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Conference Table Mics?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Conference Table Mics?

I have been ask by a client to get up to 20 board members into an installed A&H SQ mixer for live stream "virtual" board meetings.

They will be arranged in a circle of 4x 8' tables so I envision one mic per table.

I did a quick look, but everything I saw was USB out of the mic, maybe into some USB hub.

I would like to be able to run a 4-way XLR snake to the center of the circle and plug appropriate (but not too pricey) mics into it. The snake would go to XLRs in a wall plate and then to the SQ which is all set to stream along with up to five video cameras. I would not be dealing with the video part or the streaming part.

There would be overhead speakers involved and that is already in place so I would probably set up a mix- to keep feedback at bay. That or gates?

Any thoughts on what mics I should be looking for?

Thanks.

D.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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🎧 15 years
I did this sort of thing a 100 different ways from the '70's into the "tens", in the manner you are suggesting, using production sound gear. Since then live conference room audio (and video) has become an industry on its own, and current corpo folks are really used to it being super easy, non-messy and "good enough" sounding. Your clients will be used to using the sort of table-top + room mic systems that are tailored to the space, very web-enabled, heavily "AI'ed" and very user friendly. Cisco WEBEX etc comes to mind, but near the end of my run as corporate video sound guy I worked on videos about countless competing systems that sounded ok, had very small table-top footprints and worked quite well. I'm sorry to say that a board like an SQ and table-top analog mics running through a snake is not the approach corporate people will expect (or want) in 2022! They may be expecting features like "chairman mute", the ability to have participants who can't get to the actual room to be able to call in from their cars, office, homes, airports etc with picture, as well as being able to fly in media (audio, video, charts, pics) from their phones and laptops. The current conference room products have all this already worked out, and there is a whole crowd of guys in white vans who drive around places like Silicon Valley installing and servicing this stuff.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
Once upon a time, for one-time events, I used Audio-Technica AT854R on a separate table in the center of the tables arranged in a ring. This eliminated the clatter of people tapping their fingers on the table, dropping pens, notebooks, glasses, etc. It is also desirable to use an automix, such as a "MixAssist" from Sound Devices. Shure of a similar configuration may be available today.
For permanent installation, there are many boundary microphones from Audio Technica or Shure.
In any case, you will have to lay the cable, even if the microphones are digital.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #4
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
i do occasionally need to re-create somewhat similar setups; technically speaking, i'm using hypercardioid sdc's, a capable desk with auto mixer, dynamic and spectral processing on all i/o's, mix-minus buses, a bit of broadcast processing and some live sr gear (dsp amps, speakers); i do neither rely on installed speakers nor do i have to worry about cameras or lights though...

...so what i'm doing is essentially to squeeze in a somewhat clever mix matrix between people phoning in and the panel disussing in the main room (and foh, monitor world, control room, cry room, press room, broadcast trucks etc.); i have to make sure that every i/o is as clean as possible, is activated if needed, an appropriate mix gets distributed to a limited/restricted amount of participants and/or is continuously feeding the desired destinations.


___


maybe more suitable for you: ev/bosch has some table mics with dante outputs...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Here for the gear
 
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🎧 10 years
Having done this sort of thing a few times... There is a significant inflection point around whether you need to amplify the mics in the room. If not, you can do PCCs or the like, automix them and get a reasonable sounding broadcast. If yes (and because you mentioned ceiling speakers, I guess that's the case), then you should use gooseneck mics for better gain before feedback, and one mic per 2 people at a minimum. There are several good push-to-talk systems which will give you a mixed output, from Bosch, Shure and others, or since it's just 20 participants, you can use individual mics like MX412 and a console automixer. The specific Shure systems I've used are DDS5900 (wired) and MXCW (wireless, Dante). I'd look for a local rental. Hope that helps!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
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🎧 10 years
It will probably be desirable to emulate or incorporate a process that works like the Dan Dugan auto mixing system for multiple open mics: https://dandugan.com/products/
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #7
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
It will probably be desirable to emulate or incorporate a process that works like the Dan Dugan auto mixing system for multiple open mics: https://dandugan.com/products/
this (or similar products) is what we were referring to when mentioning 'automixers' in our posts: dan dugan has licensed his design to several manufacturers or they (more or less successfully) have built their own (if not copied dan dugan's design).

trouble is that not many of these automixers can deal with up to 20 sources and that ime automixers and mix-minus buses need to get combined in order to prevent feedback...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
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Okay, thanks for the advice. I might seem that I am "out of my element" on this portion of the job; I don't know squat about corporate sound and I know less about how to even put such a thing "on line."

A couple of things.

1) The SQ mixer has an "automix" built in.
2) It is already connected to the 5-camera streaming platform that I know nothing about?
3) Is there any simple path to using what the company already has to make a fair go of "zooming" simple board meeting (this isn't Starbucks we are talking about here) or
4) Should I suggest that the company go looking for qualified installers for either a rental or to purchase (which I think is the gist of what is being said).

