A Before V for a Reason – The Importance of Audio Part 2

The Involve AV School

Part 2 – The one all about USB audio

In this issue, we are going to focus on one area that is becoming more the standard in any AV system, audio over USB.

What started as the simple USB headset attached to the desktop ‘tower’ has progressed into having USB integration in almost every installation grade DSP, as well as most HDBaseT (or proprietary version of) systems. It’s everywhere and it can’t be ignored. The masses demand it!
Unlike other aspects of the AV/IT blurred edge, we are fortunate in that we are confined to a small set of standards. So, in theory, our newly designed audio system is compatible across all the platforms… maybe?

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USB devices requiring a basic audio stream (i.e. ‘plug and play devices’) are classified into one of three groups; either a microphone, a headphone, or a headset. In many ways, we could group most AV devices using audio into these groups. Sources/Transmitter, Sinks/Receiver and Transceivers. It is interesting that the USB classes continue to be named this way.

So, when you are looking to integrate a UC type platform into a meeting room/huddle space, there are a few things we need to keep in mind:

  • Does audio need to be embedded or de-embedded from the USB signal path?
  • If being used for UC, is the participant number greater than a small ‘huddle room’ i.e. should echo cancellation be considered. (A note on this below)
  • Aside from audio, what else is being utilised as part of the USB signal path? USB 3.x for example is a powerful interface for integrating multiple device types.

On echo cancellation (AEC) when using UC. Yes, most if not all soft clients have some form of filter to cancel or, in most cases, supress the loopback of voice built into its software. Where this basic level of AEC becomes unusable is once we start to expand on the requirements for more ‘microphones, headphones or headsets’. A properly designed and commissioned audio system, with audio DSP, USB integration and AEC is the only way to successfully use any form of UC/soft client as the primary communication platform. This applies to any space where clear and intelligible audio is required.

Moving on from USB audio seamlessly into audio in the Huddle Space next, keep an eye out for our next blog!

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