Sennheiser on the evolving microphone market

Jens Werner, Sennheiser's portfolio manager for Business Communication outlines recent advances in microphone technology developments.

Are there any important emerging technologies that will improve the capture and processing of speech in conference environments? 

JW: We at Sennheiser are currently focusing on two technologies to improve meeting systems and speech intelligibility. The first one is license-free wireless technology working in 1.9 GHz Dect and 2.4 GHz Bluetooth band. Having wireless enabled meeting devices allows for great flexibility of the microphone positioning and can improve the voice pickup drastically. No matter if you want to change your position at the meeting table or stand up for a quick presentation part, our meeting devices can follow easily by wireless positioning. Our second and latest innovation is dynamic microphone beamforming technology which allows again for total flexible seating or standing while keeping best microphone directivity and therefore improving the meeting experience.

Where have the biggest recent advances been made? 


JW: Through state-of-the-art beamforming algorithms in our DSPs we can achieve very high microphone directivity throughout a meeting space of up to 60m² per microphone. This not only improves the speech intelligibility of the current speaker but also suppresses unwanted side- and room noises coming from projectors or air-conditioning.

What advancements have been made in easing the process of set up, correct mic placement and configuration? 

JW: Having a flexible beamforming microphone array eases the process of using it in different room applications like table meeting, presentation or group discussion. The mic configuration does not need to be adjusted for the different application while keeping an optimal microphone placement. Our systems come pre-configured for 90% of the target applications they are used in, with intuitive configuration software the remaining fine-tuning can be done during the installation. This keeps maintenance effort for IT departments down to a minimum, especially with our new ceiling microphone that cannot be damaged or misconfigured by the user sitting in front of it.

What maintenance considerations should installers take into account when deploying microphones?    

JW: Our TeamConnect Central Unit can be remotely configured and controlled via an intuitive control software. Different user application presets can be stored into the device for easy access via an iOS app for example.
The times are gone when a two day system training was required to control and configure meeting systems. 

Must a compromise be made between good quality audio and maintaining sleek room aesthetics?

JW: We at Sennheiser believe that great product design and room aesthetics can work in harmony. Our latest wireless System TeamConnect Wireless for example has been awarded with the Red Dot Best-of-the-best Design Award. The product design fits nicely in to todays meeting environment. Another example is our TeamConnect Ceiling Mic that can be hidden nearly invisibly in the ceiling and allows for free room and table design while keeping the necessary speech intelligibility performance.

Sennheiser is featured in a wider article on microphone technology that you can read here.

More Q&As in the series:
Duncan Savage, systems group manager, Shure UK
Sandra Kellermann, conference business development manager EMEA at Audio-Technica
Malcolm Crummey, sales manager UK & Ireland, TOA
Iain McCowan, senior DSP, Biamp Systems
Romano Cunsolo, director of marketing and business development, Xavtel 

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