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Sound Amplification Basics

Sound amplification needs to not only make sounds louder but more intelligible. A loud overhead sound system that no one can understand has no value. The effect of quality sound amplification for presentations and trainings is significant.  Studies have shown that sound amplification in small- to medium size rooms can increase people’s retention by as much as 30%.
For sound amplification to give everyone in the presentation or training room a full sound experience, it must deliver sound that is:
 
• Clean—free from noise and artifacts
• Intelligible—clearly recognizable and comprehensible
• Natural—full range of frequencies are properly reproduced
• Balanced—different audio sources produce the same level
• Evenly dispersed—loudspeaker coverage is such that everyone can hear
When you consider the cost of attendee time, particularly higher salaried employees, any downtime due to issues with the room is wasting company money. A recent study of IT managers who support presenters in company presentation rooms found that on average, each problem wastes up to 31.5 minutes of the meeting time—from the initial attempts by meeting participants to resolve the problem to the final resolution. Multiplied by the average number of meetings and the wasted time added up to 21.2 hours per attendee per year.1

Exploring Sound Amplification Options
For most small organizations, choosing a solution is a balance between the sound quality they are willing to tolerate and their budget. Here are three possibilities:
 
• Attaching external speakers to a laptop, for example, will amplify music and video audio that is played from a laptop as well as from Skype remote callers. But it won’t amplify the presenter’s voice, improve intelligibility, accommodate speakerphones, or make it easy to use.
• Purchasing a microphone, amplifier, and loudspeakers will make it easier to hear the presenter—particularly if the loudspeakers are properly placed in the room. But it won’t accommodate additional audio sources or remote callers.
• Installing a feature-rich solution that provides microphones, loudspeakers, digital-signal processing, numerous input and outputs for audio devices, and a variety of control options will deliver excellent sound quality. However, it will probably cost upwards of $4,500.
In reality, an installed system like this has far more horsepower than most organizations need for their multi-purpose rooms. But if you could strip an installed system down to only the most necessary components, you would have a complete sound system that includes:
 
• Wireless microphone for the presenter
• Ceiling speakers
• Device with a VoIP port, audio inputs, control interface, and wireless microphone receiver
• Equalization and filtering capabilities
• User-friendly controller

Components of a Complete Sound System

The illustration below depicts the basic components of a sound system for training rooms or presentation rooms. It is a system that is able to deliver rich, full sound. This system uses four loudspeakers to distribute audio throughout the room, creating a soundfield. It also includes a microphone with volume control, a control unit that interfaces with audio devices and provides volume control and device selection. Finally, the room module ties the system together and delivers audio signals from the various inputs to the loudspeakers.

 sound-system-components
1 The Meeting Room Marathon – A Waste of Corporate Time, Dynamic Markets research commissioned by Casio, July 2010.
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