Author Archives: Ted Young

The Growing Legitimacy of Array Microphones

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Acoustic Magic exhibited at InfoComm for the first time this year.

We learned a great deal.

The professional audio world is now taking array microphones seriously and the catalyst for this is the MXA 910 array microphone from Shure, a respected Pro-Audio microphone leader.

Two other companies introduced array microphones, so there are now six or seven companies offering array microphones for conferencing.

The good news is that all these competitors price their microphones much, much higher than the Voice Tracker. And according to a lot of our Resellers, these competitive microphones do not perform any better than our microphone. In some cases, they don’t perform as well.

Part of the reason for this is that they use a different technology. The Shure microphone, the Clear One microphone, and the Phoenix Audio microphone create several listening beams that are fixed (but adjustable) to cover certain parts of the room (where talkers are expected to be).

In contrast, The Voice Tracker creates a scanning listening beam so one beam covers the entire room. A single beam is inherently less complicated, and less expensive. And with our technology you can’t miss talkers that happen to be in between the competitor’s listening beams.

The Shure MX a 910 is $4500 (plus mounting Hardware)

The ClearOne Beamformer Array is ~$2500 (plus it must be connected to a ClearOne DSP)

The Condor from Phoenix Audio is ~$1200

New Products:

The CS- 700 from Yamaha/Revolabs is $1200 (includes speaker and camera, but it has a small array that is only good to 12 feet)

The HDL 300 from a new Company called NUreva is $3000.

So clearly, we have a big cost advantage. Several Resellers told me this is their “secret weapon”.

From one reseller: “I just did a demo up against a competitor that was using a Shure MXA910 array microphone. The customer didn’t notice much of a difference between that and a VT I. I won the deal because on a $78,000 lecture system, I was $1,800.00 less than my competitor, and I went in with 50% mark-up. Nice, huh? Keep up the good work!”

From another Reseller: “I had to work too hard to make the Clear One work”.

Several Resellers came to our booth to tell us how great the Voice Tracker was. That made us feel good.

16 years of experience with array mics makes a difference.

Combining Two Voice Tracker I For Greater Room Coverage

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Note the Voice Tracker I mount on the ceilingTwo Voice Trackers can be combined for greater room coverage.

Outstanding sound quality can be achieved by connecting them through a mixer. I prefer mixing them through a Biamp Tesira digital signal processor. This allows me to adjust gain and frequency response to achieve terrific sound quality.

For example, I installed two Voice Tracker I in a 60 foot room, with one mounted on the ceiling in each end of the room. I invert one Voice Tracker I in the DSP meaning the tip and shield are reversed, so that way I don’t get any cancellation and get excellent, uniform pickup throughout the room. You can hear the talker perfectly anywhere in the room. The mics worked so well that they had to install weather stripping under the edges of their computer flooring tiles because you could hear noise from the tiles when they walked around. Pretty impressive. Take a look at the pics, you can just see the mics up at the ceiling.

Note the Voice Tracker I mount on the ceilingSince the cables runs are long, 89 feet in the 60 foot room, I convert the unbalanced signal from the Voice Tracker Is to balanced.

The microphone is just one small part of an expensive AV system, but it’s so important. I can do a better job with two VT Is than I can with a $4,000 Shure ceiling mic, believe it or not. All of my clients are impressed as heck with our systems’ speech quality. Just have to know audio and be innovative. I love this business, even after 43 years in it…finding your microphones has been a blessing for me, especially after all of my colleagues saying that these are not pro audio microphones. I just say let me demo it, and win every time so far except once, and that time they had me come back and change out their system after another contractor screwed it up..

Martin E. Pilewski
Lead, Systems Design
Harvest AV Solutions
1340 Burlington
North Kansas City, MO 64116

Mic’ing an Entire Middle School Stage with Two Voice Tracker I Array Microphones

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We just did an installation in which we replaced 12 hanging choir microphones with two Voice Tracker I array microphones to cover an entire middle school stage, 50 feet wide by 30 feet deep. The Voice Trackers were much better than the 12 hanging mics for live sound re-enforcement.

