Bad audio leads to inefficient meetings. Inefficient meetings lead to poor results, and poor results can lead to all sorts of other bad things.
The way that we collaborate is only as good as the hardware that we choose for our presentation spaces. Studies show that confusing, ineffective and poor quality hardware is the main reason why presentation spaces are left unused day after day.
Instead of choosing hardware that "just works", why not choose something that improves the collaboration on the most important parameters such as speech intelligibility (sound), clear visibility (video) and ease of use (control)?
In this article we will get into choosing the right microphone for the space that you are in.
Small sized rooms (Huddle rooms)
For smaller spaces like the one below, you will need a microphone placed on the center of the table that can pick up the voices from the people seated around the table.
There are different types of mics that matches this use case. One example is the boundary microphone. The capability of the boundary mic is that it will pick up voices accurately in reverberant rooms and can capture sounds from multiple sources. For example, if multiple people are talking in different parts of a room, one boundary mic could capture everyone; you wouldn’t need to use multiple mics. The way it works is that the mic will pick up the sound that is reflected off the surface that it’s mounted to, such as a wall or in this case a conference table.
Below is an example of a boundary microphone from Shure, but there are many other great manufacturers of these types of mics.
Another popular option if you need better speech intelligibility on your end as well is to add a speakerphone with a built-in microphone.
They are a great choice because they are so easy to connect and use. Most of them just use a single USB cable or Bluetooth to provide upgraded speaker and microphone capabilities to your meeting or presentation and hence improves the quality of the meeting. They come in many different price ranges and functionalities. Some have a display built-in and some don't, but what they have in common is that they pick up sound from 360 degrees around the speaker phone.
For a smaller huddle room, a great example is the Sennheiser SP 20 that can connect to both your Neets device, laptop or smartphone.
Medium sized rooms (Meeting rooms)
For spaces like the one below, you will need one or more microphones capable of picking up more people placed closer or further away from the center of the table.
One option is, like in the smaller spaces, to still go for a speaker phone but now optimized for bigger spaces such as the Jabra SP810 which works with up to 15 people in the room.
Another option with even better audio quality would be using ceiling microphones such as the example below from ClearOne. The coverage of a single microphone might not be great, but it is easy to add multiple units strategically placed around the room to cover the entire space. Beware that this solution requires a mixer as well, to get the signals from the microphones combined and sent into your conference system of choice. If you wish to check if your preferred mixer is supported by Neets check out this list of device drivers. If your device is not on the list get in touch with our support team and we will help you get it added.
In the same category, there are also microphones like the Classis BM below from BeyerDynamic that can be mounted in the ceiling itself or directly into the conference table. One advantage with this solution is that aesthetically they are very discreet which is a great advantage in many projects.
Large-sized rooms (Meeting/Conference rooms )
When moving into bigger rooms you need to do some homework in order to create a solution where everyone will get heard properly when doing conference calls. In case of a room as the one visualized below, where the room is easily suited for 16+ persons, you will need good coverage.
It is possible to use ceiling mics again, but there is also the option to use a ceiling microphone array. This saves a lot of installation time and wiring compared to regular ceiling mics and it is very discreet, especially when mounted flush into the ceiling.
Here is an example from Shure, but similar solutions are available from Sennheiser, ClearOne, BeyerDynamic, STEM audio and more.
Microphones + Neets
Solvo by Neets
When using Solvo by Neets, there are multiple choices on how to connect a microphone.
Option 1 - USB Microphone / Speakerphone
When using a USB microphone such as a USB boundary microphone or USB speakerphone, it is possible to connect it directly to the Solvo USB inputs and when a laptop will connect to Solvo all of the connected USB devices will be ready for use. Just verify on the laptop that the correct audio devices are selected in Windows/MacOS or your preferred video conference application (Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Cisco WebEx etc.)
Option 2 - USB Mixer
A mixer with USB Audio can be used as well, if wanting to feed multiple microphones into the Solvo in the event that it is placed in a larger room. Just verify on the laptop that the correct audio devices are selected in Windows/MacOS or your preferred video conference application (Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Cisco WebEx etc.) Please also study this article to plan for a system with lesser options for the users.
Option 3 - Audio In
Solvo has a dedicated input for feeding audio into Solvo connected laptops using a 3.5 mini-jack input connector. This allows for using a microphone with a microphone mini-jack connector directly or a mixer can be used, if wanting to feed multiple microphones into the Solvo in case it is placed in a larger room. Signal has to be line-level stereo.
Neets Amplifier 2:25 / Pre-amplifier
When using our amplifier / pre-amplifier a microphone should be connected to Input 1. Doing that will enable the possibility to use Mixer Mode. When enabled, mixer mode will mix Input 1 with the currently selected input (2 - 5).
The only requirement for using a microphone with our amplifier products is that its signal should be line-level. There are some microphones that can output that directly or you can use a converter from microphone level to line level.