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Tech Roundup: Conferencing Microphones and Systems 2022

What conferencing systems have in common with military gear is that they are designed by geniuses to be run by, well, non-techies. Corporate conferences often involve the highest-ranking personnel in an environment in which technical glitches are not just embarrassing but sometimes quite costly. Since the onset of the pandemic, conference technology has seen widespread adoption along with technical advances aimed at increased reliability and user-friendliness. In between subsequent Covid surges, large in-person conference meetings have returned. The tools surveyed here are just the tip of the iceberg of that huge movement and they’re getting better all the time.

Through its modular design, the AKG CS3 plug and play conference system is completely adaptable to its installation environment. The base unit works with as many as 60 microphone stations and connects to recording systems, PA systems, and camera control devices. The microphone base can connect either the CS321 cardioid condenser capsule on a 12in. gooseneck or the 20in. CS521. The system operates in four modes including Override, Normal, Free, and Request.

From a basic meeting room to the most sophisticated corporate conference facility, the AnkerWork Webcam PowerConf C302 can provide easy video communication as an AI featured 2K webcam. The mount is adjustable to fit a wide assortment of monitors, tables, or bases and the camera can be swiveled up to 300 degrees. The unit works immediately when connected to a USB 3 port and for privacy, a cover can be slid over the lens when not in use.

The Atlona AT-CAP-FC110 Captivate 4K ePTZ auto framing camera is a perfect example of the way that ease of operation and reliability have been teamed in today’s conferencing devices. In addition to automatically detecting and framing the camera for up to six participants, the unit has a 4x digital zoom and 110-degree wide horizontal field of view. From 16ft. away, the dual microphone array can clearly pick up voices. The USB-C interface for sound and video can provide device powering.

Large discussion systems can be a challenge to set up and operate but the AudioTechnica ATCS-60 uses infrared links to eliminate a lot of wiring. For multi-language environments there are four channels and the automated camera functions makes it easy to use video as well. Optional Conference Manager software allows remote control of audio recording, camera positioning, and microphone adjustments. Delegate microphone stations can accept handheld and lavalier microphones in addition to the normal gooseneck models.

Sleek and professional looking, the Audix M65 tabletop installed microphone uses its innovative “swivoting” mount to allow 240 degrees rotation and 40 degrees vertical pivot. The mic has fully integrated preamp circuitry and its output is balanced to reject noise from cell phones and mobile devices. This model is finished in black nickel plating and it includes an 8ft. cable with a terminal block connector.

The Aveo Systems Mira Connect 10 Smart AV Control System is housed in a black ABS plastic touchscreen enclosure that can be put on a conference table or mounted on a wall. The 10in. diagonal screen has LED light bars to indicate when the system is muted or in a call. Control extends to microphones, audio playback, cameras, input selection, and camera functions. Audio or video calls can be made from a dial pad or imported contact list. Even content sharing and room scheduling can be controlled right on the screen.

Users can quickly convert an ordinary mid-size conference room to a multimedia showcase with the AVer VB342 Pro Video Bar. This all-in-one solution has features including Smart Gallery, SmartSpeaker, Gesture Control , and Audio Fencing. The integral PTZ camera has a 3x optical zoom and with the digital zoom combined it goes to a 15x total zoom. All the way out at 92 degrees the camera takes in the whole room. Auto-tracking is easily turned on/off with gestures. The 10-element beamforming microphone array has a pickup range of 27ft. and the output power of the stereo speakers is 12W.

Auto framing and a futuristic design highlight the BenQ DVY-32 Zoom certified 4K UHD conference camera. The view can go from 120 degrees diagonal to a 5x digital zoom for tightly framed details and its main stream delivers 1080p resolution. Low light performance goes down to 0.1 Lux and its dual noise suppressing omnidirectional microphones pull in conversation from up to 26ft. away. The versatile mount fits a range of tables, display bevels, and other surfaces.

It doesn’t get any easier to have wires out of the way for conferencing than with the beyerdynamic Space wireless Bluetooth speakerphone. The 1.5in. full range speaker and four integrated MEMS microphones deliver perfect sound quality and smooth voice pickup. The mics can distinguish between voices and background noise to reduce distractions. Full-duplex allows participants to speak simultaneously and still be heard without dropouts or cut offs.

Small to medium sized conference rooms are completely A/V covered with the Biamp Systems Vidi 250 wide angle 4k camera featuring a 120-degree field of view. Meeting participants are identified through auto framing technology that adjusts the focus and 5x zoom. Mounted on a display or on a wall, it shows camera activity with LED indicators and the multi-microphone array brings in clear sound for solid communication. The remote control includes user defined presets.

The Bosch Security Systems DICENTIS Flush IP-based conference system keeps cabling below the table and its OMNEO media networking architecture uses Power over Ethernet (PoE) to speed and simplify installation. Each mic station enables voting with identification and provides an LED on the microphone to indicate the mic status. All modules have a click-to-fit mechanism for easy flushmounting into metal or wood surfaces.