Voice Tracker on Stage
The Theater Director is thrilled with the outcome. They just did a big speaking play (no choral singing), and didn’t use any other microphones at all. I was able to hear everything perfectly in the audience.

We placed the 2 Voice Tracker microphones on the sidewalls, mounted vertically and pointed inward towards the stage. See the diagram below and the photographs. The Voice Tracker is the black line near the flag on the sidewall.

We converted the Voice Tracker’s unbalanced output signal to a balanced audio signal with a RD LTX J2 summing transformer to prevent humming.

We used a dedicated compressor limiter on each microphone and adjusted as necessary to provide superior gain before feedback.

See this PDF diagram with set up instructions.

Martin Pilewski
Harvest Productions, Inc.
Kansas City, MO

Using the Voice Tracker™ Array Microphone as an External Microphone to an iPhone

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People use our Voice Tracker™ array microphones to record meetings, or for conferencing, because of its long pickup range (20 to 30 feet) and 360° field of view.

Our Voice Tracker™ array microphones are designed to be connected to PCs or other devices either through a 3.5 mm analog audio connection (through a soundcard) or a USB connection. The Voice Tracker I has only an analog output, but can he be easily converted to USB using a USB adapter like our part 102A. The Voice Tracker™ II has both an analog audio output and a USB audio output.

Their analog outputs are at mic level, with low impedance, and work well with sound cards. The boost in the soundcard is designed to bring the output up to usable levels. High levels of boost can be employed because of the good signal-to-noise ratio in the microphones.

From time to time we have received inquiries about connecting the Voice Tracker™ microphones to an iPhone (or other smart phones). Initially, this couldn’t be done because the iPhone required a very specific output impedance from the external microphone. If the impedance didn’t match what the iPhone was looking for, it would default to the built-in microphone.

Fortunately, impedance matching connectors have become available to eliminate this roadblock.

KVconnections adapter

KV connections adapter

We have tested an “ iPhone 1/8 inch microphone adapter to 3.5 mm four conductor TRRS male” adapter from KV connection (part number code KM-iPhone-mic), and it works just fine. Similar adapters are available from other manufacturers. Rode has told us that their adapters also match the iPhone’s impedance requirement, but we have not tested one.

Note that when the KV connection adapter was connected to the iPhone, we lost the speaker output.

StarTech-splitter

StarTech-splitter

This can be corrected by first connecting a” 3 .5 mm 4 pin to 2 x 3 pin 3.5 mm headset splitter adapter” to the iPhone.  This adapter is available from companies like StarTech. The arm labeled microphone was connected to the Voice Tracker, and the arm labeled headset was connected to our PC speaker to create a long-range speakerphone with the Voice Tracker I as the mic and the PC speaker as the speaker.

Conference Room Systems chooses the Voice Tracker™ II array microphone for their “All on the Wall” package

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Acoustic Magic Inc. is pleased to report that the well regarded AV integrator Conference Room Systems has selected the Voice Tracker II array microphone for several of their conference room and huddle room pre-packaged systems.

“These USB-based systems have been designed meticulously by our engineers and installers using only the best components available on the market” says Hugh Richards, President of CRS. “We have thoroughly tested each system to ensure functionality between components, operating systems, and web conferencing software so you can be confident that our solutions will work for you”.

According to Matthew Davis, CRS project manager, the Voice Tracker II is a key component of the packages because it is able to pick up talkers at long-range at various positions throughout the room. Additionally, it’s built-in AEC enables it to work with a wide range of VoIP systems, including those that do not have a robust AEC. “The 20+ foot pickup range, wide field of view and sound quality of the Voice Tracker II array microphone exceeds that of array microphones that are 3 to 5 times more expensive “. “Additionally, the Voice Tracker has proven to be reliable and easy to use.”

