How can I get Better Sound for Videoconferences?

In this brave new world we’re all jacked into Zoom (or, maybe, Jitsi) all day long. We’ve been at this for a month, and it’s remarkable how little most of us continue to pay attention to video and audio, as if living the Dick Tracy future is enough, and we don’t really need to be concerned with seeing and hearing other clearly.

Here in my office I mostly use the “Display Audio” microphone built into the front of my Apple Cinema Display. It’s always been good enough. But, I wondered, could I do better.

So I dug the old Live from the Formosa Tea House audio setup (Apex 435 microphone, Behringer 802 mixer) out of storage, bought myself a line-to-USB cable, and set everything up beside my computer to see if that would prove the audio quality.

If you listen to the same here, I think you’ll agree that it did.

I’m taking it out for a real ride in 15 minutes on my weekly conference call with my colleagues in New Hampshire.

I’m also using the opportunity to promote the brand (get your Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook by The Old Farmer’s Almanac today!):

My Zoom background, with Old Farmer's Almanac Vegetable Gardener's Handbook promotion in the virtual background.


Chuck McKinnon's picture
Chuck McKinnon on April 17, 2020 - 13:13 Permalink

Speaking as a rank amateur who nevertheless last came to PEI with a two-track recording studio tucked into a day pack, I was delighted by the sound difference; it was dramatic enough to make me laugh with delight when I hit the Apex mic part of the recording. For now I'm sticking with my Plantronics headset mic due to background noise, but you might have convinced me to dig out my cardioid mic and give it a whirl.

Peter, I've set up my own instance of Jitsi Meet in Docker containers, using the Traefik reverse proxy to handle SSL via Let's Encrypt. I'm happy to share my config with you and discuss the setup, if you're interested.

Chuck McKinnon's picture
Chuck McKinnon on April 17, 2020 - 18:39 Permalink

Five hours later: I have a Zoom H1 which can be used as a live mic via USB. It is leaps and bounds above the headset mic on my Plantronics Voyager Focus, even when the latter is on "HD Voice" mode.

Voice quality matters to sense of presence and persuasiveness. I'm going to curbside-pickup a windscreen from Long & Mcquade tonight, and start using this for conferences on Monday. Until I recorded myself, I had no idea of the difference in sound quality.

Oliver B's picture
Oliver B on April 17, 2020 - 19:04 Permalink

Yes! On behalf of listeners everywhere, I thank you