Lectrosonics Never Gets "Lost in Translation"

For Wireless Guitar, Lectrosonics will be the place to visit


MOBILE, ALABAMA: When there's a language barrier in a court, the last words anyone who advocates justice wants to hear are "lost in translation." But that's a mounting concern in courtrooms across the country as non-English speaking immigrants flock to the United States. In jurisdictions where a growing number of defendants speak another language, there's some anxiety about ensuring that adequate translation services are provided, and that all parties - particularly the interpreter and the defendant - clearly hear and understand every word of the proceedings.

Until recently, that kind of problem was prevalent in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama in Mobile. Even though the court had been using electronic courtroom capabilities that brought an off-site translator into some courtrooms via a phone connection, sound and connection quality were not optimal.

"The key to using phone-based interpreting is having a well-honed sound system that uses good, solid conferencing equipment to get the job done," says Jeff Reinert, the court's operations manager. "If the interpreter can't hear what's going on, or has to keep asking for clarification, it makes everything more difficult."

The backbone of the court's new technology solution is a new-generation digital audio processing, mixing and routing system from Lectrosonics combined with advanced teleconferencing equipment. Installed in six of eight courtrooms so far, the digital system - consisting of Lectrosonics DM1612 digital audio processors combined with Lectrosonics DMTH4 digital telephone hybrid processors to integrate teleconferencing - delivers vastly improved audio quality and ease of use. Replacing an older analog solution that was used in two courtrooms, the newer technology allows teleconferencing and courtroom microphone audio to be processed, mixed and routed to the courtroom's PA system digitally. With the new system in place, concerns over poor audio quality and the possibility that defendants might be unable to hear properly have been virtually eliminated.

Here's how it works. With the Lectrosonics digital solution operating, a court session involving an interpreter is initiated by the interpreter dialing in to the system via the DMTH4 hook up. Using one line to communicate with the defendant in his or her language through a headset worn by the defendant, and another to translate back into English for the court through the PA system, the translator is able to readily track dialogue as if he or she were in the courtroom in person. In turn, courtroom participants are assured of hearing everything, and having everything they say through microphones conveyed to the interpreter and defendant.

Doug Brazeal, a technician with Modern Sound, the Mobile-based systems integrator that installed the Lectrosonics system, credits the new digital technology for a vast improvement in functionality. "Using the Lectrosonics DMTH4 sounds like you're talking on the phone and not over a PA system," he says. "This was the only solution I know of that allowed a mixer to communicate digitally with the teleconferencing equipment. Without that feature, we weren't going to be able to get the control we needed and reduce the artifacts on the telephone line that can disrupt the translation process. By being able to tune the system to the exact specs of the room, we got the voice quality we were looking for."

Continued Brazeal, "Using off-site certified translators is becoming common, and with this system in place we're assured of being able to use that option more extensively."

About Lectrosonics

Well respected within the film, broadcast, and theater technical communities since 1971, Lectrosonics wireless microphone systems and audio processing products are used daily in mission-critical applications by audio engineers familiar with the company's dedication to quality, customer service, and innovation. Lectrosonics is a US manufacturer based in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.