Inavate + Sennheiser: Best bar in town?

Ronja Harste talks about how the Sennheiser TeamConnect Bar is looking to raise the standard of what users and AV professionals can expect from videobars.

Videobars have become one of the fastest growing product verticals in AV as work and learning go hybrid.

The growing number of videoconferencing spaces being setup across offices and educational institutes require audio and video solutions at pace. Videobars deliver in a compact and effective package and hence they have emerged as one of the preferred solutions deployed by AV professionals.

It is no surprise that manufacturers are creating and launching videobars of their own to meet the demand from the market. The product vertical is getting crowded. One of the latest competitors on the market is the Sennheiser TeamConnect Bar [TC Bar]. Is this just another product launched to match the competition?

Ronja Harste, product manager, UC solutions, Sennheiser, answers: “The demand from the market for videobars is undeniable. But at the same time, we at Sennheiser believe that the videobar products available to users and AV professionals do not fully address their needs. We believe that we can do better, and this led to the creation of the TC Bar.”

Making its debut in Orlando, USA at Infocomm 2023, the TeamConnect Bar is the latest addition to the Sennheiser TeamConnect family further expanding the offering from the manufacturer for communication and collaboration spaces. Harste sheds light on how the TC Bar was conceptualised: “With the TC Bar we knew we had to hit the right balance between flexibility, performance, and convenience. The meeting and collaboration spaces where videobars are required come in varying sizes and configurations. It was crucial for us that the TC Bar was ‘size appropriate’ so we created two versions, the TC Bar S for small spaces and the TC Bar M for mid-sized rooms. These two versions of the TC Bar allow users and AV professionals to select the right solution based on the requirements of the space.”

In addition to size, the TC Bar has been designed to outperform competitors when it comes to flexibility. Harste says: “The TC Bar is a complete solution. It can handle all the audio and video needs of collaboration spaces, whether they be intended for work or for learning. But it is also flexible enough to be incorporated into more complex AV systems. You have the option of using Dante and adding extension microphones and even a second external USB camera. This flexibility opens new design spaces for AV professionals, and they can create more scalable and effective systems for spaces.”

When it comes to performance, users can expect the TC Bar to meet the high standards that Sennheiser prides itself for. Harste details: “For audio, Sennheiser’s reputation should precede itself. But we are not resting on our laurels. Using our knowledge and experience in developing ceiling microphones, we fine-tuned the algorithm and developed the beamforming technology for the TC Bars. This exceptional, integrated beamforming technology allows the TC Bar to pick up presenters wherever they might be in the space. And with a built-in DSP, you can further optimise room acoustics according to your preferences.”

Harste continues: “Sennheiser has history designing and creating speakers and we have leveraged this history with the TC Bar. You can expect our Trusted Sennheiser Audio Quality which should give you peace of mind when it comes to the audio output performance of our videobar. The powerful full-range stereo speakers with their improved directivity pattern and optimised passive radiators ensure natural speech and outstanding intelligibility.”

With the camera of the TC Bar Sennheiser is breaking new ground. Harste says: “We knew that we wanted the visual performance of the TC Bar to match the quality audio that is synonymous with our brand. So, we found a strong video partner and embarked on achieving this outcome. Sennheiser was involved in the design and creation of the camera every step of the way. We leveraged the independent test laboratory of our partner, Image Engineering, to make sure that the camera performance met our high standards.”

The result of Sennheiser’s efforts is a modern 4K Ultra HD camera that is a perfect fit for hybrid spaces across corporate and education facilities. The capabilities of the camera allow it to convey the smallest gestures and facial expressions ensuring increased meeting inclusion and engagement. Equipped with AI features such as ‘autoframing’ and ‘person tiling’, these enable remote participants to clearly see their counterparts.

Last but not least, the TC Bar has been designed to present solutions to the challenges faced by AV professionals. Harste says: “AV professionals are expected to deploy and commission meeting room spaces quickly and efficiently. They have no time to waste. The TC Bar comes with standard mounting options and single cable mode which speeds up the installation process making it plug n play. Sennheiser’s brand agnostic approach means that the TC Bar fits seamlessly into broader systems and platforms whether those be Microsoft Teams or Zoom or our Alliance Partners. All of these features are directed to make installation and deployment as simple as possible.”

Harste continues: “Sennheiser also has a robust and featurerich ecosystem built around the TC Bar which can provide value to users and AV professionals. Sennheiser Control Cockpit provides the ability to fine-tune the performance by leveraging the built-in DSP and allows for setting up of exclusion zones for example. And communication to the Sennheiser Control Cockpit, as well as third party media control systems, is encrypted using industry standard Transport Layer Security 1.2 making it safe from misuse. The TC Bars also support IEEE 802.1x network authentication and, of course, for additional privacy, a lens cap is included. We have considered the challenges faced when videobars are deployed in meeting and learning spaces and have looked to offer solutions with the TC Bar.”

The TC Bar solutions have received a distinction with the Red Dot Award: Product Design 2023. The award independently highlights and reaffirms the care and consideration Sennheiser has taken in creating the TC Bar. Harste concludes: “The TC Bar is the perfect addition to Sennheiser’s TeamConnect Family. We can now offer a complete range of solutions to users that can meet the needs of a variety of spaces. Our ceiling microphones are perfect for large and mid-sized rooms where audio quality is of paramount importance and the TC Bar is a flexible fit for spaces where you need an all-in-one solution that delivers both performance and convenience.”

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