Working from home: why AV quality matters
June 3rd, 2021

Love it or loathe it, video conferencing is a crucial part of collaborating and building relationships in any modern-day working environment. 

On average, UK, French and German professionals spend around 23 days a year in meetings. That’s a whole lot of time communicating in huddle rooms or home offices – especially if your setup and tech aren’t up to scratch.

With this in mind, we’ve put together an extensive guide explaining why taking your AV video conferencing up a notch can make all the difference and what you need to do to overcome Zoom fatigue.

What does AV stand for? 

AV stands for audio-visual. AV technology refers to the sound and video quality of the platforms and devices you use to watch or listen to various channels.

Yet, despite the easy access to video conferencing AV equipment, thousands of professionals still rely on the poor quality of inbuilt microphones and cameras on laptops, smartphones and tablets.  

While it may seem a viable choice from the outset, it does cause some underlying problems you may not be aware of. Let’s explore.

Why AV quality matters in virtual meetings

When it comes to assessing the impact that poor audio-visual can have on video conferences, the stats don’t lie. 

These frightful figures underline the daily impact of average audio and sloppy visuals, proving them to be irritating, demotivating and unprofessional.

It only takes one AV video conferencing nightmare to cost you a big deal with a client or to become the laughing stock of the internet...

Over the long term, AV is a real culprit of Zoom fatigue too. Out of sync audio can confuse people and lead to costly mistakes or unwanted meetings about meetings. While frozen visuals can add another unnecessary 10 minutes to team catch-ups.

Pair this with the extreme amount of close-up eye contact, and you’re looking at a significant loss in productivity and an increase in frustration. 

Luckily, these concerns can all be a thing of the past by choosing the best AV video conferencing equipment. 

Best AV video conferencing equipment for home

Making sure you kit out your home office with first-class audio-visual tech is a critical part of combating Zoom fatigue and making those back-to-back meetings feel a little less stressful.

Take an enterprise grade headset for example. At Podia, we choose to partner with Poly (formerly Plantronics + Polycom) but there are other well-known brands such as Jabra, Logitech, EPOS (formerly Sennheiser), Yealink and more out there too.

Now these headsets aren’t to be confused with your consumer headsets that may come free with your new mobile phone, or ones designed by a rapper for playing bass heavy music (you know what we’re referring to). These enterprise grade headphones are a forward-thinking piece of audio tech and are ideal for people working from home – providing greater flexibility and superior sound quality. 

  • By choosing a headset with Bluetooth technology, you can roam free and multi-task. (Up to an incredible 91m/300ft with Poly’s Voyager Headset for example) This is a gamechanger for people who spend a lot of their time on calls.

  • Block out any unwanted distractions via Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) technology that is cleverly designed with microphones on the outside to pick up surrounding noises and remove them from the delivery. 

  • Tune out background noise (or annoying colleagues) and stop audio in one ear to ensure you don’t miss out on a vital delivery.

  • Choose between headset styles to suit your style and comfort needs. 

The Poly Voyager 5200 is one of the recommended headsets available from Podia and has been recognised as one of the best headsets for working from home by PC Mag. 

It’s not just about the audio though. To cover your visual needs at home, you should invest in a professional grade webcam. Again, at Podia we chose to partner with Poly (formerly Plantronics + Polycom) to supply their new Poly Studio P5 Camera and Poly Studio P15, but there are others out there from Logitech, Microsoft, Huddly and more.

Using a professional webcam has all the ingredients to elevate your video conferencing game to boardroom level. 

  • With razor-sharp resolution visuals (we recommend no less than 1080p), you can ensure that you will always look your best and no vital facial expressions or body language queue are missed

  • Utilising a camera with inbuilt digital zoom, or even better auto-focusing, smart exposure, & facial tracking, you can make sure the focus remains on you and not on your messy room behind you (we’ve all been there)

  • Selecting a camera with inbuilt directional microphone (like the Poly Studio P5) you will be able to ignore distracting noises and capture the only voice that matters in your home office – yours

  • Ensure a seamless experience when using with Microsoft Teams or Zoom by selecting a professional camera with certification

  • Use auto-light correction technology so you’ll always be shown in the proper light

  • Save room when you have a camera with a free UP USB port built-in

  • Avoid becoming the next YouTube sensation with a camera with an integrated privacy shutter

A cheap 1080p/30fps webcam from Amazon or eBay may disappoint you if the drivers and sensors are not up to the same standards as our trusted products, so don't take the resolution and framerate as gospel that you'll be getting great video quality.

What about huddle spaces?

In comparison to a home office, improving the audio-visual video conferencing quality in a huddle space is a different beast altogether. 

As well as following our video conferencing tips, you also need to overcome various other issues. For example, all the different voices coming from every angle and several potential visual distractions. This is as well as the other complexity of physical presenting, screen sharing and viewing large files on a screen in the collaborative environment.

To achieve a crystal-clear AV performance in a huddle space, you need more than just a screen with an old HDMI (if it hasn’t gone missing), and just attaching a basic webcam won’t cut it. To capture every face and voice in your huddle space, you need to invest in quality AV equipment. You need a solution designed for collaboration with multiple participants, a solution to help you and your team thrive.

Best AV video conferencing equipment for huddle spaces

There are loads of meeting room and huddle space solutions out there for the elite video conferencing experience, and although you could go down the route of a enterprise level boardroom solution with your own codec and mixer, ceiling microphones and multiple motorised cameras with 4K output – it’s a bit overkill when you want something for just a small group of people (and had a smaller budget in mind).

Instead, many businesses are opting for an all-in-one camera and speakerphone solution, also referred to as a video collaboration bar. These radically simple, yet innovative video bars combines the best audio and visual in one modern-looking solution. Boasting all the great features of a more traditional video conferencing solution but at a much smaller price point. What’s more is that they are usually pre-configured for Zoom or Microsoft teams so there is no advanced installation or technical expertise required to set up.

Other benefits of this type of solution include:

  • Ensure all participants can be seen with the 120-degree wide angle view

  • Up to 4k resolution to capture every detail

  • Enjoy full boardroom quality audio to ensure everyone is heard

  • Bypass the need for computers and laptops with minimum setup drama required

  • Share content wirelessly for quick and simple collaboration

  • Appreciate the quality of the built-in camera – offering production-quality camera framing and speaker tracking to keep up with the conversation and attention on the right person

  • Benefit from noise blocking features that enable you to block out disruptive outside noises

In terms of the camera’s position, we’d also recommend placing it below your meeting room’s main screen so that everyone feels as though they are in the same room. This will truly connect your office, clients and remote workers.  While most would station their camera from a higher angle, on a bracket or shelf, adopting this alternative approach gives your audience an eagle-eyed view of the meeting room.

We’ve got you covered

Podia can help you find the right solution. With realms of experience in the AV and UC industry, our team are tech experts and can help you find the best AV equipment for you.

For small huddle rooms of up to 8 people, take a look at our Huddle Tech Bundle. With a 55” Screen, Poly Studio X30, sleek housing unit and Poly TC8 touch screen controller.

Like the sound of our next-level AV video conference tech? Then get in touch with us today to find out more. 

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