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White Paper: Selecting the right conference phone for different room environments

Today, voice conferencing is as ubiquitous as the traditional phone conversation. You’ve probably used a conference phone at work really recently maybe even today or yesterday. In fact, voice conferencing is vital for today’s businesses. Contemporary, twenty-first century businesses rely on conference call in boardrooms, meeting rooms, and even from our desktops!

This white paper by Polycom details how to select the right conference phone for different room environments. Intelligibility is the most critical element in voice conferencing for business. In order to understand speech we have to hear it clearly. It is therefore vital, that the “what we hear” stage be as clear and as accurate as possible.

There are five aspects that are extremely important for speech to be understood clearly. These form the acronym BRAIN and are:

1) Bandwidth
2) Reverberation
3) Amplitude
4) Interactivity
5) Noise

Most efficient voice conferencing system tunes and balances these aspects automatically to provide the best possible hearing experience for both parties on the call.

The different types of voice conferencing systems

While voice conferencing today, employs the latest technology, there are different types of conferencing systems. These are:

1) Speaker phone: The traditional speakerphone is often incorporated into a desktop phone. It usually has only one microphone and no echo cancellation capability. This is designed for just one individual sitting in front of a phone. You can use a speakerphone in group discussions, but the sound will not be of the highest quality.

2) Conference phone: A conference phone is built to operate in an open-air environment and is usually a single unit sometimes with extension microphones. A conference phone supports communication for the whole room and all the people in it. High-quality conference phones incorporate a variety of digital signal processing and echo cancellation techniques to accurately reproduce the voices of the participants, regardless of room noise, echo, overhead fans and so on.

3) Installed audio conferencing system: An installed audio conferencing system partitions the pieces of a traditional self-contained unit into separate elements. These can then be placed where needed to maximise the conferencing experience. Each of these components is controlled by a very sophisticated system that adjusts the microphone gain levels, speaker outputs and other variables. This maximises the quality of the audio throughout the room.

Voice conferencing systems for different rooms

1) The Small office, Home office (SOHO), or Small conference room: This is a relatively small room or office that seats up to 4 participants. A conference phone with five to seven feet of microphone coverage and one that incorporates new gen technologies will satisfy user expectations in this environment.

2) The standard conference room: This is a more conventional conference room or a large office that seats up to 12 participants. Due to the larger size there will be additional acoustic challenges, such as air vents, more room echo, and noise.

The smaller rooms in this range should be equipped with a conference phone that has 10 to 12 feet of microphone coverage. Medium and larger conference rooms will require a unit that includes the ability to attach expansion microphones to fully cover the area.For a room size of 20 x 30 feeet, we may need a more powerful conference phone.

3) The boardroom: Acoustics in a very large conference room, one around 25 x 45 feet, can suffer due to large open spaces, hard surfaces and more. This room is too big and too distributed for a tabletop system. What you need it an installed audio system because it can accommodate as many microphones as are required to give each talker the clarity and performance that they and their listeners need.

4) The offsite: With these “L” or “U” shaped designs the challenge is to achieve good sound pickup for everyone at the table, while also providing enough volume for everyone to hear the conversation.

For these rooms you can use the most advanced conference phones, to deliver a great conferencing experience. Most of these conference phones have a 20-foot microphone pickup range. If closer microphone placement is needed, adding optional expansion microphones can provide a total of 5 independent microphones and better performance.

The seeming simplicity of a conference phone often does not display the complexities inherent in creating a great conferencing experience. The world of voice conferencing has evolved significantly during the past few years and there are several choices to choose from. So, do take both your needs and the kinds of phones available to set up a great conferencing experience both at home and at work. Here’s to happy voice conferencing!

For more information on how to set up seamless voice conferencing for your home or business, contact Actis at 022-30808080 or at

(Content and images courtesy: