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Capturing and Maintaining a Tour Group’s Attention With the Help of Listen’s Portable RF System

This blog post has been repurposed from an anonymous customer write-up from a university in the Pacific Northwest on their experience with Listen Technologies Tour Group products.

 

We recently became aware of some great things a large state university in the Pacific Northwest is doing with our Portable RF System. More specifically, it’s the university’s off-campus community extension locations using our system. And while we can’t share the name the university at this time, we’re so thrilled with the results they’re achieving we can’t help but share.

 

The university’s extension facilities are located throughout the state and have a mission to “engage people, organizations and communities to advance knowledge, economic well-being and quality of life by fostering inquiry, learning and the application of research.”

As a part of this mission, several locations regularly conduct educational field tours at locations such as apple orchards and agriculture packing houses and processing facilities. Depending on the tour, they are attended by growers, crop consultants, managers of other agricultural facilities and even scientists.

 

The problem with doing tours in such locations, however, is the noise. For example, imagine a tour of a busy apple packing house where conveyor belts and machinery are constantly running. To add to the problem, tours of such potentially dangerous facilities often require attendees to gather in single file lines behind barricades for safety reasons.

 

These are just some of the challenges the university was facing. In an attempt to overcome them, university officials first tried a microphone system connected to a loud speaker. However, they soon found that such a system had two primary faults:

 

First, the sound projected from the speaker was unidirectional, meaning attendees had to stand in just the right place to hear. This was a significant a problem when dealing with a large group or a group that had to be spaced out single file.

 

Second, they discovered that despite the increased volume of the tour guide’s voice, environmental distractions were still an issue. This was particularly true in outdoor locations, such as apple orchards, where it was easier for a group to disperse and hold side conversations.

 

As a result, they went in search of a better solution that would allow guides to truly capture the attention of tour attendees. They found Listen’s Portable RF System.

 

Listen’s Portable RF System is ideal for tour groups. It has the capability to scale from one user to hundreds and can operate across multiple groups; ensuring interference from neighboring systems is kept to a minimum. 

 

The technology is also very easy to use. Tour guides simply clip on a small microphone and transmitter and then set the device to the desired channel. It’s even simpler for audience members, who have to simply slip on a headset that can be pre-set to the correct channel and waiting for them.

 

The technology is very easy to use. In most cases, especially when it comes to portable radio frequency-based systems, it’s as simple as clipping on a small microphone and transmitter and then setting the device to the desired channel. It’s even simpler for audience members, who simply have to slip on a headset that can be on waiting for them and pre-set to the correct channel.

 

With our system in place, the university is now able to ensure that all participants can not only hear every word the guides speak, but that guides no longer have to compete with environmental distractions for the attention of the attendees.

 

More information about Listen Technologies’ Portable RF Systems can be found here: https://www.listentech.com/products/portable-rf.html

Begin a Tour with the End in Mind

Who says “show and tell” has to just be for kids? Being able to provide a live, behind the scenes look at what makes your company work can be an effective and exciting marketing tool when done correctly.

 
In my last post for manufacturers, I discussed tips for a successful facility tour here: Group Tours Speaking Up.
 
As you prepare to conduct a tour of your facility, consider why you’re doing it and who your audience will be. When you know this, you can create a successful tour that blows away the participants’ expectations.
 
The purposes for conducting a tour include: 
  • Show off the company and products: Giving people a behind the scenes look at your company, manufacturing facility and products can help build stronger brand affinity and appreciation among participants. When people have a better understanding of who you are on the inside, they will be brand champions.
  • Demonstrate processes and technologies:  People are naturally curious and want to know how things are made and what makes them tick. Demonstrating your processes and technologies is a strong way help tour participants connect with your company and products through a greater understanding of how they’re developed.
  • Community Relations:  Building strong relationships with the community is essential for any manufacturing facility. This includes people who live nearby, government officials and other community leaders and tourists who are looking for something interesting to do while in town.
  • Investor relations:  Keeping investors happy can be a full-time job. Taking investors on a VIP tour can increase understanding of who you are and what they’re investing in, which can effectively increase their passion and support of your company and products. 
  • Orient new employees: When you bring on new employees, giving them a tour of the facility will help them know and appreciate the work they’re doing, and give them greater insight into the overall vision of the company.
Manufacturing tours are an effective marketing tool because people can immediately see the value and utility of your products and processes. But that’s only when tours are done right. If you keep your audience in mind and plan accordingly, you’ll find tours to be one of your most successful and rewarding promotional activities.
 
