Meeting room audio systems are just as important as the video side of presentation, as poor sound technology will doom any attempts to collaborate. But a lot has to go into putting this technology together, as every space behaves differently on an acoustic level. In fact, room acoustics tend to be quite complicated, as spaces are typically designed with optics in mind. It’s rare to find a collaborative space that offers poor visuals, but it’s common to find a collaborative space that presents challenges acoustically. Fortunately, A/V integrators have the tools and expertise to overcome those challenges.
What do meeting room audio systems consist of?
Every solution is made up of several components, each of them selected for a particular space, purpose and seating arrangement. For small collaborative spaces, there may not be a need for dedicated sound equipment, as a display’s onboard speakers will usually provide enough sound. In instances where it does not, a mobile “pod” can amplify sound enough for everyone to hear.
Of course, this is a woefully inadequate solution for larger spaces, and this is where A/V solutions ramp up in complexity. For larger collaborative spaces, A/V solutions typically include:
Speakers arranged for optimal dispersion
Speakers confront the most important obstacle in any collaborative space – can everyone hear the presenter? Whether that presenter is piped in through teleconferencing or at the other end of the table, sound solutions must answer the question. If aesthetics are not a major concern and if ADA regulations allow for it, mounting speakers to the walls, much like a home surround sound system, can provide level volume throughout the space. Otherwise, speakers installed in the ceiling can offer needed sound dispersion. In either case, positioned speakers remove the need to increase volume to uncomfortable levels, which usually happens when sound is outputted in a small area.
Microphones arranged for optimal clarity
Microphones can be installed into the table itself, with audio cabling run through its frame and into the floor. In fact, the microphones may be largely invisible, but they should also be omnidirectional and arranged every few feet for optimal clarity.
Sound masking technology
Noise from outside the space can be a distraction. But even more important, conversation inside the space is probably too sensitive to allow for eavesdropping. A second set of speakers can be used to output a steady stream of white noise, effectively creating a bubble that no sound can penetrate in or out of.
Sound processing equipment and software
Digital signal processors organize multiple inputs so that they can be utilized with amplifiers, recorders and other devices. Measurement software can model the space’s acoustics, aiding in device placement and performance. Software like echo cancellation software prevents sound equipment from interfering with each other, and maintains output clarity. All of these components, along with an intuitive control interface, are the glue that holds meeting room audio systems together.
There’s nothing more distracting than poorly delivered audio, and distraction is the enemy of productivity. Bring in an A/V integrator to design and implement a sound-based solution, and make sure distractions never intrude on collaboration.