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Interpretation – Better audio, better experience

Interpreting involves speaking, hearing, and paying attention to the fullest. Therefore, having specific technical gear is necessary. Especially when it comes to sound, which plays an essential role when interpreting – or even presenting someone or something. Here are a few tips that would help anyone starting out in the world of language interpretation. 

  • Having a good headset. There are a number of headsets nowadays, but not all of them are worth it for an interpreter. As a professional, they must avoid listening through laptop speakers, utilising the integrated microphone or mobile earphones. Having a good headset that is light – under 200 grams – and has a 125 to 15,000 Hz frequency response is essential. Most interpreters buy USB connection headsets as they make a good combination of headphones and microphones and have the aforementioned features; keep in mind that not all platforms work well with 3.5mm audio input jacks and this could create an extra obstacle in your performance. Avoid wireless headphones as this can create certain problems for the client and the interpreter (eg: headsets running out of battery). It is important to note that a high price does not necessarily mean good quality. 
  • Noise cancelling headsets are a must. If you are not able to have a quiet working space, this feature is crucial. This applies to both headphones and microphone components. As DS-interpretation recommends, over-ear headphones are the most adequate if you work in a noisy place. However, on-the-ear ones are the most necessary when interpreting, as the professionals need to hear themselves speak. 

TIP: If you do not have this feature in your microphone component, you can use the app KRISP noise cancelling. From experience, this has worked well for me in different virtual meetings.

  • Hyperx Cloud II Gaming Headset Pro: This headset has the best characteristics for an interpreter to deliver the best possible interpretation. Noise cancelling headphones and a good quality microphone, it has a sound control box along with USB and Bluetooth connections. Some people consider this headset to be too big, but it depends on what they like. Newer versions include long-lasting battery life. 
    The price for this headset is around €80 on Amazon but there are different versions, and they could go up to €100 or above. 
  • Corsair HS60 Pro Surround 7.1: This headset could be a budget option for an interpreter. The headset itself is aesthetically pleasing; not too big, not too small. The microphone has been certified by different entities, such as discord, for having an excellent noise cancelling feature. This headset connects with a USB. 
    The price for the headset, on their official website, is €70. 
  • Kotion Each G2000: This Chinese gaming headset could be one of the cheapest options for an interpreter. Good noise cancelling headphones, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. This gaming headset could also be a good start for new interpreters. From experience, this headset has worked well for short remote interpretations.
    The usual price for this headset, in any electronics shop, is only €20 

Not only are the headsets essential when it comes to audio, but also microphones. The interpreters need to hear and to be heard by the rest of the spectators. Sometimes, interpreters prefer to have a separate microphone, as headsets do not offer much worth at times. As well as headsets, there are a few requirements to reach a high-quality performance, and sound as professional as possible. A good quality microphone needs to have a frequency response of at least 6000 Hz, and an impedance of 16-32Ohms, as stated by Naomi Bowman.

Here are some good recommendations:

1. Rode NT-USB: This microphone has the best features the marketplace can offer. Sound condenser filter, pop-filter that softens sounds of letters such as b, p, t. It also includes a sound mix control that allows people to monitor their voices over other sounds, as they highlight on their official website. The price today is around €166

2.Blue Yeti USB: This brand can be classified as the most popular in the marketplace today. It presents a set of features that can provide good quality audio, and therefore, make voices clearer. Sound condenser, a mute button and it comes in different colours, making it aesthetically pleasing. This microphone can be found on Amazon for €91

3. Razer Seiren Mini: Razer microphones are considered the best budget items as they offer a pile of features that will enable you to deliver the best top-notch performance. Even though the sound can be a bit flat, you cannot get any better considering the price. This microphone has been compared with Snowball Ice microphones, which are pricey, however, Razer gets the same quality sound for less. This could be a good option for people that are starting to use USB microphones to interpret. 

We know interpreting is a demanding profession, and interpreters try to deliver the best possible quality to their clients. But it is of vital importance that they take care of their setups. Not only because this will allow them to have better sound, but also to maintain their own health.

It is important for the professionals to be aware of acoustic shock, which can be prevented by acquiring good quality headphones and microphones, as speaking too loudly, hearing high pitched sounds, or simply hearing bad quality audio for too long, could damage the listener’s ears. Hearing is essential for interpreters, and they need to avoid certain risks. Acoustic shock is common in people that work with headsets or headphones and is exposed to loud sounds. This can cause debilitating symptoms: tension, dizziness, face aches, intolerance to sound, among others. 

All this could negatively impact the quality of the interpreter’s work, and this is where the importance of having good quality audio plays such an essential role. 

/By Catalina Tapia// Intern, TRANSLIT//

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