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A virtual press conference from Sound & Video Contractor

PTT Microphones: Achieving Audio Intelligibility for Effective Corporate Meetings

Fully Digital IR Wireless Conferencing System

For any company operating in the worldwide market collaboration and communication tools are key to effective decision making at all levels, be it during a meeting in a specific location or for larger company wide interactions. Transat A.T., one of the world’s largest integrated international tour operators, understands perfectly that collaborative thinking and thorough discussion are necessities for all decisions and therefore puts a high priority on ensuring that people have all that they need to work closely together; which includes having the right technology. For all, everything starts in the meeting room: the central place of focused collaboration and decision-making.

At Transat A.T. general headquarters in Montreal, major decisions are made every day to coordinate operations in five business segments for the company that famously achieved its growth through vertical integration of the whole leisure travel supply chain. Transat nowadays conducts its activities in some 60 countries with more than 6,500 employees catering to the approximately 2.5 million people who travel every year. As an established, publicly traded, enterprise in a highly competitive industry Transat has its own distinct challenges that are being addressed during daily meetings. These meetings must be run as efficiently as possible so as not to waste anyone’s time. However, Transat recently had to face an issue of poor acoustics in a strategic meeting room, a problem that caused a poor listening environment and made it difficult to understand what was being said. It was essential for all to find a solution to save meetings’ productivity.
Within Transat headquarters the meeting space in question is a simply furnished room, holding frequent meetings for some 20 high-level executives and sometimes involving conference calls with other locations as well. Meeting attendees were complaining they could not understand each other, especially with the air conditioning turned on. Fatigued from trying to listen through poor acoustics, they started looking for a sound reinforcement solution to aid communication among participants. “We had a limited budget with a well-defined objective and wanted to avoid remodeling our whole conference room?, says Patrice Tanguay, Telephony Expert and Team Leader for Transat A.T. “Finding a sound reinforcement solution was crucial in making meetings more effective and allowing people to exchange with ease, clarity and impact?.
Indeed, good audio acoustics is a must-have in a corporate boardroom setting. Even through difficult economic times, companies cannot delay investing in high-quality audio technologies because poor audio is ultimately a source of higher costs in the form of extended meetings and potential misunderstandings. To allow effective communication every participant must be heard clearly over acoustic ambience especially when the individuals are located at a great distance from one another. This is where push-to-talk microphones usually come into the game. More than just making speech louder, the goal of a push-to-talk system is to extend the speaker’s voice to every participant in the room in a managed method so that unwanted noise is removed from the sound reinforcement system.
Finding the right solution for Transat A.T. was done following a thorough analysis of their various needs. On top of speech reinforcement, the company was looking for a system that would be easy to remove and transport for some off-site meetings. The solution therefore had to be wireless. While radio frequency (RF) wireless microphones were considered initially, the technology was quickly rejected because of the multiple drawbacks from using RF microphones in modern cities. Their biggest problem is that they usually operate in 2.4 GHz, the same frequency range as wireless networks, which can cause interferences in the transmission and the audio signal to become filled with static or noise. Transat therefore decided to go with an infrared (IR) wireless conferencing solution. Offering a perfect signal quality as well as a unique guarantee of meetings’ confidentiality, because the IR signal is unable to pass through walls or opaque surfaces; IR technology is the new solution of choice for wireless communications.
After considering various manufacturers, Transat chose to go with the TAIDEN conferencing solution the only digital infrared wireless conferencing system on the market: the HCS-5300 series . The TAIDEN system offered the best quality at the best value for the technology features and reliability needed for Transat. A chairman unit and eleven dual-ID HCS-5302D delegate push-to-talk microphones with table-top stylish and ergonomically designed interface were included in the design prepared by Media Vision USA, Taiden distributor in the United States and Canada. The Media Vision USA team in partnership with their Authorized Reseller, Global Audio Visual, selected all components needed both for the installation in the meeting space and off-site. The HCS-5300MC main unit, with digital infrared audio processing and transmitting technologies, ensures perfect sound quality. Within the wide choice of transceivers’ type, two wide-angle ceiling-mounted were selected for the meeting room as well as one tripod type transceiver that is an ingenious portable solution to transmit the signal during off-site events.
The installation at Transat A.T. was carried out by Global Audio Visuel, a well-recognized AV installation group in the region of Montreal. “After we had mounted the transceivers in the ceiling, the installation process went very quickly and smoothly? says Mike Moussa, the President of Global Audio Visuel “the Taiden wireless system allows for a fast setup and removal, it is perfect for quick meetings with limited time for AV setup?. Implementing teleconferencing is also made easy with the new technology in place: the Taiden Main Unit has all needed outputs and inputs to connect directly to a telephone hybrid. In this way, the far-end will arrive directly to the built-in speakers. The only operations the technical personnel will need to handle are charging the microphones’ batteries and transporting the equipment in the special carrying case when off-site meetings are taking place. Overall, the installation was configured for minimal intervention and aesthetically pleasing to the client.
The digital IR wireless conferencing solution has been in use since January 2010 at Transat’s Montreal headquarters. Now achieving excellent speech intelligibility, participants claim their meetings are more productive and collaborative. The group also had the opportunity to test the system off-site and the transportation and set-up process went smoothly. Overall, investing in high-quality audio technology was a key decision for Transat A.T., and the pay-off was recognizable from their very first meeting because the effective presentation of ideas ultimately leads to better decisions.

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May 2010
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