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Tech Roundup: Conferencing Microphones and Systems 2021

Our apparent emergence from the worst of the pandemic has seen a tsunami of activity in the conferencing arena with new products and recent updates for existing systems. Regardless of whether we have to re-dig our foxholes for a virus resurgence, this segment of the AV market will never go back to what it was before. Employers, workers, kids and grandparents have learned to use it. In-person meetings have cautiously reappeared, spurring new upgrades in room discussion systems as well as teleconferencing. While the new ubiquity of online meeting does bring some security challenges, the tools of this field have sunk solid roots into our personal and business lives with new capabilities and ease of use powering the trend.

The new 1Beyond Hawk dual camera tracking solution can use its audio tracking to follow the presenter around the room and cut to 12x optical zoom close-ups on the other camera. Any room system microphone can be routed to the device for echo cancellation. After initial configuration, the Hawk requires no connection to the network or a computer running specialized software. The Hawk’s sound following works at distances up to 25ft., while tracking smoothly and quietly.

One consistent goal, especially in large room meetings, has been reliable, feedback-free mixing and gain control. The AKG CGN521STS professional tabletop microphone narrows both the apparent distance between user and mic while using its cardioid pickup pattern to minimize room noise. The switch on its base can be configured for push to talk, push to mute, push on/off, and low cut on/off with the onboard LED indicating the selected function.

For those who are attending videoconferences on the road, the Anker Innovations Webcam PowerConf C300 offers crystal clear video with its HD 1080p/60FPS camera and pure sound pickup using dual microphones. Low lighting conditions aren’t a problem with the camera’s AI-powered auto low-light correction. It automatically frames the shot to include all participants and the auto-focus adjusts in a fraction of a second.

Sound on large in-room conferences is easy to control with the Audio-Technica ATUC-50 and ATUCIR room discussion systems. The ATUC-50 is a wired configuration powered by the ATUC-50CU rack-mountable control unit while the ATUC-IR system uses infrared conveyance run by the ATUC-IRCU control unit capable of powering wired and unwired setups. The two systems can be operated in any combination. Up to 200 ATUCIRDU infrared discussion units and 100 ATUC-50DU/IU/INT wired units can be used.

The Audix Dante/AES67 Integrated Microphone System connects more like an IT network than a conventional mic mixer. Any combination of the RJ-45 terminated Audix M3 tri-element hanging microphone, the steerable flush-mount M70 ceiling microphone, and the M55 hanging ceiling microphone can be used in the system depending on the specific interface model (DN4 or DN43) that is used. All mic functions work through a single CAT 5-7 cable terminated with RJ45s. Each interface has Low-pass and high-pass filter settings and eight selectable gain settings.

With non-techies operating things, simple control is vital and the Aveo Systems Mira Connect Smart AV Control System allows that simplicity in setup and operation. After connecting with Mira Portal for its initial configuration, the 10in. touch panel can go on its own unless a firmware update or remote control capability is required. Numerous control and scheduling features appear along the sides of the display along with pop-up reminders. Mira Connect controls hundreds of commonly-used audiovisual devices, including Zoom Rooms, Poly, and Cisco video codecs.

The black beyerdynamic MPR 210 B array microphone uses a corridor pickup pattern to allow a conference speaker to move freely around the presentation area with high voice quality. The device is cable connected with a 3-pin XLR termination and it can be table or ceiling mounted in a white finish. The mic uses patented Revoluto technology to maintain consistent sound level and voice intelligibility at a distance.

There is plenty of mixing and distribution capacity in the Biamp Systems TesiraFORTÉ X 1600 meeting room DSP unit including network and analog terminations and 16 channels of Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC) assignable to any input. There are five 1GB Ethernet ports. AVB, Dante and VoIP are supported and four of the network ports are PoE+. The surface mountable device has 4-pin GPIO and as many as to 2×2 channels of configurable USB audio.

A new addition to their extensive line of conferencing products, the Bosch Security Systems DICENTIS Flush has modular versatility and a new clean look on the meeting room table. The system is capable of handling large events using its OMNEO media networking architecture to leverage existing IP infrastructure and PoE. Each component’s click-to-fit mechanism makes flush mounting in surfaces easy with installation from above or below. Server-based architecture allows integration with third-party applications and future cloud-based services.

The Bose ControlSpace EX-1280C conferencing sound processor combines an all-in-one design with scalability for future-proof operation in a variety of meeting areas. The single rack space design supports simultaneous VoIP, PSTN and USB soft codecs and has 12 acoustic echo cancellers in Dante and analog inputs. There are 5in/5out GPIO connections and the Bose AmpLink port provides 8-channels of uncompressed digital audio to AmpLink-equipped Bose amplifiers. The OLED display and rotary encoder facilitate setting network parameters and monitoring channel activity.

