Video Conferencing Equipment for Any Meeting Room

Video conferencing is increasingly penetrating our daily workflow, moving beyond meeting rooms and invading workplaces and mobile devices. The shift has become possible thanks to ever-increasing transition from pure hardware room systems (e.g. Polycom, Cisco, LifeSize) to software and hardware-software solutions. The transition is driven by several factors, but the prime movers are the following:

  1. Software video conferencing solutions provide the same functionality at a more affordable price.
  2. Software video conferencing solutions provide greater flexibility for workplaces and meeting rooms as compared to legacy video conferencing endpoints thanks to BYOD approach.
Meeting Room

So how do you build the perfect meeting space where everyone can be seen and heard? This article describes how to fit meeting rooms of different sizes with video conferencing equipment, illustrated by specific examples. To find the best piece of AV equipment for your conference room or receive a free recommendation, please contact us, we are happy to help.

What is a Standard Meeting Room?

Meeting room is a key collaboration space for any business. Here your employees run briefs and meetings, discuss projects and brainstorm new ideas on a daily basis. Virtual meetings are no exception, and modern meeting rooms are also used to facilitate video conferences with remote participants. AV equipment allows remote colleagues to hear and see each other in real time and share content (presentations, slides, documents, or videos).

As a rule, medium-sized meeting rooms are about 25–30 square meters and can host 8 to 10 people.

Modular Meeting Rooms

Before we get down to specific equipment examples, let’s take a closer look at the modular approach.

AV integration is no longer a field-specific task. Previously the only option to equip your meeting room used to be a hardware video conferencing endpoint with predetermined components. Today more and more companies tend to move to PC-based meeting rooms and install video conferencing client applications, such as Skype, Polycom Realpresence Desktop, or TrueConf.

Both hardware and software solutions handle their tasks by providing video conferencing, but they use different approaches:

  1. The hardware approach involves specialized video conferencing equipment being installed in a room, i.e. specific models of video camera and microphone, a CPU with certain functionality, etc. It also features proprietary connectors between the CPU and AV equipment. All of this makes it extremely difficult to replace the components of your video conferencing system. For example, Polycom manufactures video cameras with non-standard HDCI connectors which force customers to purchase hardware endpoints by Polycom to connect the camera to. If you need to connect your camera to a video switcher to build more complex video conferencing system, it will raise even more difficulties. All in all, such room systems lack flexibility, while high pricing make them unaffordable for some customers.
  2. PC-based meeting room setup is much more flexible in terms of equipment selection, since connection interfaces (USB, HDMI, and 3.5 mm jack) are standardized and are available in any modern PC.

The second option embodies the modular meeting room approach, which allows you to divide all AV equipment into several subsystems that can be changed without any losses of overall functionality. Video and audio signals of these subsystems are directed to a client endpoint, i.e. a PC. Here are some of these subsystems:

  1. Closed circuit television subsystem or a video camera system. Large-sized conference rooms require several video cameras to capture all conference participants, while for a middle-sized meeting room, a single PTZ camera is more than enough.
  2. Display subsystem (projectors, screens or video panels). LCD panels are increasingly popular thanks to their wide availability and convenience. When choosing a TV size, follow a simple rule: the distance from your TV to the nearest participant should be equal at least to one length of its diagonal, the distance to the farthest participants should be no more than four diagonals.

    Display subsystem

    Based on this recommendation, it is clear that a long room requires a large TV. In some cases, the best display subsystem option is a video wall or duplicate screens.

    Video wall is a set of combined display devices (projection display cubes, plasma or LCD displays) that enable you to broadcast content from different sources in a multi-window mode. The issue of video walls is extensive and goes beyond the scope of this article. However, the main parameters you should pay attention to are size in inches, seams (usually 5.5 mm), mode of operation, video sources, and functions performed by the video wall controller.

    Display subsystem

    When collaborating on documents, auxiliary panels are more useful than one large screen, as they duplicate the main screen image. In this case, you should use a video signal splitter.

