Q&A With Ali Charters - Corporate Audio Systems | Midwich

We caught up with our Senior Product Manager - Audio, Ali Charters and posed a few questions around corporate audio systems...

Q - What are the key technologies and products that make up corporate audio systems? 

The key technologies in corporate audio systems need to be discreet and in keeping with the professional look of a corporate office. The technology needs to be intuitive to use as its users may not be trained and will undoubtedly not have the time to become AV experts. Wireless microphones for presenters and conferencing eliminate messy cables and enable users to move more naturally. Good quality speakers will give good clarity audio for voice or the occasional bit of background music. If they have a large number of multi-purpose rooms a portable pa system is a great value addition, invest in a protective bag and stand and they can be stored and brought out as required. The LSP 500 from Sennheiser even enables the user to wirelessly daisy-chain systems together to cover big conferences.

Q - What sort of spec should corporate buyers be looking for in these products, what are the key criteria? (Again, feel free to focus on some specific set-ups if appropriate).

In larger rooms, buyers may choose to specify a permanent video-conferencing system with rack-mounted DSP equipment kept out of the way, to create a professional seamless VC experience. However, where there are a larger number of smaller rooms and huddle spaces, full video conferencing systems can be price prohibitive and unnecessary.

This is where the new generation of versatile kit complements these multi-purpose rooms, by employing the laptop or mobile’s web-conferencing software, be it Skype for Business, Lifesize Cloud or Zoom etc, to communicate. The user has an interface they are familiar with, in a larger setting where others can join their meeting.

Imagine being on a mobile phone walking past other team members, you can ask them to join you en route to the meeting room, then bluetooth your mobile phone to the room’s device and instantly create a conference call.

The Revolabs CS700 offers users a familiar format in the shape of a consumer-style soundbar with integrated 120° camera and beam steering microphones, this ensures easy USB connection to laptop and good quality audio in both the huddle space and at the recipients end. You can even bridge to a mobile phone call to include a colleague out on the road.

Q - How has corporate audio technology developed recently, what are the key innovations affecting the market?

AMX by Harman are approaching the increase in huddle spaces further by launching the Acendo Vibe, ideal for AV users familiar with AMX, the Vibe also offers the camera and soundbar approach but also integrates with other AMX kit in the room, adding screen sharing and room booking to its agenda.

For larger rooms  a pan, tilt, zoom (PTZ) camera will ensure all participants are visible to the viewer, these cameras, like the one with the Vaddio Confernce AV Shot bundle will move to pick up individuals around the room. The speaker is positioned with the camera on a wall mount included however you can add up to 2 boundary-style microphones to increase the number of participants.

Q - What future trends are emerging?

Expect to see more products like our home tech where Alexa, Siri and Cortana are helping organise at home, expect products to look and function like them in the office. Wireless, smart, modern-looking products with Bluetooth and near-field communication like the Sennheiser Team Connect Wireless, are being chosen as great value easy to use conferencing options.

In open plan offices, where many employees are talking on headsets, background music can be distracting whilst in other areas will prove motivating, improve ambiance and even increase productivity. A zoned audio system will ensure even after office moves each team can have their own preference.

A sound-masking system like that from Cambridge Sound Management can also disguise those personal conversations that you do not want people listening into.

Q - What are the main issues and pitfalls for buyers?

Keeping up with new trends is always a challenge so focus on products that are adaptable, updatable, scalable, and work with your IT kit, so they will have a longer cycle and stay compatible with your software.

Q - How should buyers specify and install corporate audio systems, what advice would you give them?

Architects and designers like to add glass & reflective surfaces to corporate meeting rooms, consider the room acoustics before spending out, arrange for a demonstration where possible. Research with employees and end-users how they would like to use the room, what are their needs and frustrations currently?

Q - At what stage should they consider audio? Should it be considered before video?

Audio in conferencing should be considered before the video, imagine a conference call where the video fails, people can still continue to hear and be heard and will continue to communicate. However, lose the audio ? The meeting will need to be rescheduled. Crystal clear audio is paramount to good productive communication.

If you'd like to discuss our range of Audio products with our Product Manager, Ali Charters,  please follow the button below.