A Prescription for that Dreaded Polycom Buzz

As David Cowan has noted, complete with an audio sample, we’ve all heard that annoying buzz on our conference room Polycoms caused by interference from nearby cell phones and PDAs (to be fair, the problem happens on my Cisco IP phone too), and as phone-in attendees, we’ve all had to ask the people actually in the room with the Polycom to move their Blackberries and other smartphones away from the Polycom in a (sometimes futile) effort to squelch the buzzing.

Akustica co-founder and CTO Ken Gabriel tells me that this buzzing comes in through the input/mic channel. And this is because most microphones in the world are analog devices that are subject to RF and EM interference, whose design has gone largely unchanged since they were invented in the late 19th century. Since last year, Akustica has been shipping the world’s only single-chip digital microphone in volume to many of the major PC laptop manufacturers. Because these digital mics output a digital signal, they are not subject to this interference. Drop an Akustica digital mic in a Polycom and the buzzing would go away. Time for Cisco and Polycom to update their speakerphone designs to accommodate digital output microphones in their mic channels…

As a side note, I tried to come up with a catchy name for the polycom buzz phenomenon, but failed. Polybuzz doesn’t quite work for me. Any suggestions?

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  • Tim Martin

    I’m actually a technician looking for a solution to my polycom buzz problems. I have 3 machines that buzz. If you turn them on and off, sometimes the buzz disappears. The microphones that they use are condenser type and are very resistant to EM interferance so I am positive there are other issues involved

  • This happens through my clock radio as well and has occurred from the speakers in off-Broadway theatres during performances. (I assume that you are talking about that staccato static feedback that one can hear regardless of whether the radio/tele device is active.)
    As near as I have been able to determine, Cingular/At&T is the main perpetrator.
    Wi-Fart?
    I’ll keep thinking.