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Frequently Asked Questions about Language Interpretation Equipment

Simultaneous Interpretation occurs when an interpreter listens to the original message (source language) and relays it in another language (target language) with very little delay.
Typically, simultaneous interpretation requires the assistance of special equipment where the interpreter speaks into a microphone that is either connected into an interpreter console or directly to a wireless FM or infrared transmitter, while each participant in the audience uses a wireless receiver with headphones tuned into the appropriate channel for the language they choose to hear.

No, they don’t. These devices require a professional interpreter with understanding of the context to perform the language interpretation.

FM (frequency modulation) systems are the most popular equipment for simultaneous interpretation for their easy set-up, lower cost and minimal required system components. In the US and in most of the Americas the most convenient frequency band range for transmitters and receivers is 72-76 Mhz. These frequencies are out of the range of commercial FM radio stations, consequently, requiring special FM equipment. The coverage range is between 150 and 1500 feet depending on the transmitters and antennas. These language interpretation systems can be expanded by adding as many receivers as needed, the only limitation being the coverage area of the transmitter. FM systems can pass through walls. FM systems require one transmitter per language. FM transmitters can be portable (also called tour-guide transmitters) and run on batteries and stationary transmitters (also called base or table transmitters) are mostly used for events at fixed locations that does not require the interpreter to move around. Stationary transmitters typically allow for up to six interference-free simultaneous languages in one room in the frequency range of 72-76 Mhz.
IR (Infrared) systems are frequently used for confidential meetings since IR signals don’t pass through walls, and/or when there is a need to use more than 6-8 languages in one room. IR systems require at least one IR transmitter (modulator), as many IR radiators as needed to cover the desired area and IR receivers. This technology is similar to the one used with remote controls. The transmitter, radiators and receivers should be in the line of sight. This means that you need to carefully mount sufficient radiators in the room to cover the whole area. Larger areas require more radiators. Some infrared systems require additional radiators depending on the total amount of channels (languages) to be used. In the case of infrared systems, generally only one multi-channel transmitter (modulator) is required per system.
Whether infrared or radio frequency is better for you, depends on how, why, and where you’ll be using the equipment. For most applications including but not limited to meetings and conferences, religious services, guided visits, tours of factories, training sessions, corporate events, etc., FM technology will be more appropriate. Whereas infrared can be better in some highly confidential environments such as classified military meetings and when more than 6-8 languages are required in one same room.

The difference between stationary and portable transmitters is that portable transmitters are battery-operated, while stationary transmitters are required to be plugged into an electrical outlet. Both transmitter types can be easily transported and are light weight. Portable transmitters are used in environments requiring mobility, such as facility tours and guided visits. On the other hand, stationary transmitters are generally more powerful and have better and larger coverage range compared to portable transmitters. Portable transmitters typically have a coverage range of up to 150 ft (45 m), while stationary transmitters have a coverage range of up to 500 or 1500 ft (150 – 450 m) depending on the antenna. Stationary transmitters are ideal for conference or meeting rooms, auditoriums, stadiums, theaters, houses of worship, or any other venues where maximum coverage is essential.

An interpreter console allows interpreters to listen to the original speech through a headset. It also allows him/her to adjust the volume of the sound they hear, as well as to control the outgoing audio. An interpreter console has controls that allow the interpreter to activate or deactivate his or her microphone and select the appropriate outgoing channel. On professional systems, the interpreter console also interacts with the central control unit (CCU) to allow the use of the relay function between different language booths and the routing of the floor signals when the interpreter’s microphone is deactivated.
Interpreter consoles can be of two types: Single interpreter consoles are used by one interpreter and dual interpreter consoles are used by two interpreters working together. Since simultaneous interpretation requires the interpreter to translate what they hear in real time, while considering all cultural expressions, the mental effort and concentration required from interpreters is immense. Therefore, many interpreters often work in 30 to 45-minute shifts.

Relay interpretation (also termed as Indirect or second-hand Interpreting) is used when more than two languages are involved in an interpreted event and no single interpreter commands all of the languages, or when no interpreter can be found in a given language combination. It is especially useful for rare or uncommon languages and in the multilingual meetings.

Frequently Asked Questions about Push to Talk Conference Microphones

Each standard wired microphone is connected directly into one channel of an audio mixer using a cable. For example, if 10 standard wired microphones are required, you will need to run 10 cables into a 10-channel mixer and have an operator opening and closing the microphones to avoid excessive noise and feedback for having all the mics opened. If you think this is complicated with 10 microphones, imagine having 50 or more mics.
Each standard wireless microphone is comprised of a wireless microphone transmitter, and a base receiver that is connected into one channel of an audio mixer using a cable. Going back to the same example above, if 10 wireless microphones are required, you will need 10 wireless microphone systems working in 10 different interference-free frequencies, a 10-channel mixer and an operator. The more wireless microphones you need, the better quality the microphones need to be and the greater chances of interference you have. The only benefit to the above wired microphones is the elimination of some cabling but the rest of the challenges still remain and a new challenge is posed that is the availability of interference-free frequencies.
With the Enersound CS-300 push to talk conference microphone system, each microphone is connected to the next one using the attached single cable and the last microphone is connected to the control unit. The control unit has an audio output that combines all of the microphones’ signals, eliminating the need of a multi-channel mixer and an operator to control the various microphones. Consequently, there is only one cable in the system that interconnects all the microphones. This makes the set-up easier, cleaner and eliminates unnecessary cables that can cause noise, failures and visual clutter. In addition, each microphone has a button to activate/ deactivate the microphone, a lighted ring that lights up when the microphone is activated to give a visual indication that the mic is active, and a speaker to listen to the audio of the other contribution units and auxiliaries.

The CS-300 Conference and Discussion System is ideal for discussions and meetings of up to 150 people. Each CU-300 Control Unit can handle up to 50 contribution microphones and with a maximum of 3 CU-300 Control Units per system you can handle up to 150 contribution microphones.