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Interpretation: Infrared versus Radio Frequency Systems

May 29, 2015

As global markets continue to develop at an amazing pace, it is becoming increasing important to ensure that all communication is accurately conveyed. Whether you are hosting an international convention or leading a group tour around your manufacturing plant, wireless audio receivers and headphones allow for fluid reception of everything said. However, several crucial factors come into play when selecting the best equipment for your attendees.

Listed below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of infrared (IR) wireless transmission.

Infrared Wireless Systems

Utilizing the same technology as most inexpensive TV remote control units, infrared wireless transmitters deliver the audio feed to your audience using invisible pulses of light. Some key points about Infrared systems:

  • IR headphones require a clear line-of-sight to the signal, so there are limitations to where and how the transmitter(s) is setup.
  • IR systems are immune to radio interference eliminating the need to search for the frequency.
  • IR transmitters and receivers are sensitive to interference from waves of light (i.e., bright or flashing), so infrared technology is not suitable for applications outdoors or around flashing lights.
  • IR signals are not easily intercepted making infrared transmission ideal when higher levels of security and privacy are required.
  • IR wireless listening devices are confined within opaque walls and are not a good choice when people are moving between rooms or even large open spaces.

Although infrared transmissions offer better fidelity and security much of the time, you cannot ignore the physical variables that can cause serious limitations.

Radio Frequency Wireless Systems

RF or radio frequency communication uses electromagnetic waves for transmission, with frequencies below those of visible light. Some key points about RF transmissions include:

  • RF signals can penetrate walls, and most other obstacles, making them a good choice for multiple room events.
  • RF transmission offers excellent portability for events where attendees are on the move; and systems are easy to setup and use.
  • RF receivers and portable transmitters are light and are ideal for guided tours or other on-the-go applications.
  • RF systems are immune to interference from light, so transmission and reception are perfect for both indoor and outdoor uses.
  • RF receivers have multi-channel configuration to support the transmission of multiple languages at the same time.

In general, RF systems are less expensive, easier to setup and do not require a lot of additional equipment for events with larger coverage areas.

To host a successful event, it is important to make everyone feel included and hearing what's going on is a crucial component. Wireless portable listening devices are the answer to deliver clear, crisp communication as your guest and staff move from place to place.  But the physical restrictions of your coverage areas as well as your specific needs for security are two of the basic considerations when choosing between Infrared or Radio Frequency.

For additional information or professional advice in selecting the best equipment options for your meeting, conference, convention, training sessions or group tour, contact ProLingo. Our experienced staff is ready to help with whatever level of assistance you need. With a well-established network of strong business partners, we can deliver our quality standards anywhere in the world.

Client Spotlight

Thank you very much for making our World Congress an outstanding success. I have a special thank you for you and your team of interpreters. I know it was a huge undertaking, but you made it seem so effortless. The simultaneous interpretation was excellent. Your staff was extremely professional and patient with the attendees. I am looking forward to working with you and your group in the near future.
- T. Washington, Convention Logistics Manager

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