We're often doing audio calls where each end has a group of 5-10 people.

At the moment both ends are sitting around a lounge, and are using Blue Snowball USB mic's. For the people close the the mic the audio quality is fine, but if we have someone standing behind the lounge, so possibly 1.5m away from the mic the volume of their audio drops off quickly, and even asking them to speak loudly only helps so much. The rooms the calls are done in are fairly open.

We're using Skype or Google+ Hangouts typically. The audio on both ends are using the snowball mic linked above on windows PC's.

Everything I've found on using multiple USB mic's comes across as fairly ghetto. Is getting a mixer with multiple mic's the best option here? If so what can people recommend for a setup like ours?

  • Not sure if this is on-topic or not as it seems more telecommunications related and there are automated telecommunication systems for this exact problem that automatically control multiple mics. I have made a meta discussion to review this topic.
    – AJ Henderson
    Oct 14 '14 at 15:55
  • This question appears to be off-topic because it is about telecommunications equipment.
    – AJ Henderson
    Nov 14 '14 at 15:33

Because sound pressure drops off as the square of distance, the single most important factor in recording volume is distance from your mic. Sure, some microphones have a better response, but really, you want to have all your speakers the same distance from the mic.

As this is rarely feasible for a large group, you need to look at multiple microphones, and yes, for the setup you describe, a mixer might be simplest.

You should look at a mixer which allows your PC to see all the mic feeds as separate inputs if possible, then you can also adjust the gain of an individual mic feed if necessary.

  • Thanks for the info @RoryAlsop. Do you have any recommendations on mixers and mic's that would suit?
    – Eamonn
    Oct 14 '14 at 23:40
  • I don't - any small mixer should cope. Remember, however, that what pretty much all companies use is the ubiquitous conference phone, and these have extension functionality built in. So my main conference rooms here have 1 to 3 desk mics plus up to 12 hanging mics around the tables. There is a reason these are used - they work without having to worry about tweaking solutions.
    – Rory Alsop
    Oct 15 '14 at 10:05

Unless you use a secondary omnidirectional mic and a mixer (as Rory proposed) for the people farther away, a beam forming microphone array like this should work for you. Just be ready to spend more than $3k. Here's a demo video of this sort of thing in action.

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