Last week I worked as an interpreter in a religious conference and it was the first time I had the chance to use the famous portable equipment. I had seen the big case before (which, oddly enough, being so big I always assume is full of dollar bills), during my Embassy days, but it was the first time I actually got to use the equipment. From the interpreter’s point of view, I must confess it was quite frustating. The headsets did not have any phones, just the mic, so we have to listen like a regular person. It was really hard concentrating in a church (which was the case) and listen to the speaker the same way as if in the booth.
The portable equipment is fantastic, though. Sound is clear both for us interpreters and the audience – too bad the transfer with your booth mate has to be by plugging in or out your mic from one same receptor. I suppose our listeners get to notice that abruptous movement. They also may feel uncomfortable having only one phone (portable equipment for translation is mono, yes, see the picture above), but they would comment better on that.
Overall, it worked as an experience to value the booth’s concentration environment so much more. I’m starting to think portable equipment work better at small meetings or during field trips of small groups or so. Being too far away from the speaker – dealing with sound problems, echoes and a Scottish accent – was actually a nightmare for us interpreters.