Whenever interpreters work in the booth and perform simultaneous interpreting, we depend in many ways on our technical equipment. We receive what is being said in the conference room via our headsets and speak into the microphones which are installed on our switchboards. The microphones in the room deliver sound signals in our soundproof booth – if that doesn’t work or works poorly, there will be poor translation or none at all. For us, microphones are friend and foes: if people blow in the mike or bang on it with their flat hands, we feel as if someone hit us hard on the head! A portable microphone attached in the wrong place will touch the speakers jacket continuously and we hear a lot of rustling instead of a neat sound. Portable microphones sometimes have a way of just falling off (if the clip is worn out) and trailing on the ground without anyone (except us) noticing…
Sometimes table microphones are switched on, then forgotten. So several mikes are switched on – sound quality suffers. Apart from that, nilly-willy we hear the rustling of paper, a quick telephone call or a little chat with a colleague. We receive all that in addition to the remarks to be translated. And we have to blend all that out, which requires an extra effort and is quite exhausting.
At this point I would like to mention the technicians, which not only install the (mobile) interpreting booths and the related equipment, but also follow the presentations and discussions during the conference. If necessary, they explain to interpreters how to operate the switchboard, and they are our one-stop shop for all our questions and concerns. While staying in the background, they make sure that we receive good sound signals at all times, for they can adjust and optimise sound signals for us or deactivate “forgotten” microphones on their central switchboard. .
It is quite appropriate to call them guardian angels, I think. Thank you, dear colleagues, for the good sound!!!