What equipment is inside the simultaneous interpretation booth?

Simultaneous Interpreter Console

simultaneous interpretation equipment

Simultaneous interpretation console with a gooseneck microphone.

Simultaneous interpreter console is an electronic box with audio connections for the interpreter headset and the interpreter microphone. Because more than one interpreter is engaged, there must be as many headsets and microphones as there are interpreters.

The console has a number of switches to switch between languages, adjust headset volume and bass/treble, as well as turn the microphone off temporarily (mute button of cough cut.)

Interpreter Headset:

Each interpreter must have his own her own headset provided to them by the audio technician.

tabletop microphones

Tabletop Microphones

Many professional conference interpreters own their headsets they travel with, and headset manufacturers have headset models specifically designed for best voice reproduction and for simultaneous interpretation.

Headsets must be binaural i.e. the interpreter must be able to hear the original speech with both ears.

Interpreter Microphones:

There are 3 major options for interpreter microphones:

Integrated into a headset. The microphone is attached to the headset with a special flexible gooseneck arm. It is the best and the most convenient option. When moving your head, the distance between the interpreter mouth and the microphone does not change.

An interpreter microphone integrated into a console.

It is a less convenient but still very legitimate option. The top surface of the interpreter console has a dedicated microphone connector (usually XLR) the gooseneck microphone is inserted into.

Standalone tabletop microphone.

It is the least convenient option. A separate microphone in placed on the interpreter desk and connected to the console with a cable.

The danger here is that the interpreter may accidentally move the microphone when it is “hot” i.e. when it is on. The resulting sound may be very unpleasant for the delegates to hear.

In terms of microphone safety, headset microphones are certainly best!

Other equipment in the Booth:

Other equipment in a simultaneous interpretation booth must include appropriate lighting, ventilation fans, chairs and may also include internet and power connections.

Wireless receivers for delegates:

simultaneous interpretation receivers

Wireless receivers for simultaneous interpretation

The audio feed from the speakers’ microphones is transmitted into interpreters’ headsets. The simultaneous interpretation interpreters produce is fed into a wireless transmitter and into receivers and headsets each delegate has.

A few points to remember:

-Always get your receivers and headsets before a conference starts, otherwise, you may have to do it in the middle of a presentation.

-For large conferences some conference organizers will issue you a receiver only in exchange for your identification document they will keep for the duration of the day or of the conference. Have an alternative form of ID on you in case if you need to use it during the event.

-When you turn on your headset for the first time, never use the full volume. While simultaneous interpreters are professionals and know how to use microphones, accidents happen and loud sounds may damage your hearing.

-Same is true for interpreters. You must never tap or bang a live microphone – it is a serious health hazard for those who are listening to you i.e. for the conference interpreters.

-Know what channel your languages are on. Usually channels are numbered and the channel allocation will either be posted on simultaneous interpretation booths or announced before the conference.

-A fully charged receiver should be operational without any issues for an entire day but sometimes batteries in simultaneous interpretation receivers discharge and sound quality deteriorates. Report it to the audio technican who will give you a new receiver.

-To prevent microphone feedback never place your headphones next to a live microphone.

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