Maximum voice clarity and freedom of presenter movement are top design priorities of the ClearOne BMS 360 advanced ceiling tile beamforming mic array with its FiBeam technology. This unit has superior room noise rejection and its Voice Lift feature enables it to drive multiple mix-minus speaker zones for a 20 dB boost in gain before feedback compared to an omnidirectional mic. Its built-in amplifiers are configurable as 4 x 15W or 2 x 30W speaker outputs.

The award-winning Clockaudio TIM-1000 tracking intelligent microphone (TIM) follows a conference room presenter with its Adaptive Proximity Tracking (APT) technology while filtering out steady stateroom noise and running on PoE+. It supports DANTE and AES 67, accepts API commands via UDP and it is Dante Domain Manager ready. The ceiling mount version is the TIM-1000-CM and the pole mount model is the TIM-1000-PM.

Using a powerful combination of its Home app and a sophisticated speakerphone, the Crestron UC-MM30-R tabletop conference device provides control not only of conference sound and video but also room shades, lighting, and security. All function control is displayed on the device’s large 7in. HD touch screen. Four built-in omnidirectional microphones allow 360-degree sound pickup and the whole system connects on a single Ethernet LAN connection.

ClearOne Versa Mediabar is the company’s first all-in-one audio and video capture device that combines a soundbar with ClearOne’s intelligent audio capture and 4K camera technologies. It includes a built-in 4K Ultra HD PTZ camera with a 110-degree ultra wide-angle field of view and a four-element microphone array with 360-degree voice pickup and intelligent DSP that provides acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) and automatic noise reduction. A built-in Bluetooth speaker adds to its flexibility for use with most UVC platforms.

Designed for Microsoft Teams rooms, the Epos EXPAND Vision 3T all-in-one video collaboration solution is quick and easy to set up and once it is ready to go it provides automatic software updates and remote device management. There is a wide-angle 4K camera, intelligent picture framing, voice tracking and noise cancellation. No PC is needed and a meeting can be joined with a single touch.

The Hall Technologies EMCEE200 seamless multiview presentation switcher scaler is ready for multi-source conference presentations with its “CONFIDENCE” and “PRESENT” HDMI outputs in different window layouts. The EMCEE200 offers audio embedding/de-embedding, picture-in-picture, recording and 4K capture, HDBaseT 3.0 and amplifier plugin module support in addition to dual mic mixing. The front panel has controls for input selection, preset store and recall, volume levels and menu navigation.

Intel Unite is a collaboration platform with a host of features that make it well suited to a contactless world. Its wireless connectivity means there are no shared dongles or cables. Wireless connectivity also facilitates social distancing, as meeting participants no longer need to be within reach of a cable. With the platform’s remote capabilities, either through Protected Guest Access or a UC such as Webex, they don’t even need to be in the same room. The Intel Unite software is also open platform, which allows participants to use their own devices to share content

Intended to fit smoothly into a range of existing conferencing systems and add 4K panoramic video, the Jabra Panacast is certified for Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Among its features is the new Whiteboard Sharing function, which can provide video from up to three whiteboards. The Jabra Express software allows users to manage multiple meeting rooms and the device’s 180-degree field of view and smart zoom easily include all participants in the room.

The Liberty AV Solutions DL-SCU33-SW 4K60 Web-Conferencing Switcher/Hub performs AV switching and USB routing so that bring-your-own meeting devices (BYOM) and built-in room sources can be seamlessly used. Small enough to have a range of mounting options while its own USB hub provides up to 60W of charging power, the DL-SCU33- SW is controlled with the internal CEC controller or through third party interfaces.

A 20x zoom, compact form factor, automatic audio gain control, dual display support and seamless integration with the Lifesize cloud-based service are top attractions of the Lifesize Icon 700 conferencing system. The video system is controlled from the included Lifesize Phone HD which is connected by an Ethernet cable. The dual display support allows one display to be used exclusively for content sharing. Security features include the ability to disable HTTP and SSH services.

When the task is to bring HDMI video resources into Zoom, Teams and other conferencing systems, the Magewell USB Capture HDMI Gen 2 accepts the input signal on its HDMI 1.4a/DVI-D 1.0 port with support for input video resolutions up to 2048×2160. The unit is compatible and tested with Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems. It can also be used with Skype, GoToMeeting, Gstreamer, VLC, and the QuickTime player.

The Mipro BC-58T wireless conference microphone base and 5800 Series receivers can form the backbone for a versatile conferencing solution. The BC-58T can fit the ACT58TC transmitter PCB for digital wireless operation in the ISM band and it can also accept any of the MM-206/205/204 gooseneck microphones for a wired system. It has a talk/mute button right on top. In a wireless setup, the 5800 Series receivers can have single or dual channel operation and there are rack and freestanding models

A Zoom Room conferencing bundle is quick and easy to set up as the MXL ACVC-360-Z consisting of the MXL AC-360-Z USB Web Conferencing Microphone with 12 capsules in four quadrants that combine for a full 360-degree pickup pattern and the Marshall Electronics CV610 HD PTZ Camera. The microphone sits low on the table and is insulated from vibration by four removable rubber feet. The rugged all-metal construction withstands impacts and it makes a perfect audio/video pair with the 10x optical zoom CV610 HD PTZ camera.