To learn more about our products and how they can make your guided tour more positive and memorable, head here http://bit.ly/LTManufacturing or call 1.877.760.9271.

How To Use And Sanitize An Earspeaker

I recently attended a Women Tech Council event where attendees were able to tour the beautiful new Adobe building in Lehi, UT. We supported the event with a loaner equipment sponsorship of our portable RF equipment to ensure that not a single sound was missed.

Each tour member was given a receiver and an LA-164 ear speaker. The great thing about an ear speaker as opposed to traditional headphones is you can easily sanitize between uses. Additionally, it is only over one ear, allowing you to hear the audio while also being aware of your surroundings. The first time you put an ear speaker on it can be a little tricky, but once you see the proper position it’s easy!

This video shows just how easy it is to use and sanitize:

Induction Loops In Museums

Utilising induction loops for applications such as museum exhibits where attendees tend to be moving through a space in a short period of time and therefore cannot easily access loan equipment, is a common practice.  Since the majority of new hearing aids have T-coils installed, users equipped with these do not need to request extra equipment to receive the signal.  The only requirement being  to simply move a switch from ‘M’ to ‘T’ (mic’ to T-Coil) on the hearing  aid.

In a museum, where the user will be moving across a number of exhibits, assistive listening solutions using RF/FM which by its nature is a “broadcast medium” require users ask for equipment and be directed to change frequencies to pick up a specific audio feeds or areas.
Hearing loops can be designed to confine their coverage to tightly defined local areas for the benefit of both the hearing impaired and non-hearing impaired, by delivering audio for an exhibit to the viewer/attendee by having them simply move into that loop area.
The normally abled user would be provided with a loop-listener which works on the same principal as the T-Coil in the hearing aid.  For this type of application a low overspill area coverage system would be designed. This noticeably improves the user experience and eliminates the possibility of user error.
Another significant benefit with these types of induction loop systems is the ability for addition of further looped areas at a later date.  Low overspill induction loop systems provide an opportunity for further expansion without tearing out existing systems with the related cost and disruption. For example; when an exhibit is added locally within the museum, the field from the existing loop(s) is already localised to the specific area of the current exhibit(s) and therefore no issue with cross talk or addition of more RF channels has to be addressed.
In order for a system like this to work satisfactorily the electromagnetic noise floor must be clear of background noise produced by units such as transformers. Occasionally people complain that induction loops are noisy when you step outside the looped area. This is not noise produced by the loop but rather, electromagnetic background noise produced by noisy transformers or bad wiring practice within the building, such as live and neutral power being separated by a long distance and forming a loop, causing the signal to noise ratio to be much higher than is acceptable. In most situations where a buildings electrical wiring is modern and the loop is positioned away from any noisy transformers this noise outside a low overspill loop is too low to notice.
The following is an example of a museum system  that utilises a combination of localised systems and low overspill induction loops to provide a free moving ‘guided tour’ to its patrons allowing them to move seamlessly between exhibits without having to conform to a pre meditated tour or change between channels when moving between exhibits. As you can see a large number of areas are covered simultaneously.

Understanding Hearing

Who knew that being sick could help you relate to your end user?
 
You see, germs have invaded my house. Everyone (except for the cat) has been battling various forms of sickness. I had a viral infection which turned into a double ear infection (with a perforated ear drum), double pink eye, strep throat and sinusitis. Thank goodness for modern medicine and an understanding employer who allowed me the time of to recover.
I’m feeling much better, but I am left living in a “bubble”. While I’m not contagious anymore (don’t worry co-workers!) I still have fluid in my middle ear which causes everything to be very muffled. When someone is talking to me, it’s like my ears are under water. I can hear bits and pieces, but not the crisp details.
 
Even as I sit here at my desk, I’m amazed at how quiet things are. Normally I can hear the buzz of conversations all around me. One look shows me that things are still hopping; it’s just that I can’t hear it as I normally do.
Here are some of the things I notice:
  • I am more introverted as I need to strain to hear what is going on around me – I feel disconnected with my surroundings
  • I worry that I will miss something that is said to me and offend that person
  • I catch about 1/2 of what is being said and try to piece it together (helps if I can look at the lips)
  • One on one conversations are much easier to follow than group conversations
Hearing loss is an invisible handicap as it’s usually difficult to tell by looking at someone that they have a hearing loss. Many times people don’t have patience to deal with those who have hearing loss or worse they assume the person with hearing loss is a little “slow”.    

