Off the shelf far field microphones

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For prototyping with far field interaction, an off the shelf ready to use microphone can be a huge time savings when it comes to getting a project off the ground.

We’ve had various degrees of success using different mics. Here are a few that we’ve used that have allowed us to get ridiculous far field capabilities — 6m plus — even in noisy environments.

As more developers and hackers start to develop far field voice applications, here’s a quick list of a few devices that could be used to enhance projects.

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Jabra USB Speakerphone

This is one of the lower cost solutions at $70 on Amazon. This has some acoustic echo cancellation / duplexing firmware built into it so it’s reliable for barge in. The other benefit is that it gets power from the same port it plugs into, making it better for portable implementatins.

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Li Creative CrispMic

I’m not sure if this mic is still on the market, but it was another low cost beam forming array that was great for getting far field capability with a small footprint. It didn’t have acoustic echo cancellation built in but was the most compact far field mic we had used. The price was in the $100 range.

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Acoustic Magic Voice Tracker I

This is an 8-mic array that has the ability to switch between a long distance to a shorter distance mode and a wide to narrow beam. It performs well but requires separate power and isn’t low cost — $250+. However, in certain environments, it’s performances exceeds the Echo’s.

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Acoustic Magic Voice Tracker II

This version of the Voice Tracker comes with acoustic echo cancellation. You feed it line in and you can interrupt even loud music being played out through speakers — plus it has beam forming. However, this is really only meant for high end projects as its cost is high — $450.

ClearOne Ceiling Array

We haven’t tested with this mic, but it hangs on the ceiling or could be directed. It’s not cheap — $450+

ClearOne Multiple Mic Array

This is a beast but can fill an entire room. However, at $3,000+, this is for pros only.

It’s likely we’ll see the cost of these devices drop significantly over the next two years as new DSP far field technologies promulgate. Today, BOM for a reliable far field mic could be as low as $10 at volume.

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Independent daily thoughts on all things future, voice technologies and AI. More at http://linkedin.com/in/grebler

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