  3. Audio capture subsystem. Omnidirectional boundary microphones are replaced with speakerphones, i.e. devices that combine a microphone array and a speaker. They are connected to the PC via USB and provide efficient echo and noise cancellation as well as a long-range audio capture. In addition, speakerphones support daisy chaining to expand the audio capture zone.
  4. Acoustic subsystem. You are free to choose from a variety of options: from speakerphones and LCD TV loudspeakers to ceiling speakers that cover the whole room.

Meeting Room Description

The conference room under consideration is a typical middle-sized meeting space ( ​6x7m) which can accommodate up to 10 people around one table stretched along the screen axis.

Meeting Room Description

The display information subsystem includes a 49-inch LCD TV with 10W built-in speakers. A rectangular meeting table for 8 people is located next to the TV. The room has 3,5 meter ceilings, plasterboard walls and carpet flooring.

Meeting Room Designs

As mentioned earlier, the modular approach provides more flexibility and freedom in choosing AV equipment depending on your needs and budget.

This article will showcase several meeting room designs illustrated by specific equipment examples.

We have selected video conferencing software by TrueConf, a leading video conferencing developer in Eastern Europe, and installed TrueConf client application on a PC powered by Intel NUC with an Intel i3 processor and 4GB RAM on board. However, you are free to choose any other video conferencing apps: Skype, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex, Polycom RealPresense, etc. The video conferencing equipment described in this article is compatible with any of these solutions, which is yet another advantage of the modular approach.

Huddle room (1-4 participants)

Huddle room (1-4 participants)

If you want to fit a small meeting room or an executive workplace at an affordable price, we recommend the following set of corporate video conferencing equipment:

  1. Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920. Full HD webcam, connects to a PC via USB 2.0 and can be mounted on the TV.
  2. Phoenix Audio Duet PCS. Captures audio at a range of 1–1.5 meters, connects to your PC via USB.
    or
    Phoenix Audio Duet EXE, which can be used as a headset for an office phone with an RJ11 jack or for your smartphone with a 3.5mm jack.
Huddle room (1-4 participants)

Onсе your operating system sees your webcam and speakerphone as video and audio devices, you are ready to go. Here is what this set looks like in our meeting room:

This set is suitable for small working teams of 3–4 participants or for personal workplaces at an excellent price/quality ratio. Please note that this set is not suitable for larger teams.

Medium-sized meeting room for 6-8 participants

If you have more people at the conference table, replace your webcam with a PTZ camera, and your speakerphone — with a high-end model for long-range audio capture (the modular approach in action!)

Medium-sized meeting room for 6-8 participants

Prior to dwelling on specific equipment, we would like to give some recommendations on how to position a video camera in a meeting room. The key parameters of any video camera are optical zoom and viewing angle. The optical zoom means that the camera uses its lenses to magnify an image. The viewing angle determines the dimensions of the room space being captured. For example, a standard viewing angle of 72 degrees allows participants to sit at a distance not closer than 1.5 meters. At the same time, a video camera with a viewing angle of 105 degrees captures people sitting near enough to the camera (at a distance of 1 meter). It is recommended to install the camera at a height of 1.2-1.8 m from the floor.

Here are some of our suggestion:

Logitech Rally is a premium PTZ camera with Ultra-HD imaging system. With mechanical Pan/Tilt/Zoom, 15X HD zoom, 90° field of view, and 4K sensor, Rally captures every person in the room with great video quality.

Huddly Go is a HD ePTZ camera, 150 degree field of view, digital Pan/Tilt/Zoom with 3x lossless digital zoom.

CleverMic Wide is a PTZ Full HD video camera, 105 degree field of view, 3x optical zoom and 3x digital zoom. The camera is remote-controlled and can switch between the presets. You can take a close up of the meeting host, individual participants, or a flipchart in one click.

