The transformation of a conference room in a showroom
Online meetings have become a natural part of the Covid-19 “new normal”. In the wake of this development, the requirements for remote conferencing solutions have risen sharply. Customers expect excellent audio quality and an authentic meeting experience. That’s why it’s important to make it possible to experience how a business microphone works under realistic conditions.
AV integrator Mitomo renovated its “G Conference Room” at its Tokyo headquarters in Higashigotanda in 2020, where it installed TeamConnect Ceiling 2. The room was redesigned to be used as a showroom for the use of a ceiling microphone.
How can the installation of a ceiling microphone in an existing conference room influence the quality of web conferences? With the installation of TeamConnect Ceiling 2 (TCC 2) in Mitomo’s showroom, customers can convince themselves of the quality of the ceiling microphone with patented automatic dynamic beamforming under realistic conditions.
With the COVID 19 pandemic, many companies have moved to setting up remote workstations. It is now normal for almost all companies to hold board meetings and other important meetings via web conferencing. However, many users of online conferencing are dissatisfied with the sound quality. At Mitomo in 2020, requests for web conferencing systems with excellent audio increased sharply.
“Previously, microphones in conference rooms were considered adequate if they could simply pick up sounds. But I think web conferencing has changed the way they are used, making sound quality issues more apparent. Many people say that they can hear other people very well, but that their own voice doesn't come across clearly to others”, says Shota Kawauchi, systems engineering manager in Mitomo’s technology division. Since sound quality in web conferencing systems has become a crucial factor for more and more customers, Mitomo has installed TCC 2 in its “G Conference Room”. This room is used as a showroom where customers can experience the use of a ceiling microphone.
Hideaki Tasaki, System Planner, System Sales Department, Sales Division at Mitomo, names the reasons for installing TCC 2 in the showroom: “The most important factor in our decision to use TCC 2 was the patented automatic dynamic beamforming technology that can automatically track the speaker. Previously, the “G Conference Room” had eight seats, but because of COVID-19, we reduced the number of seats to six as part of Social Distancing. Also, when the room occupancy changes, TCC 2 can detect who is speaking without us having to change any settings, thanks to automatic dynamic beamforming. Also, there are many verified success stories for TCC 2, so it was clear that if we were going to install a ceiling microphone, it would be TCC 2. We also use another Sennheiser product, the SpeechLine Digital Wireless, and we have never had a customer complain about the sound quality. We thought we couldn’t go wrong with a ceiling microphone from Sennheiser, so we chose the TeamConnect Ceiling 2.”
Since TeamConnect Ceiling 2 can accommodate audio in an area about eight to ten meters in diameter, it was installed in the showroom approximately in the center of the conference table. TCC 2 can be installed on the ceiling in four ways: recessed, flush, suspended, and VESA-mounted. Mitomo has chosen flush mounting, where it is installed on the ceiling using the “SL CM FB” bracket. In a perfectly designed room, cable routing is often a challenge. With TCC 2, only two LAN cables, including the power supply, are needed to make the connection, so this is not a problem. TCC 2 has a Dante output and Mitomo uses Symetrix's Radius NX 4x4 DSP mixer to switch the routing of the destination and adjust the EQ, compressor and gate. There is basically only one setting for the Radius NX 4x4, which can be controlled remotely via an iPad.
Even the fact that the conference room is located on a busy street, so that it gets loud inside when you open the windows, was not a problem when installing TCC 2. The ceiling microphone has a feature called “Sound Exclusion Range Setting” that prevents TCC 2 from picking up sounds outside the specified range. In that respect, there were no problems with road noise. “I have used TCC 2 quite frequently since the November 2020 renovation and am very pleased with the sound quality, which is even better than expected. I use it for weekly meetings, and the sound quality helps prevent prolonged listening from becoming tiring,” says Hideaki Tasaki. According to the system planner, TCC 2 also impresses with its simple, unobtrusive design. The average user does not even realize at first that it is a microphone.
Mitomo recommends the use of TCC 2 not only as a solution for business online conferencing, but also for education. “In a lecture, the instructor moves around the podium while the students sit in their favorite seats. It is difficult to determine exactly where to place the microphone in such a room, but with TCC 2’s automatic dynamic beamforming, the lecturer’s and students’ voices are picked up no matter where they are in the room, says Hideaki Tasaki.
Shota Kawauchi and Hideaki Tasaki are impressed by the high level of support in their collaboration with Sennheiser. “All the people we worked with during the project responded quickly, and demo units were available quickly. As systems integrator, we know that support is more important than features or price when it comes to what products we introduce to our customers. Sennheiser helps immediately when there is a problem and lends us a sympathetic ear.”