TesiraFORTÉ X and Devio SCX devices feature Biamp LaunchTM, and a suite of functions designed to speed up and optimize the installation and tuning of a Biamp conference system. This article offers an overview of Biamp Launch for auto-configuration of TesiraFORTÉ X and Devio SCX .
Biamp Launch technology triggers automatic discovery, configuration, and tuning of connected Biamp devices without the need for custom programming. In addition, Launch provides the user with a full performance report for the meeting space upon completion.
Auto-configuration may be initiated from the Launch button on the Audio page of the embedded user interface, from the Launch button on the front of the device itself, or from the Biamp SageVue management software.
Unbox and connect the Biamp Launch-capable hardware according to the included installation guide.
- Biamp Parle microphones (TCM-1, TCM-1A, and TCM-1EX || TCM-X, TCM-XA, and TCM-XEX || TTM-X and TTM-XEX).
- Biamp Parle amplifiers (AMP-450P and AMP-450BP)
- (1) EX-UBT with 1x1 USB audio and 2x1 Bluetooth audio.
- (1) HD-1 controller.
- Biamp Launch does not configure the analog or Dante I/O or GPIO on TesiraFORTÉ X devices, those features are only available when TesiraFORTÉ X is manually configured.
After powering up the TesiraFORTÉ X / Devio SCX and peripheral Biamp AVB devices, the user will be greeted with a slowly pulsing green LED on the front right corner of the host TesiraFORTÉ X / Devio SCX device. This is the Biamp Launch button and the pulsing green LED indicates the new device is unconfigured and ready to be activated.
A target SPL for the room can be manually defined on the Audio page of the web UI. The default target value is 70dBA and this has been shown to yield excellent results in most cases with a UC meeting volume at around 50%. An average spoken word volume of approximately 60dBA has been found to be a comfortable level. In Windows 10, a PC volume adjustment from 100% to 50% reduces level by 10dB.
The preferred UC vendor can be selected on the Audio page of the web UI. The Generic option is the default. Profiles for Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet are also available, These reflect the settings used with Biamp Tesira hardware during certification testing with each vendor platform. The UC Vendor setting can be changed in runtime without requiring Launch to be re-run.
- Launch can be initiated from the Launch button on the front panel.
- Launch can be initiated from the Audio page of the device's web user interface. The device's IP address and a link to the web UI can be found using the Biamp Discovery app.
- Launch can be initiated from the Biamp SageVue management software.
The Launch experience
Following the initial Biamp Launch button press, the Launch LED will immediately shift from a green pulse to an alternating red and green pulse pattern for the duration of the configuration and tuning process. There is a period of 15-60 seconds of silence followed by a recorded welcome announcement (English language) advising the user that the automated process is about to begin. No further user interaction is required to set up the system.
If Launch is initiated from the device's web UI there will be a short lag after clicking Launch before the button test changes to "Launch Running".
If Launch has already been run to configure the device, users are verbally directed by the system to press the button again to confirm they wish to proceed with re-running Launch. If the button is not pressed again the system will remain unchanged.
It is important to stay silent during the Launch process so that it can run successfully. The system analyzes the background noise present in the room as well as the loudspeaker and room responses to test tones it produces. The Launch process will typically take between 3 and 8 minutes to complete, depending on your system configuration.
The Launch button will indicate when Launch is in progress. The front panel Launch LED color will change to an alternating pulsing green-red until Launch is complete. In the web UI the Launch button's text will change to reflect the current status of the Launch process.
A series of automated tests and procedures are run which configure and tune the system. Test tones may be louder than is comfortable for some users. Users may run Launch remotely via the web user interface or choose to protect their ears as needed if they intend to remain in the room under configuration during Launch.
After Launch completes it will announce the system is ready for use and the LED will be steady green. A reboot of the device is recommended before first use to ensure transmit mute states are in sync with USB hosts. The reboot can be a soft reboot from the web UI or a hard reboot (power cycle). The Launch configuration is retained through reboots.
If Launch has failed the Launch LED will be steady red and the Launch button on the Audio window of the web UI will indicate "Launch Failed".
