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HD Conference Featured Article

May 12, 2008

HD Conference Q&A

By Stefania Viscusi, Assignment Desk Editor

Conferencing serves a number of functions today and is a becoming a required form of communications as it offers a number of advantages over travel and other communications methods of the past.
The HD conference is especially popular for its ability offer clear, high quality communication sessions.
To find out some more about the HD conference, I asked Mark Child, Director of Product Marketing – Telephony, at ClearOne (News - Alert), some questions on the subject and about the company.
Can you tell me a little about ClearOne and your place in the audio conferencing market?
In business for over 25 years, ClearOne products are used by thousands of organizations worldwide from small enterprises to the Fortune 1000, as well as domestic and international governments and educational institutions. We are committed to providing the highest quality hands-free audio for any environment—analog or VoIP—from personal conferencing on PCs and cell phones, to office desktop conferencing, to large professional conferencing venues such as boardrooms, training centers, courtrooms, and auditoriums.
ClearOne dominates the professional conferencing space with over 50 percent market share and is a pioneer in audio conferencing technologies. We have developed a broad portfolio of award-winning products that benefit from our innovative leadership in areas such as distributed acoustic echo cancellation, automatic microphone mixing, signal routing, equalization, automatic level control, compression, and other advanced audio processing functions.
For the second consecutive year, the independent industry analyst firm Frost & Sullivan (News - Alert) has recognized our customer-focused, market-defining product strategy by presenting ClearOne with their 2007 Product Line Strategy Award.
Can you talk briefly about the HDconference technology ClearOne offers?
HDconference is the name for the suite of high-performance technologies we have developed to deliver the best audio conferencing experience possible. HDconference encompasses such things as Full Duplex, Distributed Echo Cancellation, Noise Reduction, First Mic Priority, Adaptive Modeling, and ClearEffect. Taken separately, each technology is best-in-class and a critical component to a quality conferencing system. In combination, these elements create an effective, natural-sounding conference call, making it possible for organizations to be more productive and save time and money in the process.
What are some of the advantages of an HD conference?
Since ClearOne has been doing this for so long, we know what it takes to create a good conference call experience. With HDconference, users can rest assured that all of the necessary technologies are in place to make the best conferencing calls possible.
With Adaptive Modeling, our equipment can continuously monitor the room’s acoustical elements to predict and adapt to environmental changes. With Distributed Echo Cancellation, individual audio streams are analyzed so that echo is identified and eliminated. With Noise Reduction, ambient noise from fans, lights, computers, etc., is identified and eliminated. First Mic Priority intelligently changes the microphone levels depending on who’s doing the talking. And ClearEffect can add high and low tones that would normally be lost in a narrow-band call.
It all boils down to a high-definition conference call with crystal-clear audio that gives participants a comfortable, natural-sounding experience.
How are organizations able to boost productivity with an HD conference?
Successful organizations across all industries know that group communications that occur in a natural, effective audio environment can bring tremendous productivity benefits. When a face-to-face meeting is not necessary or practical, a conference call is an excellent way to share ideas and build relationships, no matter where the participants may be located. The object of a conference call is to create an audio environment that is as close as possible to being in the same room. Difficulties arise when a conference call’s audio quality is substandard.
If the conferencing equipment is not full-duplex, listeners cannot carry on normal conversations since the microphones will not pick up a speaker’s voice if someone else on the call is speaking. This can be very frustrating to participants trying to bring up new points or add to the conversation.
Also, echo cancellation is extremely difficult to master and many conferencing phones don’t do a good job of it. Without effective echo cancellation, the microphones in your room can pick up audio from the far side coming through the speaker and return it back to the far side, creating an echo. The longer participants are on the call, the more listener fatigue they experience and productivity goes down.
HDconference provides the technologies that make a conference call as effective as possible. Participants can carry on natural conversations without echo, without ambient room noise, and with full-spectrum audio that keeps them engaged and productive.
Please explain the ClearEffect technology and what it offers for the HD conference session?

The vast majority of conference calls are conducted using narrow-band phone signals, which eliminate the high and low tones from participants’ voices. This causes listener fatigue due to participants straining to hear what is being said. Our ClearEffect technology creates natural, full-sounding audio by simulating the high and low tones that were eliminated by the narrow-band signal. This makes the call sound much more natural and easier to listen to—kind of like going from a clock radio to a full-room entertainment system.
 How is First Mic Priority used in an HD conference?
When multiple microphones are active simultaneously in a conference phone, voice signals arrive at different microphones at different times due to sound reflection from walls, ceilings or other surfaces. This causes sound distortion which is often described as a “hollow” or “tunnel” sound. With our First Microphone Priority technology, this distortion is minimized by using an intelligent voice detection method to activate only one microphone at a time based on the proximity of the person doing the talking.
Are you seeing increased interest in the business space for HD conferences? What are the specific advantages they can realize from an HD conference?
Audio conferencing has been used with great success by organizations of all sizes and in all industries for many years. However, the demand for high-quality audio conferencing continues to grow at an ever-increasing rate, especially in today’s economy. With fuel costs increasing and travel becoming more and more expensive, the ability to hold an HD conference is becoming a much more attractive alternative. And, with the growing need for companies to be more environmentally conscious, holding an HD conference can go a long way towards reducing a company’s carbon footprint.
For more, check out the HD Conference channel on TMCnet.
Stefania Viscusi is an established writer and avid reader. To see more of her articles, please visit Stefania Viscusi’s columnist page.

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