In this edition of “Tech Talks,” the HARMAN Insights series that features industry experts discussing common technology problems and how to solve them, we talk with William Braaf, Product Manager of HARMAN Professional Digital Signal Processing (DSP) and Amplifier solutions. We talked to Braaf about challenges with implementing audio processing solutions in the enterprise space such as conference rooms, as well as recent advancements that reduce installation time and remove complexity for audio solutions (related article: Types of Audio Processing: A Primer). With new solutions enhancements, general AV professionals and even IT professionals can successfully tackle what has typically been a space dominated by sophisticated programming and algorithms.
Q: As an AV dealer or a potential customer, what should I look for when exploring DSP audio solutions from vendors?
A: If you’re not an experienced audio engineer, deciding how to equip a meeting space with the proper gear can be a little overwhelming, especially when you’re talking about critical applications like conference rooms where business decisions are made every day. It’s usually a show-stopper if the audio fails. In my experience, these are the key components to examine:
- Room Size and Type – Executive boardrooms typically demand a more tailored, custom experience when it comes to audio. In this case, choosing a DSP with an open-architecture platform is the correct answer because it allows you to design a solution to fit your exact requirements. We have a full line of solutions from BSS for these types of applications. However, if it’s a pretty standard conference room or you have a building with a bunch of rooms that are the same size and setup, then I would advise looking into template-based DSP configurations. There are many benefits with this option.
- Budget – After you narrow your room type, then it’s time to look at your budget. BSS is synonymous with quality, and while there are other options on the market, you will want to be careful that the money you’re spending is worth the investment. One of my recommendations is to go with a trusted name in audio.
- Future Scalability – Do you expect to “set it and forget it” or is it an area that will be changing regularly, such as a larger space with a move-able room divider? The beauty with a product like the BSS DCP-555 Digital Conferencing Processor, is that you can save DSP templates and easily switch back-and-forth between room types. You don’t need to be an audio engineer to switch back and forth. In fact, this is something that an IT department can easily set up and maintain.
- Solutions Ecosystem – For a conference room solution, you often need to look at lighting, microphones, control options for meeting participants, displays, soundbars, and more. Be sure to research vendors that can support all of these needs rather than only focus on DSP.
- Support & Warranty – Lastly, examine vendor warranty and support options. In the event you do need the help, you’ll be glad to have the support.
Q: You mentioned template-based DSP configuration. Does the word “template” have a negative connotation in the DSP solutions world?
A: It depends on who you ask. DSP purists might argue that template-based DSP doesn’t offer the same flexibility that custom programming can offer, which is hard to deny. But for the majority of installations that are simple meeting rooms, there’s no need for programming. “That’s the way we’ve always done it” is not a good answer. In some cases, programming is more expensive, takes more time to implement, and introduces unnecessary complexity.
If you asked my thoughts on template-based configuration, I would absolutely recommend the BSS DCP-555, it’s just a great choice for highly repeatable spaces such as small meetings rooms, split rooms, small rooms using VoIP, or others. What I just listed are templates that are available for download on the BSS DCP-555 product page, which make getting started that much easier. And if you asked me, “Are templates a negative thing in DSP?” I would say “No. It’s more of a question about the job you’re supporting.” We have a team of professionals at HARMAN that can look at your application and advise you on the right solution. If there’s even the slightest question, I would urge you to contact us.
Q: What about ancillary products or solutions that can help?
A: A great product for supporting this type of application would be the AKG CBL Series Professional Boundary Layer Microphones, available in dual and triple-element mic patterns. These are beautifully designed, cost-effective table microphones that hone in on some of the same product themes that our BSS DSP-555 delivers: easy to install, reliable, and perfect for the conference room. These AKG mics were actually designed with the BSS DCP-555 in mind, which makes an ideal pairing for an easy-to-install audio solution that supports small-to medium-sized meeting spaces. They do a great job of capturing meeting space sound in an easy to install and configure package.
Should you have questions, comments or want to share your thoughts on template-based configuration, we’d love to hear them. Just let us know below in the ‘COMMENTS’ section.