- Confirm the expected devices are connected and are shown in the Devices page of the web UI
- Check the Troubleshooting page of the web UI to see if any faults are shown, remedy the fault and retry Launch.
- Ensure that excessive ambient noise levels are not present in the room, nor occurring during the Launch process.
- Press or click the Launch button to re-start the Launch process.
If you had previously run Launch successfully, then reboot the device, it will come up in the Launch Succeeded state.
If Launch has successfully completed but the far end cannot hear you, a reboot of the device is required to synchronize the transmit mute states with the host PC. The device will then maintain correct mute sync until the auto-configuration process is re-run.
If a user has pushed the Launch button by accident on a configured device then simply ignoring the 2nd voice prompt will halt the Launch process.
- Re-running the Launch process will not adversely affect a system and is recommended if the room has been physically modified by adding furnishings, carpets, or acoustic treatments.
- Launch can be re-run at any time but it will stop audio and will re-initialize USB connections so it should never be initiated while in a call.
- Launch can optionally be initiated from the device's web UI or from the Biamp SageVue management system. When Launch is triggered remotely a popup message prompting the user to confirm they wish to proceed appears rather than the spoken confirmation message.
Once initiated, Launch clears any old configuration settings and begins an automated sequence of tests using the connected Biamp hardware.
The first tests determine what Biamp hardware is connected to the host device. A system is created including all of the discovered connected devices up to the device limits. If additional hardware beyond the allowed limits is discovered then Launch will fail to execute and will report the fault.
Up to 8 Parle microphones and 8 Parle amplifier channels with connected speakers may be used with Launch. Amplifier channels without connected speakers are not included in the count.
Connected peripherals for auto-configuration may include:
- Biamp Parle microphones (TCM-1, TCM-1A, and TCM-1EX || TCM-X, TCM-XA, and TCM-XEX || TTM-X and TTM-XEX).
- When using Biamp Launch, up to (4) Parle microphones are supported in TesiraFORTÉ X 400 and Devio SCX 400
- When using Biamp Launch, up to (8) Parle microphones are supported in TesiraFORTÉ X 800, Devio SCX 800, and TesiraFORTÉ X 1600.
- Only one type of Parle mic can be used in a Launch-capable system
- TCM-1, TCM-1A, TCM-1EX or
- TCM-X, TCM-XA, TCM-XEX or
- TTM-X, TTM-XEX
- Biamp Parle amplifiers (AMP-450P and AMP-450BP)
- Up to (8) total channels of amplification are supported in auto-configuration. The total number of amplifier channels on connected devices may be greater than 8, but only 8 can be connected to loudspeakers.
- (1) EX-UBT with support for 1x1 USB audio and 2x1 Bluetooth audio.
- (1) HD-1 controller.
TC-5 network appliances may be connected on P2-5 to increase the number of AVB and PoE+ network ports available.
If the connected devices change then the Launch configuration may no longer be valid (e.g. - if a mic is removed) and the system will prompt that re-running Launch configuration is required.
Biamp Launch does not configure the analog or Dante I/O or GPIO on TesiraFORTÉ X devices, those features are only available when TesiraFORTÉ X is manually configured.
Launch system calibration
The Launch-capable Biamp processor and the Parle mics and amplifiers offer a known reference system to begin tuning the room. System adaptations are made based on measurements of the room’s acoustic response and the loudspeaker behavior.
During the Launch process the Biamp Parle mics are put into a special test mode allowing them to be used as a high quality omnidirectional test microphone. The output characteristics of the Parle test mic are known with a high degree of accuracy and so can be used as a reference mic for our room measurements.
Launch works for systems including from 1 to 8 Parle microphones and from 1 to 8 channels of Parle amplification. While the best results are achieved with (1) loudspeaker per amp channel, (2) 8-ohm loudspeakers can be connected per amp channel on a Parle amplifier. This means a room with 8 channels of amplification driving 16 loudspeakers can still be tuned with Biamp Launch.
