Part of the Focus on Sound blog series: Any video meeting is only as good as its sound. Natural, clear audio is key for good communication. In this series, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to get the best sound quality during your Webex meetings.
As frequent users of video conferencing, we have experienced all sorts of things that can go wrong in video meetings. But communication really breaks down when someone’s sound quality is bad. Background noise can make it impossible to understand others and reverberant sound leads to fatigue in virtual meetings.
If you keep in mind three simple tips, however, you can leave many audio problems behind and fully embrace the world of hybrid collaboration.
Although sound travels around objects and turns corners, high frequencies are lost along the way. You may have noticed how you can still hear but struggle to understand someone talking from behind a plastic screen. Therefore, when talking on a video call, you should ensure that there are no objects between you and the loudspeaker or microphone. A good rule of thumb is “out of sight, out of sound”.
Be aware of noise sources and keep them away from the microphone. Even though the noise might not seem very loud, it can have a negative impact on sound quality when it is close to your microphone, making it harder for people to understand you. A high-quality video conferencing platform like Webex offers robust background noise removal, but it’s still worth trying to avoid extra noise as much as possible. Remember that noise removal algorithms only remove the noise the microphone picks up and can’t silence the noise source in the room. By reducing the noise in your working environment, you prevent fatigue and help yourself stay focused.
Yes, Webex’s AGC (automatic gain control) looks after your microphone level, and we remove background noise. But if you’re too far from your microphone, there’s a point where your sound quality suffers. When you’re far from the microphone, your voice is quieter relative to the noise reaching the mic. Also, the reverberant sound is louder relative to the direct sound of your voice when you’re further away. These factors both negatively impact your voice intelligibility.
To sound your best in video meetings, stay within the distance the system is designed for. With table microphones, try not to be further than 1.5m/5ft away.
On the loudspeaker side, you need to increase the volume when you are further away from the speaker. Every loudspeaker has distortion, which increases when you play louder. This distortion can cause problems for the AEC (acoustic echo cancellation). The excessive volume may also disturb people around you.
In situations where you’re working on the go or don’t want to disturb, or be disturbed by others, a good headset with an integrated microphone system does the trick. A headset delivers sound directly to your ears and picks up your voice close to your mouth, minimizing the effect of room acoustics and breaking the acoustic feedback loop between the loudspeaker and the microphone. This can help you focus when working remotely or in a noisy environment. But when there are other meeting participants in the same room, it’s best to keep the conversation natural and use your Webex collaboration device’s loudspeakers and microphones.
Remember these three tips for your next video meeting so you can sound your best (and hear your colleagues clearly too). And where background noise is beyond your control, Webex makes sure you still sound great with our advanced noise removal and smart microphone arrays that focus on your voice.
Check out this video to hear for yourself and feel free to get in touch if you have questions or comments. Also check out the first post in our Focus on Sound series for insights on optimizing your room acoustics.
For more information, head over to Project Workplace and check out our Best Practices Guide in the Learn section. You also find great examples of acoustic room treatment in the Workspaces section and an overview of audio features for all our Devices.