The Andrea Superbeam Array Microphone: Enabling "The Freedom
An effective, natural communication interface requires
clear, noise free audio input. By ensuring highly intelligible, low noise audio
source input (spoken words),a Andrea Electronics' digital microphone products
and technologies enable more accurate and reliable communication as well as
high performance speech recognition in noisy office environments. In the past,
the only way to obtain a clear voice signal that provided the optimum level of
communication and an acceptable level of speech recognition performance was to
wear a headset. By wearing a headset, the microphone is at close proximity to
the speaker’s mouth, thereby, forcing the voice to be the primary signal (the
acoustical environment [noise] becomes insignificant when the distance between
the microphone and the speaker's mouth is negligible). Our products and
technologies enable a person speaking to be at a distance from the audio input
source, freeing the speaker from having to hold or wear a conventional "close
talking" microphone, while maintaining the same level of performance. We refer
to this capability as untethered, "far-field" microphone operation.
One of the most significant barriers to speech recognition
performance and, as a result, in speech recognition usage and popularity, is
the high sensitivity to the acoustic environment and, in particular, to the
surrounding noise in any real office or workstation. The only technically acceptable
solution, until recently, was to use a headset; however, this made the user
experience annoying, uncomfortable and inconvenient. Recent noise canceling
microphone array product developments have enabled users to be untethered;
however, these solutions are very expensive and, therefore, less appealing to
an average user. Andrea Electronics, together with Analog Devices, has
developed a groundbreaking solution: The Andrea Superbeam Array Microphone (the "Superbeam Array"). Analog Devices has developed an interface that allows the
Superbeam Array to connect to the PC and run the necessary software
instructions on the PC's processor. The Superbeam Array is a two-microphone (two-channel
) device that attaches to the top of any laptop or PC equipped with Analog
Devices’ next generation SoundMax Cadenza software. The SoundMax Cadenza software is integrated with Andrea
Electronics' PureAudio and DSDA (Digital Super Directional Array)
noise-cancellation software, thereby removing the high costs associated with
required memory and processing power from the microphone device (now powered by
the PC’s host processor).
Andrea’s PureAudio is a voice enhancement noise reduction
algorithm that can detect non-voice signals and eliminate them from the
incoming audio stream. PureAudio is very effective in reducing repetitive and
stationary noises such as computer-fans, air conditioners, and other background
noises. Andrea’s DSDA (Digital Super Directional Array) utilizes a two
microphone array configuration which studies the signals that are coming from
the two microphones in order to create a narrow reception cone. The array
behaves as a directional antenna that “looks” (or actually
listens) to the voices that are coming from its “look” direction and ignores
noises or voices that are coming from other directions, thus eliminating a large
number of interferences, including neighboring speakers and reverberations.
The end result: freeing a speaker from having to hold, or
wear, a conventional microphone with a very high-tech, low cost, sleek hardware
We developed the attached white paper in order to document
the effectiveness of the Superbeam microphone when compared to that of the conventional
alternative microphone products. In particular, we demonstrate that Andrea’s
technologies enable far-field microphone operation that is at least equal to that
of an industry-leading USB headset.
In the attached white paper, we demonstrate the effectiveness
of our technologies through speech recognition performance results. We show
that the Superbeam Array performs at least equivalent to that of a “close
talking” microphone, even though it is used in the “far field” mode, providing
the untethered experience desire by the average user. Speech recognition
performance represents the harshest environment with which to benchmark
microphone performance due to the high sensitivity of the application to the
surrounding noise and acoustic environment. The microphone is required to
eliminatem the noise but also be able to address the nature, location and
intensity of the noise, the size and
reverberant quality of the room, the clarity of the speaker,
and the microphone's capability to adjust to movement by the speaker during
dictation. The speech recognition test results provide a quantitative
measure of relative microphone performance.
Although we used speech recognition results as a measure of
relative microphone performance, the Superbeam Array improves the quality and
intelligibility of the voice signal. Using communication applications such as
VoIP, audio conferencing or videoconferencing, the improved intelligibility
leads to a better understanding for the listener, thereby enhancing the overall
end user experience.
What is the USB Superbeam®?
The USB Superbeam is a bundle comprised of the following:
- Andrea Superbeam Array Microphone
- A Quick Start publication
Microphone Arrays - USB Superbeam Array FAQ
Do I need to install software for the USB Superbeam Array
Microphone to work correctly? What is on the CD that comes with the Array?
Yes! You must install the Andrea USB Audio Software from the
provided CD BEFORE plugging in the Andrea Stereo USB adapter. This is required
to insure the Andrea Noise reduction software loads correctly.
We also recommend installation of AudioCommander® to aid set
up and use of the USB Superbeam microphone.
The CD includes:
- USB Superbeam
- USB Superbeam
Note: AudioCommander is not required for proper operation of
the USB Superbeam Array Microphone.
Are your USB drivers Microsoft approved and digitally
Yes. Our USB drivers have successfully passed Microsoft WHQL
testing and are digitally signed by Microsoft.
