Choosing the right Audio and Video solution for your business.
A step-by-step guide on how to make the right decisions on hardware selection and room design.
The “next steps” on how to build technology into your meeting space. We will outline in detail methods for making these decisions.
The first order of business. What do you have to spend? How important is this space to the function of your business? What is cost of flying executives to distant meetings? How much time would a properly constructed meeting space save the company?
Most companies undervalue the initial spend required to make a meeting space work properly. Do it right the first time. A basic “starting point” for a simple-to-use small meeting space should be at least $10K. That’s at a minimum of a; TV, tabletop audio VC solution (inc’s a computer), touch control interface, HD camera, mounting hardware, and labour. Cost of equipment can vary greatly for a multitude of reasons; brands, size, number of people to be heard,
When we ask you for a budget. We aren’t trying to spend your very last dollar. This gives us guideline and starting point to reduce the cost of your solution to be below your budget. A good Sales Engineer can help guide your system spend from the first Discovery Meeting. They can give you some ideas on; where the costs can accelerate, how to manage expectations, point you to the right solution type, discuss system options, places to reduce costs without compromising the system integrity, and divide the “musts” from the “wants”. Defining your budget will help the solution provider deliver your expectations far sooner, and save everyone time.
2. Room Size.
How big is the space? All systems (particularly audio) have a range of optional functionality (based on user distance from the microphone or microphone system). The farther away you are from the microphone, the quieter you become. Add additional participants in the room, and you may become unintelligible. A properly designed system will always provide adequate coverage for the number of participants the system is designed for. You may want to reduce the working size of the room to a specific area. This can reduce the cost for extra microphone coverage that may not be needed.
3. Audio Coverage.
Remember this rule. Audio is the most expensive part of a solution. The more area that you are trying to cover with the microphone system, - the higher the cost. Moveable tables, and additional seated participants (people sitting away from the primary table), can increase the microphone coverage requirement, and therefore cost. Speakers are typically installed in the ceiling. These provide playback for “far end” participants on an audio or video call.
4. Primary use of the space.
This is often overlooked. We never assume the space is simply for making audio and video calls during a meeting. Maybe it’s a flex space, has moveable tables,-with varying acoustic coverage patterns, or video playback formats (multiple TV's), or may require multi-user collaboration and sharing?
How the space is used is huge consideration. Flex spaces are often becoming the norm over the classic fixed table configuration. However. Audio coverage increases dramatically. In-ceiling microphone systems are always an option. But will require a large coverage area to be produced. Therefore, costs can go up. You may want to consider moveable, or body worn wireless microphones. Saves money on providing coverage for the entire space. We also have a general rule we follow for video. If a required display is larger than 86", we typically move to a projector solution. It'll save you money to go down this path.
We thrive to design systems that are simple to use. Although we always provide system training. As a rule. We thrive to design a system that is intuitive, and not require instructions and training to operate. If users are afraid to use the system. You’ve failed on providing an appropriate solution. We can also build automation into a solution without client intervention. Including adding occupancy sensors to turn on/off display and projectors, and to open and close blinds. Of course custom interfaces are always an option. Crestron Teams and Zoom touch panels allow for additional controls to be used when in, or out of a native one-touch environment.
6. Choosing the right video conferencing solution.
This doesn’t need to be headache. Here are some simple steps to guide your decision:
a. One-Touch-Join. Highly recommended and is easy to use. See a link here: https://www.cleverav.ca/video-conferencing
b. Do you need additional room control? Beyond the basics of TV on/off? Start with Crestron FLEX solutions in either Teams, Zoom, or Open UC.
c. Is it a small meeting room or Huddle Room? Consider a Soundbar or table top conferencing system.
d. Are you using Microsoft business products, and require specific provisioning and deeper organizational workflows? Occasional Zoom or Webex meetings? We might suggest an MTR (Microsoft Teams Room).
e. Are you in Education? Or a SMB? Need a flexible meeting space(s) with multiple users, or users that are occasionally outside of your organization? We usually suggest Zoom Rooms with One-Touch-Join.
f. Are you SMB? Riding specifically on Google infrastructure? Consider Google Meet or a Zoom Room.
b. External Office Intercommunication VC Platform.
Occasionally a company branch location will take initiative on selecting a video conferencing solution on their own, and may not fully consider the branch to branch interoperability. One-touch-join systems like Microsoft Teams MTR’s and Zoom Rooms can make company wide adoption easier and by having all users know and learn the same interface.
7. Room Acoustics
No matter how much you spend on an audio system. There is no magic wand. If the room has reverberance, or echo. You will hear it on a call. Period. Large glass windows, ceilings with different depths (drywall cloud), hard surfaces (floor and tables) can create many reverberance issues. There is good news however. Acoustic treatments don’t need to be expensive. There are many options available such as; custom graphic screen printing, near unlimited panel fabrics choices, colourful geometric tiles, build-your-own hexagonal designs, hanging panels and pendants. More visual information is available here: www.cleverav.ca/commercial-audio-visual
8. Design and Aesthetics.
There is a balance between building a clean looking functional system without clutter, and not having the equipment in place due to appearances. There are many ways to make the technology “disappear” and still work effectively. For example; ceiling microphones that appear to be air vents, motorized TV’s that appear and disappear in millwork, LED displays that operate as wall art when not being used, colour matched devices to room finishes, Single panel solutions with all controls in one place, and integrated light switches with laser etched buttons, -to name just a few examples. Newer devices keep getting smaller all the time. There’s always a way to make devices blend and even disappear, with enough thought and early design implementation.
9. Tables and Room Configuration.
This is a big one. As we mentioned earlier. Flex spaces are becoming more common. Moveable tables with various configurations can allow for; general conference meetings, training and learning, large face internal discussions, and Town Halls (with stand up participation, -no tables). With moveable tables. The ability to reconfigure the room is great. The drawback is that microphones typically can be installed with the table. Due to wiring and directional pick-up.