Straight A’s for Audio Capture Upgrade at Purdue University

Published: 2017-10-19

You don’t need to physically sit in the classroom at Purdue University if you’re in the Engineering Professional Education program. The program has gone to such lengths as recording lectures to VHS tapes and shipping them to students in its 60-year history at the school. More recently, they’ve used dedicated satellites and telephone lines for pedagogical dissemination.

With today’s internet-first focus, the school receives increased participation in online programs, and likewise, distance learning has grown exponentially. The Engineering Professional Education found that its installed audio capture technology was under-performing, so they turned to ClearOne Beamforming Microphone Arrays and the CONVERGE Pro DSP platform. [related]

Multimedia production engineer for the Purdue University program Joshua Brown says that, after moving to a new building in 2014 and installing audio capture systems, students frequently complained of not hearing questions asked by students in the classroom. The school tried to reconfigure the existing system before realizing the technology simply wasn’t up to the task.

“We worked with our existing systems integrator to make adjustments to the original microphone array we had installed in the new facility,” Brown said. “But due to its limited configuration capability, we became increasingly disappointed with the audio quality we could achieve from its omni-directional microphones.”

How ClearOne Beamforming Microphone Arrays Solved the Problem

Brown conducted his own research into audio conferencing and recording and discovered ClearOne’s reputation in those systems.

“At that point I contacted our local ClearOne sales representative and was quickly sent Beamforming Microphone Array and CONVERGE Pro DSP Mixer units to test,” Brown added.

He was so pleased with the results of the sample units that he decided ClearOne’s technologies were the ideal solution to resolve EPE’s audio issues. This meant they had to switch integrators, hiring ClearOne dealer CCS Presentation Systems to install ClearOne Beamforming Microphone Arrays and ClearOne CONVERGE Pro DSPs in three main classrooms.

After the decision was made, time was of the essence, and CSS Indiana had to work quickly to ensure not a single lecture went unrecorded.

“We had a very short time window over the 2016 holiday break to install the Beamforming Microphone Arrays and the CONVERGE Pro DSP mixers and ensure that everything was up and running in time for the students returning in January 2017,” said Josh Whites, Account Executive at CCS Presentation Systems. “Our expertise gained from previous deployments of ClearOne solutions enabled us to successfully meet EPE’s tight deadline.”

The result was crystal-clear audio from every position in the room, with the added bonus of improved fidelity from the professor themselves. The previous systems had included a lavalier microphone at the lectern, which had encountered issues with echoes and feedback.

Seven Beamforming Microphone Arrays rounded out the installation, with three of them covering the largest room seating 75 students. Each of the other two rooms received two arrays. The improved audio fidelity is possible because the equipment’s technology detects where sound is coming from and automatically switches between each array of 24 microphones to best capture a signal.

ClearOne Beamforming Microphone Arrays, Purdue University

The CONVERGE Pro 880 manages and enhances audio performance for the entire system.

Related: How Virtual Reality Provides Limitless Education Market Opportunities

“As the ClearOne solution requires much less equipment than that which EPE had previously deployed, it has proven to be much simpler and easier for them to use,” Whitis concluded. “High-quality audio is key to distance students obtaining 
the best possible learning experience during lectures, and ClearOne’s solution has helped us to deliver exactly that for Purdue University Engineering Professional Education.”

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