In the age of remote and hybrid work environments, high-quality audio and video equipment is a must. And while it’s hard to choose which one is more important — after all, we love them both — it’s safe to say that audio is the most essential component of remote work. Without being able to hear and be heard clearly in calls and meetings, communication is infinitely more difficult. Therefore, investing in quality audio equipment is a must for professional hybrid work.
If you’re just starting on you’re hybrid or remote work journey (or if you’re looking to upgrade your existing setup), knowing which equipment to choose can be a challenge. To help you make the best decisions for your specific needs, we’ve collected some of our favorites below.
Audio must-have #1: high-quality microphones
While some conference-friendly cameras include built-in microphones of their own, you may wish to invest in some audio equipment that will improve the clarity and flexibility of your hybrid working setup.
Depending on your hybrid working setup, your needs will vary. No matter what your needs are, here are a few things to keep in mind when searching for a microphone:
- Where will your microphone “live”? Will it stay situated in a home or shared office? Does it need to travel with you on the road, or come with you when you go to work? If your microphone will move with you, it’s best to choose something that has easy set-up and takedown.
- Will you use your microphone in spaces with a lot of background noise? If the answer is yes, opt for a mic that can intelligently hone in on the voices in the room. Echo cancellation is also an important feature that improves clarity.
- How much space does your mic need to cover? If you’re using the microphone in a shared space, make sure its pickup range is wide enough to support multiple voices coming from different parts of the room. This isn’t just a practical consideration — it can also be essential for social distancing.
For a versatile and budget-friendly option, we recommend the MXL AC-404-Z. The AC-404-Z is a sleek, compact microphone designed to pick up sounds within 25’ single-direction range, so it’s ideal for small- and medium-sized rooms. At just $99, it won’t break your budget, either. With plug-and-play USB connectivity, it’s easy to start using it in any space — keep it on your desk in your home office, bring it with you on the road, and set it up when you go into the office.
If you’re looking for a microphone with more range and flexibility, check out the MXL AC-360-Z V2. It’s a powered conference microphone capable of capturing crystal-clear audio in a full 360° range within a 25-foot radius. Like the AC-404-Z, the AC-360-Z V2 has a sleek design and simple, plug-and-play connectivity through USB-C 3.0.
For an all-in-one microphone and speaker solution, we recommend the YVC-1000 USB Speakerphone & Bluetooth Conference Phone. Separate microphone and speaker units make the YVC-1000 ideal for audio, web, and video conferences. And it’s a highly intelligent unit — it comes equipped with a one-button auto-tuning feature that automatically tunes acoustic settings to the optimal level for the room it’s in. It’s also fitted with human voice activity detection to minimize background noise during calls.
Audio must-have #2: flexible speaker units
Just as it’s essential to provide input for crystal-clear sound on a call, it’s equally essential to be able to hear it. Therefore, a high-quality set of speaker units are a critical component of any hybrid working setup. Here are some things to consider when you’re searching for the right audio output equipment:
- How much space do you need to cover? If you’re spending most of your working time in a small- or medium-sized room, a speaker with an average output range should suffice. But if you’re working in a larger space, you may want to consider something with a little more oomph.
- Will your speaker travel with you? Headsets are designed to be used on-the-go by default. But if you prefer speakers, opt for a unit that can easily hit the road — features like BlueTooth, easy set-up and takedown, and intelligent acoustic analysis can make life a whole lot easier.
If you’re looking to pair an existing microphone with a speaker, we recommend two flexible and budget-friendly speaker options that we recommend are the JBL Pro SoundBar PSB-1 and the Yamaha 10-ESB1080-Z Enterprise Soundbar.
The JBL Soundbar is perfect for static placements — with enterprise-grade fittings, it’s built to last through long days and heavy usage. Yamaha’s unit is designed for more dynamic applications — it intelligently integrates audio from Zoom to create an immersive feeling in any conference space and can connect with HDMI®, Bluetooth, optical, or analogue audio.
Audio must-have #3: headsets for on-the-go conferencing
Even if you’re in a space that normally utilizes speakers, having headsets on-hand can help give you an added degree of flexibility when delivering presentations, multi-tasking on calls, or even just needing to get up and stretch your legs while you talk. And headsets are great on-the-go — if you frequently work in multiple spaces, or if you’re traveling, headsets are absolutely essential.
We love Jabra’s Evolve 65. They come with the Jabra 360 USB Link adaptor for plug-and-play installation — particularly useful for flexible working situations — and supports Bluetooth 3.0 for up to 100 feet of wireless range. The Evolve 65 can also be used simultaneously with another Bluetooth device, such as a smartphone, tablet, or laptop.
Slightly friendlier on the wallet is the Plantronics Blackwire 3210 USB-A, a lightweight, plug-and-play headset that delivers superb sound quality. It’s equipped with a reliable noise-canceling feature, ensuring that you can hear and be heard clearly during calls.
Audio Extras: Set Up Your Space for Success
Now that you’ve chosen the audio equipment for your hybrid working setup, let’s take a look at how you can set up your space to support clear, high-quality audio. Here are a few things to consider:
- Is your workspace microphone-friendly? Rooms that are full of hard surfaces — floor-to-ceiling windows, marble floors, hardwood tables — are beautiful, and can be great for non-amplified audio. Unfortunately, though, microphones and hard surfaces generally don’t mix. When possible, place your microphone in an area surrounded by plenty of soft things — cloth chairs, drapes, carpet, cushioned furniture, and the like. These soft surfaces absorb echoes and background noise, ensuring that your microphone is only picking up what it should. If you’re looking to produce super-clear audio, consider investing in some acoustic panels.
- Have you optimized your phone or computer for the audio equipment you’re working with? It can be easy to get frustrated when equipment seems like it’s underperforming or flat-out malfunctioning. But if nothing appears to be amiss, check the settings on the devices paired with your audio equipment to make sure they’re supporting peak functionality.
- Have you worked with an AV installer? If you’re not sure what kinds of equipment will be right for your space, consider working with an AV professional to select and configure the best audio setup for your hybrid working environment. InGenius also offers free AV consultations to help optimize your organization’s audio and video setup.
We hope that this guide helped you find the audio equipment that you need for your hybrid working journey. For more information on equipment that can make your remote work experience a success, check out our blog.