Better Hearing Institute
reports that studies have linked untreated hearing loss to:
  • irritability, negativism and anger
  • fatigue, tension, stress and depression
  • avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
  • social rejection and loneliness; reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
  • impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
  • reduced job performance and earning power; diminished psychological and overall health.
Here at Listen Technologies, we offer several lines of products designed to help people that have hearing loss. I realize now more than ever just what an impact these products can make in the life of a person living with hearing loss. Here’s what Chelle George had to say about her first experience with a hearing loop, Before the actual workshop started, a lady reminded us to turn on our T-coil because the rooms are looped.  I did and WOW!!!  I never experienced it before this and I was totally amazed at the clarity of sound coming through my hearing aids at the push of the button.”

How would things be if we each walked a day in their shoes? In fact, that’s just what Ken Wood, CEO/President of Upstate Hearing has his employees do. All staff members are required to complete a hearing loss exercise as part of an orientation to their new positions, which entails wearing a customized set of earplugs while continuing normal daily activities. He said, “Hearing loss is very difficult to understand, Wood said. Most people kind of understand blindness, or being with limited use of a leg from having a cast etc. but unless you have experienced hearing loss or lived with someone with hearing loss it is hard to understand the frustrations and energy required to communicate easily.”

Luckily I know that my hearing will return, but I appreciate the perspective that I now have.

Santa Visits Kauri Sue Hamilton School

I knew I’d have fun.

I knew that I’d have stories to tell.
I did not know just how deep an impact the students at Kauri Sue Hamilton School would make on my heart.
Now in its third year, the Kauri Sue Hamilton School in Jordan School District is a school for students with severe, multiple disabilities.  The land was donated by Cletus and Sharon Hamilton in gratitude for the education Jordan School District provided for their daughter, Kauri Sue.   Kauri Sue is now 40 years old and lives in Spanish Fork but has fond memories of going to school at Jordan Valley School, Bingham High School, and South Valley School.

When Santa Claus came to town, to the Kauri School to be more specific, I had a chance to be his elf/helper for the day. Of course that meant I needed elf attire and the Hale Center Theater’s costume department did not disappoint. Being an audio company we decided to have a little fun and bring in one of our portable systems.

Imagine Santa walking into the classroom and not only calling each student by name but having a conversation with them. These children face many challenges and a better part of them cannot verbally communicate their thoughts and feelings. When Santa was able to talk about their lives and their interests, the excitement was palpable. One little qirl, a quadriplegic, could not speak or move. But when Santa talked to her and held her hand, her breathing became more rapid. One of the teacher aides told me, “That means she is excited!”
Another little boy would stick his leg out straight and shake it. Santa stuck his leg out and shook it. He shrieked with joy and stuck both legs out shaking them. So Santa did the same. Then he stood up and plopped down, stood up, plopped down, stood up, plopped down. Santa did the same. And they connected.
The amazing Teacher Specialist, Jenny Eyre, wore a portable transmitter with a lapel mic while Santa wore an earpiece and had a receiver clipped to his pants. Jenny was able to stand on the far side of the room or down the hall and whisper details in to Santa’s ear. The details she knew of each student and teacher in the school showed that this isn’t just a job, it’s an important part of her life.
Santa was able to bring joy not just to the students but the teachers as well. They were trying to figure out who Santa was and how he knew such details.  Several teachers would whisper to me with a knowing look in their eyes, “Okay, who is Santa? I can’t figure it out?” My response was simply, “Why it’s Santa Claus of course!”

In a world where so often the focus is on material things and winning the rat race, this magical experience is something that I will treasure. The love and acceptance that was shared with me was far greater than any service that I could have provided. Thanks Kauri Sue for letting me see the world through your eyes for a day.

Blue Angels Air Show Soars With Sound

Every year the Navy’s Blue Angels put on an air show at the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar, located in northern San Diego County, California. Their breathtaking flight demonstrations are performed with music and narration on the ground, creating an interesting challenge for any public address system. Thanks to San Diego-based Listen dealer Tri-Media Pro Sound, there’s been no problem hearing what’s happening on the ground amid the roar of the F/A-18 Hornets overhead.