Medium-sized meeting room for 6-8 participants

For a team of 6-8 people, we recommend Phoenix Audio Spider (MT503) speakerphone with a guaranteed audio capture range of 2.5 meters. The speakerphone has four built-in microphones and a medium-powered speaker (5 W) covering the entire room. The Spider has a convenient touch control panel with microphone control buttons. Echo and noise cancellation technologies, direction finding algorithm and other useful features ensure comfortable communication with remote participants.

The video camera and speakerphone are plug-and-play devices, connect via USB interfaces and are identified by the operating system as video and audio devices. All necessary drivers are installed automatically, so the installation and setup normally takes no more than five minutes. Here is what this set looks like in the meeting room:

Middle-sized meeting room for 8 participants

Middle-sized meeting room for 8 participants

What if the number of people in the room is more than eight? In this case, you need a video camera with a large optical zoom and more than one speakerphone to capture audio.

Middle-sized meeting room for 8 participants

Logitech Rally is also great for large meeting rooms. 15X HD zoom, 90° field of view, and intelligent framing will be more than enough for large teams.

Bolin 8 SERIES 4K HDBaseT is a FullHD PTZ camera with 70.7° field of view and 30x optical zoom. Supports up to 128 presets and can be managed via remote control.

CleverMic Uno is a FullHD PTZ camera with 12x optical zoom that allows you to take close-ups of any meeting participant or demonstrate the content from the flipchart. Remote control makes the meeting process more efficient and interactive.

To expand the audio capture zone, you can daisy-chain Phoenix Audio Spider (MT503) with up to 15 Phoenix Audio speakerphones and ceiling mount them.

An IP phone is also not a stranger in meeting rooms. Phoenix Audio Spider (MT505) conference phone is not only a speakerphone but also an IP phone. The photo below shows how MT503 speakerphone and MT505 conference phone are used to capture audio. In this setup a telephony subscriber can easily join your video call at any time thanks to a built-in USB mixer and SIP interfaces in the conference phone.

Middle-sized meeting room with microphone array

Another way to capture audio in a large meeting room is by using Phoenix Audio Condor (MT600) microphone array.

Middle-sized meeting room with microphone array

This microphone array is a 122-centimeter tube with 15 built-in microphones which provide stable audio capture up to 10 meters. The built-in echo and noise cancellation systems and simultaneous capture of several speakers make communication easy and enjoyable. The microphone array connects to a PC via USB and can be placed either on the conference table or mounted on the wall under the TV to provide clutter-free room experience. In addition, the Condor can also connect to SIP telephony. You can also connect speakers to the Condor to cover the room.

Middle-sized meeting room with microphone array

Large conference room for more than 10 participants

Large conference room for more than 10 participants

To capture audio in meeting rooms for 10 or more participants, it is recommended to use a conference system. A conference system is a set of audio equipment that performs specific conference functions and consists of a central unit and several gooseneck microphone consoles. Directional microphone consoles provide excellent audio capture for each participant. Up to six consoles can be activated at one time.

Conference systems can be wired and wireless. Wired microphone consoles are chained in a series, while wireless systems provide more freedom in terms of equipment setup. Audio signals from microphone consoles are transmitted through the central unit either to a PC directly (to a line-in interface), or to an audio mixer or a hardware video conferencing endpoint.

Large conference room for more than 10 participants

Samcen 6100MA with S6050D microphones can be used as a wired conference system in the meeting room.

Shure Microflex Complete Wireless delivers wireless reliability for up to 125 units and 8 interpretation channels.

BKR WCS-20M system with BKR WCS-20M2 microphones can also be installed as a wireless system.

Conference systems also provide speaker auto-tracking and direct PTZ camera to the active microphone console without any additional control systems (Crestron, AMX, etc.).

Need help?

Do you feel like it’s still difficult to navigate your way through the wide range of products? There is a way out. If you want to find a solution that perfectly fits your conference room, check our recommended AV equipment portfolio or ask our sales team for advice.