follow

Solving 4 Common Audio Issues in Learning Environments

A good audio experience is an essential requirement in all learning environments.  Unfortunately, noisy HVAC systems, side conversations, and numerous reflective surfaces can render audio unintelligible to participants.

CHALLENGE #1: INCONSISTENT AUDIO LEVELS AND CLARITY THROUGHOUT THE ROOM
When the audio quality changes as presenters move about the room, they learn to stay in the best location throughout their presentation so they are not interrupted by remote attendees saying they cannot hear.  However, staying in place limits the presenter’s ability to engage with in-room participants.  This inconsistent audio experience is often created by misjudging the mic coverage in a room.  Too many mics can cause processing artifacts and increased reverberation, which impacts speech intelligibility.

Solution: CONDUCT AN ACOUSTICAL ANALYSIS TO DETERMINE APPROPRIATE MIC SELECTION AND PLACEMENT
An analysis should consider room dimensions, materials, furnishings and overall acoustical properties to determine the mic requirements, including pick-up range, type, quantity and placement.  Individual ceiling mics -instead of a ceiling array mic- allows mics to be placed at approximately the same distance from all in-room participants, optimizing the audio experience for remote participants.

CHALLENGE #2: UNWANTED NOISE AND REVERBERATION
Air flow and vibrations from HVAC systems can be a significant source of noise, when using ceiling mics.  Other sources of noise include side conversations, tapping on the table or keyboard, and hard surfaces, which reflect sound.  When these noises are amplified through the audio system, they can not only distract far-end listeners, but are often loud enough to compete with the presenter’s voice audio.  Too much transmitted noise results in unintelligible speech.

Solution:  USE MIC PLACEMENT AND DSP CONFIGURATION TO MINIMIZE THESE ISSUES
The distance between the ceiling mics and the table surface (where much of the participant noise is generated) gives ceiling mics an advantage over table mics.  To mitigate the effects of HVAC systems, ceiling mics should be located where the mic elements are not in the direct path of the HVAC vent air flow.  In addition, using individual ceiling mics instead of ceiling array mics allows more flexibility when determining optimum placement.  Beyond strategic mic placement, there are DSP settings that help reduce the effects of noise and reverberation. Most DSP mixers provide noise suppression and two mic controls.

CHALLENGE #3: FLEXIBLE ROOM DESIGNS
Some presenters enjoy roaming the room when speaking while others want a circle configuration instead of rows.  Participants may need to move to the front of the room to demonstrate on the whiteboard or share.  However, audio systems are typically designed to provide optimal voice pickup based on the original or fixed seating arrangement.  Once the room configuration changes, the audio system is unable to effectively accommodate their needs.

Solution:  USE CEILING MICS FOR CONSISTENT COVERAGE
To accommodate a mobile, flexible room, consider using ceiling mics that can be strategically placed to evenly cover the entire room—regardless of how the room is configured on any day. Ceiling mics offer better room coverage than table mics, allowing participants to walk around and face away from the desks or table and still be heard evenly.

CHALLENGE #4: UNWIELDY CABLES
The use of table mics often requires running cabling across the floor and under/through tables and desks to connect and power the system.  These exposed cables look bad, can be a tripping hazard, are difficult to manage, and disconnect easily.  Should the room configuration change, rerouting cables can be time consuming.  To address cable issues, some designers rely on wireless mics.  While this strategy helps reduce cables, it creates new problems, including higher maintenance due to charging stations and inventory management.

Solution:  USE CEILING MICS TO IMPROVE ROOM AESTHETICALLY
Ceiling mics reduce visible cables and are discrete enough not to affect room aesthetics.  Recent technological advancements and improvements in
mic design makes the quality of ceiling mic equals and often exceeds tabletop mic quality in many environments.

