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Old March 28th, 2017, 11:36 AM   #1
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Killer (and practical) Teleconference Audio

In my job, I do a lot of meeting by phone and video conference. I'm wondering if there is a *great* solution that leverages equipment that can also be useful for video production.

Because phone and IP audio solutions are, ahem, limited, this doesn't need to be the lowest noise solution. It's more about tone, dynamics, pickup, and functionality. Here are some (crazy, overkill) ideas...

I already own a COS-11D. It's a great sounding mic. It's an omni, but gets mounted a foot or so from the mouth. It moves with you, so it's flexible. It's small, so it travels well. For the times that the video camera is on, it can be hidden, with a couple minutes of prep. And yes, it's a great video production mic as well - that why I own a pair.

The ElectroVoice RE20 is the classic radio announcer mic. (The RE320 sounds great too.) The tone could be great when needing to speak with a voice of authority.The downside is that it's big and fixed. It wouldn't travel well. It's directional, so it would have good off-axis rejection. (This helps reduce feedback when listening to open speakers.) A drawback is that it would be conspicuous on camera. So it's less practical, but would have the best sound when in the office with the camera turned off. It's a great voiceover mic for the audio kit.

Then there are hypers. These are reasonably small and light, can be positioned off camera, and do well indoors. They are directional so they'd be good with off-axis sounds and reducing feedback. My feeling is that a Schoeps beats an AT or other mid-range hyper more with signal to noise than tone, so a mid-range hyper probably does the job.

One can go with a shotgun. Put it in a blimp and take the meeting out on the deck without the risk of wind noise. Go with a Sanken CS3e and it would work indoors as well. This is the least travel-worthy setup, but it would work fine off camera.

Maybe the best compromise is a Countryman ear-mounted mic. I don't like their lack of bass, but phones don't have much bass anyway. The proximity is the big win and it would look natural on a teleconference. And it's small, light and travels well. Unfortunately, it's the least useful for video production, IMO.

As always, different mics suit different situations:
* Desk, no video - The RE20 wins for sound quality.
* Travel, walking around, on camera - the COS-11D and Countryman would both work well. The Countryman is the best when moving around due to constant positioning and it won't suffer clothing noise.
* Outdoors - This is really about wind protection. The shotgun in the blimp wins, but it's so impractical.
* Desk, video - The hyper wins. Aim it. Leave it. It's off camera, directional, and good indoors.

Then again, for pure practicality, an pair of Air Pods would be great with no wires to worry about (so long as they are charged.) And USB headsets do well for computer conferences.

But if you have video production equipment anyway, and you want to deliver a sound that people want to hear, the other options are at least "interesting."

Note that I haven't mentioned preamps and interfaces here. That's the other piece of the puzzle. (Possibly compression, gating, and EQ as well!) And there are desktop, laptop, and mobile phone options to be covered...
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Old March 28th, 2017, 03:43 PM   #2
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Re: Killer (and practical) Teleconference Audio

Yes John, there is more.....somewhere in my pile of "stuff" I claim I am going to put on e-bay someday but never will is an old Telos unit. Some people know them as Genters. With my Telos and an audio mixer you could run all of those mics at once if you wanted to. And the nuance of each mic would actually be heard.

The Telos is a telephone interface that allows proper connection to an audio mixer for full duplex communication and live reinforcement.

I first used it to bring telephone presenters into ballroom meetings. Then in the early webcast days around 2006 we always had it set up as a hot back up in case the internet broadcast signal went down we could still bring in voice. Never had to bail to it but was glad it was there! That is just one of the reasons I get called Mr. Back Up.

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Old March 28th, 2017, 07:10 PM   #3
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Re: Killer (and practical) Teleconference Audio

I forgot to mention the possibility of a large diameter condenser mic. You can fly it just above and in front of the forehead and keep it just out of the field of view. LDC mics are thick and heavy, but it can live on a stand. Nobody has to boom this thing. It's not designed for wind protection, so this thing won't travel or go outside.

These are typically cardioid mics, so they sound good indoors, but only have so much rejection. If the room isn't treated, it could sound quite live. This is an alternative to the RE20, but could be out of the frame. (The RE20 really needs to be in your face.) And it's another good option for voiceovers - assuming a well-treated room.