How does AudioCommander work with the USB Superbeam Array?
AudioCommander offers centralized control of multimedia
audio on your computer and enhances use of your USB Superbeam Array Microphone
- Audio Wizard to
set microphone levels to optimum
- Playback and
Record controls including the ability to "tear-off" individual
controls and keep them conveniently on your desktop
- Access Andrea
Noise Cancellation features
I installed the USB Superbeam and now my speakers do not
work. What do I do?
When you plugged in the USBD-2A it replaced your sound card
as the audio input and output device. You can do one of two things:
- Plug your
speakers into the USBD-2A headphone jack instead of your sound card.
- Change the sound
playback device in Windows from Andrea USB USBD2-A to your sound card. This is
done in Windows XP from: Start, Control Panel, Sound Speech and Audio, Sounds
and Audio Devices and select the Audio Tab. Change the Sound Playback device
from "Andrea USB USBD2-A" to your sound card device.
I installed the USB Superbeam and my speech recognition
accuracy went down. What do I do?
You need to rerun your speech training since you changed
Where do I plug the Superbeam microphone into?
The Superbeam Array Microphone plugs into the microphone
input of the USBD-2A adapter.
Can I use a headset with the adapter instead of the
Yes, the USBD-2A adapter microphone input supports Andrea NC
and ANC headsets.
(When used with ANC headsets the TRS1 Adapter must be used
for the microphone input.)
Can the mic be placed anywhere else besides the monitor?
Our testing has shown the "above the monitor"
location to perform best for speech recognition software like IBM's ViaVoiceTM
and Microsoft Office XP's built in speech recognition program.
Other locations will work but may pick up additional noises.
Array Microphone can be placed on a table or desktop, but can pick up acoustic
noise from a hard tabletop or desktop. If table or desktop placement is
required, try isolating the microphone by placing it on a foam mouse pad or
similar material. Make sure to point it to yourself.
- The Superbeam
microphone is sensitive, so can pick up keyboard clicking and mouse clicks. Try
to keep the microphone away from these areas.
Note: The Superbeam Array Microphone is designed for
horizontal mounting only. Do not mount the microphone vertically or the noise
cancellation feature will not work correctly.
How far away should the mic be placed?
For speech recognition software the microphone should be 12
- 18" from your mouth. For less demanding applications like Internet
telephony and voice recording the range extends out to about 48". Remember
to readjust the microphone level by using AudioCommander whenever you
significantly change your distance from the microphone.
How do I adjust microphone levels?
The easiest way is to install Andrea's AudioCommander
software (included on the CD with your USB Superbeam Array Microphone).
AudioCommander includes an "Audio Setup Wizard" that steps you
through the microphone level adjustment, automatically setting the optimum
Alternatively, if you are familiar with Windows you can
always manually set the "Record Microphone Level."
Do I need to sit directly in front of the Array?
Yes, the Superbeam Array is a directional microphone, so it
needed to be "aimed" at you (the sound source).
What applications does the USB Superbeam Array work with?
The USB Superbeam Array Microphone works with any
application that needs voice input.
When I use Net2Phone, people I talk to tell me they hear an
echo of their own voice, why?
You are probably using your speakers. The sound from your
speakers (the person you are talking to) is picked up by the Superbeam
microphone and sent back to the person you are talking to (acoustic echo).
Using headphones will remove the acoustic echo. The Andrea HS-75 headphones are
perfectly matched for use with the USB Superbeam. There may also be "line
echo" that is usually much lower in level, but will not be eliminated by
What PC's are compatible with the USB Superbeam Microphone?
Any PC's that have USB ports and Windows XP, 2000, Me, or 98
SE are compatible with the USB Superbeam.
Can I use the USB Supebeam with Windows 98 or 95?
No, Windows 98 and 95 do not have reliable support for USB
What is the difference between the USBD-2A adapter that is
part of the USB Superbeam bundle and the Andrea USB Adapter?
The USBD-2A adapter has a stereo microphone input and a
stereo headphone (or speaker) output for full duplex operation. It includes
Andrea Pure Audio and DSDA noise reduction software.
The USB Adapter has a mono microphone input only. Output is
from your computer sound card. The USB adapter uses default Windows and Mac
drivers and does not include any noise reduction software.
Can I use the USB Superbeam for recording music or musical
No. The Superbeam Microphone and Andrea noise reduction
software is optimized for voice only. We do not recommend it for recording
music or musical instruments.
Stereo USB Microphone Audio (SUMA) adapter is designed to
support the SuperBeam stereo array microphone input only.
microphone input supports sample rates up to 48K for high quality voice input.
Andrea's AudioCommander software to optimize multimedia control.
Product only works with Windows XP. Vista
software coming soon.
Provides control of audio input technology, and features:
- DSDA2 and 3 beam
forming and PureAudio noise reduction software. Provides directional array
microphone noise cancellation, designed to enable far-field (headset free)
speech recognition command and control performance.
- No Filtering:
Provides unfiltered stereo microphone audio input for high fidelity stereo