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Translation Equipment – Conference and Simultaneous Interpreting Explained

Translation Equipment(or to use its more proper names: simultaneous interpreting equipment or simultaneous interpretation equipment) is used in conferences and meetings to convey the voice of an interpreter to the listeners. You’ve probably seen pictures of the United Nations where the international delegates each have a little earpiece – that’s translation equipment. Specifically, that’s the earpiece connected to the receiver.


At the back of the room (or in an adjacent room) a team of interpreters sits in a sound-dampening booth, listening to the presenter through headsets. They are doing the hard part: they simultaneously listen and interpret whatever they hear into another language. Their voice is picked up by a microphone, which distributes the sound through an interpreter console to a transmitter.

The transmitter acts like a miniature radio station – it sends a signal out to the room. Each listener then hears the interpreter’s voice on a small receiver, through an earpiece. Some transmitters are infrared – they use invisible light waves to distribute the signal throughout the room. The main use of infrared equipment is in top-secret conferences such as government and UN meetings, where even the slightest chance of eavesdropping can’t be tolerated. Since light cannot go through opaque walls, infrared interpreting equipment is considered most confidential (as long as you be sure you close the drapes!)

Another main form of translation equipment is FM radio-based. Here, a low-power radio signal on a specific frequency is broadcast through the room.

If more than one language will be interpreted, then each language will have to be on a separate frequency or channel, and the audience members select the language they wish to hear on their receiver.


1) Always make sure your interpreters can see those who are speaking – position them so they have a optimal view of the stage or podium, or arrange video monitors for them as a substitute.

2) Place the booths on risers when you can – this helps to make certain their view is not blocked by the crowd.

3) Ideally, use a full interpreting booth whenever your budget allows – it makes life easier for both the interpreters and the audience.

4) Don’t try to get by without a technician! Good interpreting technicians are a significant ingredient in the success of your meeting. We have learned the hard way that regular AV techs and well-meaning volunteers cannot replace an interpretation technician without thorough training.

5) Choose a company that are experts in translation equipment. More generic translation services will frequently purchase a tiny bit of translation equipment, however they often don’t possess the expertise and know-how to do a passable job in a multitude of situations.

Source by Chris Redish

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