Amplifiers and loudspeakers
The initial test tones are played through the loudspeakers during Launch allow the system to determine the efficiency of each loudspeaker; that is, how much output volume does it produce for a given input voltage.
Impulse sweep tones allow us to measure the time of flight for audio from each speaker back to each microphone in the room. This allows Launch to calculate the distance from each speaker to each mic.
Impulse sweep tones also reveal the frequency response of the loudspeaker’s output. A pre-Launch-tuning rating is assigned to the loudspeaker's frequency response based on its accuracy vs the source tones. This is shown in the report card as Initial Speaker Tuning.
The loudspeaker’s output is compared to our reference EQ response curve and EQ adjustments are applied for the loudspeaker to meet our reference EQ response curve.
Amplifier gain adjustments are applied to meet our target SPL level for the room to ensure comfortable conference volumes.
Peak limiters are set to prevent accidental episodes of volume above the target range.
The loudspeaker system is tested again with another impulse sweep to confirm the output matches the desired settings.
The impulse response of each mic position is analyzed to determine the strength of "early" echo reflections in the room and apply the appropriate amount of Acoustic Echo Cancelation (AEC) processing for each mic location. Echo is eliminated from the mic by comparing any signal routed to the speakers with the input signal of the mic and cancelling out anything the two have in common. AEC prevents the far end audio from a call which is coming out of the loudspeakers and being "heard" by the mics from being fed back to the far end where it would be heard as an echo of their own voices.
The measured RT-60 time of the room is used to determine the necessary levels of Non-Linear Processing (NLP) that needs to be applied to each microphone to squelch "late" echo reflections. NLP is also referred to as dereverberation. It provides adaptive filtering to reduce late reflection energy which arrive at the mic outside of the time window of the AEC algorithm. The applied settings available to Launch are None, Low, Medium, and High; where Low is a shorter time window and less aggressive filter and High is a longer time window and more aggressive filter. The NLP setting is shown in the Devices section of the report card for each microphone under 'Echo Reduction Applied'.
The noise floor of the room is assessed at each mic position to determine the amount of Noise Reduction (NR) that needs to be applied to reduce noise heard by listeners at the far end of a call to an acceptable level. Launch can choose from 4 discrete levels of NR, Off, Low, Medium, and High. The NR setting is shown in the Devices section of the report card for each microphone under 'Noise Reduction Applied'.
The appropriate Room Acoustics setting is applied to the Parle Processing block (a customized signal chain object from Tesira software) for each mic location based on the actual room acoustic measurements.
The appropriate Microphone Type settings are applied to the Parle Processing block to optimize EQ and automixing functions for the specific model of Parle mics discovered in the system.
Launch applies any UC-vendor-specific tuning settings to our Parle Processing block based on the UC Vendor selected on the Audio page of the web UI. The UC Vendor can be changed at any time after running Launch and the settings will be applied without needing to re-run Launch.
The final test signal played through the loudspeakers is the Speech Transmission Index (STI) test. The STI test signal is played after all the mic and speaker settings have been applied to verify that the system is performing as expected. This measurement evaluates whether the far end of a call should be able to clearly understand participants in a call from your Launch-calibrated conference room.
During the Launch process a variety of test tones and verbal commentary will be played through the connected loudspeaker to perform and narrate the system setup process.
The tests allow the system to determine the room's noise floor and reverberance.
The room’s acoustic properties are measured and the mic and speaker performance are evaluated both before and after the tuning process.
The system calculates the distance from each mic to each speaker, adjusts the amplifier outputs per channel to match a target EQ profile, assesses the loudspeaker output volume and matches the desired target volume, sets limiters to protect against SPL overshoot, and then verifies the behavior with another impulse sweep.
Test components include:
Measuring the room's RT-60 response.
Reverberance is acoustic energy – sound – bouncing from surface to surface within a room. Hard, smooth surfaces allow sound to reflect off their surfaces with very little loss of energy. Rooms with lots of hard smooth surfaces are generally described as being very ‘live’ and ill-suited for conference use.
