The rumbling of air vents. The clink of a coffee mug colliding against a table. The sound of distant laughter. These are the things that you’d expect to hear in a cafeteria, not in a conference room. And yet, due to poor microphone placement, these are the sounds that remote workers hear every day during their videoconferencing sessions.
These sounds are also one of the main reasons why meetings run over schedule. When the most common sentence uttered during a meeting is, “Sorry, the air conditioner just kicked in again…can you repeat that?”, it’s unlikely that every item on the agenda is going to be adequately addressed.
Unfortunately, the solution to this problem isn’t as simple as “get a better microphone.” Conference room microphones come in many different styles, and which style is best suited for your room isn’t always clear-cut.
Here are the 5 types of conference room microphones currently available and a brief overview of their pros and cons.
1. Gooseneck Conference Room Microphone
For the best, cleanest sound, the gooseneck microphone can’t be beat. By installing one of these in front of every seat at your conference room table, your days of constantly repeating yourself for the benefit of your remote workers will come to a swift, merciful end.
But gooseneck microphones come with one major downside: They are absolutely hideous to look at. Also, they take up a lot of space. So if you’re an architect and need a large, flat surface to display blueprints, having a large collection of sharp, pointy gooseneck microphones sticking out of your conference room table could be less than ideal.
2. Boundary Button Conference Room Microphone
The boundary button microphone is the gooseneck microphone’s better-looking sibling. The mic is installed directly into the conference room table, so only the top portion is showing. Since it doesn’t jut out of the table and point directly at the speaker’s mouth, the sound isn’t going to be as clear as the gooseneck. But on the plus side, it’s bearable to look at, and you can lay documents over it without damaging them beyond all recognition. (Although the paper may get creased somewhat since the dome of the mic is rarely 100% flush with the surface of the table).
3. Dangling Ceiling Conference Room Microphone
If you absolutely need a perfectly flat conference room table, then installing mics that protrude out of it is going to be counter-productive. This is where your ceiling enters the picture. By installing a dangling ceiling microphone, you can get solid audio while leaving your table free of clutter.
But, like the gooseneck, the dangling ceiling mic is not the most aesthetically pleasing thing to look at. Which brings us to…
4. Mounted Ceiling Conference Room Microphone
Just as the boundary button mic is a less obtrusive version of the gooseneck, the mounted ceiling mic is a less obtrusive version of the dangling ceiling mic. And just as the sound quality of the boundary button mic is inferior to that of the gooseneck, so too is the sound quality of the mounted ceiling mic inferior to that of its dangling counterpart.
So if you require a perfectly smooth table and a somewhat smooth-ish ceiling, the mounted ceiling mic may prove to be a solid investment.
5. Wireless Conference Room Microphone
The final (and in some ways best) option is to go wireless. If you dislike the obtrusiveness of the gooseneck/dangling ceiling mics and aren’t satisfied with the substandard audio of the boundary button/mounted ceiling mics, then going wireless is basically the only way to go. It may take your end users a little while to figure out how to work the transmitter and passing the mic around from person to person may not be the most efficient way to conduct a meeting, but if you’re determined to get amazing audio without compromising the aesthetic look of the room, good like finding an alternative.