The all-in-one conferencing system that’s ready to go for small conference spaces and huddle rooms, the Bose Videobar VB-S automatically finds the speaking presenter with its four beam-steering microphones while avoiding exclusion zones. Capable of Group Mode and Individual Mode operation, the 4K camera can frame everyone or follow a specific participant. The device connects to existing wireless networks, plays Bluetooth audio, and can be controlled from a smartphone.

Winner of multiple recent trade show awards, the ClearOne BMA 360 microphone system incorporates Deep Sidelobe Beamforming for ultra-directional speech pickup and its Voice Lift feature allows the system to drive multiple mix-minus speaker zones. In rooms equipped with the ClearOne CONVERGE Pro 2 DSP mixers, Voice Lift can be configured on up to three BMA 360 units. There are also built-in power amplifiers configurable as 4 x 15W or 2 x 30W for directly driving speakers.

The Clockaudio CUB-33 USB Tabletop Microphone requires no drilled holes but instead can be placed on the table surface where it provides an LCD capacitive touch screen that can be used as a mute button and a VU meter. The unit has local mute control for its rugged C33/SR gooseneck microphone and C3 capsule. Mute Sync compatible with the Zoom meetings app, the CUB-33 is USB bus powered and it includes a local gain control knob.

Without requiring a team of A/V experts to deploy, the Crestron Flex videoconferencing system can be easily configured for any size conferencing space. Remote presenters appear on the conference room video monitor while local room devices such as shades, lighting, HVAC, and sound are controlled on the screen as well. For single desks and small spaces the Crestron Flex Phone is equipped with a 10in. high screen, camera, and Microsoft Teams software. Zoom conferences and BYOD are a breeze for all participants.

Conference centers and universities tend to have a few large conference rooms and many smaller ones. The all-in-one solution for these smaller rooms is the Epos EXPAND Vision 5 video bar with its dual speakers and four microphones. The 4K wide angle camera features EPOS AI intelligent picture framing to get all the meeting guests into the shot and the beamforming function zeros in on the speaking presenter. Installation is simple thanks to the system’s many mounting options.

 

The recently deployed Hall Technologies Discovery Series transmitter/ receiver kits are a comprehensive video conferencing solution. These consist of one or two-gang U.S. and U.K. standard HDBaseT 2.0 wall plate transmitters and the DSCV70-RX receiver unit. The receiver features a built-in PSE module that can supply power to the transmitter. UHD video, multi-channel audio, USB 2.0, RS232 signal and power can be extended up to 131ft using a single Cat 5e/6/6a/7 cable.

For AI-enabled personal video conferencing the Jabra Panacast 20 is loaded with processors and fitted with a 13-megapixel 4K Ultra-HD camera that can make great video in ordinary office lighting. When lighting conditions change suddenly, the system automatically adjusts. Presenters enjoy its picture-in-picture mode and the versatile mounting clip makes camera setup simple. Panacast 20 works with a variety of platforms and is certified for Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

The new JVC KY-PZ510NWU ultra wide angle 4K60P NDI/HEVC SMART autotracking PTZ camera features a 3G-SDI/ HDMI/USB/IP output and its multi-slice encoding technology enhances image quality with reduced latency. Capabilities such as vertical interval time code (VITC) and network time code (NTC) ready this unit for a variety of sophisticated applications including remote production over internet (REMI). The 80-degree wide field of view can see a whole classroom and the camera’s 2.8mm to 261.8mm focal length range gets details from a distance.

Compact and capable, the Lifesize Icon 700 delivers 4K video while its 20x zoom makes any part of the conference or classroom accessible to the picture. The 3840 x 2160 progressive resolution allows clear detail in presentation and it pairs with the Lifesize Phone HD for sound that is equal in quality to the video. There is acoustic echo cancellation, full-duplex operation, automatic gain control and automatic noise reduction. The system’s inputs include PoE LAN, HD video IN, and analog mic/ line IN.

Don’t be fooled by the simple style and small profile of the Lumens VC-R30 full HD IP PTZ camera. The stylishly minimalist appearance belies its hefty capability including 1080p 60fps resolution, 12x optical zoom, and simultaneous HDMI, 3G-SDI, USB, and IP streaming ability. It gets everybody in with a 72.5-degree horizontal field of view and its range of outputs in addition to Teams, WebEx, Skype, and Zoom compatibility make it right at home in virtually any conferencing environment. This model’s intelligent white balance and auto-exposure make all participants appear at their best.

For elevating a single camera conference connection to a professional looking multi-source presentation, the Magewell USB Fusion is the perfect device. It can input multiple cameras, wired screenshare sources and, using the USB Fusion app, users can even prepare playlists in advance and record entire sessions on the unit. Webcam, PC, and HDMI cameras can all be connected simultaneously. The USB Fusion can operate with Zoom, TEAMS, Skype and other conferencing platforms.

