S’cuse me, while I kiss this guy: Why quality audio matters

We all know that Jimi Hendrix didn’t really sing “S’cuse me, while I kiss this guy”. But the reason this and other famous misheard lyrics happen (kicking the...

We all know that Jimi Hendrix didn’t really sing “S’cuse me, while I kiss this guy”. But the reason this and other famous misheard lyrics happen (kicking the dancing queen, anyone?) is that when we can’t hear clearly, the brain fills in the misheard words with others that seem to make sense. This phenomenon is so common that there’s even a word for it: it’s called an oronym.  But whilst lyrical mistakes can be amusing, it’s not so funny when you can’t hear what is being said in an audio or video conference, or when your customers or prospects mishear and, consequently, misunderstand what’s being agreed.

Unified communications technologies have revolutionised the workplace. There are so many benefits to being able to video- or audio-conference rather than attend meetings. But Google ‘conferencing problems’ and you’ll see that poor quality audio is the primary issue; when the sound isn’t working well, it can completely derail a meeting.

Top audio problems include:

  • Static, crackles or hisses: This type of noise on the line is annoying at best, but at worst it can be stressful for participants. With frequent and prolonged exposure, it can even lead to audio fatigue, which may result in hearing problems.
  • Delays: When there is a delay in the audio, the flow of the meeting is completely disrupted. Humans are universally hard-wired to fill a gap in conversation; the urge to speak kicks in after only around 200 milliseconds. This ends up with everyone talking over everyone else, and possibly feeling awkward, embarrassed or annoyed.
  • Echo: The effect of hearing your own voice played back just a few beats later is known as delayed auditory feedback, and typically causes you to stop speaking. It is so successful in doing so that it has been used in Japan to create a device called a ‘SpeechJammer’ to silence people talking when and where they shouldn’t. Possibly useful when someone is talking loudly in the library, but not at all desirable on a conference call.
  • Background noise: The fan on the projector. The coffee machine. People walking past the conference room. All noises that, when you are in the room, you automatically tune out, but that can be major irritations to a call participant. Similarly, when you are in the office, you don’t need to hear someone’s dog barking or child crying, or that there will be a delay to the arrival of the 15:36 from Waterloo. One study shows that 69% of people choose to mute calls because of background noise which leads to them being disengaged, and finding it harder to contribute to the call.

The antidote to all of these audio problems is to use technology that ensures a natural, crisp audio experience for office, remote and mobile users alike. Two of our partners, Sennheiser and BlueJeans Network have collaborated to deliver the best conferencing experience in the industry. BlueJeans videoconferencing solutions deliver Dolby Voice which, supported and enhanced by Sennheiser’s premium headsets for unified communications, gives users an immersive conferencing experience that makes them feel as if they are in the same room – even if they are hundreds of miles apart.  No more misheard words, no more conferencing audio stress.

Steve Harris, EVP Unified Communications at Nuvias, commented: This partnership adds another level of audio quality to BlueJeans network’s innovative platform.  Our customers are already keen to add Sennheiser headsets to their existing systems, so this collaboration creates an exciting opportunity to further enhance our UC solutions and take advantage of the growing voice and video conferencing market.

If you would like to find out more about any of our vendors, please call us on 01635 225000

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