Why don’t Computers have Echo Cancellation?

Posted on August 18, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Have you ever been on a web conference or a video call and were frustrated that the audio experience was not the best? To be quite honest computers don’t exactly provide the greatest speakerphone performance. It can sometimes sound thin on the computer speakers, and mics might be too sensitive or not sensitive enough. Sometimes when the volume is turned up you can hear yourself some back through your speakers a couple seconds after saying something. How annoying.

What is the solution to this? Until computers and webcam manufacturers do a good job putting acoustic echo cancellation into the hardware you are left with the following options:

  1. Adjust your settings. Adjust your speaker volume and mic sensitivity to obtain the best results that you can. This approach is free, but may still leave you with a “computer-audio” sound.

  2. Wear headsets. I’ve found this to dramatically improve sound on video conference calls. You can wear a wired combination headset/mic, a bluetooth headset/mic, or simply plug in your iPod headphones and use the computer mic. Each of these techniques greatly improves the audio quality and the equipment cost is low.

  3. If you want a true speakerphone experience do what companies do in their conference rooms – buy an external speakerphone There are several USB speakerphones on the market that plug into your computer. They claim to support echo cancellation but I’ve seen mixed reviews when I’ve checked on Amazon. Prices range to over $100/unit.

  4. Use an external audio conferencing bridge for your web conference. It seems this solution is widely used for WebEx and GoToMeeting sessions as they mention it on their web sites. For a large group of 10+ people this may give you the best, telephone type audio experience. Unfortunately this could involve a per-minute usage charge and potential toll free charges.

Someday computer manufacturers may provide acoustic echo cancellation. Until then we have several options for improving audio quality on web conferences. I use a headset whenever I use Vonei Meeting for video conferencing. Which solution works best for you?

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