The Marshall CV605-U3 is designed for top quality video and versatility in conference and meeting room applications using a 5x optical zoom and HDMI/USB-C/IP output. Showing resolution of up to 1920x1080p at 60fps, this camera can even go beyond the conference room to a full video production environment. Through a single Ethernet cable it can carry video, audio, PoE, and control over IP. The optical zoom extends from 3mm to 15mm and that is augmented with a 10x digital zoom. All connections including RS232 are discreetly located on the back.

A very high-end system with myriad capabilities can be found in the Maxhub V5 Transcend Series. Built around a 45MP flip-over camera with auto-zoom and high signal to noise ratio, the units feature a voice localization algorithm, 6-element mic array, automatic gain control, and noise cancellation. The incredibly thin display houses 40W speakers. A newly added USB Type-C port shares the screen to the MAXHUB V5 and enables reverse touch control from the touch screen

Ready for any conference from a one-on-one remote to a large meeting hall, the well-known and proven Mipro ACT 5800 Series of wireless microphones has the versatility to adapt to the environment. Among its variations are handheld, body pack, and desk base microphones in addition to single or multiple channel receivers with balanced and unbalanced audio outputs. The BC-24T and BC-58T desk mics can operate in wired or wireless configuration and a variety of gooseneck mics can fit the bases.

Designed specifically for the Zoom Rooms platform, the MXL ACVC-360-Z has twelve internal microphone capsules divided into four quadrants for full 360-degree coverage at distances up to 25ft. The housing blends easily with room décor and includes a securely locking DC power connection. Each quadrant of the AC-360-Z V2 is individually processed and optimized using Zoom Rooms DSP and echo cancellation technology. If there is tight space on the table, the mic’s rubber feet can be removed for ceiling mounting.

Audio conferencing for groups of up to ten has moved up to a new level with the Sennheiser TeamConnect Intelligent Speaker (TCISP), set for Microsoft Teams Rooms. No need for laptops or tablets, as the speaker can identify all voices and even transcribe the meeting automatically. Microsoft Cortana voice intelligence responds to voice commands for operation of its seven beamforming microphones. This model is Microsoft Teams Certified and includes a 3-meter cable. With its 200HZ-14kHz (±6dB) frequency response, the omnidirectional speaker radiates perfectly natural sounding voices.

In a conferencing or meeting environment, sound pickup can be more challenging than video but the Shure MXA920 ceiling array microphone is up to the task covering a seating area up to 30ft. square. The built-in web interface enables the user to drag and drop up to eight adjustable coverage areas. Steerable Coverage is also available to place 8 pickup lobes with 8 individual audio outputs. The unit is available in white, black, or aluminum finish.

In a large conference or meeting when there is no second chance to get the sound system right, the Taiden HCS-4800 Fully Digital Congress System uses a closed loop daisy chain layout to connect all individual congress units. Up to 64-channel audio signals can be carried on a dedicated 8-pin cable while gain and 5-band EQ of each microphone is separately adjustable. Widely separated conference rooms can be connected on its optical fiber interface and there is multi-channel intercom capability.

The Televic uniCOS T/MM10 tabletop multimedia conference unit consists of a base and tilting touchscreen and it connects on installation with a single CAT 5e cable. With power delivered over the Plixus network, the unit handles 6 lip-synched video streams, document sharing, and other features. Configured as either delegate or chairperson unit, it can also be flush mounted as the uniCOS F/MM10 or F/MM7 (7in. screen). The screwlock microphone connector allows a wide variety of microphones with various pickup patterns to be securely connected.

Large Meetings and conferences are the perfect home for the TOA EM-380-AM gooseneck microphone and with the optional power supply it can be switched between battery or phantom power. The condenser design offers a wide 15Hz-16kHz frequency response and the elegant flat black finish blends with any meeting room. The stem has two flexible sections to facilitate perfect positioning for multiple participants. On the base is a push button for mic activation and blue LED to indicate mic status.

Among the best evidence of the new ease in conferencing is the Vaddio EasyIP 30 ePTZ Camera with IntelliFrame technology. It can auto-track conference presenters with its 30x zoom and include all participants with a 70.2-degree field of view on the wide shots. The EasyIP output also provides PoE for quick installation. Best resolution is maintained through user adjustable maximum zoom levels while the 20x optical zoom capability outputs clear details. Available in black or white, the camera is table and wall mountable.

 

No table mics are in the way when using the new Yamaha Unified Communications RM-CG Ceiling Array Microphone and its standard network audio support for Dante. The unit fits right into a room ceiling and uses multi-beam tracking to find the main presenter’s voice. A single PoE+ network cable makes it quick to install and 3 types of mounting methods enable it to work in a range of ceiling types. Once the Adecia devices are installed, the Remote Conference Processor RM-CR automatically detects and configures the whole system.

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