Updated: Jan 16
Conference spaces play an incredibly critical role in business; they’re where business plans are mapped out, big deals are finalized, and employees collaborate on day-to-day stuff. Modern technology has brought conferencing to the next level, and made it easier then ever!
No matter what equipment your system calls for, you will likely find the solutions you need using major brands like WorkStream, AVPro Edge, Atlona, Sense, Nearus.
But before you get to picking out your products, you need get knowledgeable about what your options are and what your needs are.
LAYOUT & WIRING
Connecting a variety of sources with differing formats is still not uncommon, even in the age of everything being HDMI. While HDMI is certainly the standard, and only offering that one connection is acceptable now. It still isn't a bad idea to consider some legacy support especially if your team's equipment is older. It's also good to consider support for newer tech also, like USB-C.
Also, you will need to give consideration to wiring runs, HDMI and USB connections will likely need to come and go from all the products around the room, such as Cameras, microphones, switchers, amps, wall plates, laptops, computers, media players, etc.
In general the layout of a conference room in regards to where the gear will go is most critical, because there can be limitations on wiring lengths with USB, and pathways limitations if the room is already finished. So be sure to consider this first before you layout any of the furniture, pictures, or plants.
Whether installing a fully integrated system with microphones and separate speakers, or a smaller system with a simple all-in-one USB mic/speaker... audio is the most important part of any conferencing system.
Placement of the microphones is critical and you will need to consider options like whether to use wired mics on the table or ceiling that may be permanent, or if maybe a wireless solution is better for your application.
Speakers are another factor, you have to be able to hear what the other side is saying, but you have to be considerate that the microphones are not picking up this sound and causing feedback or echo. Table mics and a soundbar might be your best bet in some rooms, but in others it may need to be in-ceiling speakers.
When it comes to video cameras for meeting rooms the features and pricing run the gamut, so to only spend what you need to it is critically necessary to know how flexible the camera needs to be. You must know the layout of the seating, how many people will need to be captured in general, and how many may need to have close ups, if applicable.
Adapters are of course a give-in, USB to USB-C, USB-C to HDMI, VGA to HDMI, etc. Consider going with a more advanced wiring solution or system versus needing to buy lots of adapters that get confusing, and lost. More advanced systems will often have multi-format connection points, and often do the conversion for you.
So your gonna need extras that make the system work and look good. Wiring passthroughs, outlet boxes, and such that go in the tables or cabinets. Tables and cabinets of course are important too, look for furniture that is specifically made for meeting rooms, designed specifically for storing equipment and even may be ADA compliant.
For web conferencing, we typically are running things like GoToMeeting off of a computer. So you will need to consider if you will want to allow your users to bring their own devices (BYOD), or if you prefer to have a fixed dedicated computer for that rooms conferencing needs. Or, do you need support for both?
It's not unusual these days for systems to need to be BYOD friendly, and there are plenty of options, even for allowing wireless connection of laptops, tablets, and phones for simple presentations.
Obviously depending on the option you pick, this will change how things are wired and setup.
Spending a little extra on those items that are thoughtfully and specifically designed for the task at hand will often payoff in the end, saving you frustration.
Of course hiring a local professional integrator like Iron Hill AV will also help with that as well. Lets setup a consultation today.