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Audio Quality That’s Not Just a Pipe Dream

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Audio Quality That’s Not Just a Pipe Dream
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Audio Quality That’s Not Just a Pipe Dream

Founded in 1976, Houston’s ACT Pipe and Supply is the largest independently owned waterworks and fire protection distributor in Texas. Until recently, video conferencing among ACT’s 15 locations throughout the state sometimes sounded as if the participants were speaking through opposite ends of an ACT pipe. They tolerated the less-than-optimal audio for a while, but the exponential uptick in virtual meetings necessitated by the pandemic made it abundantly clear that it was time for a technology upgrade.

ACT knew they needed to improve their video quality, but audio was the key consideration. Jim Hoffman, ACT’s IT Infrastructure Manager, said, "We've got a lot of sound issues. Since the space is more of an industrial setting than a corporate boardroom, the hard floor created a lot of echo and reverb which produced tremendous feedback. Those conditions really impacted our ability to conduct a meeting successfully. In a room like that, if the video’s choppy or not so clear, some people might not even notice. But if you can’t hear what’s being said, the meeting might as well be over.”

To tackle these obstacles, ACT turned to Midtown Video, a Florida-based AV integrator, whose General Manager, Jesse Miller, immediately recommended Yamaha’s ADECIA ceiling microphone conference system. ADECIA is a customizable audio system combining a multi-beam tracking RM-CG ceiling microphone, RM-CR audio processor, and Yamaha's long-trusted PoE switches and VXL Series line array speakers.

“I selected the Yamaha ADECIA system because the microphone tracking is astounding, and the two column speakers are PoE+ and Dante,” said Miller, who described the demo that really sold him on the product. Socially-distanced, just outside a garage with a ceiling mic mounted 14 feet high, Miller listened as the presenter whispered – and the audio came through crystal clear.

“We've used ceiling microphones before, but they always sounded so far away,” said Miller. “This sounded so great that I felt really confident recommending ADECIA to other users.”

Midtown completed installation in ACT’s 10x20 foot meeting room in just two days. In addition to the ADECIA system, he installed an 86-inch TV monitor, with ACT’s own computer hardware mounted behind the screen. He designed the system to include an auto-switching HDMI device from AVPro Edge plus a Barco ClickShare Conference system, which works seamlessly with the display and camera setup without the need to physically connect devices using cables and adapters.

Yamaha’s ADECIA solution is Barco-certified, making it completely interoperable with ClickShare, which ensures that the system can be shared easily with outside presenters. While ACT primarily uses Teams for its meetings, the solution easily accommodates Zoom and other UC platforms as well. “We asked for that functionality,” said Hoffman, so that “when people come to present, we can hook them into our system smoothly.”

Another feature of the ADECIA system that prompted Miller’s recommendation was its ability to deliver the best audio in the shortest time. ADECIA automatically detects the installed components, configures the devices, and optimizes audio performance for the room environment, accounting for reverberation, echo behavior and the location of speakers and microphones. This auto-tuning process provides unparalleled intelligence to overcome the challenges and time that manual tuning requires.

“When I'm installing a competitor's mic, I need an experienced engineer to manually configure the devices and make the adjustments,” said Miller. “Using the Yamaha ADECIA system, on the other hand, frees up my engineer’s time. We just press a button to analyze the room and configure the microphone for the best settings, without having to pull an expert off another task. It's really been fantastic for us.”

ACT Pipe & Supply is delighted with the ADECIA system. Hoffman said, “We've been using it for a couple of months now, and we've had meetings of various sizes in there. It's really spectacular. The sound quality is like the person is sitting in the room with you, instead of off-screen or remote. We could not be happier with the solution. We're absolutely 100% satisfied with the investment we made.”