💡Teams is coming. Is your AV ready for it?
Imagine a situation where you are responsible for an event in your auditorium. About 50-60 people are attending and Teams has been running smoothly for a couple of hours, until the audio suddenly disappears after two hours of perfect performance for no apparent reason.
Since the audio disappeared and the microphone stopped working, the transfer of sound from Teams to the listeners was interrupted. The most painful part is that no one present knows the exact reason for the problem. The AV equipment in front of you is like an airplane cockpit with all its audio processors, switches, and devices.
This was not a hypothetical situation, but unfortunately a real one that our AV installer encountered on his own time. On that occasion, the problem was fixed by turning off all the devices, but so far, the problem has not been replicated.
The same story with Teams seems to be repeating itself in our customers' support requests time and time again. What makes it difficult is that even during the situation, it is difficult for a professional to identify which device caused the problem. Maybe the malfunction could have been caused by a Windows update or maybe the system was too complicated in that particular case. Perhaps the worst nightmare from a customer's perspective is the sudden loss of sound or video during an ongoing meeting or presentation, especially when dozens or hundreds of people are watching and following desperate attempts to fix the issue.
Since this issue seems to affect so many people, we were inspired during one of our coffee breaks to take the bull by the horns and take a short refresher on what AV and Teams compatibility issues can arise and how to overcome them.
What are the reasons why Teams and AV do not work together in certain situations?
Teams and AV do not always work together in certain situations. There have often been problems when a Windows update has been automatically installed on the computer overnight. The next morning when the system is started, a driver may not be compatible, which prevents Teams and AV from working together. Such situations have occurred frequently.
In the worst case, a customer may have a video conferencing system that is already several years old and was compatible with Teams or the ancient Skype. However, when firmware updates are released for the devices, they may suddenly no longer be supported and become unusable. This is a disappointment for the customer, as camera-microphone packages costing, for example, 5000-6000 euros have been expensive investments that could work well technically, but have been rendered software-disabled after only five years of use.
Why doesn't Teams work with some cameras?
Firstly, the reason may be the age of the cameras, where the device has been software-disabled, making them difficult or even unusable from the user's perspective.
Secondly, often the camera is not Teams certified, which may cause compatibility issues. The user must then manually select the correct source from the settings because Teams cannot automatically select it. Certified devices require less user expertise and are therefore preferred.
Why doesn't audio sometimes come through Teams?
The most common situation is when the audio from Teams is not output through the room's audio system. For example, if a remote lecture is taking place in an auditorium, and the lecturer may be physically hundreds of kilometers away, it is disastrous if the audio cannot be heard from the computer.
In such cases, however, the problem is easy to solve as these types of situations are usually only setting problems and not actual malfunctions. Often, simply selecting the correct audio source in either the AV controller or in Teams is enough.
If this is not the reason, then the user is usually in big trouble because there can be many different problems and solutions. In that case, you have to search for the causes of the problem for a longer time.
What are the things to consider when choosing AV equipment for an environment that heavily uses Teams?
When choosing AV equipment for an environment that heavily uses Teams, Google Meet, or Zoom for remote meetings, it's important to keep things simple. This helps avoid potential issues and ensures that the selected equipment meets the needs of the situation and users.
One good way to find suitable equipment is to ask vendors and search for experiences with well-proven brands and models. It's also important to remember that equipment from large manufacturers is usually reliable, but support for certain software versions or older devices may be limited.
Overall, the choice should be as simple as possible to make use easy and reliable. This avoids potential problems and ensures that the selected equipment meets the needs of the users.
What are some examples of Teams-compatible AV-device?
There is a huge selection of Teams-compatible equipment available worldwide from almost all major manufacturers in both AV and computer industries. When it comes to smaller conference rooms and classrooms, commonly used webcam and microphone solutions from major computer manufacturers are used. These are simple and reliable, but they often cannot cover a very large area.
For larger rooms, a considerable amount of understanding of camera and microphone setups suitable for Teams use is needed. If you trust in products from major manufacturers and stick to them, everything generally works well together.
How much does a functional AV and Teams setup cost?
If we consider a small two-person conference room with a 55-inch display and a simple webcam or camera bar connected, it doesn't cost much. The price of the display is well under €1000, and a high-quality video bar with a camera, speakers, and microphone is enough and is a really effective solution even for 6-person rooms.
You can get something cheaper with a Jabra or similar manufacturer's inexpensive device, but there is no practical upper limit when talking about large auditoriums or similar spaces with multiple cameras.
However, if we talk about small rooms with a basic display and video bar, a really reasonable equipment can be obtained for just over a couple of thousand euros when professional installations are added on top. So, we're not necessarily talking about a lot of money in total, even if you replace the entire system.
Is it possible to fix the problem quickly if the AV is not Teams-compatible?
The compatibility of AV equipment with Teams is not just about connectors and locations, but sound and image must also work together in remote meeting situations.
Usually, AV equipment can be adapted to meet Teams requirements, especially if you choose the latest equipment from major manufacturers that are Teams-certified, but honestly, each case is different. The problem is usually just getting sound and image to work correctly so that there are no problems with AV equipment. If the current AV equipment is not Teams-compatible, certain parts, such as the video bar, should be replaced at least.
The best way to solve the problem is to turn to an expert who knows about the subject and ask for the best solution that suits your needs.