Most existing courtrooms use equipment that was designed thirty years ago. These systems include a few microphones located at the judge, witness, prosecution, and defense areas, and are connected to an amplifier that is tied to speakers in the room. In many cases these speakers are located in the gallery area, and are built on a public address system. The audio from the participants with microphones is heard in the gallery area and the volume is at a very high setting so the participants can hear themselves in the back of the room.
Audio technology has advanced significantly over the last ten years and there is a greater demand to create audio reinforcement systems with distributed sound. The goal is to create a feeling of conversation that allows people to speak at a normal volume and have audio distributed throughout the courtroom so all parties feel like they are having a conversation. The quality of the tone of audio is also more natural when reinforced and distributed this way.
The demand from courts today is the integration of audio into other technology systems. This could be audio for digital recording, integrated audio conferencing, or video conferencing.
Conference Technologies has developed and refined solutions that are cost effective and exceed the courtroom audio expectations. Designing a courtroom to address four designated zones of audio, and with Digital Signal Processors, reinforces sound through voice-lift technology. Ensuring zones are carefully placed also helps prevent the judge from hearing him/herself and stops the feedback that happens when these signals cross. Most importantly, zones help when there is a bench conference. Comments are appropriately captured ‘for the record’ but are zoned so the jury and gallery areas are excluded from the conversation through push-button white noise.