A room’s reverberance is commonly documented by its RT-60 time. RT-60 is a measurement of the time it takes for acoustic energy to decay by 60dB (from very loud to almost inaudible) in a room. A 10dB drop in level is perceived as the sound being one-half as loud.
The RT-60 time is calculated for a set of frequencies across the audible spectrum. These measurements offer one insight into the overall suitability of the acoustics of the room for conferencing. An RT60 time of less than 0.5 sec is appropriate for most conferencing applications.
Rooms with long RT60 times tend to sound bad for conferencing purposes (but may be wonderful for a pipe organ recital). High reverberance (long RT60) cannot be corrected with electronics. RT60 is reduced through physical modification of the space through the introduction of suitable acoustic treatments. The expense of the treatments can vary widely. There are many designer-friendly options available for use today, "acoustic treatment" does not mean "black foam eggcrate stapled to the walls."
A room that sounds bad in person will typically sound even worse at the far end of a conference call. Room acoustics are a mechanical property determined by construction materials and design and issues must be solved via mechanical means such as upgraded windows, quieter air vents, sound blocking construction materials, isolation hangars for drywall and ceiling tiles, acoustic treatments, bass traps, and other methods. The better a room sounds to begin with, the better your results will be when attempting to mic it.
The effects of an overly reverberant room can also be mitigated with good (close) microphone placement to increase the ratio of direct sound captured vs. reverberant sound (direct-to-reverberant ratio).
RT-60 is an important consideration when designing conference systems with ceiling mics because the mics are at a distance from the talker and they will naturally capture more of the ambient sound of the room. The combination of a reverberant space with distant microphones can be highly problematic.
- A room with a long RT-60 time will generally be bad for conferencing (imagine the sound of voices in an echoey gymnasium or tiled hallway) while rooms with short to moderate RT-60 times may be well suited for conferencing.
- A room’s RT-60 times can be modified through the use of acoustic treatments to either absorb acoustic energy at certain frequencies, or to diffuse or scatter reflections from surfaces. Acoustic treatments can be incorporated into furnishings, artwork, and building materials.
- The types of furnishings and the number of people present in a room also affect reverberance.
The noise floor is the amount of ambient sound you hear in an otherwise quiet room. A low noise floor is generally conducive to focused conversation while a high noise floor makes conversation difficult or impossible.
A library or empty theater will generally have a very low noise floor, while a factory, coffee shop, or noisy restaurant will have a high noise floor.
What contributes to the noise floor of a room? Environmental noises which may be almost inaudible normally can affect a room, including wind and rain on the exterior of the building. Mechanical noises in the building generated by things such as HVAC system, plumbing, elevators, refrigerators, and manufacturing processes are common noise sources. External sound such as a nearby railway, roadway, or airport may raise the noise floor. Human noise is a contributing factor as well – talking, footsteps, people moving around the building, doors opening and closing, chairs rolling on the floor can all cause sounds which are transmitted through the structure of the building.
Microphones are made to capture all noise, regardless of the source of the noise. Microphone outputs can to be processed to mitigate the noises captured in a room through selective EQ, active noise reduction, and noise gating. The effectiveness of the processing done is dependent on the types of noise causing problems, some can be treated more effectively than others. It is always preferable to start with a pristine source which requires minimal processing.
A conference room with microphones should be thought of in the same manner as a recording or broadcast studio. In the same way poor lighting will result in a bad looking picture for video transmission, a high noise floor will result in bad sounding audio for audio transmission. The goal is to create a high-quality transmission for a remote audience.
The standard SPL measurement for noise floor uses A-weighting and a slow response. The noise floor will affect the results you can achieve with the conferencing system in terms of transmission clarity as well as intelligibility within the room.
If there are mechanical noise concerns (noisy air vents, air-conditioner blower noise, exterior noise sources transmitted through windows, walls, doors, or other sources) they should be identified, documented, and mitigated if possible. If there are intermittent but expected noises it is recommended to take measurements when these sources are active and inactive for comparison (eg - trains or subways passing, planes passing overhead).
