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How To Select A Sound System For A Conference Room

Many businesses have no idea where to start when it comes to designing a sound system for a conference room. Thankfully, A/V integrators are there to help. The following is a list of important questions to ask yourself and your A/V Integrator when considering audio or sound equipment for any sized conference room. Then we will examine each question a bit more in-depth.
  • What is the purpose of this room?
  • What kind of people are in the room? Who are the primary participants?
  • How big is the room? How many people will the room accommodate?
  • Architectural style? What is the function and need for aesthetic integration?
  • Communication Needs?
  • Are you connecting with more than one room? Is it important for people outside the room to be able to hear the conversation or message?
  • Is it important for people outside the room to be able to join the conversation?
  • What is your budget?

What is the purpose of this room?

A conference room can have multiple purposes. On one level, you can have one-on-one private meetings with a colleague in a conference room. On another level, you can be surrounded by a boardroom of executive leaders having conference calls with an entire management staff across the globe, or giving presentations to a room full of employees. What if the attendees cannot hear the presentation? What if you could not hear their questions? What if you they could not hear your answers? What if you become unnecessarily distracted by a microphone that is not functioning properly? Each of these scenarios happen on a daily basis. When outfitting a conference room for audio and sound equipment, one of the first questions an A/V integrator is going to ask is what is the primary purpose of the room, and what are some secondary purposes for which the room might be used? The answers will affect the type of audio equipment that should be considered.

What kind of people are in the room, and who are the primary participants?

Is this the Board of Directors with Senior Leadership Executives in attendance, or a group of line managers? The primary audience or target audience matters. Even beyond that, are you entertaining potential customers in this room? Imagine you are giving a presentation to a potential customer or client and the microphone is crackling the whole time. It is a direct reflection upon your business.

How big is the room? How many people will it accommodate?

Conference rooms come in all shapes and sizes. They can range from satellite conference rooms where as few as 4 colleagues can discuss a project, to a Board Room where large multi-million-dollar corporate direction decisions are being made. The needs for both are different. With a large room that might seat up to 20 or 30 people vs. a meeting room of 4-6 people, an A/V integrator is necessary for both because the purposes are different. We live in a global marketplace now. Even in a smaller conference room, you might have national or overseas phone calls that needs to be made, and it’s important for everyone on both sides of the phone call to hear and participate in the conversation. In the larger room, it is critical for participants to not only be heard, but to hear. This is where an A/V integrator is instrumental. They have equipment that can test sound dynamics to ensure that everyone at the table, or on the other side of the line, has a voice that is heard.

Architectural style? What is the function and need for aesthetic integration?

Many companies in recent years have gone to open office spaces. Thus, it can be difficult to put permanent ceiling mounted installations for sound equipment. This should not pose an issue. With the explosion of Wi-Fi™ and Bluetooth™, there are now many sound technologies that make communication possible with any architecturally styled room.

Communication needs?

In some ways, this is going back to the purpose of the room. What is the primary goal this room is trying to serve? Is it a small group of people collaborating on a project, or department heads with critical and vital corporate information that needs to be communicated? Is this a public company from which a broadcast of quarterly earnings is going to be transmitted? In the latter event, it is critical for an A/V integrator to not only help with the design, but possibly to be present during the presentation to quickly and efficiently resolve any potential issues. Think about how much time is spent in meetings today and how critical it is to an organization to communicate effectively and efficiently. Communication within any organization might be the number one priority in today’s fast-moving world.

Are you connecting with more than one room? Is it important for participants outside the room to connect with the conversation?

Sometimes a conference room is not able to accommodate all participants. Participants can often be separated by distance, such as with satellite offices or a travelling executive who is currently ‘on the road.’ Yet, those participants need to be a part of the conversation and communication. An A/V integrator can ensure the participants in other rooms and places are able to both hear and join the conversation, whether across the building, across the campus or across the world. Regardless of title, they might be one of the most important communication links to ensure an organization is aligned.

What is your budget?

Of course, having a budget is important. However, budget has been placed last for a reason. Too often companies will willy-nilly funds allocated to a conference room. Often, companies will say you have $1,000 or $5,000 or $10,000 to outfit this room with sound equipment, including microphones, speakers, conference phones and more. However, think of the ramifications of this conference room and what they potentially mean to the communication and ultimate success of an organization? This is why it is important to consider the questions that came before this one when getting into budget allocations. It is why “Purpose of the Room?” is the first consideration in this article. In any company or corporation, communication is critical. Being able to hear is critical. When communication channels get crossed, and misunderstanding occurs, companies can and do waste thousands of dollars. Getting your communication channels, sound and the ability to communicate freely and static free can and does pay for itself by enhancing communication. Communication has been repeated over and over in this article. Communication is critical to any and every organization. Thus, it pays for itself to seek professional help from an A/V integrator to ensure everyone is on the same page. If they are not, the consequences can be disastrous. No one likes to think of having a car crash, but we all seem to carry an insurance card just in case. That’s what an A/V integrator is in some ways. It’s an insurance policy to ensure that your communication flows freely and seamlessly.