Do you know why you should stay with Microsoft Certified devices for Microsoft Teams Room Systems(MTR)?

Why doesn’t my mute status on the Microsoft Teams Room System never stay in sync?

Have you ever asked that question or had an embarrassing episode where you thought you were muted, but you weren't?

Maybe you don't know why this happened or just want to find out how to prevent this from happening in the future?

Your frustration is not only with which way do I put the USB plug in and neither way seems to work, but also sometimes just knowing how it functions since plug and play devices can be frustrating if you have no control.

So this comes up so often and is still such a misunderstood topic that it is important to understand the basis of why this is and what is the basic reason for you to ALWAYS stay with tested and certified solutions not only for your personal devices, but also for your conference room. In this article I will focus on the conference room devices, but you will see how the information can be similar and applied to personal devices as well.

USB AUDIO

So you might think about how I plug in a device USB and audio is transmitted bidirectionally and then you say, “Oh it works.”

But does it?

There is so much complexity to USB that we don’t need to get into, but understand that sometimes manufacturers will “interpret” a spec differently and this might provide differences in the way that devices operates when put into use with another device on the receiving end. If you don’t believe me that there can be confusion from a specification, just peruse the amount of documents that are available when building usb devices here. Microsoft has the way that their drivers interpret the specs and even more detailed documentation found here.

I don’t want to dive too deep into the complexities of how USB audio works and how information is transferred from one device to the other, but I do want to point out that there are so many variables to interpret that thinking I can just use brand A and it will work because its cheaper than brand B might not be the right thinking.

One of the keys in the USB relationship to the conference room device is syncing the volume and the mute between the applications and the hardware. More than likely we have all encountered solutions that sometimes buttons might not always do the way you think they should on application A, but works on application B.

MICROSOFT TACKLES THE CONFERENCE ROOM

When Microsoft decided to make the software for the conference room with the architecture of the Microsoft Teams Room systems, USB devices and syncing were the top of thought processes. They adhere to what is called HID (Human Interface Device) and there are standards that when this happens in the software, every device used must respond in the same way. Sounds simple right? Not so fast.

As I pointed out above, the plethora of USB spec’s means that there is the possibility that no matter how well that spec is written, there is the possibility that an engineer might “interpret” or read the intention of what is expected to happen to that specific engineer might differ than the spirit that it was written in. So let’s concentrate on audio and just look at how much testing goes into the certification process.

Well when Microsoft created Lync, then Skype and now Teams, they list how the USB peripheral devices should react with the services that they created. You can find those lists here if you wish to really dive deep into them. There you will find how they test those devices to make sure they work the way that their service intends them to work. For example, mute and un-mute needs to be in sync with the service.

When it came to the conference room, USB audio was an obvious choice as a standard for the partners that were making devices as the core was going to be the Microsoft operating system that follows USB as a standard.

But do the partners products always adhere to the standard?

Well with Microsoft Teams in the cloud, they have a better ability over Skype or even Lync to make sure that standards are met. USB devices will always have a hardware ID that can be referenced by the operating system they are directly plugged into and that ID can be checked in the cloud and proper audio profiles are able to be applied since they have been tested and certified.

Why is this important?

Well this means that the cloud can apply an audio policy to that device that means that it will operate properly with that service as it is a “known” device. This is 100% the reason why you want to stay with the Microsoft Certified devices for your Microsoft Teams Room systems. If the cloud does not know that device, it will apply a default audio profile to that system which will include the cloud applying what it believes is the proper AEC/AGC (Automatic Echo Cancellation/Automatic Gain Control).

Well what if the system we are locally using in the conference room has AEC/AGC and then the cloud service ALSO applies AEC/AGC while in the conference since it does not recognize that device as a “known” device?

Audio enthusiasts can chime in here when and explain the dynamics, but if there are competing AEC/AGC you may indeed be phased out and hear nothing. Or you might have different results today than you do tomorrow if those reference points change dynamically as they do.

WHERE DO I FIND A LIST OF THESE DEVICES?

So here is a list of all of the places that you can find exactly what you are looking for if you need an audio device that has been tested and certified by Microsoft to work with Microsoft Teams Room systems.

Conference Room Accessories — DSP’s included here. This is a link to the Microsoft store where all certified devices are sold through. You will also see that you can find the conference room devices listed here as well.

List of the approved Teams peripherals — This is a link to the main store where you will find personal devices and choose your system solutions by space.

List of all of the devices and peripherals as well as the full documentation of PLAN, DEPLOY AND MANAGE your systems.

With over 20 years of experience in AV and IT roles for a well diverse combination of employers, I have a specialty in devices and solutions for meeting spaces.

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