Silent Conference Headphones

Conference headphones are a multi-channel, audio technology capable of receiving several audio tracks at the same event.

With this flexibility, event headphones can deliver conference speeches and formal presentations with impact. Event teams have incorporated this style of headphone-only audio to stream different languages to attendees and to create audio experiential event zones using these wireless headphones.

Conference attendees

Conferences can achieve greater audio flexibility by using headphones to deliver ‘silent’ presentations.

But what is involved in running a silent conference? What does a headphone-only event look like and what should you know before giving earphones to your attendees?

How Do Silent Conference Headphones Work?

If you wish to broadcast several audio channels to your attendees, silent conference headphones can be rented from audio-visual hire companies like Place Over Ears (that’s us).

Popular versions of event headphones can receive up to 3 channels of audio, for example;

  • A keynote speaker interpreted
  • Multiple presenters’ dialogue in the same space
  • Audio for an experiential or zoned area

Unlike consumer headphones designed for use at home, silent conference headphones are designed to be light-to-wear for longer listening periods and they boast excellent battery performance (our event headphones weigh just 162g – without batteries – and can operate for up to 20 hours).

For every audio track to be played to your attendees you will need a headphone transmitter.

Headphone transmitter systems can broadcast multiple audio tracks simultaneously

For three channels of audio broadcasting simultaneously you’ll need three headphone transmitters.

Broadcasting to Wireless Headphones

Transmitters are the beating heart of a silent conference; streaming a UHF radio signal to an infinite number of compatible event headphones. Powered up and tuned into the corresponding channel, UHF headphones can receive their audio from up to 500 metres away, through walls and ceilings.

Popular headphones transmitters broadcast using UHF (FM) signals. These FM transmitters are easy to set up, they offer crisp and dependable audio and are extremely simple to manage on the day.

FM transmitters output their respective channels on 863, 864, and 865 MHz. In the UK and Europe these channels are free for public-use and do not require a license. However, such ease does come with compromise. There are no public restrictions on broadcasting in the 863 to 865 MHz frequency range, so it’s not a secure method of broadcast and there is a slim possibility of channel crossover (interference) in urban areas or at busy events. As a precaution, audio teams use radio frequency analysers, such as RF Explorer to evaluate the signal usage in their locale and adjust their setup as necessary.

Place Over Ears PH021 UHF headphone transmitter

Mains-powered UHF headphone transmitters have a broadcast range of up to 500 metres through ceilings and walls.

Transmitters can be hired that run on mains power – these tend to be higher-powered variety of headphone broadcasting kit and they boast transmission ranges of up to 500 metres. Rechargeable, portable transmitters can also be rented and these are suited to outdoor and on-the-move talks and tours. As you would expect, portable transmitters have a finite operation time per charge (approx. 10 hours) and a shorter streaming range of 200 metres.

To prevent potential interference, very large events sometimes opt for a licensed frequency range for their silent conferences. A licensed frequency band offers increased channel options (beyond 3 audio channels) and reduces the possibility of potential interference. In the UK, the licensed 470 – 790 MHz range is used for this style of headphone broadcast.

To use this licensed range requires a bespoke wireless headphone solution which an AV professional can advise upon.

Your conference transmitters – if hired from a reputable company – will arrive with their connection accessories that are designed for different audio outputs, including RCA phono for mixing desks and 3.5mm headphone outlets.

Silent conference headphones arrive pre-tuned to three channels so there is no need to manually attune the headphones to the transmitters.

On the Day of Your Event

Set each transmitter to broadcast on either channel 1, 2 or 3 and connect them to their audio sources.

Many event organisers distribute their headphones during attendee registration or hand the headsets out before a dedicated headphone-only session.

For some guests, using a pair of headphones to listen to a presentation will be a new experience. Popular silent conference headphones are equipped with power, volume and channel controls, so keeping a team member who is experienced with the headsets, on-hand at the start of the day will ensure attendee satisfaction. That said, event headphones, once used are quickly mastered.

Each headphone is fitted with a channel selection switch. This control switches the headphones from channel to channel, for example if your conference has English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese translations, the headphones can move between channel 1, 2, and 3.

A pair of silent conference headphones

Silent conference headphones feature on-board channel and volume controls as well as a LED channel indicator.

Popular conference headphones feature discrete channel LEDs. This illumination acts as a quick audio identifier in low-light presentations.

The Pros and Cons of a Silent Conference

When conferences are similar but different. A headphone-only presentation style is an approach that can impart your presentation audio in a more direct and profound way than traditional ‘all in one’ AV system.

The audio clarity and flexibility that silent events offer make them a worthwhile consideration for conference organisers; particularly for teams who are considering multiple soundtracks or zoned presentation areas as part of their day schedule.

However, as with any audio technology, headphone conferences required planning and practice before the big day. Here are some things to ponder before organising and running your silent conference.


  • With on-board headphone controls (volume and audio channel) your attendees direct their own listening experience at your event.
  • By having more than one audio source available at your conference your guests will appreciate that a variety of listening needs are being met.
  • The enclosed sounds in a pair of headphones can prevent audience distraction.
  • Silent conference headphones offer parallel sessions, or zoned audio tracks in the same event space.
  • Rechargeable and portable headphone systems are available for outdoor or on-the-move talks.


  • Conference headphones may be a new experience for your guests. Aim to use headphones that are light to wear and limit their use for short to medium length sessions to prevent ‘hot ear’.
  • At your conference, simple headphone instructions and audio channel guides printed and displayed at registration will go a long way in making your earphone sessions run smoothly
  • Silent conference events run best when they are planned and practiced prior to the event. Involving your presenters and your AV team in your planning will make for impactful sessions. Headphones can alter the dynamic of non-verbal cues during speeches and your AV team may have questions such as, How do the headphone transmitters connect to the event audio? and How will guests use the headphones on the day?
  • If you hire your silent conference headphones from a reputable company (like ourselves at Place Over Ears) they will be happy to offer you guidance prior to your event.
  • When renting UHF headphones there are two styles of earphone; event headphones or silent disco headphones. Both styles of earphones will work with popular transmitters, but silent disco headphones are likely to feature prominent LEDs (they are designed for dancefloors) and in the subtle surroundings of a professional conference these LEDs can be distracting and we advise that event headphones (with their discrete LED channel indicators) are more suitable.
  • A very small percentage of attendees may think that conference headphones would make a great addition to their home hi-fi collection (which without a transmitter, they won’t). It’s likely that the hirer will be ‘on the hook’ for the headphones’ safe return.
  • If you are organising a conference, how will you and your team safely collect the headphones when the presentations are over? Additional thought is needed if an event is outdoors without defined perimeter and entry / exit points.
  • Some silent conference headphones require batteries. Having plenty of batteries on-hand is a must.