TEST

Even if a room design follows best practices, it’s important to test the system to ensure comfortable audio levels and room coverage.  Here are a few pointers on conducting an effective test:

  • Listen from a remote location to a person talking in the room.
  • Ask that person to move around the room while talking at the same level. This should be a “blind” exercise focused only on the audio.
  • Test while the HVAC system is running to determine if it creates any noise interference.
The listener at the far-end should not hear fan noises or be able to tell when the in-room person moves from one location to another in the room. The audio quality should be clear and consistent.
FINAL THOUGHTS

Modern distance learning classrooms and training rooms are flexible in how they are used, and this means audio systems need to be flexible as well.  When the four audio issues discussed in this guide are solved, participants can enjoy clear, reliable audio that enables them to learn and engage.  Every type of mic has an ideal use case.  However, in a classroom or training setting, table mics present challenges as:

  • More obtrusive than ceiling mics, creating a visual distraction for learners.
  • Create a cluttered classroom environment due to the need to run cables throughout the room.
  • Lack flexibility for participants to move around the room since table mics require the speaker to be seated or standing directly in front of the mic at all times.
  • More likely to pick upside conversations or tabletop noises such as typing, shuffling of papers, or tapping due to their close proximity to participants.

Looking for the right motorized projection screen

When a motorized projection screen is specified in a project, it is recommended to consider a tab-tensioned solution.

 

The price of a tab-tensioned motorized screen is frequently higher than a self-supported motorized screen, but it is worth the investment!The tab-tensioned screen will provide a perfectly flat viewing surface and a high-resolution image (4K, 8K, and yes, 16K).

It is important to consider that the amount of top black drop for a tab-tensioned motorized screen needs to be pre-planned.  The tab-tensioning cable relies on the complete (or near complete) deployment of the screen.  Only when completely extended does this cable pull the screen flat and hold it there for a flawless installation.  Measuring the amount of drop material needed before ordering will avoid any issues at the installation site.  If any adjustment is necessary, then it should be minimum.

Every tab-tensioned screen must have the overall width of the screen at least 1.33 times the height.   Wider is fine, but less width will lead to wrinkled corners.  If adding top drop material, then more side bordering is needed.

 

How do you do it?
 
Plan the placement of the screen case.
The height of the image should be tall enough to have the images clearly seen from the back row.
 
Plan the bottom of the screen.
The bottom of the image must be visible to all viewers without obstructions.
 
Plan how wide the screen needs to be.
The width of the image is chosen based on multiple factors such as content, projector aspect ratio and lens. As well as, if necessary to hide things or it is limited by the side walls.

Resimercial – the office and home spaces are changing

The small and private meeting areas in an office (huddle rooms) outfitted with audio and video conferencing equipment are making more sense

The commercial clients are making their home office a more appealing place to work. They are adding audio and video equipment to other areas of their homes as well.

More and more companies are planning to have staff remain working from home.

The crossover between residential and commercial integrators continues to grow.  This trend is creating new opportunities.

While the goals are the same for a commercial and a residential installation, every setting has its own set of requirements.

By nature, the demands of residential customers are normally higher than for a commercial customer.  Everyone wants to have “the best” at home!

The integrators must make sure that the products are reliable.

For the huddle room and home office, consider:

  • Discreet high-performance ceiling microphones from CTG Audio.
  • Dependable components to connect your video equipment from Luxi Electronics.
  • The right mounts for the monitors from HANGFORT.
For the residential audio and video experience, consider:
  • The projection screen, projector and speakers that will create the WOW factor from SIM2Waterfall AudioScreen ResearchSevertson Screens or The Screen Works.
  • Amplifier that produces a musical, smooth, warm, loud, clear, subtle and seamless sound from AMPED.
  • Comfortable motorized recliner chairs that will allow to enjoy the movie thoroughly from COMFORTTO.
  • The right lifts for the projector from HANGFORT.
  • Reliable components to connect your video equipment from Luxi Electronics.

Combating Ambient Light🔅

In terms of projection, one of the most significant challenges is ambient light.  It will impact the resulting contrast and how images appear.  Here are some guidelines to consider:

Choose the Right Screen

White screens offer optimal light diffusion properties, spreading the light uniformly across the entire surface, and in a controlled setting, this provides a vivid, clear image. However, when ambient light is present, it too, will reflect off the screen and wash out the picture.

