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It is officially claimed by Microsoft (Audio Device Technologies for Windows), that Windows Vista has an integrated system-level support of microphone arrays for improved sound capturing by isolating a sound source in target direction and rejecting ambient noise and reverberation. In more technical terms, an implementation of an adaptive beamformer.

Theoretically, microphone arrays with 2-4 mics can substantially improve SNR under some conditions like speaker in front of the laptop in noisy environment (airport, cafe). Surprisingly, though, I find very little information about commercially-available products supporting these new features. I mean products like portable usb micropone arrays or laptops or flat screens with integrated mic arrays. I could only find info about two laptop models having "noise cancelling digital array microphone". These are Dell Latitude and Eee PC 1008P-KR.

Now my questions:

  1. Do you have any experience with the Windows beamformer implementation? For instance, in the above mentioned laptops. How well does it work? Are there any tests results available in the net or in print (papers?)?
  2. Do you know about other microphone array hardware?
  3. What could be the reason why mic array technology didn't get sucess
  4. Is there mic arrays support in 'Windows 7'?
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2 Answers 2

My motherboard Asus P5B Deluxe came with SoundMax SuperBeam directional mic. I'm not a sound engineer to know 100% that it's really a "directional array" microphone. However, it works well enough for Skype and other voice chat.

It looks like this SoundMAX SuperBeam picture

While Windows 7 does not natively recognize it as an "array" mic, there are drivers for it that add some of this functionality: enter image description here

Their website at http://andreaelectronics.com has some more various (supposedly) directional array mics.

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Just so you know , Microsoft Kinect has a 4 microphone array and it's compatible with windows 7 , you can easily get the direction of the sound from Microsoft Kinect SDK .

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