Echo Cancellation and How it Improves Video Conference Audio

Author: Gina Cunsolo

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Echo Cancellation and How it Improves Video Conference Audio

As video conferencing becomes an increasing part of the business world, so do issues that can disrupt those conferences. And quite possibly, one of the most disruptive issues with video conferencing is the unintended echo that can occur. Echo issues can make participants sound distracted and confused, and can ultimately bring proceedings to a halt.

Fortunately, there are ways to address echo issues. Employing echo cancellation technology can help resolve problems caused by excessive echo and get meetings back on track.

When Echo Cancellation is Needed

Most of us are familiar with the echo effect that occurs when we’re in a cave, a canyon or a large room devoid of furniture, such as an empty gym. We shout “Helloo!” and we hear our voices coming back to us for a few seconds afterward.

That acoustic echo effect is similar when participating in a video conference, although the cause is different. Instead of our voices bouncing off a wall or other solid surface, the voices coming through the speakers on a conference room speakerphone or other audio system are picked up by that system’s microphone and repeated through the system, creating an echo effect. In most cases the effect isn’t noticeable, but occasionally it can be such a distraction that participants are unable to keep their thoughts straight.

In those cases, it’s necessary to employ some sort of echo cancellation to resolve the issue.

Video Conferencing With Echo Cancellation on Zoom and Other Platforms

Nearly every video conference solution will at some point require acoustic echo cancellation, whether the platform being used is Zoom, Microsoft Teams, ReadyTalk or any other conferencing software solution. Simple ways to try and address echo issues involve either turning down the volume on the audio equipment being used or by employing a conference phone that requires participants to press a button to be heard.

Although those methods may have an impact on echo, they can limit the natural flow of conversations. In addition, they may not work in every situation. In extreme cases, an aggressive acoustic echo cancellation strategy will be required.

But exactly what is acoustic echo cancellation? What is the meaning of the term, and how does the process work?

Echo Cancellation Explained

At its core, echo cancellation works via digital signal processing technology that examines both an incoming voice and the outgoing audio stream. If the technology determines there is a copy of one voice in both streams, it removes the duplicate audio before sending it back to the original speaker. The solution isolates the echo alone without removing other voices in the conference and without sacrificing the overall quality of the audio.

Echo Cancellation Solutions by Yamaha UC

Many conferencing audio solutions include built-in echo cancellation technology. The ADECIA family of products from Yamaha Unified Communications, for example, includes adaptive echo cancellation that constantly scans the environment for changes to deliver an uninterrupted, echo-free audio stream.

Other features of ADECIA include Auto Gain Control which automatically adjusts voice levels to deliver a consistent, optimal volume level even if some voices are louder or weaker than others, or some speakers are closer or further away from the microphone. Yamaha's Noise Reduction technology removes constant noise from projector fans or air conditioner systems, while Dereverberation suppresses reverb components to deliver a highly intelligible output.

Yamaha UC’s line of Conference Speakerphones employ similar technology, ensuring crystal clear, echo-free conversations no matter where participants may be located.

Visit this site to learn more about the audio solutions optimized for a variety of workspaces, and check out this article for a look at video conferencing solutions. For additional assistance or advice, reach out to one of our experts.