Darker coatings, like grey or even black, work well for these environments because they provide a more intense contrast level by creating deeper levels of black, which makes the image stand out despite intrusive light.

ALR (ambient light rejecting) surfaces are designed to redirect off-axis light (light other than that emitting from the projector) away from the viewer’s field of vision.

Gain screens, surfaces on which optical coating is applied to increase reflectiveness, can also improve on-axis brightness and redirect a certain amount of off-axis light away from the viewer.

Don’t Overlook the Projector

The loss of brightness resulting from a darker low gain surface is compensated by a higher lumen projector.

While the right projection surface choice is the main factor in controlling the effects of ambient light, higher lumen output projectors are great for brightly lit spaces because the projected light is bright enough to overcome other light sources and compensate for reduced reflectivity from the viewing surface.  However, if the projector is too strong, it will negatively affect contrast and cause an uncomfortable glare for the eyes.

Create the Optimal Viewing Environment

One of the easiest changes to make is painting the room to a darker color to reduce its reflecting capabilities.  Also, consider installing light-blocking window shades.

While it may not be possible to blackout the entire space, it is important to diffuse or eliminate any light that’s coming from behind the projector, especially if an ALR surface has been selected.

Ambient brightness throughout the room can be controlled using directional overhead spotlights. This keeps light away from the projection screen.  Another idea is to incorporate individualized lighting, rather than relying on lighting fixtures that apply broad coverage throughout a room.

An unobtrusive giant TV 🎥

4K HDR SIM2 xTV

A new way to watch TV on a really big screen (up to 2.65m wide) that integrates with home interiors. Just need to position the projector close to the wall or the screen on which it will project.
Features:

✓ 4K UHD DLP projection technology “3840*2160 pixel”
✓ LASER illumination system with 2 color wheels
✓ HIGH BRIGHTNESS of 3,200 lumen
✓ Expanded COLOR space up to 84% DCI-P3
✓ Superb HDR processing and HDR10
✓ POWERFUL INTERNAL AUDIO (2 x 15W 2 ways + bass reflex)
✓ Bluetooth AUDIO connection to external active speakers
✓ WIRELESS video connection and MIRACAST
✓ WIFI & Operative system
✓ De-Judder video processing for motion
✓ Automatic Ambient light adapting
✓ Crystal glass & Aluminum CABINET
✓ Automatic wireless update of the projector software

New High-End Brands – New Opportunities??

Introducing AMPED America

Best-in-Class High Performance Audio Amplifiers!

Luxury high end CLASS D Amps that produce a musical, smooth, warm, loud, clear, subtle and seamless sound at high frequency with an excellent profit margin.

Made in the USA

Applications:
High Performance 2 Channel Audio
Home Theater
Surround Sound
Multi-Room & Zone Amplification

Six criteria in selecting a Motorized Screen

Space comes at a high cost and using it for multiple purposes is a good choice for your business, church, hotel or theater.  A motorized projection screen that rolls up and down is a great choice to free up space for other needed uses.

These are the top six considerations in selecting a motorized screen:

1. Size

 

The ideal size depends on the space and the aspect ratios (shape) of the content that will be displayed.

