5 best ceiling microphones

There are plenty of microphones that fall under different categories, and educators need to take into consideration a few factors to ensure classroom-quality lectures to stay-at-home students. We break it down for you
The Stem ceiling microphone
The Stem ceiling microphone
Shure's Table Array mic
Shure's Table Array mic

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The importance of selecting the right audio visual components is critical, whether it be for a boardroom or more suitably a classroom.

With a focus on distance learning, choosing the right equipment that works for your classroom, students and learning environment is critical. We tend to focus on good video output, but what about hi-quality audio? Here are three types of microphone systems and five microphones that you could consider.

Table array microphone
There are many different microphone systems from uni- and omni-direction to those that are mounted on the ceiling or table. For instance, with Shure’s Table Array microphone system, speech is captured accurately and reproduced intelligibly in a boardroom or huddle room environment. The microphone system features ‘Steerable Coverage’ and a low profile design, which removes unnecessary clutter, giving you even more clarity.

Microphones are built for different purposes, and some have unique speech capturing capabilities. Look for these microphones when the impetus is on delivering crisp and clear audio to the recipients. A good example of this is seen in the form of Sennheiser’s SpeechLine Wired series of microphones. Every microphone in this series comes with RF shielding to prevent intermodulation effects with mobile devices.

Most modern microphones can prevent the unpleasant radio frequency disturbances. However, not all system prevent RF shielding from mobile devices. It is hence important to ensure that the manufacturer can guarantee against it.

Pro
Best option for picking up speech and boosting it depending on the microphone you chose to go with.

Con
Tends to pick up unwanted audio from time to time, and since it is usually placed on a tabletop, picks up finger taps, rustling of laptops or papers.

Ceiling array microphones
The ceiling mounted / located microphones are purely an aesthetic choice, in a way a complete different take as compared to the table mounted ones. Ceiling microphones are best integrated in greenfield projects (or complete renovations) which ensures the unit is more or less integrated well with the other design elements of the room.

Most importantly, the ceiling array microphone ensures a no-wire look which can aid in focusing on other important teaching / video conferencing aids.

The Polycom HDX ceiling microphone promises clear, crisp audio conferencing through its product. It is able to offer a 360-degree coverage of consistent audio-pick up through a technology it calls ‘stereo surround’. It also suits large spaces such as classrooms or big conference rooms, as it promises coverage of up to 2,800 square feet.

Looking at the higher end of the spectrum, the Stem Audio Ceiling conference room beamforming microphone array costs upwards of $2,500. However, at that price point you are able to achieve noise and echo cancellation, and adjust voice levels automatically among other superior features.

Pro
Benefits from the aesthetic and clutter-free setup thanks to most of the wires being hidden.

Con
Similar to the table array units, the ceiling microphones can struggle to siphon the right source of audio in a full room.

Gooseneck microphones
Most commonly associated with houses of parliament, the gooseneck microphone is probably the most well-known and can be easily integrated in a laptop setup thanks to the possibility of a USB connection. Not much has changed externally for gooseneck microphones, which gets its name because it so closely resembles, well, a goose’s neck. It remains the best form of transferring high quality audio. The obvious drawback is that the unit is restricted to one speaker thanks to a unidirectional microphone unit, however, it is almost certain that the microphone will not pick up unnecessary noise.

Shure has perfected the art of making the gooseneck microphones. Its MCX series of wired microphones feature a standard cardioid polar pattern provides accurate voice capture with minimal pickup of room noise. For additional control in difficult acoustic conditions, MX-series cartridges with supercardioid and mini-shotgun patterns are also available.

Pro
Unmatched voice clarity and guaranteed to get your message across, even more versatile given many units now feature a USB connector that can be used with a laptop.

Con
Not ideal if you have more than one speaker that needs to give instructions. Not suited for classrooms where multiple teachers / teacher’s assistants need to be involved in the lesson.

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