1 • Better audio on your working from home video calls

You can't give great customer service in a zoom meeting if customers and colleagues can't hear you! Dr. Jason Price helps you understand how your choice of audio connection affects your video call performance, with audio tests on the typical kit those new to working from home may find themselves with.

PODCAST • 15 minute listen

In this podcast episode

My three-part short video series on improving video conferencing performance offers practical advice to people who've found themselves working from home recently and participating in online video conferencing.

With the Covid-19 pandemic meaning many people had to adapt rapidly to working from home, it's not surprising that people's ability to present themselves to best effect was, in some cases, "limited."

Whether it's pets, partners, trouser-less local councillors half dressed in a suit and tie, or forgetting to turn off your camera in the bathroom, there's been plenty of scope for improvement exhibited on the internet.

In the final part of this three part series, I talked about sound quality and how different microphones can affect your online conferencing.


What did we learn?

How you sound to other participants in a video conference call depends to a very large degree on the quality of the microphone you're using. As a home office user, you've got a choice, without having to spend a fortune on new technology.

In this podcast, I've recorded sample sound files on a typical home office laptop video call using different types of equipment. I used:

• The on-board microphone on an Apple Macbook Pro
• A Logitech H800 wireless headset connected by USB dongle attachment and then over bluetooth
• The on-board microphone on an external Logitech HD1080p webcam
• A iPhone 5s, using on board microphone and wired, Apple supplied standard headphones.
• Wired Apple supplied standard headphones connected to a Macbook Pro

As a benchmark, I recorded a sample (and the rest of the podcast) using a Rode NT USB studio microphone.
All tests were carried out in my home office, with no special soundproofing, so a typical environment for the home office user.

You can hear the results of each sample file in the podcast episode.


Test results

The tests reveal a wide range in the quality of audio (unsurprisingly). Other than the more expensive studio microphone, it was interesting to me that the wireless headset - particularly over bluetooth - was the worst performing sound quality, with better performance on a laptop with wireless USB.

Room echo became an issue for the on-board microphones, with the wired iPhone standard headset performing adequately as long as it wasn't knocked.

Ultimately, it's a personal choice, but you'll need to strike a balance of your room setup (to minimise echo), the type of microphone you have and the amount of money you wish to invest on new kit based on your needs.

Don't assume your audio quality is good. Take the time to record yourself using different equipment you have available and see how you sound to others.


Lessons to learn

  • Recording yourself is a valuable use of time to ensure you know what impression you're creating.
  • You'll need to adjust your surroundings to dampen room echo
  • It doesn't matter how good you look on camera, if you can't be heard clearly in your video calls.

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