By: Renee Combs Quinby, RDR, CRR, CCR-MO, IL-CSR, CSR-CA, AR-CCR, Realtime Systems Administrator
From the perspective of a court reporter, the sound quality of a Zoom meeting has the power to either make or break the outcome of the call. The best way to increase the quality of sound during Zoom meetings is to ensure those on the call are keeping their microphones, internet connections and audio settings in check. Improved sound quality helps ensure understandable communication on the call between meeting members and gives court reporters and videographers the ability to capture clear recordings.
Participants can take several actions to ensure the audio is solid, both during the live meeting and on the recording:
1. Whenever possible, use a headset with a built-in microphone. Feedback can occur when sounds from the Zoom meeting are picked up by the microphone, so using a headset with a built-in microphone eliminates the potential for any audio disruption caused by speaker feedback.
2. Use a hard-wired device to ensure the internet connection is stable. If that option is not available, sit as close as possible to the router to improve internet connectivity.
3. Make sure Zoom settings are optimized for success. While Zoom has built-in audio features designed to help with quality, some of these automatic settings and suppressions can cut out important sounds that are necessary for recording. They can also make it difficult to record accurately when two people speak at the same time. Participants should make a few recommended Zoom setting changes in advance of the meeting when possible to ensure sound quality is optimized and improved for all parties involved.
Begin by clicking the Settings gear icon in the upper right of the Zoom dashboard screen, then select “Audio” from the tabs on the left. If you are already on the Zoom call, click the up arrow next to the microphone on the bottom left of the meeting screen and select “Audio Settings” from the list.
When reviewing the settings, here are a few actions to take:
- Make sure the correct speaker and microphone sources in use are selected. If other meeting participants can’t hear you speaking or you are unable to hear anyone else, click the down arrow and try another speaker or microphone from the list to see if that helps.
- Test the microphone – the input graph should show activity and volume should register around 80-95%.
- Ensure the box next to “Automatically adjust microphone volume” is NOT checked
Change the “Suppress background noise” setting to Low.
4. Adjust Advanced settings to “Enable Original Sound.” For the purpose of accurate court reporting, this is one of the most important actions on this list if you are using a headset or a higher quality microphone and speakers. When this option is not enabled, Zoom compresses the audio to save bandwidth, causing distortion in the audio and making it more difficult to understand. If you are joining a meeting from a noisier environment or if you are not using a USB mic or higher quality equipment, it is better to skip this tip to avoid adding white or background noise to the call recording.
While still in the “Audio” tab, scroll to the bottom of the window and click “Advanced.” Check the box next to “Enable Original Sound,” and this will prompt you with one of two different options, depending on the version of Zoom you are running. A zoom meeting for a deposition would be considered not a "normal" meeting.
For users that see these options (most recent version of Zoom):
- If you are using a headset, check the box next to “Disable echo cancellation” – if not, leave the box unchecked.
- If you have enough bandwidth available (e.g., you are in an office environment or have a hard-wired ethernet connection), you can check “High fidelity music mode.” However, if you begin to notice videos freezing or audio sounding choppy, unselect this option to avoid putting an unnecessary load on your CPU.
If you are NOT using headphones, do NOT check the box next to “Echo cancellation.”
For users that see these options:
- Disable the “Suppress persistent background noise” option.
- Disable the“Suppress intermittent background noise” option.
- Change the “Echo cancellation” setting to Auto.
After reviewing these tips and making the recommended adjustments, you can test your sound quality, video resolution and internet connection by joining a test meeting at zoom.us/test. Don’t forget to close any unnecessary windows or tabs during meetings to prevent your device from overloading, and avoid joining meetings from your vehicle or other unreliable environments to prevent additional noise.
For specific questions or concerns about optimizing audio quality during recorded meetings or for more information, connect with the Alaris team at firstname.lastname@example.org.