If the VoIP system has a robust AEC, Davis sometimes recommends the Voice Tracker™ I array microphone. The Voice Tracker™ I array microphone does not have a built-in AEC, which is not necessary if the VoIP system’s AEC is effective. For example, “we tested it with Zoom and the combination works well. The Voice Tracker™ I microphone has even greater pickup range (in excess of 30 feet) than the Voice Tracker II.”

The Best Way to Record Audio in a Courtroom

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Using Voice Tracker I array microphones in Court for sound reinforcement as well as proceedings recording.

Getting microphone coverage in a courtroom is a challenging task. Depending on the type of proceeding, coverage may be needed not only at the Judge’s bench, Witness chair, and Attorney tables, but coverage may also be required at the Jury box for Jury polling, or at the Gallery for Voir Dire (Jury selection).

Historically this was accomplished by using large numbers of goose neck, wireless or ugly hanging microphones, combined thru elaborate mixing systems.

The automatically and electronically steered listening beam of the Voice Tracker I array microphone provides an economical and easily maintainable alternative.

In the hands of expert Lead Designer Martin Pilewski from Harvest Productions in North Kansas City, Missouri, Voice Tracker I array microphones not only cover the “recording gaps” in the courtroom layout, but also solve a variety of sound reinforcement needs.

An example would be the setups at the 16th Circuit Court of Jackson County Courthouses in downtown Kansas City and Independence Missouri.

One Voice Tracker I microphone is mounted in front of the witness chair. There is no gooseneck microphone for the witness to play with (and misalign or break). With the addition of a compressor in the output of the Voice Tracker, the witness can’t escape being picked up, or overpower the microphone with loud speech or coughing. The compression also provides unique gain-before-feedback capabilities, while the microphone’s beam steering provides the perfect defense against highly reverberant spaces.

Another Voice Tracker I is mounted on the ceiling near the jury box to capture questions/polling from the Jurors. Two are mounted above the left and right side of the Gallery to provide pick up of potential Jurors during Voir Dire. These three usually can cover the ground in between in case the attorneys move about. The pick up pattern of the microphones is such that anyone speaking up to 35 feet away in the pattern can be heard as if the microphone were placed directly in front of them. This eliminates the need to use wireless mics, which adds complexity to the system and suffers from the fact that sometimes their batteries run out.

Voice Tracker I’s also work well at the Judge’s bench, almost too well, as caution must be taken in the system design to be able to mute the microphone to the PA system during side-bar conversations. This rule also applies to the Attorney table’s, where more often a conventional gooseneck microphone would be used as conferring with a client could be picked up by accident. Pilewski recommends a temporary push-to-mute arrangement as Attorneys may sometimes fail to turn their mics back on after conferring, another annoyance that can easily be avoided.

The multiple Voice Trackers are powered from a single, regulated DC power supply to save real estate that would otherwise be taken up by multiple “wall warts”. Martin then converts their audio outputs to balanced via a simple transformer, and compresses their outputs to provide more controlled gain structure.

The balanced microphone outputs go to a Biamp Tesira, where Martin does just a little EQ to improve sound quality.

The audio is available in several modes for recording, as well as a hearing loop broadcast. Most of the time they are set up for FTR recording, but in Harvest Production Systems, output is available in analog, headphone and USB connections so courtroom personnel can record or transcribe them however they want. The systems are also set up for VoIP and networking.

Touch panel control systems are set up for the Judges and Clerks to provide intuitive, simple control. According to Pilewski “The sound system should be transparent, allowing people to speak and be able to hear that speech as a natural extension of the normal voice. Only the Judge should be able to be overly loud. The sound system should be a help, not a hindrance, so simple control is a must. We see way too many control systems with too small screens requiring the user to descend through several pages to get to what they need to do.”

Because the Voice Trackers are so sensitive, Martin has to be careful to eliminate feedback from the sound reinforcement loudspeakers in the courtroom. He uses a mix minus in the Biamp, and that, combined with the compression, eliminates the need for speaker feedback exterminators. Martin uses small Atlas 10 watt 1/4rack space amplifiers for the mix minus.

