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Polycom Vortex EF2280

Michael O'Donnell reviews the Polycom Vortex EF2280

Peer Reviewer: Michael O'Donnell, AV systems engineer, World Audio Visual Enterprise (WAVE), Mountainside, NJ. WAVE is an integrated AV and electronic systems company specializing in engineering, installing, and servicing a wide variety of AV systems and solutions.

My Pick:

Polycom Vortex EF2280 acoustic echo/noise canceller with automatic microphone/matrix mixer, $4,615 MSRP.

What I Like About It:

The Polycom Vortex EF2280 fits the bill for several different types of applications. There's a lot of flexibility inherent in the box. It includes eight inputs that can be either mic or line level, and four inputs that are line level only.

The unit's sound quality is very high, and its user interface for programming is very intuitive. Multiple EF2280 systems can also be bussed together, and each unit includes a built-in bussing system that enables you to route signals in a lot of different ways or to different outputs on other systems.

Polycom also recently added a neat feature — the InstantDesigner, which acts as a basic system builder. Basically, it asks you for various pieces of information, such as how many inputs and outputs you have, and then builds the matrix for you.

I Would Change:

The EF2280 currently communicates via RS232, so it would be nice if it also had Ethernet capability. Most of the time my racks are in an equipment closet while the room I'm working in is across the building, so it can be a time consuming process to work with the unit if the rack isn't in the same room.

I'd also like to see a more modular frame, where you could reconfigure the box's inputs and outputs. With the EF2280, you're bound by 12 inputs and 12 outputs. There are certain projects where 16 inputs and eight outputs would be better.

The system also doesn't have CobraNet. In the majority of my projects it isn't a necessity, but in some performance and PA-type installations, CobraNet is nice because many speakers have CobraNet inputs and communicate over Cat5 cable.

Where I Used It:

I installed the Polycom Vortex EF2280 in a large law office in New York City. Three combinable rooms share the unit.

My Results:

In the law firm project, the challenge was that I had three spaces — a boardroom, a presentation room, and a mock courtroom — that could be configured independently as three separate rooms, as two rooms when the presentation and mock courtrooms are combined, or as one large room. There was a lot of audio routing that needed to take place in order for this to work. Because there's such a large number of presets available within the EF2280 system, I was able to easily program presets for all of the possible configurations of the space. This way, if the room configuration changes, it's a simple process to select the appropriate settings.

This project also called for each of these three rooms to share a single videoconferencing unit. For example, if it needed to be routed to the boardroom, we needed a specific preset that would route audio into the boardroom. If it needed to go to the mock trial or presentation rooms, it needed to be routed to those areas. Once the presets were programmed, the client didn't have any problems using the system.

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