suit the local sound environment with its bass tilt switch. This tailors the low-end frequency response to deal with background roar from fans, HVAC and exterior ambient noise. It also features a silent-operating programmable membrane switch that can be set up for touch on/off, momentary on or momentary off. The user is alerted by a high-intensity LED that lights when the unit is on. The mic includes an XLR connector and detachable cable. On the mixer side, AKG offers the DMM14 ULD reference digital automatic microphone mixer with Dante. Up to ten of these can be cascaded for controlling as many as 140 channels while two additional stereo audio outputs and one stereo USB provide more complex signal routing. DSP functions include filters, compressor/limiter, ducking and routing. There is also a LAN interface for long-distance remote control.

For comfortable conferences and meetings where connection and placement of microphones are the last thing on attendees minds, the Audio-Technica ES945O/ FM3 mounts nearly hidden in tabletops or panels but clearly displays its two-state RGB LED ring to indicate mute status. This light can be configured for any of seven colors. The all-metal case with a two-layer steel mesh grille is ground zero for an omnidirectional sound pickup pattern and the built-in power module simplifies installation. The mic’s UniGuard RFI-shielding rejects radio frequency interference. The Audio-Technica ATDM-0604 automatic mixer fits well into a wide range of meeting spaces including boardrooms and courtrooms. Its SmartMixer technology allows channels to be mixed automatically in gate or gain sharing mode while controlling feedback, excessive ambient noise, and comb filtering. The unit also has a 2-channel USB audio interface for soft codec integration or playback from computer.

Durable enough to be handled by non-experts and just keep right on working, the Audix M60 boundary condenser microphone rejects RF interference from cell phones and GSM devices. Corporate meetings and video conferencing are the primary applications for this microphone model. Getting knocked off the table won’t even slow it down with its nickel case and high-quality 12ft. shielded mic cable. The unit’s frequency response is 70Hz to 80kHz and it operates on 18-52V phantom power. Picking up sound in a hemi-cardioid pattern, the mic can handle up to 130dB sound pressure level with a dynamic range of 108dB. Its miniaturized integrated preamp circuitry deals with these high sound levels and works to reduce noise in the more quiet meeting moments.

The beyerdynamic Classis BM 32 B is specially designed for voice pickup in a permanent tabletop or podium surface flush mount installation. Using a half-cardioid polar pattern, the black finished mic can be put into surfaces as thick as 2.25in. and it is surrounded in plastic bearing rings that provide mechanical isolation. The unit is also available in white finish as the BM 32 W and in silver finish as the BM 32 SE. The nut on the over-ceiling or under-table side firmly fixes the mic in place and prevents it from being rotated. This maintains its polar pattern pickup in the desired direction. The frequency response is 50Hz-18kHz and the mic operates on 8-52V phantom power through a 3-pin XLR connection.

For quick and easy interview recording, meetings and huddle rooms the CAD Audio U5 USB condenser boundary microphone is the perfect solution. Capable of capturing voices at distances up to 20ft. away, the U5 uses integral noise cancellation to get clear sound in a 360-degree pattern and reduce ambient noise. Clearly marked mute and volume control buttons give the user control of the low profile unit. The wide 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response and -30dB sensitivity allow very clear, high quality recording and sound transmission. A 6.5ft. USB C to USB A cable is included. The surface light turns red to indicate the mic is muted. It turns blue when the mic is active and is off when the power is disconnected.

The ClearOne Uni-Directional Tabletop Microphone is in its element when conference participants need to be heard without background noise or physical clutter on the table. The uni-directional cardioid pattern keeps ambient noise to a minimum and for added noise reduction there is also a low-cut filter. When this mic is connected to any of the ClearOne professional conferencing systems, the results are excellent. The mic can take SPL levels up to 141dB and it operates on 9-58V phantom power. ClearOne also has the CONVERGE Huddle professional audio DSP mixer that forms the heart of a conference and meeting system when connected to microphones, speakers, cameras, and display screens. It can be fully operated from a PC when connected by USB 3.0. It only requires a half rack space and it includes echo and noise cancellation.

Unobtrusive design and RF rejection are two ace cards in the Clockaudio CRM 202SRF dual element boundary layer microphone. Housed in high quality brass and available in Black Nextel or Satin Nickel finish, the mic has an integrated power adapter and operates on 9-48V. The half cardioid pattern is optimized for voice pickup (50Hz-18kHz) and it minimizes ambient noise. When not in use it can be gently pushed down into its recessed and nearly invisible position inside a table or podium. The Clockaudio Dante Transporter for audio and control signal installs with under-table mounting; multiple units may be daisy chained (maximum of 6 units on a single CAT-5). There is Phantom Power for each mic input and four RJ45 Touch Switch ports compatible with all logic-enabled Clockaudio devices. It’s compatible with all Dante- and AES67- enabled DSPs and most logic control systems. It is Dante Domain Manager Ready and has an open API.

The elegant design stands out while the low profile stays out of the way in the DPA Microphones 4060 Omni Boundary Layer Mic. Designed primarily for tabletop placement but very useful on other surfaces, the mic is optimized to boost speech intelligibility and its hemispherical omnidirectional pattern can get clear speech from participants seated all around a conference table. This model can handle a maximum SPL of 134dB and it has a dynamic range of 106dB. It is constructed as a central rubber disc that holds the mic element mounted in a brilliant stainless steel base. Two M5 threaded holes in the housing allow the mic to be permanently attached to the table and the cable can be threaded along the surface or run through and below the table.