The economic advantage of the Voice Tracker array microphones is compelling. Four Voice Trackers cost just a little more than $1000. More importantly, all audio is captured.

Besides installing these systems in several court rooms, Pilewski has utilized Voice Tracker array microphones in board rooms for meeting recording and in medical operating rooms for a high-tech “intercom” so the operating doctors can confer with experts during the operation. Harvest Productions also uses the Voice Tracker™ II array microphone for internal videoconferencing.

“The USB version, the VoiceTracker II, is perfect for groups of people using VoIP based conferencing. When used by a group in a room, the VT II’s on-board acoustic echo-cancelling removes the need for “muting”. Simply have individuals with their own devices that join the meeting wear headphones, and the groups use the VTII, and you’ve solved your acoustic echo cancellation problems.”

How To Properly Position The Voice Tracker Array Microphone In Different Rooms

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One of the questions you may ask yourself is “where do I place the Voice Tracker Array Microphone to optimize performance?” Let us help you with the following tips.

How Best To Use The Voice Tracker Array Microphone In Different Rooms

With these tips learn how to best use the Voice Tracker array microphone in different rooms.

Conference Room

Although the Voice Tracker picks up through an impressive 360° field of view, it is more sensitive from the front. Therefore, when placing the Voice Tracker on a conference table, we recommend situating it towards the front of the conference table pointing towards the far end.

Classroom Lecture Recording

For classroom recording, it is often placed on the podium in the front of the room, facing the rear of the room. This position helps to best pick up both the professor’s and the student’s voices.

Ceilings

hamish-commentOften, users want to place the Voice Tracker on the ceiling to remove clutter from the conference table or to reduce the possibility that the microphone will “walk off”.

If the Voice Tracker is placed on the ceiling, the same positioning rules apply- place it near the front of the room pointing towards the rear. Note that if you place it on the ceiling you will have a longer audio cable to run to the PC or other microphone input device. The Voice Tracker I has an unbalanced analog output through a 3.5 mm Jack, so 3.5 mm audio extension cables work fine.

The Voice Tracker™ II has both USB audio output and analog audio output. Since there are restrictions on the length of USB cables, and USB extension cables often do not work well, we recommend using the analog audio output for long runs. If you are using the AEC feature in the Voice Tracker™ II, you’ll need two 3.5 mm audio extension cables, one for the audio out of the Voice Tracker and one for the reference signal in. You also need to provide power to both the Voice Tracker I and the Voice Tracker™ II, using a wall power supply.

The Voice Tracker I has a built-in ceiling mount. There is a weight in its base to give it heft. The weight can be unscrewed (making the Voice Tracker I very light). Removing the weight reveals 4 screw holes so the Voice Tracker can be attached (upside down) to the ceiling. The microphone array itself can be swiveled to point slightly downward.

The Voice Tracker™ II also has a weight in the base that can be removed. It comes with a ceiling mounting plate that is connected to the screw hole that holds the weight.

Note that the Voice Tracker array microphone has background noise correction algorithms to filter out stationary noise from fans, air conditioner docs etc. If the microphone is placed too close to such a noise source, the algorithm can create some distortion in the audio output (voices sound like they are underwater); so be sure to locate the Voice Tracker away from such noise sources. The long pickup range of the microphone should make such placement possible.

Large Rooms

If the room is large, or reverberant, you may want to combine the output of 2 or more Voice Trackers. This can be done easily combining the analog outputs through a simple 3.5 mm Y or a mixer. If the room is wider than it is long, place both Voice Tracker’s toward the front of the room, pointing towards the rear. If it’s longer than its wide, place one (or more) in the front and one (or more) in the back.

Experience The Difference In Acoustic Magic Voice Tracker Array Microphones

Whichever type of room you are using your array microphone in, you can be confident in knowing that Acoustic Magic Voice Tracker Array Microphones will give you the best clarity, noise reduction and functionality. Learn more about our innovative.

