Audix on a Revolutionary Microphone Innovation for Larger Rooms

Commercial Integrator speaks to Audix’s David Garlett about the small-form-factor M45, which is capable of amazing pickup in larger rooms.

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CI: These days, the AV community is devoting a lot of attention to the education and enterprise categories because their respective technology needs have never been greater. From a mic’ing perspective, can you share some of the biggest challenges in providing economical coverage of group spaces like classrooms and meeting rooms? 

David Garlett: Absolutely! We here at Audix are feeling that need for good solutions in larger rooms, as well. You know, the biggest challenge that we faceand that I think all of our friends out in the industry also faceis larger spaces, like classrooms, tend to have challenging acoustics. And ceiling microphone techniques are very dependent on how well the room behaves. So, you’re faced with those two challenges: One, address the room itself, or, two, try to develop a microphone technology that isn’t so susceptible to the reflections that the room may unfortunately have. And that’s what we’ve done here today with the new M45. 

CI: Let’s talk about Audix’s new product, the M45. It directly addresses those challenges by enabling a single microphone to cover up to 25 individuals, and to cover them extremely well. How can the M45 possibly do that? 

Garlett: Well, it’s a very clever microphone. We sought to further miniaturize the compact shotguns we currently offer, but not compromise the sound quality. Long story short, what this allows is a very controlled and deep pickup pattern. And it’s very easy to aim because we gave it a pivot-and-swivel mount that works perfectly in the ceiling. On top of that, the microphone is incredibly sensitive. This is the most sensitive ceiling microphone Audix makes. It also allows you to pick up an area in environments with lessfavorable acoustics. If the acoustics of the space are slightly improved, that pickup pattern can be expanded to areas of beyond 20 feet away from the microphone. For example, the room that I’m in right now is 29 feet wide by 25 feet deep, and with terrible acoustics. Only two M45s are easily covering the entire seating area. 

The efficacy of the M45 is going to change things in how we think about microphones in a classroom…a public meeting space…a lecture hall…where we need to get interaction with the members at a presentation or a classroom or all of the above. 

CI: Our integrator audience is probably thinking two things: First, how easy is this to integrate? Second, how well will the M45 play with existing integrated environments, such as Dante-centered environments? What insights can you provide in that regard? 

Garlett: On the Dante side, we’ve done a couple of innovative things. Audix has a Dante onramp box we call the DN4. A simple analog-to-digital converter that provides phantom power wasn’t enough for us. We wanted a fully controllable, highquality integrated preamp and the ability to power and control dualcolor LED lights built into the M45 and other Audix in-ceiling mics. Like any Dante device, Dante controller is utilized for network setup and routing. Then, to easily access the preamp and LED controls offered by the DN4, we provide a third-party API, as well as native plugins supported by our friends at QSC, Symetrix and Extron. PoE from your switch, or an external power supply, powers all this up. It’s plenum-rated, and the installation procedure is wonderfully simple via pre-terminated Ethernet cables between our mics and the DN4. Any of my friends out there who have spent time on a ladder with a tweaker screwdriver, Phoenix connectors and wire snips will love this! 

Now, to install the M45 microphone in the ceiling, drill a one-and-a-half-inch hole; insert the microphone assembly up through the hole; put the ring back on; give it a twist; and installation is complete. So, what if you have a retrofit system with existing wiring or an analog installation? Well, the M45 ships with a very clever category-to-Phoenixblock adapter. For you folks who are looking at wiring that’s already in existence, this is how you solve for that. We tried to make the installation as pragmatic and simple as possible. One might even say we’re appeasing the lazy installer, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.