News

8 Dec 2021

Road Test: Bose VB1

by Tristan Herrod

Tristan Herrod is Head of Sales & Business Development at Pro AV Solutions QLD. Over 13 years with the business (formerly known as Advanced Video Integration) Tristan has been a public sector account manager and senior account manager, before progressing to head of sales and BD. He holds responsibility for key and strategic accounts across all verticals, looking after Pro AV Solutions’ most trusted, top-end accounts.

The Bose VB1 sits in a relatively young but fast-growing product category which we’ve been referring to as UC Bars or Video Bars. I first saw a pre-production example of the VB1 in Cape Town at a Bose Global Presence Alliance summit. Christian Liebenberg from Bose APAC presented it along with a lead developer to our group. It was definitely ahead of the curve. After gaining Microsoft Teams certification, the VB1 now sits high on our list of equipment recommendations. Bose have ticked all the boxes; rarely do we see a new product where they’ve thought of everything. 

I think Bose did what Bose do when developing this product; they took a step back and listened. They saw traditional loudspeaker sales on a rapid decline. UC soundbars are quick, easy, accessible and affordable. They have enabled IT departments to take over what are traditionally AV spaces and roll them out in large numbers. Every room that IT take is a room that we in AV integration lose. Bose saw AV’s numbers going down and went back to the drawing board to stay relevant.

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Application

We recently installed a number of VB1s in a government building as part of a Microsoft Teams room upgrade. It was a large project across a major department with around 80 old UC appliances that needed to be replaced. Part of this rollout involved addressing audio issues in six particular rooms. These rooms were hexagonal glass fishbowls, which is awful for AV. The old UC system was almost unusable. Not through any shortcoming of the system itself, just because of the harsh environment.

We installed a Bose VB1 in each of these rooms, which cost much less than the original system. Because of the superior control of the VB1’s mics and speakers, it has created a much better UC environment. The customer effectively got six rooms back to full functionality that people are now happy to use. That’s a solid endorsement.

We’ve rolled out around 30 VB1s in the last few months, with zero bad feedback. Customers comment positively about the audio quality, particularly of the microphones. The rooms we’ve delivered work exactly as expected, which is an endorsement considering how low user expectations of UC and VC are in the market.

Microphones

The VB1’s six beam-forming microphones are perfect for steering in small to medium spaces. It’s become common to have a screen mounted perpendicular to where people sit in smaller meeting rooms, so people are looking at their virtual colleague on a screen to their side. It’s no good sticking in a mic directly mounted on or under the screen if it’s unsteerable and picking up noise from the corridor if people are sitting to its left and right; the VB1 has the tools on board to easily adapt to the modern workspace.

Camera/Video

While Bose are an audio specialist, they actually went to the drawing board and designed and built their own camera. The VB1 has more video processing power on-board than it currently needs, and Bose have flagged continued firmware updates coming that will enable the VB1 to do more. We’re looking forward to people counting, object detection, and being able to pull all data on that out over the network.

Connectivity

There’s HDMI pass through which the VB1 manages up to its display. The USB spec is 3.x with a USB-C connector, so once you get that to the meeting room table, away you go. The VB1 then manages everything beyond that USB-C connection; video to screen, camera, and audio. Via HMDI-CEC, you can control automation, monitoring, and trigger on and off via connection to the display.

Networking and Data

If you sit down with facility, technology, and IT managers, they’ll tell you they want more data on how their facilities are used. Being able to tell them typical number of people in the room and what they walked in with is invaluable. The IoT ecosystem is like a runaway train and it keeps picking up. What the big end of IT are doing is what AV should be adopting, and that’s providing real-time monitoring and support capabilities. Sometimes really expensive AV devices have that, but all the other bits in the middle that are just as necessary haven’t had the same consideration. To see the VB1 launch with a network port for remote management was exactly what we wanted.

In terms of configuration and programming, the new Bose Work Control Software that we use for the VB1 is straightforward, easy and accessible. We consider it quite the improvement over some of Bose’s older DSP programming software.

Improvements

We’d like to see the VB2 next – a larger version of the VB1. Or alternatively, extension microphones for the VB1. In larger rooms, we find the VB1’s mics limit you before the camera or speakers do.

Conclusion

We’ve been delivering much richer collaboration environments over the last two years. There’s a lot of talk of hybrid work, and more collaborative meeting hubs instead of isolated drudgery at desks. However, work is changing, companies will have to build facilities that attract top talent. Part of this is going to be smart appliances with well thought-out features and capabilities, and Bose are leading that charge.

We love being able to deliver something that our customers consider synonymous with design, quality, and research, and the Bose badge means that. The VB1 is also good value for money. Not cheap, not expensive, just fair. Bose have also always provided great service and support and have demonstrated excellent corporate responsibility.

Product Info: www.bose.com.au

Distributor Australia and New Zealand: pro.bose.com

Bose VB1 – The Specs

Loudspeaker Array

Configuration: Stereo loudspeakers, ported enclosure

Amplifier Power: 20 W per channel

Frequency Response (–10 dB): 85 – 20,000 Hz

Maximum SPL @ 1m: 89 dB

Microphone Array

Configuration: 6 microphones

Frequency Response (±3 dB): 20 – 15,000 Hz

Pickup Range: 6m

Technology: Static and adaptive dynamic beam-forming, three exclusion zones, stereo acoustic echo cancellation (AEC), digital noise suppression

Camera And Video

Field of View (FOV): 123° diagonal × 115° horizontal × 81° vertical

Image Sensor: 8 MP

Focus Distance: 0.5 m to ∞

Lens: Up to 5x digital zoom, detachable camera privacy cover (included)

Positioning: Autoframing capability or manual PTZ with three configurable presets

Processing: Automatic white balance, automatic brightness, digital noise reduction

Supported Video Resolutions: UHD 2160p (4K), 1080p, 720p, 960×480, 848×480, 640×480, 640×360, 432×240 (30 fps)

Video Encoding: H.264, M-JPEG

Connections

USB: USB Type-C to host computer (with DisplayLink) (USB 3.0 UAC, UVC, HID)

Network: Wired – RJ-45, 1 Gbps Ethernet (IEEE 802.3). Wireless – Wi-Fi 802.11ac

Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.2 HSP, A2DP, AVRCP, BLE

Display: HDMI 1.4b and 2.1 output (to display, from host computer)

Analog Audio: Stereo 3.5 mm input

General Purpose: 2-pin Euroblock general-purpose input

Power: Via external power supply with localized power cord (included) Input: 110 – 240 VAC, 50/60 Hz, 1.5 A max. Output: 24 VDC, 1.875 A

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