Questions? Call Us Now!

Which Voice Tracker Should I Get?

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The question we probably get most often is which Voice Tracker model should we purchase?

Some people think that because the Voice Tracker™ II is newer and more expensive it is “better”. But actually, which one is better depends on the application.

Voice Tracker Comparison-AcousticMagic.com

Taking A Look At The New Voice Tracker II, Compared To Voice Tracker I

Here’s a closer look at the new Voice Tracker II, compared to the Voice Tracker I:

Voice Tracker I

The Voice Tracker I is targeted at meeting and lecture recording applications. It has more microphone elements in its array and a wider aperture than the Voice Tracker™ II, therefore, it has longer pickup range. It is a little easier to use than the Voice Tracker™ II (it only has one connection into the PC, which is the analog audio cable to the soundcard) so it requires less IT support.

This is important to schools that may have 50 or more Voice Tracker’s in various classrooms but not a large IT support team. It is also less expensive than the Voice Tracker™ II, which is important to schools with tight budgets and a lot of classrooms to “mic”. It is easy to combine several Voice Tracker I models using a simple mixer or 3.5 mm Y’s.

Voice Tracker II

The Voice Tracker™ II is targeted at VoIP conferencing and distance-learning applications. It has a built-in acoustic echo canceler for those situations where there is not an echo canceler available in the system the Voice Tracker is connected to (or the AEC in the system is not robust). But the Voice Tracker™ II’s pickup range is a little less than the Voice Tracker I, 20 feet in front rather than 30 feet.

Additional Factors To Consider When Deciding Which Voice Tracker You Should Get

There are other considerations that may lead you to choose one model versus the other:

  1. The Voice Tracker I can be used for conferencing if it is connected to a system that has a good built-in acoustic echo canceler (AEC). Voice Tracker I’s have been connected to conventional conferencing systems like LifeSize, Polycom, ClearOne, etc. or can be connected to a VoIP systems with good AEC’s like Zoom.
  2. The Voice Tracker™ II is more portable. It is powered by USB. This (combined with its smaller size) improves its portability since it can be powered from a laptop. The Voice Tracker I must be powered from its wall power supply.
  3. The Voice Tracker™ II has both a USB audio output and an analog audio output. Consequently, several Voice Tracker™ II’s can be combined (like the Voice Tracker I) using the analog outputs connected to a simple mixer or a combination of Y’s. But if the acoustic Echo cancellation feature is being used, each Voice Tracker II must receive a reference sample of the signal going to the loudspeaker. This makes the wiring connections a little more complicated.

How To Choose The Right Voice Tracker Array Microphone

Using the above comparison and factors will help you choose the right Voice Tracker array microphone for you or your company’s needs. Both Voice Trackers are multipurpose microphones. Besides meeting recording or conferencing applications they can be used for hands-free/headset free automatic speech recognition with products like Dragon NaturallySpeaking. The Voice Tracker™ II actually is a little better for this application because its smaller pickup range minimizes spurious words from talkers across the room (if there are any).

Compare Voice Tracker I and Voice Tracker II for yourself with our easy ! When you are ready, go here to buy the array microphone that best fits you and your company’s needs.

Lecture Recording Microphone: Key Equipment For Distance Learning

Many people these days are interested in furthering their education as a way to qualify for the next step on their career ladder or to make a complete career change. Distance learning or online learning has become very popular, and schools use a variety of mediums including teleconferencing to provide course information to students.

Leading Technology In Our High Quality Lecture Recording Microphone

With our scanning unidirectional technology, only a single conferencing microphone is needed, as compared to several microphones that are normally needed for a large room. This enables high quality, complete room coverage more easily and efficiently.

By using a high quality lecture recording microphone like the Voice Tracker to make recordings, universities and schools are able to allow their online listeners to feel as though they are right in the classroom and don’t miss a single word of what is being said by the instructor as well as questions asked by students throughout the room. Our technology effectively eliminates background noise and echo.

