Interpretation & Equipment

Simultaneous Interpretation Systems

What is Simultaneous Interpretation?

Simultaneous interpretation is needed at a congress where more than one language is spoken but where not all participants can understand all languages.

It is the process of converting the spoken word from one language into another in near real-time (simultaneously). It is termed ‘interpretation’ as it is concerned with the true meaning of the communication rather than a ‘translation’ which is a literal conversion which can lose meaning, hence the phrase 'Lost in Translation'.

Interpretation seeks to prevent any loss in meaning. The service is also quite often referred to, some what erroneously, as  'Sim Trans'.

How does it work?

Simultaneous interpretation is carried out by real people. Interpreters are not expected to be replaced by machine translation at any time soon, as computers have difficulty in coping with humour, sarcasm and physical gesture. Google Translate, though very clever, is no substitute. 

The interpreter listens to what is being said and at the same time renders what they hear orally into their specialist language. The interpreter’s spoken words are then broadcast to the delegates. This process is facilitated by specialist audio equipment in sound attenuating interpreter ‘booths’ or ‘cabins’ usually located at the back of the meeting room.


Your interpreters are the most important element of any simultaneous interpretation service. There is no substitute for a good, time-served conferencing interpreter.

Simultaneous interpreting is another skill-level up from consecutive interpreting, so only qualified conferencing interpreters should be used. The success of your congress is heavily dependent on you being able to understand each other, and as such, it is a false economy to put a novice interpreter in a booth. Interpreting is a very skilled and intensive job, and so interpreters work in teams of two for each language. 

buk Solutions can help you source interpreters worldwide with whom we have worked over decades.            

What equipment is required?

Booth. The most evident piece of equipment is the interpreter booth, which isolates the interpreter from the rest of the room so as not to disturb the meeting.

Transmission. A transmission system sends the interpreter's output to the delegates. Broadcasting using infrared light, the transmission system is made up of the transmitter and IR radiator panels.

Delegate Receiver. The delegate receiver is a small wireless pack, with headphones, that allows the delegate to select the desired channel / language, and adjust their listening volume.

Delegate Microphone. Delegate microphones, or push-to-talk microphones, become part of the interpretation system when the meeting is a full discussion meeting. This is where all participants are active and contribute to the proceedings.

This is to allow a quick flow of discussion while giving optimum audio quality for the interpreters to work effectively. Some microphone discussion systems also carry the interpretation back to the delegates via inbuilt channel selectors so removing the need for an IR transmission system and receivers.

The infrared receiver forms part of the simultaneous interpretation system, alongside interpreter booths and wireless infrared audio transmission of up to 32 channels. Delegates can listen to their chosen language in comfort using wireless headphones or ear pieces.

Using the relay switch on the front of each console the interpreter can choose to listen to either the original audio or any other interpreted channel. Consoles can be provided with chip-card readers which allow each interpreter to take their personal settings with them to whichever console they use.

Key features:

  • Reliable, high quality, secure broadcast
  • Robust infrared receivers with comfortable, lightweight delegate headsets
  • Daylight receivers work in natural light conditions
  • Systems for up to 32 languages can be provided

The simultaneous interpretation system from buk Solutions is the perfect solution for providing translations exclusively acoustically (listening only) to delegates at a conference.

Infracom wireless receivers can also be integrated into a Push to Talk Microphone Discussion or Digital Interpretation system if required.

Please feel free to contact us for advice, consultation or a quotation.

need to know more? call 01223 411601 or email