The GoBiz Boundary Microphone: A Lecture Hall Stress Test

Posted: Jan 18 2011, 5:56pm CST | by , in Reviews | Peripheral

The GoBiz Boundary Microphone: A Lecture Hall Stress Test
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Don't sit in the back, kids.

Yesterday I reviewed the i-Microphone smartphone attachment. While windy weather and a few good friends were enough to stress test that product, the GoBiz Boundary Microphone required slightly different tactics. The product page brags about its performance in lecture halls, so I took it to a day of classes in order to test that claim.

For reference, I'm a senior in the University of Texas at Dallas. I tested the Boundary Mic in two different hour+ lectures. For the first one, I sat roughly 10-15 feet (three rows) back from the professor. I was elevated perhaps five feet above him. The class included 30-ish people.

The lecturer's voice was a bit faint, but perfectly clear for the duration of the 52 minute recording. Voices of students around the classroom varied more in quality. Anyone more than about 15 feet from the mic was too quiet to be 100% audible. When multiple people talked, the closest person to the mic tended to be the only one who got picked up.

My second test was perhaps 8-10 feet away from the lecturer, second row, in a class of eight people. Conversations were clearly audible here, since no one was more than about ten feet away from anyone else. People with quiet voices- like the shy poly sci major who sits in front of me, don't pick up well. But the main issue is people with accents. If your instructor has a heavy one, the recording may be too distorted for use.

Ambient noise was an issue in both instances. I'd recommend setting the boundary mic on top of a laptop bag (or laptop) as far away from the surface of the desk as possible. Otherwise the sounds of people scribbling, tapping and moving water bottles / gear will drown out the dialogue.

In total, I found the boundary microphone to be a useful tool for smaller classrooms and (if you stick to the front) lecture halls. If you're in an exceptionally large class (50+) in a stadium style setting, you'll need to sit right up front or go with a different microphone.

But for $44, the GoBiz Boundary Mic seems to be a solid investment for most students. Just don't expect audiophile quality recording- or to get a clear pick-up sitting in the back of class.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/5" rel="author">Robert Evans</a>
The excitement about new smartphones, tablets and anything mobile drive Robert to unearth the latest rumors and developments in this fast moving space. He adopted 4G as soon as it become available and knows where the mobile market is going.
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