What is the Optimal Microphone Pickup Range for Conference Rooms?
Good audio quality is essential for efficient collaboration. To achieve clear audio in a conference room, you may want to choose microphones with the optimal microphone pickup range. A number of factors may play a part, such as microphone patterns, types, room size and mic configuration. This article will help you choose the optimal microphone pickup range for your conference room.
Common Microphone Pickup Patterns
A pickup pattern represents the microphone’s sensitivity to various sounds and the direction from which the sound is coming. They play a large role in determining the sound quality you will receive during a conference call. Microphones are typically broken into three major types of pickup patterns, namely directional, bidirectional, and omnidirectional pickup patterns.
Directional Pickup Pattern
Directional pickup pattern, also known as "cardioid" pattern, is designed to pick up sound mostly from the front of the microphone, but sound coming from the sides and back is not completely rejected. That means it focuses on picking up the speaker's voice.
Bidirectional Pickup Pattern
Bidirectional pickup pattern is not always mentioned as a major microphone pickup pattern, though it still exists. This microphone pickup pattern captures audio from two opposite directions, which means the sound coming from the top and bottom direction may be suppressed.
Omnidirectional Pickup Pattern
True to its name, omnidirectional pickup pattern captures sound in a 360-degree fashion so that the front, sides, and back of the microphone can pick up sound clearly. This is an ideal mic pickup pattern for rooms with good acoustics. It can capture multiple speakers talking at the same time.
Different Microphone Types
Whether for an audio conference or a video one, a general rule of thumb is the closer the microphone is to the person speaking, the shorter the microphone pickup range needs to be. Here we mainly talk about stand-alone microphones like speakerphones. Different microphone types have different distance requirements between the speaker and the microphone. Let’s review different microphone types for conference calls.
Gooseneck microphones are popular for panels, lecture podiums and boardrooms. They provide optimal audio as the speaker is always positioned close to the microphone. However, the downside is also obvious. Because they are usually fixed, the speaker is unable to move around the room when using this type of microphone.
Handheld microphones are ideal when multiple speakers need to take turns to speak. Speakers can move around the room and easily hand the microphone onto another speaker or audience members.
Wearable microphones allow speakers to go handsfree. They're perfect for lecture halls, training rooms, and multi-purpose rooms. By adding a headset connector, conference speakers can also have a two-way conversation on a video chat platform.
Tabletop microphones provide consistency and control where the configuration doesn’t change much. They can either be fixed to a table or wireless to provide flexibility. Tabletop microphones usually require talkers to be in a fairly close proximity to achieve good sound quality.
Ceiling microphones typically provide better coverage than tabletop alternatives. For large conference rooms, one mic might be enough to capture 360 degrees of sound. But it may be necessary to have more than one microphone.
How to Choose the Right Microphone Pickup Range?
The right microphone pickup range is also related to the size of the room and the way it is configured. In flexible spaces, if the configuration changes, it will add to the complexity of selecting the right microphone technology. Generally, for standalone microphones, the larger the conference room is, the longer mic pickup range is needed. But when choosing conferencing equipment that comes with microphones, such as conference cameras, webcams, things may be different.
Standalone Microphones or Speakerphones
Most standalone microphones or speakerphones come with omnidirectional pickup pattern. For small conference rooms that can hold 4-6 people, one microphone or speakerphone with a pickup range of 3m is enough, as the maximum distance between two people is usually less than 3 meters in this case.
Take FS SP640 speakerphone and MP-EXM-5M expansion microphone for example, they both have a pickup range of 6m with an omni-directional pickup pattern, which ensures that everyone can be heard with life-like clarity, thus helping build up effective collaborations.
For mid-sized conference rooms that can accommodate 6-12 people, two mics may be needed to enable full coverage. For larger conference rooms that can hold more than 12 people, you may have to set up more than two mics to ensure that the voice of each participant can be clearly picked up because people can be quite far apart.
In this case, FS SP630 speakerphone is a good choice with 5m pickup range and 360° voice pickup. You can connect two SP630s by a daisy chain cable to cover a conference room of 12 participants. In addition, it comes with acoustic echo cancellation and noise reduction functions, delivering room-filling and natural-sounding audio.
Conference Cameras or Webcams with Microphones
For conference cameras or webcams with microphones, their placement is not as flexible as standalone microphones or speakerphones. Usually, they are mounted on TV or placed near the wall to ensure that everyone is in the frame. This means you will have to consider both the room size and mic pickup range, and ensure that the farthest speaker's voice can be picked up.
For small conference rooms that can hold 4-6 people, it wouldn't be a problem. One conference camera or webcam with a pickup range of more than 3m is enough to enable full coverage.
Recommended FS conference cameras
FC530 video conference camera: 2 omnidirectional mics; 5m pickup range
FC530-4K video conference camera: 2 omnidirectional mics; 5m pickup range
FC570S-4K video conference camera: 4 omnidirectional mics; 6m pickup range
Recommended FS webcams
FC270S webcam: 4 omnidirectional mics; 6m pickup range
FC270-4K webcam: 2 omnidirectional mics; 5m pickup range
FC270P webcam: 2 omnidirectional mics; 5m pickup range
For mid-sized and large conference rooms that can accommodate more than 12 people, you may need to consider adding additional microphones and speakerphones to the table to enable full coverage. The combination can help make sure that the voice of each participant can be clearly picked up.
In sum, selecting a microphone should not be a one-size-fits-all type of purchase. When choosing the optimal microphone pickup range, you need to consider a number of factors including microphone patterns, types, room size and mic configuration. Most conferencing equipment comes with microphones, such as conference cameras, webcams, and IP phones. Check out all our conferencing and phone products, and find the one that suits your needs for quality conferencing experience.