The Noise Criteria (NC) rating is a more detailed measurement of the noise floor of the space. The NC rating looks at the volume in different audio frequency ranges and rates them against a response curve which corresponds to how humans perceive sound. The NC rating indicates the highest level at which the specific frequencies cross the noise criteria curve. It is possible to add acoustic treatments or sound deadening materials to suppress noise in targeted frequency ranges to improve the NC rating of a room.
The difference between the measured noise floor and the level of the talker at the microphone is referred to as the signal-to-noise ratio. This ratio must be at least 10dB, but should be closer to 25dB for optimal speech intelligibility. An ambient noise floor of 35-40dB(A) or lower is considered appropriate for a conference room. This level corresponds with the Noise Criterion curve of 25-30.
Some seats may have a noticeably higher noise floor versus others due to proximity to a nearby noise source. Be aware that a room that is relatively quiet at the desktop level may be much noisier at the ceiling mic locations.
A room measured at seat level may show a noise floor of 40dB(A), but a measurement made at the ceiling mic location, near an air handler, may show a noise floor of 65dB(A). In that case the 65db(A) noise floor is the most relevant data point since this is what the mic will "hear".
In addition to the issue of noise created by air handlers or vents themselves, air blowing across a microphone screen may result in air turbulence noises which can render a mic's output unusable.
If a room scores poorly for noise it may be necessary to manually take noise level measurements both at the listener and mic locations, and compare results.
Measurements of speech transmission quality are made for each mic location.
The measurement of the Speech Transmission Index (STI) rating uses an industry standard test signal to measure how sound played through loudspeakers interacting with the room’s natural acoustic response affects intelligibility. The interaction is captured in a metric described on a scale of 0 = bad, to 1 = excellent. A low STI score will indicate it is difficult to understand speech in the space, typically this may be due to high ambient noise levels, excessively long RT-60 times, intrusive or competing sounds, inadequate sound pressure levels from the speakers, or poor quality or defective speaker installations not properly reproducing the audio in the listening area. A high STI rating indicates that the space is well suited for understanding speech content at the target volume.
The Audio page shows the audio input and output meters and shows VoIP call status (if configured).
The VoIP System page will show line registration status (if configured).
After the Launch process has completed, and the system has announced it is ready to use, a Launch report card is generated. To view the Launch report card, use a web browser to connect to the Biamp device at its IP address. Click the Audio tab to reveal the web-based Launch button (mirroring the function of the Launch LED button) and the Report Card button. Clicking the Report Card button opens a new webpage with details of the pre-Launch and post-Launch room acoustics measurements using easy to read graphics.
The Pre-Launch Room Performance assessment grades the room profile attributes: initial speaker tuning accuracy, the room reverb levels, and the measured room noise. Each category can be scored as Poor, Medium, or Good. A calculation based on all measurements is used to determine the overall room score. The pre-Launch room may receive an overall score of Poor, Fair, Good, Great, or Excellent
The Launch-Optimized Room Performance assessment grades the post-Launch performance results for: optimized speaker tuning, room reverb compensation, and transmitted noise level. Each category can be scored as Poor, Medium, or Good. It indicates the settings applied for speaker enhancement, microphone enhancement, and the total noise reduction. These can be scored as none, low, medium, and high. A calculation based on all parameters is used to determine the overall room score. The Launch-optimized room may receive an overall score of Poor, Fair, Good, Great, or Excellent
Note that certain room conditions (such as noisy HVAC systems) will limit the ability of Launch to attain Excellent results in every situation. Pre-launch conditions should be taken into consideration (a room initially rated as Poor will likely not be optimized to Excellent).
In the Connected Devices section each device can be opened to view some of the specific settings applied to the input or output channel.
The Report Card is a powerful tool for assessing the initial suitability of the room for conferencing. validating the room performance, and the expected results from the Launch-optimized Biamp system. The Report Card also gives a complete listing of the hardware devices in the system (device models, their serial numbers, firmware version, and more). The Report Card page offers a “Generate pdf” button to provide a copy of the Report Card properly formatted for printing.