Over lunch recently with Alan Wegener, Global Development and Convention Director for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), I reminisced about how when I was in the AAPG convention department back in the day, we had challenges converting a large arena space into technical session halls, in a venue they were about to return to for an upcoming convention. I spoke of how we had hung two layers of carpet and drape from the ceiling trusses to divide the space into four separate sections, carpeted the floor to muffle the sound, and hoped for the best. And it wasn't!
Technology finally caught up with the problem. Alan and his team had the perfect answer: Instead of doing a makeshift job at trying to soundproof, they simply gave everyone a small FM receiver, connected the speaker's microphone to the transmitter and not a PA system, and – a little like simultaneous translation – everyone was able to focus on the presentation they were came to hear without interference from the next presentation on the other side of the curtain!
They used Live Sports Radio, originally designed to enhance the sports fan's experience in the stands by augmenting game play with live commentary. Because the broadcast is micro-local, there is no sound delay as occurs with live streaming. Each receiver can pick up up to eight frequencies, and there are both over-the-ear and earbud models. Their AV contractor had backup portable PAs ready to go, but they were never needed.
So they next time you're faced with significant outlays of cash to construct temporary walls that may not do the job, consider the FM alternative.
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