Spatial Audio in the Conference Room: What, Why & How?

Here we talk about what spatial audio actually is, what the benefits are and how you can enable it in your own conference rooms.
November 15, 2023

Spatial audio, often referred to as 3D audio, is a sound technology designed to make audio experiences more immersive by replicating the nuances of how we hear sounds in real life. Instead of just hearing sounds from the left or right (as in traditional stereo setups), or in mono which is the case in almost all modern conference rooms, spatial audio provides a three-dimensional sound experience. The goal is to make it seem as if sounds are coming from all around the listener, even including from above and below, and feel as though the sound is emanating directly from the source.

Spatial audio in a conference room can significantly enhance the meeting experience by creating a more immersive and engaging environment.

Here are three key benefits of utilising this technology in conference rooms:

Improved Communication

Spatial audio allows participants to pinpoint the direction from which a speaker's voice is coming, making it easier to identify who is speaking. This spatial awareness mimics the natural way we perceive sound in real-life conversations, reducing confusion and enhancing the clarity of discussions. It can also help individuals with hearing impairments or language barriers by providing more context and nuance in spoken communication.

Enhanced Engagement and Focus

Spatial audio creates a more immersive and interactive meeting environment, helping attendees feel like they are physically present in the room. This heightened sense of presence can boost engagement levels, making it easier for participants to stay focused and actively participate in discussions. The dynamic nature of spatial audio can draw attention to the speaker, making it less likely for participants to get distracted by other activities during the meeting.

Realistic Meeting Experiences:

Spatial audio adds depth and realism to remote and virtual meetings, making them feel more like in-person gatherings. It enables the perception of multiple sound sources and the ability to distinguish between different voices and sounds, replicating the rich auditory experience of face-to-face meetings. As a result, spatial audio can improve collaboration, decision-making, and the overall quality of remote meetings, leading to more productive interactions.

Overall, spatial audio in a conference room can transform the way participants engage with one another, making virtual and remote meetings more effective, immersive, and enjoyable. It enhances communication, increases engagement, and provides a more realistic meeting experience, ultimately contributing to better collaboration and outcomes.

A Microsoft Teams Rooms Signature Room utilising the immersive Front Row display layout

In the case of market leading Microsoft Teams Rooms, spatial audio can be enabled in rooms running Teams Rooms Front Row. Front Row is a layout for use in spaces designed following Microsoft's Signature Room design guidelines and provides a layout that removes individual backgrounds, adjusts video participant's size, and applies a unified background for remote participants to make them appear as if they are in the same room. Besides the Front Row requirement, all you need then is a Teams-certified stereo audio system with appropriate speaker placement. To enable the functionality in the room simply add <IsSpatialAudioEnabled>true</IsSpatialAudioEnabled> to your XML configuration file. Once the feature is enabled, you can also turn it ON or OFF using the audio setting under … (More) menu during a meeting.

Here is a great demo from our friends over at QSC of spatial audio in a Microsoft Teams Signature Room. When you watch it you'll need stereo speakers or stereo headphones/earbuds to experience it.

If you're interested in exploring the benefits of spatial audio in your conference rooms but are unsure where to start, please don't hesitate to reach out to our friendly team for help any time.