Carrying the name of the automatic microphone mixer inventor, the Dan Dugan Sound Design E-3A Automatic Mixing Controller has 16 channels of AES and 16 channels of ADAT processing. It supports all Dugan algorithms including Speech System, Music System, and Gain Limiting. All channels can be grouped into three independent automixers and the device includes word clock I/O. For control there are three LAN ports, one with PoE. The E-3A may also be operated via the Dugan Model K Control Surface and units can be linked for larger systems with more channels. Up to eight units can be linked into one system in an optical ring network. Frequency response is 10Hz to 22kHz.

The Lectrosonics DNT16i Digital Processor digital processor provides 16 mic/line analog inputs with 48V phantom power along with 16 DanteTM digital inputs and 32 DanteTM digital outputs. Allowing digital and analog input signals onto a Dante network, the unit can be controlled via USB, RS-232, Ethernet and programmable logic I/O. Gain smoothing prevents transient noise during instantaneous level changes and DSP features include filters, delay and channel linking for dynamic processing. For subgrouping, mixes can be looped back and used as mixer inputs. The impressive capabilities of the DNTi16 include 48 independent automatic mixers with 36 inputs per mixer and channel activity detectors. All of this capability is housed in a compact single rack space housing.

While room acoustics, ambient noise and the shape and size of conference tables can vary widely, the MXL AC-44 three-capsule boundary microphone can handle it all and get clear speech from all participants. It’s a simple setup with plug-and-play USB-C connectivity. The tiny 1in. tall mic stays out of the way but it’s quite durable with its metal case. Available in white, black and cobalt blue, the AC-44 can blend into the décor of any meeting room, huddle space or conference room. The 180-degree pickup pattern allows the mic to be pointed so as to reject unwanted audio while emphasizing pickup in the other direction and its 30Hz to 20kHz frequency response provides fullbodied sound. The analog output is a 3.5mm direct line level feed.

The RCF MC 5002 Professional Desktop Microphone professional desktop microphone is inconspicuous and works well on any flat surface. Its frequency envelope can be set to flat, boost or low cut to accommodate room audio response and the damage resistant metal body is fitted with a red LED that lights when the mic is on. 12 to 48V phantom power keeps the condenser design operating and the 5-pin mini XLR connection provides contact closure pins as well as those for carrying the audio signal and the cable is included. The unit’s 15Hz to 18kHz frequency response carries wide range sound from its unidirectional pickup pattern. Switches on the bottom of the housing are used for setting Mute, Talk, and Lock modes along with the frequency response curve.

There are no wires to hide or secure with the Sennheiser SL Boundary 114-S DW Put it anywhere on the conference table or podium and its half cardioid pickup pattern will hear everyone’s voice. The versatile device has a programmable microphone button that can be set in various modes including push-to-talk, push-to-mute, toggle on/off and permanent on. The two-color LED ring on top visually indicates the mic status. Compatible with the SL Rack Receiver DW, the mic can be charged wirelessly or via USB. The attractive housing is available in black or white. Also on the top of the case is a line of dedicated battery status LEDs that display a clear battery life indication. This model can be monitored and controlled remotely with the Sennheiser Control Cockpit.

Tailor the pickup pattern to suit the room or the shape of the conference table with the Shure MXA310 table array microphone. The steerable coverage uses a selection among its four independent lobes. In 360-degree coverage, sound from directly above the mic is rejected to minimize HVAC noise. Shure Designer software or a browser-based web application allows the mic and its pickup pattern to be controlled. The mic integrates seamlessly with Dante digital networked audio and third-party preset controllers. Four discrete audio channels and an additional automix channel are delivered over a single network cable. For more complex mixing scenarios, the Shure SCM810 eight-channel automatic mixer is up to the task with fast microphone selection, adjustable EQ, adjustable low-frequency roll off, and a peak-responding output limiter. Using Shure’s patented IntelliMix, the mixer offers complete logic control of microphone activation and linking capacity for up to 400 microphones. 48V phantom power is provided on each of the mic/line inputs and there are eight unbalanced 1/4in. direct line level outputs.

The award winning Sound Devices Scorpio 32 channel, 36 track mixer-recorder has among its wealth of features Dugan Automixing/MixAssist for up to 16 channels. The mixer also features 16 mic/line preamplifiers, 32 channels of Dante in and out, AES in and out, 12 analog outputs, multiple headphone outputs, and a fully-customizable routing matrix that allows any input to be sent to any channel, bus, or output. In addition, the inputs offer built-in analog limiters, high pass filters, delay, 3-band EQ and phantom power. Two separate groups can be mixed simultaneously while LED metering and a sunlight-readable screen show Dugan channel attenuation and gain distribution. The Scorpio can be used instudio or on the road with battery power

After permanent flush mount installation into a conference table, ceiling, wall or desk, the TOA Electronics EM-600 omnidirectional condenser microphone virtually disappears. It delivers full range sound with a 30Hz-20kHz frequency response, and it operates on 9 to 52VDC while the rubber isolation ring physically isolates it from mechanical shock and vibration. The XLR connection and wiring are all out of sight behind or below the mounting surface and the visible head is made of durable Zinc-plated steel wire finished in white semi-gloss paint. The housing requires only a 0.74in. mounting hole.

The Yamaha MRX7-D is a 2 rack space sound processing unit that features a Dugan Automixer, matrix mixer, delay matrix, acoustic echo cancellation, ambient noise compensator, room combiner and feedback suppression. There are eight channels of analog I/O and it uses twisted pair cable to transmit 16 channels of I/O with word clock. Dante ports can provide up to 64 inputs and outputs. There is also a Mini-YGDAI card slot in which can be inserted optional cards to accommodate a wide range of signal formats. Direct playback of mp3 and wav files can be made through the SD Memory Card slot and there is a built-in scheduling capability. Audinate Corporation’s Dante Domain Manager is also supported and there are multiple remote controllability options.


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