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Tech Showcase: Conference Mics and Systems

Some of the most remarkable advances in AV technology have come in the form of conferencing systems. Challenged by a combination of rapidly evolving digital video formats and non-expert operators whose aim is to concentrate unhindered on presentation, conferencing system designers have responded. From video cellphone apps to auditorium discussion systems, the new conferencing tools are versatile and presenter-friendly. Once properly installed and set up, the mics and systems shown here can make newbies look like pros in minutes.

Wherever there is a need for a versatile, hard-wired conferencing system that is flexible enough to suit a range of environments, AKG can offer the CS5 Reference Digital Conference System. Using a low-cost Ethernet wiring loop, the system can operate in a standalone or central PC controlled mode. The CS5 DU is the delegate unit and it includes an integrated speaker and two headphone outputs. There is also a PTT switch that can be used for voting. The CSS IU interpreter unit has input selection, floor and relay language selectors, and cough button. It is also compatible with all premium acoustics of the AKG modular microphone series. Also available is a carrying/charging case, transmitter units, PC software and a range of gooseneck mics.

The ACR-5100 Acendo Core Meeting Space Collaboration System from AMX can enable a web conference with a single mouse click and keep it organized with drive access, document sharing and room scheduling with direct integration into Exchange and Office 365. Users can share content wirelessly from a mobile device or PC and there is also side-byside view of two documents, and 4K support for dual monitors. The unit is equipped with four USB 3.0 Type A connectors, two RJ45s for Ethernet, 1/8in. mini audio input and output along with two HDMI Type A video connectors.

The Audio-Technica ATCS-60 Infrared Discussion System features four selectable channels for multi-language conferences and an automated camera function facilitating AV integration. Using the Conference Manager software on a PC, participants can adjust camera position, facilitate audio recording and adjust microphone settings while the infrared signals remain securely within the room. The chairperson’s unit has control to override all other units with the “all finish” function and when battery life is low, both the power LED and microphone LED will flash rapidly as a warning. Each unit includes a built-in speaker and headphone jack with separate volume control.

The MicroPod installation microphone line from Audix is a gooseneck design with the M1250B microphone in 6, 12, and 18in. lengths. These mics feature a uniformly controlled cardioid polar pattern but there is a hypercardioid polar pattern for tighter pick-up and a supercardioid pattern is available. There is a 50 Hz – 19 kHz frequency response and the mics are interchangeable on the mic bases. Each mic contains an integrated mic preamp, field replaceable capsule, high quality gooseneck terminating in a standard male XLR and optional accessories. The MicroPod Series mics operate on 18-52V phantom power and are available in a non-reflective black matte finish.

The Quinta Wireless Conference System from Beyerdynamic can be set up in a variety of different configurations using various combinations of its components. The central unit can operate with boundary, hand held and gooseneck desk microphones as well as the Revoluto array mics. The Quinta RS digital control unit can provide four microphone inputs in microphone mode and up to twenty in conference mode while transmitting on any of its three frequencies and using 128-bit encryption and a 24-bit PIN-code. Delegate and chairman mic units can be composed of any of the microphone types and there are chargers for the wireless boundary mics, TG 1000 beltpack, TG 1000 handheld and Quinta TH handheld transmitters.

Biamp Systems has introduced the Tesira TCM-1 Beamtracking Microphone, an AVB ceiling model consisting of a pendant microphone and plenum box. There are three 120-degree zones to provide complete 360-degree sound pickup coverage while actively tracking and intelligently mixing conversations. The plenum box includes an extra RJ45 connection so that up to three of the microphones may be daisy-chained for larger areas. The microphone height is user adjustable and there is an LED mute status indicator. Biamp also has SageVue, a browser-based monitoring and management platform for Tesira and Devio devices. It allows a comprehensive overview and shows the status of all Tesira and Devio devices connected to a network. SageVue interfaces with LDAP infrastructure, allowing IT managers to use existing data to control access to the software.

The CCS 1000 D Digital Discussion System from Bosch Security and Safety Systems can be used as a permanent installation in small to medium sized meeting rooms or it can be set up as a mobile solution just for specific conferencing events. As many as 245 discussion devices can be connected in one system with automatic HD camera control, up to 8 hours internal recording capability using built-in Digital Acoustic Feedback Suppression (DAFS) and built-in headphone and speaker outputs. Equipped with a mic and speaker, each discussion unit has a “possible to speak” and a “request to speak” indicator can be used as a participant or chairperson unit. There is also a headphone jack with its own volume control.

Bose has an all-in-one conferencing system in the ControlSpace EX1280C, each of which can support multiple conference rooms or AEC sharing across multiple processors. Featuring open architecture signal processing for installation versatility, the EX-1280C offers 12 mic/ line analog inputs, 8 analog outputs, 8 AmpLink digital outputs, 12 acoustic echo cancellers and 64×64 Dante audio channels. Using the drag and drop ControlSpace Designer software, the system can be set up in a variety of configurations. It includes 2-line VoIP, a PSTN connection, a USB port, 5 in/5 out GPIO and the Bose AmpLink port provides an uncompressed, low-latency digital audio connection to AmpLink-equipped Bose amplifiers. The front panel OLED display and rotary encoder are used for network parameter adjustments and for monitoring channel activity.

