Monty Python’s movie “The Life of Brian” is an absurdist look at life in Jesus’ time, but it offers an excellent example of what can happen when an important speaker is not intelligible to his audience. During a re-imagining of the Sermon on the Mount, a small group begins questioning what they’ve heard and “Blessed are the peacemakers” becomes “Blessed are the cheesemakers.”
With technologies designed for voice enhancement and projection, listeners get clear, intelligible speech they can immediately understand.
Voice projection systems are ideal for use in non-entertainment settings, says David Chambers, senior vice president of sales, Bogen Communication, and best suited for use in those environments in which there will be line of sight to the microphone. Most systems are IR-based and transmit using line of sight. Vendors say that IR systems are typically used for voice projection systems because they transmit only line of sight.
Chambers says most all classroom audio enhancement systems, for example, are now IR based because using this portion of the spectrum for communications eliminates the audio bleed common with RF systems. This feature is particularly important in facilities where multiple audio systems might be used in one or more adjacent or nearby rooms. This could include corporate meeting rooms, those rooms where corporate training sessions are conducted, such as teaching auditoriums in hospitals, hotel meeting rooms, or settings such as houses of worship or conference centers.
Some voice projection systems are designed to be worn on the body. These types of systems include a speaker typically clipped to a belt and a headset microphone. This system can be used by individuals conducting tours, leading dance or fitness classes, or making presentations such as staff orientation or training sessions.
Tomas Berghall, Lightspeed Technologies’s international marketing manager, explains that there are many similarities between voice projection systems and what are commonly referred to as public address systems. The major difference is that voice enhancement systems are specifically designed to allow speakers’ voices to be intelligible in smaller group settings.
“Every classroom needs to be equipped with a classroom audio system,” he says. “Every student needs to hear the teacher regardless of where they are sitting, especially since 75 percent of the normal school day involves listening activities.”
A voice projection system’s components typically include a microphone or headset, a sensor, an IR receiver/amplifier and speakers. As Chambers explains, the microphone-headset-transmitter can be either a wrap-around microphone that is wired to a belt back transmitter or else a pendant that hangs around the user’s neck.
“A sensor is mounted in the ceiling to pick up the transmission, and the sensor is wired to the receiver/amplifier,” he explains. The receiver-amplifier combination may have various power levels, with different numbers of inputs and tonal control. “The speakers are typically in-ceiling, with tile panel speakers becoming more and more popular given the ease of mounting in suspended ceilings,” Chambers adds.
Califone International speakers, for example, include multiple auxiliary in/out connections. Tim Ridgway, vice president of marketing for Califone International, says this allows the