- Hire Shop
- Hire Help
- Contact Us
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.
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?
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;
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.
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.
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.
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.
Popular conference headphones feature discrete channel LEDs. This illumination acts as a quick audio identifier in low-light presentations.
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.
You are about to delete your hire basket and start all over again. Happy to do this?