Audio for Event Livestreaming: How to Keep Virtual Events Engaging
“There’s too much background noise.” “Sorry, I couldn’t hear that.” “The audio just dropped out, I missed what the last person said.”
Sound familiar? We’ve all become used to the frustrations of video conferencing, but with live events now back on the corporate and social calendar, expect to see a big change in how remote participation is managed.
Event planners and organizers are hugely motivated to make up for lost revenue and lack of personal interaction resulting from more than a year of different lockdown scenarios. Still, there’s a new normal to be accommodated – that of virtual participants wanting to join live events and be part of the conversation. Hybrid events are here to stay.
Research points to a demand for live event experience and engagement. Despite the growing use of cloud-based virtual event platforms to improve access, organizers face difficulties in enabling remote attendees to actively participate. Event tech is currently not meeting this need, with 36 percent of planners considering engagement their biggest challenge when pivoting to virtual.
At Shure, we believe that high-quality audio for event livestreaming is an essential factor for delivering an engaging remote experience. Why is audio so important? People need to hear and be heard to effectively participate in a discussion. Research conducted on behalf of Shure found that, compared to video, flawless audio quality is four times more important to virtual meeting attendees. Critically, poor audio quality is a prevailing cause of frustration for people attending virtual events and could have a knock-on effect on future attendance levels.
So, let’s look at the common audio headaches and how to address them to create engaging hybrid events.
Clarity in a Socially Distanced World
Social distancing remains a government-mandated requirement in many countries but is also often implemented to support physical attendees’ feeling of safety and comfort. When people are sitting apart in spacious venues, often plagued with poor acoustics, the words of some participants may easily be missed within the venue itself – and even more so by online participants. This is typically due to insufficient microphone coverage.
The essential first step is to ensure that everyone has a voice. Especially in larger spaces with distributed seating arrangements, this may require a dedicated microphone at each seat.
Wired microphones are a reliable choice, although long and complex cable runs can make setup cumbersome and restrict mobility. Wireless systems, as an alternative, offer flexibility and can easily adapt to varying layouts. Concerns here often revolve around spectrum availability and stable performance, ensuring enough available channels and no RF interference or dropouts.
A popular choice in new hybrid event formats, Shure’s Microflex® Complete Wireless system not only can connect up to 125 conference units on a single wireless channel, it also automatically detects and avoids interference to keep meetings flowing. Organizers don’t require extensive audio or RF knowledge to set up and manage the system, allowing them to rather focus their efforts on the event itself.
Connecting to Event Streaming Platforms
Your local audio setup fully covers your room, but how to connect this to online streaming or video conferencing platforms? The solution from Shure is the IntelliMix® P300 audio conferencing processor. With versatile connectivity options and certification from leading collaboration platforms, it seamlessly interfaces on-site event audio systems with the likes of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, bridging the communication gap between local attendees and remote users on laptops and mobile devices.
Dante-enabled networked audio systems like MXCW can connect to P300 via a single category cable, while analog systems can be integrated through devices such as the ANI Audio Network Interfaces.
Too Loud, Too Quiet, Noise & Echo.
Volume fluctuations are another frequent frustration in event livestreams, especially for remote attendees who might be listening via headphones and having to constantly adjust volume up and down. Instead of having an audio engineer manually adjust mixing boards, an audio DSP with automatic gain control can help to ensure consistent speech levels. MXCW offers this as a built-in feature.
In another example, in-person events may also have keynote speakers who dial in remotely. They need to be heard clearly and be able to answer questions from the floor or other remote attendees. Having a digital signal processor like to P300 with automatic echo cancellation and noise reduction ensures pristine audio for efficient two-way communication.
Quality Sound for Virtual Participants
We know that running events today is, at times, complex for event planners and organizers. But research tells us that enabling audio-only events, offering audio-streaming options, or offering event podcasts opens more avenues for virtual participants to experience live events. And, at Shure, we’ve got you covered, with audio solutions to make different easy.