It goes without saying that sound is essential to any video call. Good audio quality ensures everybody can talk easily, without any awkward crackling or lagging. Bad audio will mean your meetings are not nearly as efficient as they should be as you waste time either repeating yourselves or trying to solve some technical glitch so you can understand one another.
But ensuring quality sound means more than simply making sure your microphone and speakers are switched on. Before you take part in a video meeting it’s important to check your audio setup is working well for your current environment, especially if it’s a location you’re unfamiliar with or you anticipate might have lots of background noise.
Sound: The Lowdown
When it comes to video, sound is half the experience. Bad quality audio means misunderstandings, unnecessary repetitions, and frustration. Of course, you can use your computer’s built in microphone or a good headset for a meeting.
But it’s always sensible before important meetings test your headset out to check the sound quality is good. Also, make sure you know how to select a different microphone in your machine’s settings! It’s simple to do, but people forget to check the settings on the device itself, assuming there is an issue with the app or software they’re using.
A Dedicated Setup
Sound is such an important part of the call experience that if you’re planning to do regular video meetings, it’s a good idea to try and optimize the experience as much as possible. You can create a designated room for video meetings with a permanent setup of hardware for the best performance. Here, you have options:
- Buy a dedicated external microphone to use with your computer equipment. This is especially important if you’re going to have several people sat around the same hardware system. Inbuilt microphones on most laptops and desktops just aren’t designed for this type of usage.
- Buy purpose-built videoconferencing units such as those made Cisco, Polycom, and Huawei. Audio setup will be dependent on the model you choose, but you hardware vendor can advise you on microphones etc.
Lastly, carefully consider what would be the best room for your video meeting room setup. Think about the acoustics of the room. Your physical environment is an important, often overlooked factor. If you place a video system in a room with glass walls for example, however good your audio equipment set up is, you will always struggle to achieve great sound quality.
Some of the Most Common Sound Problems and How to Solve Them
If you’ve conducted a few video conferences of your own, you’ll be aware of the common issues that prevent perfect sound quality. Here’s a rundown of the top four and how to solve them.
Low talkers vs. long tables
We don’t all have the benefit of a booming voice, which means sometimes people can struggle to get heard on a video call. To make sure that nobody has to shout, think carefully about where everybody is positioned round the table, and consider updating your tech while you’re at it.
We don’t all have the benefit of a sound-proof meeting room. In fact, 67% of video call participants say that background noise frequently makes it harder to hear during meetings. And when it comes to important conversations, being misheard can be disastrous. So to limit the risk of background noise, always try to use a dedicated video meeting location where you can guarantee the sound quality will be good. Working from home? Consider investing in a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones to completely block out background chatter.
For video conferencing to work, it needs to be as natural as possible. That’s why you should always avoid a system that is half duplex, meaning you can’t speak and listen at the same time. Instead opt for a full duplex system for a conversation that’s not limited by outdated technology.
When you’re holding a video meeting, the last thing you want is for everyone to be huddled around one laptop screen. To ensure everyone can be seen (and heard) invest in a display with built-in speakers. Then simply place the camera just below the screen for the perfect shot.
Get to grips with the sound well before your call
The beginning of your video call is not the time to test the audio quality. Before any big video meeting, make sure you hook up your microphone and speakers, adjust the audio settings, and position everything in just the right place. The result? Perfect audio for every meeting.