There is a very popular conferencing microphone system for rooms housing up to 16 participants in the Sennheiser TeamConnect Ceiling 2 mic array. Mounted like a ceiling tile, its 28 capsules are linked through DSP matrixing so that they beam the pickup toward the presenter wherever he or she may be located. The output is via 3-pin Phoenix connector for analog and two Dante digital ports. Setup is done with the Sennheiser Control Cockpit 4.0 app.

The Shure Microflex Complete Wireless digital conference system can be quickly set up, automatically performing frequency coordination while detecting and avoiding RF interference. The participant stations have color touch panels and any of them can function as a chairman, delegate, ambient mic, listener or remote caller unit. There is also an integrated NFC ID card reader for participant identification and two, three or five-button voting function. The rechargeable batteries last up to 11 hours.

At press time, the Shure A400MG muting accessory debuted. The touch-sensitive Mute Button adds convenient audio mute functionality to the Microflex MX395-LED low-profile boundary microphones and MX405, MX410, and MX415 modular gooseneck microphones. The A400MB installs like a washer between the microphone body and the table or lectern surface, hiding the circuitry underneath the surface. The mute function is easily programmed with onboard switches to provide complete flexibility and can be configured as momentary (push-to-talk or push-to-mute) or toggled (push-on, push-off). The A400MB Mute Button includes local mode as well as remote mode. It can be customized to address a variety of room types and configurations. If A400MB mute buttons are installed with multiple microphones on a table, pushing any mute button can mute all the mics simultaneously, and all microphone LEDs can also change color to show that the outgoing audio has been muted. When used with Shure ANI4IN-BLOCK or ANI22-BLOCK audio network interfaces and the IntelliMix P300 audio conferencing processor, the mute and LED behavior is synchronized to simultaneously mute them with Microsoft Teams and Zoom video conferencing platforms. This means the user’s mute status is instantly visible to all meeting participants, whether in the same room or joining from thousands of miles away. The A400MB Mute Button accessory adds attractive and convenient muting capability to Microflex low-profile boundary and modular gooseneck microphones. It can be included with new projects or added to existing installations.

The Taiden HCS-5300M/80A Series Digital Main Unit forms the base in an infrared conferencing and voting system. This arrangement can be composed of digital IR chairman and delegate stations. The HCS-5300TD/80 digital infrared transceiver may be mounted on a ceiling, wall or tripod to receive and transmit infrared conveyed content between base and microphone units. The Digital Main Unit operates with multi-channel audio signals for transmission, reception and control. The IR system eliminates most cabling to provide easy mobility and quick setup.

Large meetings and multilingual conferences are now easier to set up with the Televic Confidea FLEX system and its push button quick configuration features. Each elegantly slim participant unit can be set as a chairman or delegate unit. Its own speaker is muted when the long stem mic is activated. There are also two headphone outputs, request to speak button, card reader, voting capability and a light sensor for automatic luminance adjustment.

The TOA Electronics LENUBIO (AMCF1) integrated audio collaboration system offers any conference room its steerable microphone array, DSP and 2-way active speakers. As the mic array tracks the presenter’s voice, built-in Acoustic Echo Cancellation and Ambient Noise Cancellation eliminate feedback. LEDs show presenter position, mute status and gain level. Features include USB ports for direct integration with computers and webcams, Bluetooth, codec input/ output, stereo audio in/out, and contact in/out.

AV system integrators and end-users can build their own bundle to match the small to medium-sized conference facility with the Vaddio ConferenceSHOT AV HD Conference Room System. The 10x zoom HD PTZ camera and audio conferencing mixer are a single USB 3.0 device to which mics and external speakers can be connected. For use with Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and other software, the system allows remote monitoring, management and control of a distributed camera network.

Small or large conferencing room solutions are covered by the new Yamaha ADECIA ceiling microphone and line array speaker system which can adapt its coverage for room layout changes. The new RM-CR Signal Processor works with the PoE L2 Network switch to focus sound pickup on the presenter and it autodetects and auto configures installed components including wall-mounted line array speakers. The system supports USB, Bluetooth, Aux I/O, and SIP telephony. ADECIA is now certified compatible with Barco ClickShare.

The Yamaha Unified Communications YVC-1000 USB speakerphone and Bluetooth conference phone uses separate microphone and speaker units for adaptability in conference settings. It can support two external speakers and up to five daisy-chained microphones. Clear sound is provided by adaptive echo cancellation and human voice activity detection (HVAD). Automatically adjusting system tuning to optimal levels, it even warns users of improper mic placement.

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