The Essential Office Upgrade

News / 02.09.21

The last 18 months has not unsurprisingly seen a huge growth in video conferencing.  Whether working from home or social distancing in an office, the idea of getting together with clients and colleagues around a meeting table seems a distant memory.  Yet here we are with offices slowly opening back up and face-to-face meetings starting to take place again.  But will things ever get back to normal or has the pandemic had an irreversible effect on the way we conduct meetings?

Personally, I’d say yes and, er, no.  It is within our human nature that we like to see the face of the person we are talking to.  We like to pick up on the nuances and facial expressions that tell us more than just hearing a voice ever will.  As anyone that has worked in a sales environment will know, unless you are selling to a professional poker player, you should have a good idea whether you have won the business some way prior to the signing of the contract.

But what the last 18 months has taught us is that technology has enabled commerce to continue around the globe and, in many ways, actually made us more efficient in the way that we work.  With international and even national travel banned, we began to rely on the video conferencing apps that we have either used occasionally and/or seen our kids use to cheat at their homework!

Setting up video conferencing meetings has now become second nature, whether it is on the Zoom, Teams or any other platform.  But what has stood out to me is that although the technology platforms are generally stable, the quality of the performance of the technology used by meeting participants varies to a huge degree.  For some it was quite straight forward with their latest high-tech laptop with its HD camera and microphone.  For others, it was much more of a struggle, as they had to dust down the spare office laptop to work under the new constraints of home working.  And let’s not go there when it comes to regional internet speed/stability/bandwidth etc.

AT RGB Communications, we have been working with video conferencing solutions for many years and have been promoting the use of virtual meetings with both customers and vendors, especially as many are based in the US.  What we have found is that when it comes to hardware, the personal laptop built-in hardware can be improved significantly, which not only improves the performance but also enhances the meeting.  When it comes to upgrades, there is no better solution than ClearOne’s range of microphones and cameras, all of which can be set up for plug-and-play compatibility.  

For home office and small meeting rooms, ClearOne’s latest Versa All-In-One Mediabar can be hung under a display or placed on a cabinet.  It features a built-in 4K Ultra HD camera with a 110-degree ultra wide-angle field of view, whilst audio is taken care of by the internal four-element microphone array with 360-degree voice pickup.  Intelligent DSP provides acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) and automatic noise reduction to ensure crystal-clear audio capture. The camera combines electronic pan, tilt, and zoom functions (ePTZ) with artificial intelligence to enable auto-framing and people tracking that keeps the speaker in view, even if they move around the room.

 In addition to its professional-quality audio and video capture, the Versa Mediabar also features a powerful built-in speaker with Bluetooth connectivity that allows it to serve double duty as a fully-featured conferencing solution or a Bluetooth speaker for impromptu calls using any Bluetooth device.

For larger meeting spaces and board rooms, ClearOne’s BMA 360 is the world’s first truly wideband, frequency invariant beamforming mic array with uniform gain response across all frequency bands. Easily installed in a ceiling (the BMA 360’s form is the same as a standard ceiling tile), ClearOne’s FiBeam™ technology means conference participants will experience the ultimate in natural and full fidelity audio across all beams and within a single beam. Deep sidelobe beamforming, DsBeam™, provides unparalleled maximum sidelobe depth, below -40 dB, resulting in superior rejection of reverberation and noise in difficult spaces for superb clarity and intelligibility. The recently introduced Voice Lift feature also allows the BMA-360’s impeccable audio to be locally amplified and heard throughout classrooms, lecture halls, and large meeting rooms, thanks to exceptional mic pickup distance and system gain.  The BMA 360 is based on a dramatically new approach to beamforming that provides a new beam topology to easily achieve distortion-free, full 360-degree coverage of any room shape and any seating arrangement using ClearOne Audio Intelligence™.

Further advancements in adaptive steering (think of it as smart switching) provide impeccable coverage of each conference participant as well as support for camera tracking and Voice Lift. For Voice Lift applications, the combination of ClearOne’s beamforming plus feedback cancellation technologies provide up to a 20 dB boost in gain before feedback compared to an omni mic. 

In addition to the advancements in beamforming technology, the 6G Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC) delivers unmatched per-beam full-duplex audio performance. On-board audio algorithms, like noise reduction, filtering, and Automatic Level Control, eliminate the need for per-beam processing in a DSP mixer - requiring fewer DSP mixer resources. Robust built-in amplifiers, configurable as 4 x 15 Watt or 2 x 30 Watt, provide flexibility for driving loudspeakers. ClearOne’s breakthrough technologies, FiBeam, DsBeam, and 6G AEC combine to create VividVoice™, a significant advancement for professional conferencing.

For the ultimate system, combine the BMA 360 with ClearOne’s UNITE® 200 PTZ Camera, which offers best in class, most competitive professional-grade PTZ camera in the industry. USB, HDMI, and IP connections make it ideal for a variety of applications, whilst its Full HD 1080p60 video, 12x optical zoom, and capability to capture all participants in the room, make it the perfect video option.  Add to that its Zoom Certified status and you’ll have yourself a winning combination.

There are many more products available from ClearOne, including desk mics, hanging mikes, webcams, PTZ cameras and complete COLLABORATE packages.  As ClearOne’s professional audio distributor for the UK and Eire, RGB Communications maintains a healthy stock of all models.  To find out why ClearOne is the go-to manufacturer of all video conferencing hardware, contact us and we will help provide you with the solutions you need for the very best performance.