Using the right microphone is essential when joining an online meeting for two main reasons: your voice will be heard clearly and the conference interpreters can translate your speech with ease. You may be hearing your colleague but still the sound quality may not be high enough for simultaneous interpreting.
Interpreters need higher sound quality as compared to a passive listener. Because not only they must actively listen and never miss a word or even a nuance, but also they keep talking in another language at the same time. This task requires first and foremost the highest possible sound quality.
Microphones, headsets and sound systems used in hotels and conference centers are designed specifically for meetings. They have decades of know-how behind them. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, online meetings and hybrid meetings have suddenly become a new normal. At the beginning, we were caught off-guard and had to use whatever we could find. Now is the time to think better and choose the better.
The tech for home use just does not match the professional equipment, that’s right. However, there are still some good and easy things you can do when it comes to sound quality. At the very bottom of this article you may find several links to external websites where you can find lists of recommended devices by professional organizations or knowledgeable editors.
- Check if your microphone / headset is designed for conference calls. Mobile phone accessories are designed for phone calls. Many headphones are optimized for music. They will not suffice for a serious online meeting where multiple people engage in discussions.
- Test before buying. If there is an electronic store where you can test headsets, take your time and experiment. Ask your friends and colleagues and choose a better option to suit your needs. You will feel less tired when using a conference headsets and other people will commend you because of your premium sound quality.
- Check for frequency response. This bit may sound technical but both the microphone and the speaker must deliver a frequency response between 20 to 20.000 Hertz 125 to 15000 Hertz is still good. It is not easy to find. Many wireless headphones produce 20.000 for music but their microphone is only limited up to 7000. That means you will great when listening to your favorite artists, but interpreters will have a hard time in understanding your speech.
- Check for impedance value. 40 ohms is great. 15-20 ohm is good enough.
- Choose a light-weight headset. Above mentioned frequency response and impedance values are available in gaming equipment but they are usually heavier. Go for lighter models which still cover your ears and feel effortless to wear for a few hours.
- Test how you sound and how well you can hear before starting an online meeting. Online meeting platforms enable self testing. Some of them ask you to test your audio before joining the meeting. Many platforms also allow testing during the meeting. Familiarize yourself with platform settings and run a self check. Are you satisfied with what you hear?
- Avoid echo, background noise, public places and open offices. The place you join a meeting is equally important as the equipment you chose to use. Avoid public venues or open offices. Create your silent corner at home. Make sure that your remote setting has no distraction.
- Be extra cautious when attending a hybrid meeting remotely. If you are joining a physical meeting remotely, your audio will probably be the weakest as compared to those in the room. Simply because professional sound equipment can be installed in meeting rooms. Interpreters may attempt compensate your weak audio by turning the volume on their headsets, but this is very risky for their health. Any sudden bad noise can damage their ears.
- Make sure to have very good internet connection. Remember that your voice and video is communicated via the internet. Even the best microphones will not help, if your internet connection is poor or unstable. Avoid public wifi networks. Stay close to the modem for Wi-Fi or even better, use a cable internet connection.
- Use a good computer. Avoid connecting via mobile phone or tablet. That’s the worst choice. Mobile devices do not have enough processing power to transmit high definition audio. Always use a very good computer to join online / hybrid meetings.
Curious to learn more? Do you have further inquiries? Please feel free to contact.
AIIC Technical and Health Committee Recommendations