A conferencing professional should be able to help you with the technical aspects of assessing your conference room acoustics such as measuring reverberation, the degree of echo generated in a room, and the additional sources of extraneous noise that may require compensation. A professional audio/video integrator should be able to offer these services. This is an important step in the process and should not be overlooked.
Assessing the conference room acoustics will involve answering such questions as:
- Have you selected a noise-free location with sound-absorbent carpet and window materials?
- Are the walls and ceiling tiles well insulated?
- Are there windows or walls that are “hard” and likely to reflect sound?
- Have you chosen a room away from noisy equipment such as generators, elevators, or Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning (HVAC) equipment and away from lobbies, breakrooms, or other places where people congregate?
- Are the furniture and other accoutrements likely to absorb sound or reflect it?
- Will you be using flexible or modular rooms that have changing configurations? (In some facilities rooms are constructed to divide into separate, smaller meeting rooms through the use of moveable walls.)
Note that you won’t always be able to control these factors. Budget and timing often necessitate compromise. But fortunately the right equipment will help you overcome less-than-optimal acoustics. For example:
- If you can’t adjust some of the factors that improve room acoustics, such as having insulated tiles or sound-absorbent carpet, you can compensate for that limitation with the right equipment and the best equipment placement.
- If the room surfaces are hard (i.e., windows or whiteboards), you can place microphones closer to people to prevent echo from occurring and to prevent multiple reflections (echo) of local audio being sent to the distant site.
- If your room suffers from computer or fan background noise, an audio conferencing system with noise cancellation capabilities can eliminate some of this problem.
• Certain audio conferencing systems are ideally suited to adapt to changing room configurations