United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) frequently meets with a broad network of community partners, corporate entities and other nonprofit agencies to deliver meaningful services for its community. In conjunction with critical call centers, these meetings and services warranted high-level audiovisual (AV) technologies for UWCA’s new 40,000 square-foot expansion project.
Seeking a simple and easy-to-use AV system to produce first-class audio quality for the facility, UWCA turned to ClearOne (NASDAQ: CLRO), a global market leader enabling conferencing, collaboration, and network streaming solutions, for a custom solution that would meet the needs of its conference rooms. The nonprofit considered the simplicity, ease of use, audio clarity and functionality of each potential system. ClearOne’s solution most ideally met these requirements.
For each of the five conference rooms, UWCA installed an integrated ClearOne AV solution using the CONVERGE® Pro 2 professional audio digital signal processing (DSP) platform with the patented beamforming microphone array Ceiling Tile (BMA CT) and high-definition UNITE® pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras.
“We really wanted a turnkey solution rather than a mix of different vendors’ components, and we wanted to ensure ease of use,” explained Doug Goodwin, UWCA Vice President of Information Systems. “Some AV solutions are complex and require a lot of training to use. We wanted a system that allows staff to just go into a conference room, turn on the computer and have it working. We have a ton of meetings, and it’s important for everyone to be able to use the system.”
The CONVERGE Pro 2 DSP mixers used in each conference room provide multiple inputs and outputs for microphones, speakers, and control interfaces to meet UWCA’s various audio needs while providing scalability. High quality audio is achieved with acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) technology on each microphone input and feedback is eliminated with the built-in DARE™ algorithm. The mixer also has a built-in voice-over IP (VoIP) interface, an important feature for UWCA.
“We like the CONVERGE Pro 2 because we can easily tailor the system to meet our customers’ needs,” says Andrew Clark, RCDD, owner of Continuity Consulting, the full-service technology solutions provider and ClearOne partner responsible for the design and implementation of technology for the new facility, including AV and IT systems. “We tend to use these in rooms with more audio devices, such as board rooms, large presentation spaces, and the like. They’re also ideal for spaces requiring specific VoIP telephone capabilities. UWCA uses a Cisco phone system with IP-based dialers for conference calls, which is another reason why we chose to use the CONVERGE Pro 2 mixers exclusively.”
The CONVERGE Pro 2 is also optimized to work with ClearOne’s BMA CTs that use Acoustic Intelligence™ technology to lock to a signal source for uncompromised audio quality, even when a speaker moves throughout the room. UWCA’s new conference rooms use ClearOne’s BMA CTs with built-in AEC technology, noise cancellation, and beam selection. The BMA CTs are easy to configure and deploy, and perfectly blend in with the drop ceiling for a neat, seamless appearance.
“Over the past 10 to 15 years, we’ve experimented with various AV solutions in our meeting rooms to identify the best solution,” said Goodwin. “We landed on ClearOne primarily because their beamforming microphones offer a more balanced sound throughout the room without any dead spots. Other solutions we’ve tried in the past picked up too much background noise and chatter, and that was the number one complaint we had from users.”
Also connected to the CONVERGE Pro 2 platform are ClearOne’s UNITE® 150 PTZ HD cameras with comprehensive high-definition 1080p video and 12X optical zoom to capture all participants in the conference room. Compatible with every conferencing application used by UWCA, these cameras help establish smooth virtual communication, which is now more crucial than ever.
As a nonprofit organization, UWCA recognized that cost would play a prime role in its AV upgrade. Having experienced difficulties in the past when merging different components and the expense of always trying to enhance the conference room environment, Continuity Consulting acknowledged that ClearOne’s ease of use and overall reliability would ultimately help keep costs down.
“We have a long-standing relationship with the United Way here in Birmingham and wanted to ensure that we were providing the most strategic and cost-effective AV solution,” says Goodwin. “The ClearOne solution we deployed is extremely high-quality at a reasonable price—every component is well-built, dependable and easy to use.”
With an organizational vision of building a great community by bringing people together to help others, UWCA will be able to leverage its new, state-of-the-art AV technologies to collaborate more efficiently and effectively with local partners.