Understanding Dereverberation and How it Improves Sound Quality

Author: Gina Cunsolo

Workers are no longer tied to the office in today’s business world, and remote meetings have become the norm. Unfortunately, the conference rooms from which those meetings may be initiated aren’t always designed with audio quality as their primary concern.

Instead, those spaces often include boardroom tables and glass windows or partitions that, while pleasing to the eye, often create reverberation that microphones may pick up. That reverberation can make speech difficult or impossible for others to comprehend.

For those situations, a process known as dereverberation may be required.

What is reverberation and when is it too much?

When someone speaks in a room with reflective surfaces such as glass windows or blank walls, the sound of their voice can bounce off those surfaces and create a slight echo effect. That’s reverberation, or reverb for short. Although a slight amount of reverb adds warmth to a speaker’s voice, too much reverb can be a distraction.

If you’ve ever been in the last few rows at a concert in a sports arena or other space that wasn’t designed with acoustics in mind, for example, you’ve probably been disappointed by the poor sound quality. Chances are it wasn’t the fault of the musicians; it was the effect of the sound being reflected from several different directions. The result is a blur of noise that is far from pleasing to the ears. 

The same thing can occur during a remote conference. The effects of reverb can be complicated when those in the meeting are located several feet from microphone systems or conference phones. The syllables of the speaker’s words blur together, creating a jumble that’s difficult for listeners to comprehend.

Taking steps to minimize reverb can be key to ensuring everyone gets the full benefit of a meeting no matter where the participants are located.

Enhancing sound quality with dereverberation

Understanding the meaning of dereverberation is key to minimizing the effects of reverb and enhancing audio quality.

Dereverberation is a sound-processing technology by which the effects of reverberation are removed from sound to improve clarity. When it comes to speech dereverberation, this can be accomplished via several methods.

One way to accomplish dereverberation is via software specifically designed for that purpose. Some conferencing software packages offer dereverberation modules that can be incorporated into the program itself. There are also third-party add-ons that can handle the task.

Speech dereverberation solutions by Yamaha UC

In some cases, the audio equipment being used for the meeting handles the dereverberation process. The ADECIA communication solution from Yamaha Unified Communications, for example, includes dereverberation technology that improves the audio quality of the speech of those farther from the microphone, providing a cleaner listening experience. ADECIA automatically detects components, configures devices, and optimizes audio performance for the room environment - adjusting for reverberation characteristics, echo behavior, speaker/mic position, and more.

Several Yamaha UC conference phones and microphone systems also include dereverberation technology. The YVC-1000 USB Speakerphone & Bluetooth Conference Phone includes automatic auto-tuning capabilities that measure and analyze the room environment and adjust acoustic settings to the optimal level. The YVC-1000 Wired Microphone and Speaker System includes dereverberation technology as well.

For additional information on improving audio quality in conference rooms, check out this Guide to Conference Room Microphone Setup. For more on conference room design, see this article on Conference Room Layouts for Different Meeting Situations or reach out to one of our experts.