The PDF below is a handbook for anyone who wants to produce meetings that include both in-person participants and others who attend from remote locations using Zoom Cloud Meeting or similar technology. The book explains the basics of setting up such meetings and anticipates problems you may encounter. It’s written for people with limited experience using a computer for video and audio processing. Care is taken to explain the jargon and provide examples of the hardware and software that may be useful.
The need for such systems at Pennswood Village and the Newtown Monthly Meeting (Quakers) prompted me to write down what I’ve learned is producing meetings that simultaneously were interactive in Pennswood’s Penn Hall, on Zoom, recorded, and also live streamed to the in-house CCTV channel 970.
Peter Vari did a features comparison of the three scenarios described in the handbook. His table (below) lets you see at a glance what each one offers compared to the others.
I’m adding links to materials produced by others below:
It’s January 2023 as I write this and we’ve learned some things using our hybrid system at Newtown Monthly Meeting. Here’s the list.
- Set audio levels going into the Zoom computer carefully to avoid background noise “pumping” between the words of someone speaking in the meeting room. Zoom uses a “magic sauce” of audio compression, automatic volume control, and noise gating. If the incoming audio is too high, it limits the loud bits and amplifies the soft bits making ambient sounds very loud. In our location, traffic noises and even birds chirping are amplified if the settings are not optimized.
Use a second computer or phone in to the meeting to hear what virtual attendees hear. use headphones to avoid feedback while you make your adjustments. Set the volume control on the hearing assist device and mic mixer as low as possible, the experiment with Zoom’s microphone settings including echo suppression.
Talent Mixer and Williams Receiver
We had two of the Talent Mixers fail. They have a generous five-year warranty, and both were replaced. I don’t yet know what the problem is. The mixer has phantom power (undocumented). The output of the Williams is intended for earbuds, not a line or mic input. I am getting good results with an impedance-matching transformer between the headphone jack of the radio and the mixer input.
- Zoom attendees like having a camera operator who allows them to see who is speaking and have a sense of who is gathered in person. No one thus far has objected, and volunteers have been willing to serve in this capacity on a rotating basis.
- Avoid unsightly untamed wires that may also create a trip hazard. There are velcro products to secure wires to carpet, velcro strips can be stapled to moldings, and gaffer tape can be used to make a tidy and safe setup.
- The Williams hearing-assist FM radios evidently use the wire to the earphone as an antenna. If your patch cable is not stretched out, or if it is too close to a source of radio interference, the sound on the Zoom call may be full of static that those in the meeting house won’t hear or be aware of.
- Zoom call participants still complain about difficulty hearing clearly because of the echo in the room. We remedied this by adding two wireless hand-held microphones. People who speak into the microphone are noticeably clearer on the Zoom call than those who rely on the PZM mics mounted on a column at the center of the room.