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How to Use a Boundary Microphone

Some of the DE capable conference rooms have microphones on the table for use when videoconferencing.

One type of microphone that you may encounter is an omnidirectional microphone. Some of these are small, round, black, wired microphones. Others are small, square, silver, wired microphones. Omni-directional microphones pick up sound from all directions. The proper place to put the microphone is in the middle of the group of people seated at the table. If the table is full, then place the microphone in the middle of the table. If there are two microphones, place one microphone a third of the way down the table and the second one two thirds of the way down the table.

People seated closer to the microphone are may be picked-up better than folks seated further way. As a result, soft-spoken folks may want to sit closer to a microphone while people who project well may want to sit further away. People seated close to the microphones also need to be aware that paper shuffling and other such noise is liable to be picked-up pretty well.

The other type of microphone that you may encounter in a DE conference room is a traditional boundary microphone. These microphones are usually black and are wedge shaped. Some are wired and some may be wireless.

These are directional microphones. Think of the wedge shape as an arrowhead. The arrowhead picks up the sounds that it is aiming at. These microphones also pick up to the sides. By design, they do not pick up well from the rear.

The proper place to put these microphones is at the head of the group of people. It is ok for folks to be sitting next to the microphones, but no one should be sitting behind the microphone. The wedge should be pointing towards the group of people. If there are multiple microphones, place one at the head of the group of people. The second one should be in the middle of the group and it should be pointing towards the far end of the table. Anyone sitting behind the microphone will be picked-up poorly.

Be careful with the placement of the microphones. You want to try to keep the microphones away from any speakers. When the far end talks to you in a videoconference, their audio comes out of your speakers. You do not want your microphones picking that audio up and sending it back to them. When that happens, that causes echo. For example, they will say hello, and then a few seconds later, they will hear themselves saying hello. Minor echo is annoying, major echo will make communicating impossible. With the wedge shaped boundary microphones, do not point them towards any speakers. If they are aiming towards speakers, keep them at a distance from them. In order to confirm that everything is all set, when the meeting starts, have the far end speak a little bit to confirm that there’s no echo issues.

If the conference room has a wireless microphone, make sure to turn it on prior to use and shut it off after the meeting is over to conserve the batteries. Also, familiarize yourself with how to change the batteries and contact the Help Desk if spares are required.

If there are any questions about how boundary microphones work or how to set them up and use them, contact the Help Desk or further information. If there are any issues during a videoconference, call the Help Desk’s emergency extension at 4357 (this spells HELP).

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