The ClearOne UNITE 200 PTZ camera features USB, HDMI and IP connections for full 1080p 60fps HD video quality. It can cover large conference rooms using its 12x optical zoom and 73-degree wide-angle view. The system’s super-high signal to noise ratio and advanced 2D/3D noise reduction is very effective in low light environments and it can provide simultaneous video output to USB, HDMI, and IP streaming. Camera control can be accomplished through RS-232 or USB (UVC) or IP-based web management. For audio streaming the line-in port can be used to accept the output from a mixer such as the CONVERGE Pro. The unit has a 12VDC power connection and it includes an IR remote control, USB 3.0 cable and RS-232 cable. 

Clockaudio’s C 3E-RF Series flexible, semi-rigid cardioid gooseneck microphones are constructed of high quality brass and they are immune to RF artifacts in the 800- 1200MHz range through filtering in the power supply. Available in satin black or white, the mics can blend into a wide range of conference room environments. On custom order, these models can also be purchased in Nextel suede coating finishes. The lengths range from 7 to 27in. and their frequency response is 50Hz to 18KHz +/-3dB. They provide a cardioid polar pattern while operating on 9-48 volts phantom power and the power adapter is included. 

The Mercury Table Top Conference System (CCS-UC-1 W/PS KIT) from Crestron is a single unit that combines all of the essential conferencing tools. In addition to being a full-featured VoIP conferencing speakerphone that’s fully compatible with major SIP-compliant phone systems, the unit also offers dialing, answering, microphone muting, sound level and other controls on its large HD color touch screen. It can be linked to any mobile phone through Bluetooth and connected to a laptop via USB. External AV sources connect on HDMI and the system can operate with a variety of web conferencing apps. The 360-degree quad microphone array allows natural sounding pickup and Limes Audio TrueVoice AEC technology provides transparent full-duplex performance.

Mipro has a versatile mic mounting device in the BC-24T Wireless Conference Microphone Base. Enclosing an ACT-24TC transmitter printed circuit board, the BC-24T accepts the optional longer gooseneck MM-204, MM-205 and MM-206 Mipro microphones. It has a TALK/MUTE button and an LED status indicator clearly visible on the top. There is also an XLR male connector on the side permitting the mic to be used in a wired or wireless system. It runs on 5-9VDC phantom power provided by an ICR 18500 rechargeable lithium battery and includes charging circuitry for the battery. The LCD screen on the top indicates group and channel numbers. These can be set with top mounted buttons.

At InfoComm 2018 Sennheiser announced their new TeamConnect Ceiling 2 microphone for conference room installation with its automatic adaptive beamforming technology allowing it to automatically follow the voice even when the active speaker is moving around the room. Including support for Dante networks and PoE, the new mic can be remotely configured and monitored through the Sennheiser Control Cockpit app. It can be integrated into a wide range of other systems via the open media control protocol. The device houses 28 omnidirectional microphone capsules integrated within the discrete ceiling array to direct the pickup and minimize background noise. It is equipped with an analog audio output and two digital Dante audio outputs that support redundancy mode and enable it to connect with any conferencing system.

The IntelliMix P300 Audio Conferencing Processor offers Shure IntelliMix DSP algorithms that significantly enhance audio quality in video meetings and offer a variety of connectivity options, plus seamless operation with Shure Microflex Advance and Microflex Wireless microphone solutions for AV conferencing. The P300 boasts a small footprint and is simple to install, providing professional conferencing technology that offers just the right set of features to create a highly intelligible, collaborative meeting experience in small to medium-sized rooms. The processor connects up to eight Dante microphone channels to a room video system, USB soft codec, or mobile device. Each channel supports multiple IntelliMix DSP features, including Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC), Noise Reduction, and Automatic Gain Control, plus best-in-class automatic mixing. 

The Taiden HCS-5335 Series Compact Digital Infrared Wireless Conference System combines the transceiver and the control unit in one compact table top device. The system uses IR transmission technology so there are no problems with eavesdropping or radio interference and there is no RF radiation. This also enables an unlimited number of systems to operate in the same building with no RF coordination necessary. A PoE power supply, charging stand and storage case are available and the wireless operation allows the system to be set up and taken down quickly. The system is composed of a main unit, one or more conference units and an audio power amplifier.

TOA Electronics offers secure infrared wireless conference solutions with the TS-800 and TS-910 systems featuring up to 64 chairperson/ delegate stations on the TS-800 and as many as 96 chairperson/delegate stations, three level voting and a simultaneous translation audio channel on the TS-900. All stations are powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery or AC power supply. Both systems provide external source inputs and PA/record outputs. The systems also consist of IR transmitter/receivers and the TS-900 has a built-in feedback suppressor along with serial and USB ports for operation through external equipment. Both systems can be installed on temporary or permanent status.

For on-the-go conferencing, Yamaha Unified Communications recently introduced the YVC-200 USB + Bluetooth speakerphone featuring adaptive echo cancellation and Human Voice Activity Detection. The unit uses its intelligent microphones to deliver full-duplex conversation and its speakers provide superior voice quality from participants on the other end of the conference. The YVC-200 can connect to a PC, smartphone, or tablet and the built-in rechargeable battery allows up to 10 hours of operation. Interactive touch-sensor buttons can be used to control microphone mute and speaker volume. A headset jack offers private listening and the speakerphone is available in white or black finish.

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