Skip to main content

Hybrid Workplaces Demand Better Audio For All

While employees are returning to the office, on any given day many workers are working remotely.  They may live in a different city or just not be in the office on that particular day.  This means that virtually every meeting will include some online participants. 

Somewhat surprisingly, remote attendees are at the mercy of the in-room AV system.  If the in-room microphones send out poor audio quality from the room, online people must struggle to keep up with the conversation.  This places them at a cognitive disadvantage relative to the people in the room.  In addition, the clarity of a remote participant’s voice depends partly on the quality of the in-room loudspeakers reproducing it.  Poor sound quality – either incoming or outgoing – can make meetings more frustrating and less effective for all.

The recipe for good audio relies on three main ingredients:

  • Clarity: Speech needs to sound clear, natural, and intelligible so that words are easy to understand.
  • Consistency: Speech levels need to be the same for everyone in the room.
  • Completeness: Audio capture must extend to every seat so that no one is left out of the conversation.

State-of-the-art array microphones for conference rooms must be able to overcome the challenges of modern meeting rooms and deliver clear, consistent, and complete audio.  Here’s how:

First, the microphone needs to capture speech that sounds natural, as if one is actually in the room.  Unfortunately too many microphones sacrifice the low or high ends of the audio spectrum to avoid picking up room noise, resulting in a midrange telephone-like sound.  Wide-band “studio” sound is essential to making people sound like themselves and making speech intelligible.

Second, speech levels need to be adjusted for every talker.  Every voice has a different tonality; some people are loud talkers while others barely rise above a murmur.  The microphone must have the intelligence to detect and correct these variances so that each person’s voice is equally audible to those on the far end.

Third, the microphone needs to be capable of covering the complete seating area.  In larger rooms where the seating arrangement may feature square tables one day and classroom-style rows the next day, the microphone needs to be able to adapt automatically.

In addition, the microphone needs to be able to focus its audio capture on those people who are actually speaking.  When only one or two people are talking at any given moment, capturing sound from the remaining area only contributes unwanted room ambience that dilutes the quality of the audio and makes talkers sound like they are at the bottom of a barrel.  The solution is for microphone to instantly direct its pickup at people who are talking while ignoring other areas.

The Shure Microflex Ecosystem includes advanced array microphones for conference rooms with built-in digital signal processing.  The microphone and its internal DSP team up to automatically identify where talkers are within the seating area, while not reacting to random noises and conversations nearby.  The microphones also filter out ambient room noise and echo that can make it harder to understand what’s being said or even disrupt the call entirely.

Great audio makes meetings more tolerable and more effective – not just for those in the room, but those joining remotely.  By ensuring a fully satisfying experience for every participant, the hybrid workplace can enable all employees to contribute their best work.

For more information, read the Frost & Sullivan white paper:  Setting Up Your Conference Room For A Hybrid Workplace


Back to top