Conference calls are a staple of most companies, especially those with teams in different geographical locations. Most businesses rely on conference calls transcription services to document the proceedings for reference and decision-making. While a reliable service provider can transcribe even poor audio, the work would be complicated, take time to complete, and therefore, cost more. Good audio quality is crucial for accurate transcription. However, the sound quality of conference calls is still a matter of concern. Knowing the reasons for poor audio quality can help you take steps to overcome the challenges.
Various factors affect conference call audio quality:
- Dynamic range compression and limited bandwidth is a major concern when it comes to conference calls. Bandwidth would be limited when a conference call is made on a smartphone. When people speak across networks, dynamic range compression comes into play. This audio signal processing operation reduces the volume of loud sounds while augmenting quieter ones. Voices can sound muffled and there would be a time lag between when the caller speaks and when the other person hears what was said. The result: less information is conveyed. Greater clarity can be ensured with HD voice (both callers need to have HD voice-capable phones), but audio would be affected if there are multiple callers The Sound Guys explain that the adaptive multi-rate (AMR) audio codec used for standard quality calls limits the frequency band from 200-3400Hz. This can make a low voice sound muffled. On the other hand, HD Voice uses the adaptive multi-rate wideband (AMR-WB) speech audio coding standard, which offers double the frequency range of AMR. This option can also ensure that unusually high and low vocal registers sound more natural.
- Microphone quality and background are key factors influencing conference call audio quality. Choosing the right microphone can make a big difference to the quality of conference calls. While iPhones have impressive features, their microphones may not offer clear sound quality. An external bluetooth speakerphone can enhance the iPhone’s speakerphone capabilities. There are various options available for meetings with multiple participants. Bluetooth speakerphones come with intuitive interfaces, superb sound quality and options for PC, smartphone or tablet connectivity.
Background or environment matters a lot. It’s crucial to have a quiet background during the call. Whether it’s in your office or outside, avoid making conference calls in a noisy space. A small room with no distractions is best. Big spaces without much furniture or with blank walls can cause an echo and affect the quality of your conversation.
- The conference service provider matters a lot. Even with the best internet speed and audio equipment, conference call quality would suffer if the service is unreliable. There are two options – Voice over Internet Protocol(VoIP) support and Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) services.
VoIP turns audio into data packets using codecs, transmits them across an IP network, and restores audio on the receiving end of the call.Search Unified Communications points out that while VOIP offers IP connectivity over the internet or private WAN service, PSTN supports dedicated telephone lines or access via Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking and primary rate interface (PRI). PSTN services are now delivered via fiber optic cables and considered more reliable and secure than VoIP networks. PSTN offers better connectivity as it is not interrupted during a power outage. Nevertheless, you should evaluate the pros and cons of both technologies and choose the one that best meets your needs. Consider your company’s scalability and security requirements when you make your choice.
- A simple but effective way to improve conference call audio quality is to get a pair of headphones with a dedicated, high quality microphone. The built-in speakers and microphone of both landlines and mobile phones can be improved upon by using a headset. With a good noise-cancelling headset to hear and speak, you can take a call on the go. A headset hardwired to the device you’re using will also be a better option than a Bluetooth connection (www.conferencecallsunlimited.com).
Will 5G make a difference? The Sound Guys says it will as the enhanced voice services (EVS) codec will be widely supported. With 5G smartphones, it will be possible to make high-quality, reliable voice calls. Good audio will make it easier for business transcription service providers to deliver error-free, quality transcripts of conference calls.