The show at MCAS Miramar is the largest military air show in the country, with more than 500,000 spectators in attendance over a three-day period. The primary spectator seating area covers 3800 linear feet, with another 600-foot area behind the grandstands.
 
The air base sends the project out for bid each year. For the past two years the contract was awarded to
Tri-Media, which supplied the Listen equipment through their rental division, an ideal arrangement for both entities.
 
“Tri-Media [has] provided better-quality equipment and services for the same price [we’d paid others],” said Lieutenant Colonel USMC (Ret), Edwin Downum, the air show’s coordinator, who indicated that a major challenge for the event is having cable on the ground. “It can be a trip hazard in high-traffic areas,” he said.
Tri-Media’s solution was simple: a wireless RF setup, with a Listen
LT-800 Stationary FM Transmitter, LA-107 Ground Plane Remote Antenna, and LR-100 Stationary Receiver/Power Amplifier feeding into speakers.
 
Downum found that the Listen equipment delivered consistently high-quality sound, easily reaching beyond the grandstands to spectators walking around the displays and entering the gates to the flight line. With most systems, one would expect sound coverage like that to require volume levels so high that those sitting closest to the speakers would be less than comfortable. According to Downum, that’s just not so with Listen’s system, resulting in excellent customer satisfaction.
 
“We received outstanding support and excellent sound equipment,” said Downum, who added, “Tri-Media Pro Sound was outstanding, setting up, operating and tearing down the equipment in a professional and timely manner.”
 
The project is going out for bid again, and there’s no doubt it will be hard to match the quality and value provided by Listen equipment and Tri-Media.

Great Falls Improves Downtown With Wireless Audio

As a time-honored summer tradition, the Great Falls Business Improvement District (B.I.D.), auto dealer Bennett Motors, and KLFM 92.9 oldies radio sponsor Cruisin’ the Drag, a popular classic auto show. The show spans about nine blocks right in the heart of downtown Great Falls on Central Avenue. It features classic restored automobiles on display from all over the nation. The event, which has steadily grown from 300 – 600+ cars in its 4-year history, drew about 9000 people in 2004. This one-day event, like many others in the area, brings much needed business the downtown shops and eateries.

 

The Challenge

The Great Falls B.I.D. had been renting a cabled audio system to broadcast sound around the downtown blocks for their events, which cost thousands of dollars each time. While the system adequately distributed the sound, it required tripods and a multitude of cables on each block. All that cabling also required considerable time to install. With all the many events the B.I.D. hosts throughout the year, this audio solution was cumbersome and costly on an annual basis. Great Falls B.I.D. was looking for an easier and more affordable way to spread sound around downtown.

 

The Solution

Great Falls B.I.D. brought in local audio guru Mark Pritchard of Mountain Sound Project to take on this challenge. Using his technical knowledge of audio products and his own mechanical skills he devised a weather-proof wireless audio distribution system that has quick to set up and was affordable enough for the client to purchase outright.

 

The key technology that made Pritchard’s solution possible was wireless FM transmission available from Listen Technologies Corporation. In the central control box, Pritchard had various audio sources plugged into Listen’s LT-800 Stationary FM Transmitter, rack mounted with the other equipment. The transmitter would send sound out to LR-100 Stationary Receiver/Power Amplifiers located in speaker clusters which mounted to the old-fashioned lampposts around the downtown area.

 

In addition to the LT-800 Transmitter, the central control box also included a sound mixer, a CD player, a wireless microphone, an AM/FM tuner, and a cassette deck offering virtually any media to the users. Volume for the whole system is controlled from this box, which is usually located right in the middle of Central Avenue for downtown events, but can be set up anywhere.

 

The speaker clusters, which can be installed in less than a minute and a half, include the LR-100 Receiver/Amplifier, two JBL speakers, a Stuart 2-channel power amplifier, a fan, and an on/off switch. He fabricated steel brackets and weather proof boxes for these clusters. During the winter holidays, the system was left up for four solid weeks, without any problems. A single power cable plugged into an outlet on the lamppost provides power for each of the components. Two clusters per block are staggered in the six-block downtown area. Dismantling each cluster takes less than a minute – and B.I.D. volunteers can do it all themselves, no special labor is needed.

