Bose Professional’s Justin O’Connor gets it. He understands why so many technology managers and IT directors choose to over-prioritize visually compelling elements such as video screens versus meeting room audio. However, that’s clearly a mistake.
“I think that honestly audio gets deprioritized because you can’t see it,” O’Connor, education specialist and instructor for Bose Professional, Global Training, says in a Commercial Integrator video interview.
“Video displays are big. They are flashy. They’re beautiful,” he acknowledges.
Lighting fixtures. Even the table. “These are things you can actually see, and I think they get a different level of attention,” he says.
Adding to the conundrum is the fact that tech managers tend not to want to see the audio.
“Integrators have this challenge which is that they’re told I don’t want to see these microphones and that the speakers are going to mess up my décor,” O’Connor says. “So they’re getting marginalized.”
In the case of speakers, which are often relegated to the ceiling, they need to compete for ceiling space with a projector, sprinkler heads, some detectors, lighting fixtures, HVAC and whatever else. It’s this very dilemma that played a role in the development of Bose Professional EdgeMax loudspeakers, O’Connor explains.
“EdgeMax is designed to be mounted in the ceiling but specifically at the edge of the room,” he says.
“We have a proprietary phase guide so once you get those speakers at the edge of the room the phase guide actually make sure that they shoot horizontally and down. They don’t spray anything against the wall that they’re up against. It [creates] an even listening plane.”
Time to Rethink That Meeting Room Audio Budget
Nobody is saying it’s easy to be responsible for a meeting room audio budget. Tech managers want to be able to point to value and return on investment.
As O’Connor points out, it’s easy to recognize that a dollar amount spent equates to a certain size of a video display. It’s easy to point to features such as 4K and 8K. It’s logical to tie a dollar amount to the size of a table.
It’s harder, O’Connor says, to pinpoint audio value. Not every technology manager will understand why the $12 ceiling cans they can find online won’t deliver the return on investment that a higher quality solution will.
That is, until it’s too late.
“Honestly if your video goes down in a meeting you can keep going,” O’Connor says, “but if your audio goes down you’re going to have to call back later.”
It’s at that point when technology managers wish they would have made meeting room audio a higher priority.