All that being said, there is already something in place; a device called an "owl" and some projection screen, but they don't like it.

D.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #9
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot ➡️
Okay, thanks for the advice. I might seem that I am "out of my element" on this portion of the job; I don't know squat about corporate sound and I know less about how to even put such a thing "on line."

A couple of things.

1) The SQ mixer has an "automix" built in.
2) It is already connected to the 5-camera streaming platform that I know nothing about?
3) Is there any simple path to using what the company already has to make a fair go of "zooming" simple board meeting (this isn't Starbucks we are talking about here) or
4) Should I suggest that the company go looking for qualified installers for either a rental or to purchase (which I think is the gist of what is being said).

All that being said, there is already something in place; a device called an "owl" and some projection screen, but they don't like it.

D.
I found that, to an ever greater degree than movie production sound, people really only noticed these systems when they didn't work. Getting into this you will become the Complaint Department for a situation in which you may not have the resources to do what's wanted. As I said, this is a big complex field now, all corpo office-dwellers have many opinions about how the systems should work (since they use them every day), and they don't want to wait for anything. If you can get them to buy off on a list of caveats re: using the SQ etc then fine, but you may find yourself doing a lot of unpaid research and prep for a gig of a sort that might not be what you want to be involved in going forward. If you DO find it interesting, then it can be a very lucrative field if you get yourself up in that business and get the word out. Many former FOH and studio engineers around here have defected to this field full time and are doing very well (esp if you get into the installation end of the business).
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
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🎧 10 years
It depends (as philper says above) whether they want you to problem-solve and assemble a system (components of which are already in place) so it can be run by them in future as set-and-forget. Or do they want you to run the SQ board for their future meetings ?

I’m guessing that once tweaked effectively, the auto mix should function in set/forget mode…or perhaps operated by the camera switching person ? What’s the tech setup in the other meeting room…the one your guys will be conversing with ?

The hardest part could simply be testing and tweaking the settings in a non-high stakes ‘dummy meeting’…with perhaps just one participant in each location. I doubt they’d have the patience to tolerate any alternative scenario !

Time-expensive wheel reinvention is the risk here…though it may be fun, instructive and rewarding for you to steer the process, it’s probably more efficient to bring in an experienced troubleshooter from a local conferencing facilitation company….who do this every day of the week

Last edited by studer58; 3 weeks ago at 01:47 AM..
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
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I will try and bow out of this gracefully but they are of the mind that since the newly installed "fancy" audio and video rigs are in place, why would they need to add equipment or expertise to make the conferencing work?

I will be turning this over to the video guy if he is of any mind to tackle it. There are no "technicians" in the space ever so it is already a bit of "what question will the next phone call be that can't be answered with the phrase RTFM?

D.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #12
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot ➡️
I will try and bow out of this gracefully but they are of the mind that since the newly installed "fancy" audio and video rigs are in place, why would they need to add equipment or expertise to make the conferencing work?

I will be turning this over to the video guy if he is of any mind to tackle it. There are no "technicians" in the space ever so it is already a bit of "what question will the next phone call be that can't be answered with the phrase RTFM?

D.
I'll suggest a prudent half-way measure...let them get an installer engaged to set it up, and make yourself present as/when he does that, and maybe the video guy too. At least then you'll both have an overview of the configuration procedures...if anything goes haywire in the future. At least you'll be a phone call away as a future problem solver...plus it will be interesting to see how it all gets put together !
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #13
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cheu78's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot ➡️
Okay, thanks for the advice. I might seem that I am "out of my element" on this portion of the job; I don't know squat about corporate sound and I know less about how to even put such a thing "on line."

A couple of things.

1) The SQ mixer has an "automix" built in.
2) It is already connected to the 5-camera streaming platform that I know nothing about?
3) Is there any simple path to using what the company already has to make a fair go of "zooming" simple board meeting (this isn't Starbucks we are talking about here) or
4) Should I suggest that the company go looking for qualified installers for either a rental or to purchase (which I think is the gist of what is being said).

All that being said, there is already something in place; a device called an "owl" and some projection screen, but they don't like it.

D.
Of course it always depends what do they want, what the goal is, and what budget they want to invest..

from time to time I use a televic system (now sennheiser wicos), but it's an integrated wireless system which could be integrated in a tesira system or probably any other brand who offers such products, battery operated.. pretty expensive and not what you need, apparently.. works pretty well though (there's also a cat5 wired version, or at least there was one years ago).