Why Students Choose Distance Learning

There are a number of reasons why distance learning (audio and video conferencing) appeals to modern learners, including:

  • They do not have to live in close proximity to the school of their choice. Distance learning opens up more educational options for modern learners.
  • Distance learners have the flexibility to take classes at any time of day or night that suits their schedule. They are not limited to times that classes are being offered on campus.
  • Online programs can often be completed on a part-time basis, which allows adult learners to upgrade their education without having to take time away from work or family responsibilities.
  • The course material that online students complete is identical to what students work on in an on-campus program in many cases. They can receive an identical level of education without having to set foot on campus.
  • The diploma, degree or certificate issued once the work has been completed is identical to one obtained by a student who attended classes on campus.

Voice Tracker Array Microphones Effectively Record Lectures For Online Students

Online students need the freedom to log into their course website and access materials at a time that they find convenient. Classroom microphones must be powerful enough to pick up the instructor’s speech clearly so that every word can be conveyed clearly to these distance learners.

Acoustic Magic’s Voice Tracker array microphone provides high-quality sound for classroom recordings. It can be used with both conventional and VoIP conferencing systems.

If the off-site student participates in the class through a loudspeaker in the classroom, acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) becomes an important requirement. Acoustic echo occurs when the voice of the far end students from the loudspeakers in the classroom is picked up by the open microphone in the classroom and sent back to the far end students as an echo.

If the Voice Tracker array microphone is connected to a conventional conferencing system that has its own AEC, the Voice Tracker I can be used. If it is connected to a VoIP conferencing system that does not have a robust AEC, the Voice Tracker II should be used because it has a built-in AEC.

The sound quality is clear and reliable, and students will be able to follow the material being presented with ease.

When the quality of distance learning depends on the microphone used to record lectures, there is no better choice than the Voice Tracker!

Call us now to find out more about the Voice Tracker and other recording solutions to help you communicate more clearly with others who are at a distance!

How Speech Recognition Turns Sound Into Words & How We Give You Greater Freedom

Have you ever used a speech recognition microphone and wondered how what you are dictating gets translated and turned into words on the screen? Find out now and see how our Voice Tracker speech recognition microphone gives you greater freedom!

Speech Recognition Microphone-www.AcousticMagic.com

How A Speech Recognition Microphone Turns Sound Into Words

The process involves several important steps, including:

Converting Sound To Digital Data

When you speak, you are creating vibrations in the air. Once the voice recognition microphone picks up the sound, an analog to digital converter translates the analog wave into digital data, which is the only language the system understands.

In order to do this, the microphone digitizes the sound by taking measurements of the wave frequently. The system then filters the digitized sound to remove unwanted noise.

This process also adjusts the sound to a constant volume. Since people don’t always speak at the same rate of speed, the sound may need to be adjusted to match the speed of the sound stored in the template sound samples which are stored in the system’s memory.

Software Breaks Words Into Patterns

The signal is divided into small segments of consonant sounds, and the software matches them with elements in the language to put together meaningful expressions.

The final step is the most challenging: The software examines the words and compares them to ones in its dictionary to decide what it thinks the user has said and displays the best match on the screen. All of these processes are performed within a few seconds of the words being spoken into a microphone.

Speech Recognition With Greater Freedom

Our Voice Tracker array microphones are certified by and work great with Dragon NaturallySpeaking and other speech recognition software. The Voice Tracker is also certified at a greater range than other microphones. Normally, with most speech recognition software, your mouth has to be very close to the microphone, but with the sensitivity and quality of Voice Tracker™ Array Microphone, you can still get accuracy at a few feet away.

With the benefit of the Voice Tracker array microphone’s hands-free and headset-free capability, you can experience even greater freedom than other speech recognition microphones. This benefit can be a crucial advantage especially for those with disabilities such as quadriplegics.

Acoustic Magic is your source for speech recognition microphones, lecture, meeting and conference recording and more.

Contact Us Now To Learn More About Our Technology
& How We Can Make Keeping Records Easy & Convenient!