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Conferencing Mics and Systems

Oct 27, 2010 12:00 PM, By Mark Johnson

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Conferencing systems in today's marketplace can be many things. One might think of web conferencing or telephone conference systems. And one might also think of discussion systems used in legislature, senate, or congress, where typically a large group of people will meet to discuss matters of local, national, and even global importance. Often, these groups can range from the tens to the hundreds, and even into the thousands, in terms of the number of participants.

How the people communicate with each other, to be heard over the din of the proceedings, is of paramount importance, requiring systems to have good vocal intelligibility and occasionally sophisticated automixing, processing, and signal routing capabilities.

In some cases, it's a purpose-designed and -built conferencing system with a control unit and chairperson and delegate microphone units. In others, it could be a system composed of the ubiquitous gooseneck mic and an automixer (see more on automatic mixers). Some of the systems use their own proprietary mics, while others accept gooseneck microphones of any manufacturer with standard XLR connectors. First we'll review some of the systems currently available, and then we'll take a look at some of the gooseneck microphones on the market.

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Systems and control

The AKG CS 5 conference system comprises the CS 5 BU base unit, which digitally controls the CS 5 VU and CS 5 DU microphone stations. The CS 5 BU is also an interface for external devices, including mixers, wireless microphones, recording devices, and CD players. The system is expandable, allowing for up to 5,000 participant and interpreter units. Basic control software is included. Microphone stations are designed to be shared by two people, and five different microphones options are available.

At the heart of Azden's wireless 6-channel IR conference system is the IRR-106 receiver, which interfaces with the IRC-51 chairperson and IRC-56 participant tabletop microphones. Six AA alkaline batteries or 1HR-3 U NiMH rechargeable batteries power the microphones. Handheld and bodypack transmitters are also available. The receiver features six individual output connectors, plus an additional mixed output. Up to four additional external IR sensors can be attached to the receiver.

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