Review: Biamp Parlé VBC 2500
Biamp beefs up its Parlé meeting room offering with a high-quality video bar.
Review:/ Christopher Holder
Biamp has weighed in with its own take on the hugely-popular video bar format — the Parlé VBC2500. It may not be first to market but Biamp isn’t known for going in half-baked. And let’s not forget that Parlé represents an already well-established range of meeting room audio systems. Video is a newer string to Biamp’s bow, though, which probably accounts for why Biamp has taken its time to get things right.
I suspect that if you were to ask Biamp about the video bar format it’d suggest that its other in-room mic and speaker systems are likely to get you a better audio result. But the video bar form factor is now highly favoured and impossible to ignore — making for a very neat install in smaller conference spaces. Certainly, the installation job is simplified. The VBC2500 has a power input and a USB-C socket and that’s it, not even an ethernet port. (This doesn’t mean you can’t get the VBC2500 onto your enterprise network, you’ll need a Parlé N100 network monitoring unit that will get the device onto the network and place the video bar under the purview of SageVue Support.) In fact, if your primary device can provide 60W of bus power, then you don’t even need the power connection. Actually, there’s one other plug, an audio jack to connect an assistive hearing system (at least, on the VBC2500A variant), which is a handy feature, especially in Australia where such matters are more mandatory, but really this is a product about as easy to install as is practically possible.
It’s quite an imposing rig, about 1 metre across, allowing front panel real estate for a serious stereo speaker system that does an excellent job at representing speech. That said, being so well optimised for speech means you shouldn’t expect miracles on other full-range audio like Netflix or some other marketing presentation.
As mentioned, it couldn’t be easier to set up. Once you’ve plugged in the screw-locking power and USB-C connectors, it’s time to run Biamp’s Launch function that performs an acoustic analysis of the room and optimises the audio to your space.
The VBC2500 houses a 27-element microphone array for its Beamtracking. That’s a lot of capsules, but it does allow the VBC2500 to track in the vertical as well as the horizontal — handy for following those who like to get out of their chair and walk the room. It also helps compensate for how high the conferencing bar is mounted (usually, sub-optimally, too high or too low, underneath or above the large-format display).
The 120° wide angle camera is capable of 2160p @ 30 frames per second. As you’d expect , auto framing keeps active participants in shot. After a firmware update I found the auto framing and tracking to be reasonably smooth and responsive, and certainly a good fit for huddle spaces and smaller meeting rooms.
An Audio Intelligence algorithm does a fine job at filtering out noise from the call, whether that’s an air conditioning fan, road noise, tapping on a computer keyboard and other annoying ticks. There’s onboard AEC as well (this is Biamp, after all). All up, the VBC2500’s audio performance is top notch.
The Parlé VBC2500 can plumb into a larger UC system, or a Clickshare-style BYOD environment (the unit is Barco Clickshare certified and in line to get Teams certification), or it can exist standalone in a huddle space where you can simply plug the supplied 1.8m long USB cable straight into your laptop. It’s a pro grade product with excellent audio performance, especially, and all the brackets you need to install it just about anywhere.
- Beamtracking technology actively tracks & intelligently mixes conversations
- AI noise reduction algorithm for clear voice reproduction
- Stereo 20W speakers
- Biamp Launch for one touch automatic tuning
- LED indications for mute status and camera activity
- Wide angle 4K camera that can stream 2160p @ 30fps
- Electronic Pan/Tilt/Zoom with 5x zoom
- Auto framing to keep participants in frame
- Automatic privacy shutter
- Discrete output for Assistive Listening Systems
- Table, wall, and display mount options available
- Diagonal Field of View: 120°
- Image Sensor: 12MP
- Focus Distance: 100cm
- Digital Zoom: 5x
- Lens Cap: Automated Privacy Shutter
- Positioning: Autoframing capability
- Electronic Pan/Tilt/Zoom
- UVC controlled
- Indicators: Camera Active Indicator (White/Off LED)
- Supported Video Resolutions: 720p@30fps, 1080p@30fps, 2160p@30fps