Improving audio quality in cohort discussions

By Adam Jones (Published on April 9, 2024)

Today we're launching a program to improve audio quality in cohort discussions on our courses. As having clear audio is crucial for effective communication during video calls and group discussions, this should enable better conversations!

This includes guidance on improving your audio setup, and for people whose audio quality is limited by their microphone we’ll reimburse them for buying a better microphone (details and terms below).

Guidance on improving audio quality

Reduce background noise

  • Find a quiet room or space away from noise like fans, AC units, traffic etc.
  • Close doors and windows to block external noises.
  • Mute yourself when not speaking if you're working in a louder setting or are in a large cohort.

Prevent echoes

  • Use headphones or earphones to avoid audio looping back.
  • Move to a room with soft furnishings like blankets, curtains, rugs to dampen reflections.

Get a good microphone

  • Test out different microphones you have. You can test out how you sound to others in this tool. Usually (but not always!) external microphones, including those on headphones, work better than your computer's built-in mic.
  • See below for good affordable microphone options.

Position your microphone correctly

  • For most mics, position them 6-12 inches from your mouth and slightly off to the side. This helps avoid being too quiet or too loud, and prevent plosive sounds hitting the mic.
  • In your audio settings, adjust the input level so that regular conversation volume registers around 75% on the scale.
  • Review the manual for your specific microphone to identify optimal usage: some microphones need to be positioned in specific ways for optimal quality.

Taking just a few minutes to optimise your setup can go a long way towards better discussions! Let us know if you have any other audio questions, or other tips to add here.

Microphone reimbursement scheme

If your audio quality is limited by your microphone we’ll reimburse you for buying a better microphone. If you're not sure whether your should apply, ask your facilitator.

We recommend either of these earphones with microphones:

  • Wired: Sony MDR-EX15AP (UK, US)
  • Wireless: JBL Wave Beam (UK, US)

Or one of the following microphones:

  • Clip microphone: Nicama LVM3 lav mic (UK)
  • Clip microphone: PoP voice lavalier mic (US)
  • Desktop microphone kit: SUDOTACK ST800 (UK)
  • Desktop microphone kit: VeGue VG-016 (US)
  • Desktop microphone: Fifine AmpliGame A8 mic (UK, US)

You’re also welcome to purchase other equivalent equipment from anywhere that will provide a valid purchase receipt, in any currency.

We will reimburse participants up to £30.[1] If you spend more than this, we’ll send you £30. You can spend the money in local currency, and we'll convert it to pounds to work out your reimbursement amount e.g. $38 or €35.

Submit an expense claim for reimbursement

Terms:

  • You must submit your claim by 1 June 2024.
  • Maximum one claim per person.
  • Total available reimbursement pool of £3,000 (we think it's highly unlikely we run out, but we will try to update this page if we get close). Reimbursements will be made in submission order.
  • You must submit a receipt or proof of purchase for relevant audio or video equipment that you will use for your cohort sessions, such as a microphone, headphones, earphones or a webcam.
  • You must be a participant or facilitator currently on a course run by BlueDot Impact.
  • We will reimburse you via bank transfer (Wise) or PayPal transfer (PayPal UK), so are unable to send payments to sanctioned countries.

If you have any questions or feedback about this scheme, contact us.

Footnotes

  1. If you’re a facilitator or teaching fellow we’ll reimburse up to £30 × [number of cohorts you’re facilitating] to improve your setup, provided this reasonably improves discussion quality.

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