Easily Mountable Conferencing Mics Prove Reliable in New York-based University Classrooms
NEW YORK, MARCH 23, 2021 – When Glenn Polly, founder of VideoSonic Systems, Inc., an audio-visual integration company, was tasked with integrating a high-quality, low-cost microphone solution for use with Zoom Rooms at a prestigious university in New York, he knew MXL Microphones’ AC-404s would ace the assignment. With decades of experience in video and audio conferencing, Polly understands the importance of the proper installation of near-end voice capture devices and finds the MXL mics to be a top-performing solution in the UCC market.
As a leading manufacturer in Zoom Room audio capture, MXL has the legacy of being one of the first Zoom-certified vendors. Starin, one of MXL’s key distributors, was the first to introduce the brand’s mics into the Zoom Rooms ecosystem through Zoom Room bundles, and serves integrators around the world with its Zoom Rooms solutions. With the help of Starin, Polly was supported by experts in the field when installing the MXL AC-404s. “Zoom engineers have dedicated countless hours to writing the original algorithm, enabling mics to behave as beam tracking mics,” says Polly. “Up to 12 MXL AC-404 mics can be installed in a Zoom Room without the need for a DSP processor, which is a nice benefit. The latest version of the Zoom algorithm is even better, so naturally, the mics work even better.”
Near-end audio capture is the most difficult component of a Zoom call and can represent the largest chunk of the project’s budget. “To optimize the performance of the audio capture devices, it’s important that the room itself has acceptable acoustics,” explains Polly. “With classrooms having less seats for students practicing social distancing, we can no longer gain from the absorption qualities of the bodies in the room. We always recommend that the room be acoustically treated if its overly reverberant. With the MXL mics being a cost-effective solution, acoustical treatments can easily be accounted for in the classroom’s budget.”
To meet the requirements of a specific room layout, VideoSonic often designs custom solutions for installation projects. For this Zoom Room application, VideoSonic fabricated mounting brackets to affix the AC-404 mics to the classroom ceilings. “To maximize our pick-up coverage in the classrooms, we mounted the AC-404s on the ceiling, one or two facing the instructor, and either two, three or four mics pointed back at the seated audience, depending on the room size. We designed custom brackets to secure the MXL mics to the ceiling. Even in cases where we have 10-foot-tall ceilings, the AC-404s do an excellent job of capturing pristine audio.”
For this project, there was also a need to bring the far-end audio back into the room through the existing amplified ceiling speaker system connected to the audio output of the room’s projector. “The AC-404 has a convenient 3.5mm jack labeled ‘headphone’ that’s used for monitoring the far-end audio,” adds Polly. “We connected a 3.5mm cable to the first AC-404 in the room and fed the far-end audio through the ceiling speaker system. Additionally, with MXL’s AC-404 conferencing mics, all of the connections are USB-based and the hub can live in the ceiling, which makes for a quick and seamless Zoom Room setup.”
In addition to MXL’s AC-404 mics, its AC-360-Z V2 is another great audio capture solution for Zoom Room applications. When used with Zoom Room’s software, each quadrant of the AC-360-Z V2 is individually processed and optimized using Zoom Room’s DSP and echo cancellation technology. Incorporating MXL’s signature 3-capsule boundary design in each of the microphone’s four quadrants, the AC-360-Z V2 is easily mountable on tables, desktops and ceiling tiles, utilizing its dedicated ceiling mount. Multiple AC-360-Z V2s can be daisy-chained together using included USB-C cables for scalable Zoom Room installations.