This post continues our discussion on beamforming as a method of sensing and filtering acoustic waves for enterprise video and telephone conferencing applications, and describes emerging techniques and technologies to improve the capture and processing of acoustic patterns, and the clarity of human speech in corporate conference rooms.
The Emergence of Beamforming for Conferencing Applications
It’s common practice in audio/video teleconferencing systems to deploy a grouping of cardioid microphones, placed on a tabletop or mounted in the ceiling. When each directional mic is properly aimed at an individual and connected to a professional conferencing mixer, excellent audio pickup can be achieved. Similar results can be accomplished with wireless lapel or hand mics.
In a boardroom environment, however, there is frequently a desire to maintain a clean, cultured, corporate image, and a collection of microphones resting on tabletops or hanging from ceilings can be visually disruptive and damaging to interior designers’ esthetic goals. Integrated three-microphone arrays offer a reduction in the number of visible microphone elements, but nonetheless have a hard technical look that may also inhibit an ultra-clean, styled appearance.
Other disadvantages of tabletop and ceiling microphone strategies include the extra work that goes into maintaining numerous microphones, checking wireless batteries and sound levels, the inconvenience of worrying about whether everyone has remembered to clip on their wireless mics, whether any noise is being introduced, and constantly optimizing mixer levels. There are also high costs associated with mics, mounts, stands, cables, installation, and upkeep.
In contrast, a modern beamforming mic array delivers the ultimate in convenience, speech intelligibility, sound quality, and reliable communications. Beamforming arrays are less visually intrusive, and when mounted strategically, can disappear unobtrusively into the background.
With an array on a conference room table or mounted on ceiling or wall, the various microphone elements in the array, along with associated steering algorithms, digital signal processing, and echo cancellation can “zoom in” acoustically on individual conference participants and deliver sound quality that is superior to traditional conference room sound-gathering methodologies.
World’s First Professional-Grade, 24-Element Beamforming Microphone Array
The convergence of modern conference room interior design with advances in acoustic technology and digital signal processing is accentuated by the recent availability of the ClearOne 24-element Beamforming Microphone Array, the first solution of its kind in the professional audio industry.
Made possible by ClearOne’s beamforming technology, digital signal processing, adaptive steering, and next-generation acoustic echo canceling processes, the 24-element Beamforming Microphone Array system is a groundbreaking, integrated teleconferencing system consisting of microphone capsules, on-board-processing, advanced software, and a connected digital electronics mixer stack.
As many as ten traditional microphones can be removed from a conference room and replaced by the sleek, attractive enclosure of the beamforming array. The on-board intelligence, spatial filtering, and signal processing capabilities of the integrated system give it twice the pick-up range of other microphones and significantly reduce height, distance, and angle constraints.
Each Beamforming Microphone Array unit operates in collaboration with a ClearOne CONVERGE® Pro conferencing system, which shares processing tasks and provides echo cancellation, noise cancellation, filtering, gating, level control, and adaptive acoustic modeling to deliver the most natural conferencing audio experience possible.
The combined beamforming and signal processing technologies automatically steer tightly-focused audio pickup beams towards people speaking, and filter out unwanted sounds and reflections to reduce room noises and eliminate those hollow reverberant sounds that commonly plague conference room environments.
Beams that would be aimed towards unwanted regions, such as windows, doors, or noise sources, can be disabled by the installer in software. Up to three beamforming arrays can be attached to each supported CONVERGE Pro system, and as many as sixteen beamforming arrays along with six required CONVERGE Pro conferencing systems can be networked together to provide coverage in multiple regions, rooms, or portions of a building.
Simplicity and Ease of Installation
The ClearOne Beamforming Microphone Array is a plug-and-play device that can be easily configured, customized and installed. Minimal configuration is required, since the technology is completely internalized. The array’s sophistication, and its associated software, processors, and electronics are so intelligently implemented, that a technician with average audio conferencing skills is capable of performing the installation and configuration.
- The ClearOne Beamforming Microphone Array is no more complicated to install and setup than any other microphone. Integrators experienced in the installation and configuration of typical conference microphones can easily configure the array.
- The only connections required are a single Power over Ethernet (PoE) and one audio connection to the expansion bus of the CONVERGE Pro unit. No custom cables, no wiring terminal blocks, or any other onnections are needed.
- Although completely customizable to meet the needs of nearly every application, the ClearOne Beamforming Microphone Array default configuration works right out of the box. Unlike standard conference microphones which require experience in configuring proper gain structure between devices, the Beamforming Microphone Array is pre-configured to work directly with the internal gain structure of the CONVERGE Pro. When installed according to ClearOne guidelines, the only adjustments will be minor gain changes to customize levels for your application.
The Ultimate in Teleconferencing Sound Quality
In the world of professional audio and video teleconferencing – beamforming microphone arrays and their associated mixers, digital signal processors, and echo-canceling functions represent the newest, most advanced technological innovations, breaking new ground for teleconference sound fidelity, clarity, and intelligibility.
Modern beamforming technology has the proven ability to surpass traditional techniques for clearly capturing and reproducing human voices in conferencing applications, and rejecting unwanted sounds, to optimize collaboration and understanding among conference participants.
When conveniently installed in conference center ceilings, walls, or tabletops, beamforming microphone systems deliver the best, most unobtrusive options for the physical placement of microphones, making them the superior choice for flawless conferencing audio in any setting.
The Beamforming Microphone Array fits any applica