Audio, ironically, is the most important part of a Video Conferencing system. As participants use the video to see the others on the “far-side” and share content, the audio portion of the call is where the collaboration is really made. Participants talking back and forth and sharing ideas is the most important function of any conferencing system but poor audio makes collaboration tenuous and negates the purpose of the experience! Consider the experience an audience has in a movie theater where the audio is poor, or the environment is so noisy that they struggle to hear what is being said. This certainly takes away from the movie experience, leaving the audience dissatisfied and demanding a refund! The same holds true for your workplace collaboration. If microphones and speakers are not properly designed and placed, meeting productivity and effectiveness will suffer. So, how can you enhance your teams’ collaborative space.
LISTENING TO THE UNHEARD
Without delving into a deep discussion about how the human brain works together with all the senses to hear, let’s just say that what the average person hears is filtered down and focused by their brain. Furthermore, the human brain is naturally conditioned to focus on speech, so this becomes effortless and automatic and the listener is never aware that other sounds are being ignored. An interesting way to experience this first-hand is to record a meeting and play it back for the participants afterward. When the recording is played back, the listeners now hear all the other sounds, reverberation and background noises that they “didn’t hear” when the recording was being made. It is not that they did not hear it, or that the microphones were more sensitive, it was that their brains had filtered it all out. In a conferencing system, participants are subject to the same experience as the play back audio on your recording. The participant is now hearing all the sounds in the room at nearly the same level, including the impact of poor acoustics and ambient noise. Because they are not in the same room, the ability of the brain to filter out all the unimportant noise is negated. Intelligibility becomes a struggle!
WE CAN FIX THAT!
The professional AV / UC (Unified Communications) Systems designer looks at all the elements in your space, including room size, participant seating locations, acoustics, etc. and determines the best solutions that provide the best overall experience. Mic placement, speaker placement, ambient noise control and acoustical correction are all part of what is taken into consideration. The system designer must be able to do what the listener’s brain is no longer able to do, filter out or lesson the “unwanted” noise so the participants can focus on what is important!