  • Image Height: specify as much image height as can fit.  Limitations include the ceiling height, furniture and presenters who may need to stand in front of the screen.
  • Image Width: rarely will only one aspect ratio of content be displayed.  There will be videos, presentations, movies of all shapes.  Consider how differing aspect ratios will appear on a given screen and select the best compromise.
2. Material Choice
  • Low Gain screens: selected for light controlled environments.
  • High Gain screens: used to enhance brightness when projectors have insufficient light output and limited viewing angles are not an issue.
  • White screens: chosen for their light dispersion qualities, wide viewing angles, and lower cost.
  • Grey screens: selected to preserve contrast levels and provide deeper color saturation.  Grey screens are also used in rooms with high ambient light.
  • Ambient light rejecting (ALR) screens: designed to redirect off-axis light (light other than that emitting from the projector) away from the viewer’s field of vision and to absorb indirect light.  ALR screens are used in rooms with high ambient light.
  • Black screens: perform best in environments with high ambient light and should be used in conjunction with powerful projectors that provide high lumen output.
  • Other screen materials are available for specific purposes.  Some materials are offered with black backing to absorb intrusive background light, such as light coming from windows.
3. Tensioning
  • Side tensioning allows the screen material to be completely flat from side to side.  The result will always be a better screen.
4. Position
  • Case Height: may be set by the level of the finished ceiling, the height of a beam or a position on the wall that is ideal for placing the screen’s case/housing.  The cases can be hidden or visible. Hiding screen cases involves recessing the case into a ceiling or soffit or masking the case with a cosmetic treatment.  Cases typically come in white or black finishes.
  • Image Above Finished Floor: the bottom of the image needs to be positioned so that all viewers can see it and should also be positioned so viewing is comfortable.
5. Borders
  • Bottom border: in some situations, an extra-long bottom border can be required to hide furniture or speakers that will be behind the screen or to simply bring the screen down to floor level for cosmetic reasons.  In these circumstances, determine the extra bottom border length and include that in your design.
  • Top Drop: when the distance from the bottom of the image to the bottom of the case is greater than the image height, the difference is filled with top black drop border.  Ideally, the image is positioned so that the average viewer is not forced to look up too much to see the whole screen.  In these circumstances, determine the extra top drop length and include that in your design.
  • Side Borders: the width of the side borders is cosmetically decided.  A motorized tab-tensioned screen’s overall width must be at least 1.33x the overall height.  When there is a lot of top drop, side borders may need to be expanded.
6. Speaker Location
  • If the speakers are placed behind the screen to increase the realism and immersive experience, then an acoustically transparent material will be needed.

New Powerful Laser Based Projector 💡

SIM2 CRYSTAL 4 Sh

Key features:
  • Latest generation of Laser illumination source with 2 wheels (one for the phosphor and one to improve the color space).
  • Very high brightness, 3,200 Lumens.
  • Very good colorimetryno yellowish images.
  • Largest 4K UHD DMD chip, 0,67″.
  • Luxury touch, crystal glass cabinet.
  • High reliability and quality stability of the DLP technology
Available on October 2020

Resimercial HDMI problems

After an installation with HDMI cables is completed and all the equipment is connected, if there is no picture, the installer will need to expend time searching for the problem.

Resetting the units will sometimes solve the problem, but many times it is not fixed.  The installer will need to contact the manufacturer to replace the devices.

A lot of labor and time has been wasted!
Most of the HDMI system problems are classified into two types:
  • Communication problems caused by EDID handshake or HDCP copyright
  • Signal strength problems caused by cable being too long

Luxi Electronics offers simple solutions that the integrator should always consider carrying on the jobs.

 

To fix communication problemsLuxi HDMI Communicator will change the sequence and timing to avoid conflict.

 

To fix signal strength problemsLuxi HDMI Extender will boost the signal.

Carry one of each. One of them will fix the problem!
Plus a spare 5 V power adapter, just in case!

No external power! 
The Extender never needs power.
The Communicators only sometimes.

Simple installation!

Courtesy of Luxi Electronics

 

Consider glass made loudspeakers

Speakers are normally built out of wood as are musical instruments! But not all musical instruments are made of wood, such as saxophones, trumpets, cymbals etc.. In a violin or a guitar, the wooden body participates in the pitch and sound by vibrating.

In the case of a loudspeaker, it is the movement of the driver and not the vibration of the cabinet that produces the sound. In fact, cabinet vibration erodes audio quality.

A speaker should have a rigid structure… and glass provides that!

The highly interesting choice of a loudspeaker made of glass is not just for its aesthetic qualities, but also for its extreme density. There is no cabinet vibration to alter the PURE sound reproduction.

 

Consider Waterfall Audio Glass Speakers in your next project!

Courtesy of Waterfall Audio