There is a multitude of ways to meet and collaborate, but they all depend on a fundamental way we communicate: the voice. Even the most video-intensive, annotated-image-sharing session usually begins with audio, according to Wainhouse Research’s “Voice is the Key to Collaboration.”

Participants start speaking “and then add video and web sharing as needed.” And they’re doing it more and more often, with 41 percent of surveyed IT decision makers, conference moderators and participants reporting that they participate in an audio conference multiple times per week, and 27 percent stating that they are in daily conference calls.

A good collaboration session begins and ends with quality audio, and to bring that elusive element to every meeting requires consideration of many environmental, user-related, and technological factors:

1) Sound is vital to creating the right image.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the visual aspects of collaboration spaces with projectors and displays getting the lion’s share of attention. However, just as you would choose a proper display for your space to maximize the video potential, the choice of microphones needs to be considered just as carefully. There are many form factors and coverage patterns to be considered and careful attention to these details can provide sharp and clean audio to go with your high definition video.

—Mark Donovan, sales engineering manager, Professional Markets, Audio-Technica

2) Take a minimalist approach

Consider the collaboration space and make sure everything serves a purpose. Improving the audio experience is more than just adding more microphones, even if there is room. Mic selection should provide the best audio coverage possible capturing the natural conversation of the participants within the space so the far end does not miss anything. Get a mic that provides 360-degree beam-forming coverage, automatic tracking and mixing of multiple talkers around the collaboration space, and capabilities like AEC and noise cancellation. This will provide the best audio so nothing is missed.

—Rob Houston, product manager, UC Products, Biamp Systems


3) Use wall space.

Unlike conference and boardrooms, collaboration spaces require thoughtful consideration of the available real estate. Working with smaller room dimensions doesn’t mean scaling technology down to fit these rooms. With real estate at a premium, think about technology that won’t clutter the table area, which should be prioritized for the user’s work space, allowing them to write or work on their laptop or mobile device. Instead, use solutions that can be placed elsewhere in the room, such on the wall. With wall-mounted solutions, technology and cables are out of the way, eliminating users from accidentally damaging or covering up speaker or microphone components that can contribute to a poor audio experience at the near end and far end.

—Holger Stoltze, senior product manager, Revolabs