In your case I'd probably try with some table mics and the automix of the A&H..
something like these maybe: AKG CGN321 STS

I hope this helps,



Cheu
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #14
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1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheu78 ➡️
In your case I'd probably try with some table mics and the automix
brave man! - i'd hide or run away...

seriously, imo it's mostly pointless to try to re-build or copy an integrated system (that is more or less working) in a short amount of time with 'conventional' gear, only to get a bit better audio, provided everything works out fine - rather, there's a considerable risk it doesn't (or doesn't get valued as such) which then can put you in serious trouble and damage your reputation...
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #15
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cheu78's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
brave man! - i'd hide or run away...

seriously, imo it's mostly pointless to try to re-build or copy an integrated system (that is more or less working) in a short amount of time with 'conventional' gear, only to get a bit better audio, provided everything works out fine - rather, there's a considerable risk it doesn't (or doesn't get valued as such) which then can put you in serious trouble and damage your reputation...
ahahah..

as said, I don't have all the information regarding what the client wants/needs, nor where it will stream and how he get the audio back from the ones online (need an n-1 bus anyway)..

if it is a fixed installation (or something that could become fixed), I don't see the "short amount of time" issue.
So with 4 mics involved it could definitely work..the A&H automix works pretty well too, in my experience. Of course, as with ANY job, needs time to be careful put in place, gain staged and routed properly.

As said I'm quite familiar with a televic system which is deeply integrated in a tesira processor/matrix.. it's a totally different situation (and budget).. but streaming 4 mics is definitely something doable.. at least imho.

IF the whole thing needs to be fully "automated", without any tech present, then it's a different story, will need probably a different setup, it also depends from the room.. as said it also depends on the needs of the client, and the budget they want to invest in their "streaming" room.

ymmv



Cheu
Old 3 weeks ago
  #16
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🎧 10 years
Just thinking aloud to myself...can you 'gate' or 'automix' a camera view also ? In other words, could a particular mic being opened also trigger the camera covering that mic's capture zone to take precedence...auto-switching in response to the dominant mic in the mix ?

Shame on me...doing the camera-switching guy out of his job...by automating everything (but it's already happening on the audio side of things, in this scenario... so why couldn't the cameras follow suit) !
Old 3 weeks ago
  #17
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I've done this and if they really want to utilize the auto mixer, the "talent" needs to be given a good block of instruction about turning their mic on and off and not talking over others.
You can buy any number of cheap electret latching gooseneck table mics for $20-25 a piece. They work fine. The big issue is the people turning on and forgetting to turn off the mic. Most require phantom and can't be multed the way the dynamic mics can. We find that one mic per person is ideal, one on a table is probably going to cause trouble because people talk off mic and it can't be heard.
All the best,
Mark
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mpdonahue ➡️
I've done this and if they really want to utilize the auto mixer, the "talent" needs to be given a good block of instruction about turning their mic on and off and not talking over others.
A good automixer will gate out microphones that aren't being used, open up microphones that are being used, but stop at a certain number of microphones. So if I'm talking, I become the point and my mike is open. You can talk and interrupt me and both of our microphones are open. But a third person will start talking and his mike won't open because two are open already.

It may also be possible to declare one microphone to be priority so that nobody can talk over the person on that mike.

Some have algorithms in which the person who starts speaking first becomes point and the point mike is treated differently and with higher priority than others. When that person stops speaking a timer starts and after a few seconds of silence that microphone loses point.

The Shure automixers are not bad but the Dan Dugan is really the best. The Dugan allows people to speak naturally and not have to worry about what the mixer is going to do.
--scott
Old 2 weeks ago
  #19
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
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Dan Dugan is a frickin' genius. And he was, for a long time, the best Nagra repair-man on earth. My Nagras always came back "like-new".

D.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #20
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #21
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio ➡️
A good automixer will gate out microphones that aren't being used, open up microphones that are being used, but stop at a certain number of microphones.
not quite: modern automatic gain mixers make sure the average gain of all mics remains the same: the idea is that the ambinet level remains constant.

dynamic processing remains with the individual channels (and it's more smart to use expanders rather than gates).

you can put 'weight' say on the moderator's mic so s/he can always 'overpower' participants of a panel discussion. you are correct that the number of active mics per group is limited, certainly on less expensive desks, less so on very expensive desks.

(on my desks, i can define mono or stereo automix buses with 8, 12, 16 or 20 participants and i can configure multiple automix buses)
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #22
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
not quite: modern automatic gain mixers make sure the average gain of all mics remains the same: the idea is that the ambinet level remains constant.
Yes! You need this for recording and streaming otherwise the background pumping becomes very annoying. Not such a big deal for PA although for PA it's not a bad thing.
--scott
Old 2 weeks ago
  #23
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
I have recorded a few high level board meetings, the usual rectangular
table with 10-15 people around it. I place 4 MKH 40's and 4 MKH 50's on table stands in an attractive pattern on the table. Luckily there are usually data/power cable holes on the table top. Cabled them neatly to my 788t. Be prepared for strong speaking voices and microscopic whispery voices. Thankfully my signal path is super clean, MKH's can be gained up near 60db without much hiss coming into play. I just do a Hot Mix with the ISO tracks recorded as well. As long as you are out of their eyeline, no staring at a man revealing where the next billion dollar investment is going.....
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