Question: How can I use the ES954 Hanging Microphone Array in a meeting space?
Answer: The Audio-Technica ES954 Hanging Microphone Array offers four discrete microphone capsules in a single housing, allowing a user to create a potentially limitless number of steerable pickup positions with a single microphone. With meeting spaces ranging from small huddle rooms to larger boardrooms, it can be difficult to arrange microphones for versatile pickup while maintaining a nice visual aesthetic. But by pairing the ES954 with your DSP or Audio-Technica SmartMixer® you can use the mic’s four capsules together and to full effect.
To create a beam of audio pickup, we must think outside the box for a moment. When you use two or more microphone capsules in a single location, you can use physics to raise or lower a signal by moving the microphone capsules closer or farther away from each other to induce phase cancellation. Using a time delay with a particular capsule or reversing the polarity (aka making it 180 degrees out of phase) will create a null in the pickup sound. The ES954 is a modified four-capsule array consisting of an omnidirectional capsule and three bidirectional capsules. In Figure 1.1 below, the omnidirectional capsule is represented by the large gray circle (W), whereas the bidirectional capsules providing left, right, and height coverage are indicated by X, Y, and Z. Your DSP can take the multiple signals and, by calculating the delay, level, phase, and polarity, create a steerable directional pickup beam on a vertical and horizontal plane (Figure 1.2). Your Audio-Technica SmartMixer or DSP can take the four capsule signals and then create any number of pickup locations, depending on the channel count abilities of the mixer or DSP.
When multiple ES954 mics are used in a single area, proper coordination and microphone separation should be calculated for optimal performance. The appropriate distance between the microphones may be calculated if you have a few placement specs already calculated. You will need to know the height of the microphone from the floor, the source height (height of person sitting or standing), the distance of the microphone from the source (if on the same plane), and, lastly, the pickup acceptance angle of the microphone. These can be difficult calculations to make, so please don’t hesitate to contact the Audio Solutions Department for assistance with determining the most advantageous microphone placement.
When used with the ATDM-0604 Digital SmartMixer, the ES954 can be configured by the mixer’s Web Remote Software for meeting spaces large or small. By setting the ATDM-0604 in Virtual Mic Mode in your settings, you may use the variable pickup patterns steered in 30-degree increments to capture each person positioned around the microphone. Up to six virtual polar patters may be used with the ATDM-0604 SmartMixer, each with tilt control to accommodate differing ceiling heights and people standing and sitting. Using the ES954 in conjunction with the Smart Mixing and auto mixing features of the ATDM-0604 offers an ideal, cost-effective solution for meeting spaces.
Installation of the ES954 is also quite easy. The ES954 has a permanently attached 4′ (1.2 m) cable with a locking grommet for height adjustment and UniGuard® RFI-shielding technology for rejection of radio frequency interference (RFI). The cable connects to the included plenum-rated AT8554 Ceiling Mount via push-type wire terminals. You may use two standard category cables along with the included RJ45 breakout cables to run the audio to your DSP or SmartMixer location. The logic-controlled red/green LED ring on the ES954 may also be used with your DSP to visually indicate the microphone status.
See the ES954 in action in the video below. And if you have further questions on the ES954 Hanging Microphone Array or how to best implement the above-mentioned microphone solutions in your meeting space, please contact the Audio-Technica Application Engineering Team at AETeam@atus.com.