Steven, that Telos unit would have been just the thing in the recent past. These days, everything I do is either over an app or over a cell phone. The RJ11 connector gets rarer by the day... But I might need to break out the old Mackie mixer to go from one mic to the next. :)
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Old March 29th, 2017, 09:26 AM   #4
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Re: Killer (and practical) Teleconference Audio

I have a Shure XLR to USB microphone adaptor to plug whichever mic I choose to use into my computer.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...to.html?sts=pi
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Old March 29th, 2017, 11:23 AM   #5
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Re: Killer (and practical) Teleconference Audio

That's a sweet, little interface! And I see that it has a headphone output, so it could do double duty - USB into the PC and analog into a mobile phone. I've got a juicedlink preamp for analog, but it doesn't include USB.

I assume that USB powers the phantom voltage. I have a couple of USB batteries, so that would be covered. One issue with the juicedLink is that it eats 9V batteries. This looks like the perfect little interface!
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Old March 31st, 2017, 04:07 PM   #6
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Re: Killer (and practical) Teleconference Audio

I use a large diaphragm studio condensor for this type of stuff if audio quality is a concern. Otherwise a headworn microphone is the next best solution. If it's just an really informal company meeting, my earbuds with the built in mic are just fine.
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Old March 31st, 2017, 04:55 PM   #7
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Re: Killer (and practical) Teleconference Audio

Yep Rode NT1A here, if your a client. Otherwise your lucky if I'm willing to take you off of speaker phone ;-):-);-)

Steve
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Old April 1st, 2017, 12:02 AM   #8
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Re: Killer (and practical) Teleconference Audio

New product from Apogee Digital and Sennheiser...

https://en-us.sennheiser.com/usb-stu...g-mk-4-digital

MK 4 digital STUDIO-SOUND TO GO. Finally.
The MK 4 digital unites the high-resolution sound of a true condenser mic with the simplicity and finesse of digital solutions. The sensitive A/D conversion is provided by highend Apogee technology. Be it in the rehearsal room or in interviews: Unrivalled studio sound is now available anywhere.
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Old April 1st, 2017, 07:46 AM   #9
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Re: Killer (and practical) Teleconference Audio

The digital Sennheiser looks very nice, street price $400. Are there any real reviews on the digital version other than from vendors selling it or talking about it at trade shows?

Will the lack of direct monitoring be a latency problem for voice-over work?

So far I've relied on using traditional mics into an analog mixer into a USB interface. Some experiments into lower cost direct mic-to-USB were unsatisfactory to me due to either lack of direct monitoring or a strangely implemented monitor system that was difficult to set and trust.

I also still have my TelosOne. It was a workhorse in the past but doesn't get much use these days. I replaced it with a JK Audio RemoteMix3 that was so much more practical but didn't have as nice sounding audio quality. Practicality won out since it was phone-line quality audio and the difference was slight.

You can also use a tap between the phone basestation and handset if you only have access to a digital phone system.
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Old April 4th, 2017, 10:34 AM   #10
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Re: Killer (and practical) Teleconference Audio

I've been using the Blue Spark for this sort of thing, and I highly recommend it. I run it into my USB interface and I monitor on my Mac directly. There are latency issues with monitoring on the USB interface. I thought about using a mixer before the interface, but that's another piece of gear to set up with another power chord to run and more cables and it just isn't needed. The mic pre's in these little USB interfaces are pretty good these days, especially for the kind of work the OP needs.
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Old April 6th, 2017, 02:46 PM   #11
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Re: Killer (and practical) Teleconference Audio

I'll also add the Rode NT1 is another good choice.
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Old April 12th, 2017, 10:44 PM   #12
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Re: Killer (and practical) Teleconference Audio

I believe Jon (the OP) started this tread for fun, so to speak, as he said, for some overkill ideas and banter about conferencing techniques.

As it has progressed into adding mixers or not and other processing devices I would like to say we are talking about conferencing improvements here. Not voice over. The worst place you can create latency is in the headphones of your VO talent. It wont work, period. So consider all aspects of signal flow before a $100.00 computer adapter looks good. Who is monitoring? From where, and is there latency? Just saying.....

Kind Regards,

Steve
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