 

The system as a whole is ideally suited for a wide variety of community events. Because it is so easy to install and is so portable, the system can be used virtually anywhere, such as the parks and civic center, and anytime. The versatility of the central control box enables the B.I.D. to broadcast background music, radio remotes, announcements, commercials, and more. In fact, during radio remotes the AM/FM tuner broadcasts the remote as it comes across the radio station. In addition, the radio personalities will cut over to the microphone for the central control box to make special announcements just for those in the downtown area.

 

Client Satisfaction

Great Falls B.I.D. Director Greg Madsen reported that this innovative audio solution has worked beautifully since its birth at the Cruisin’ the Drag event. The clusters have worked flawlessly despite temperatures of nearly -30 degrees in the winters and 105 degrees in the summers. Purchasing a system saves them a lot of money over time. Plus it has helped increase revenues to downtown business.

 

“It’s worked flawlessly! For Cruisin’ the Drag and other events the system has worked so well to make the atmosphere comfortable and inviting. In fact, people who work downtown have proactively sent us message telling us how much they enjoy the background music.”

 

The Great Falls B.I.D. has continued using this easy and affordable solution for a host of other events to help rejuvenate the downtown area, including its Annual Downtown Summer Sidewalk Sale, the Christmas Stroll, and First Night festivities.

Aging Public Address System Rejuvenated by Listen Stationary FM System

For most people, understanding legal jargon is tough enough. For graduate students in a unique judiciary interpreter training MA program, that’s just the beginning.
 
Each year thousands of snow enthusiasts glide down the slopes and half-pipes at the award-winning Sundown Mountain Resort in Dubuque, Iowa. A ready team of resort staff patrol the terrain to assist with emergencies and lost skiers, instructors are busy helping first-timers learn the basics, and lodge personnel attend to the skier’s and boarder’s equipment, appetite, and transportation needs.
 
To support all these efforts, the resort uses a public address (PA) system to make important and sometimes urgent announcements across the slopes. For some time, however, their existing, hard-wired PA system has been plagued by a constant “buzz” from stray voltage contaminating the system. This made sound intelligibility next to impossible.
 
Al Wilsey, of Sundown’s operations technical support team, said, “The horrendous noise was so bad that the staff shut off the system. The only other option was to shut off their chairlifts, which was obviously not an option.”
 
Sundown began an ardent search online to find ways to handle the noise. When sound filters didn’t work, and replacing the hard-wired system was time- and cost-prohibitive, they knew a wireless solution might be a better option. Unfortunately, wireless microphones were expensive and couldn’t effectively send a signal to the distant lodges and ski shacks “over the hill and through the woods.”
 
With the help of Lifeline Amplification Systems (Platteville, Wisc.), Sundown acquired an ideal wireless audio solution with a Stationary FM System from Listen Technologies.
 
“When we tried out Listen equipment during an on-site demonstration, we were thrilled that it eliminated the buzz,” Wilsey said. “We were really impressed that it could reach our lodges ranging from 100 to 400 feet away – and with hills in between. We thought wireless would require line-of-site conditions, but Listen’s system worked great. There was no signal interference either. Most importantly, we saw that it was reliable.”
 
Although the resort’s Board of Directors was initially hesitant to try something during the ski season, they were won over by Listen’s clear sound quality, ability to utilize existing equipment, and low price – 75 percent less than the other solutions they considered.

Eagle Audio & Lighting Delivers Event-Wide Sound System

Celebrating 15 years in Ft. Worth, Texas, the Race for the Cure® features more than 18,500 women, men, and children converging on the streets of Sundance Square to walk, run, or stroll to raise money for breast cancer research.
 
Sundance Square is a 20-block commercial, residential, entertainment and retail district. Sundance Square’s beautiful landscaping, red-brick streets and turn-of-the-century buildings make it a delightful setting for this special event celebrating survivors and loved ones involved in the battle against breast cancer.
 
The annual outdoor event offers more than the race as part of its schedule. Vendors set up booths for education outreach, food and entertainment. Prior to the race there is an aerobic warm up, a master of ceremonies starts the race and at the conclusion of the race there is a closing ceremony with awards. The entertainment features a musical performance by a local band. Developing an event-wide sound system — for an area that spans approximately 2,500 linear feet (762 m) – is no small feat. Particularly one that can deliver excellent audio quality for both spoken word and musical performance.
 
Enter Jerrell Evans, Audio Operations Manager for Eagle Audio & Lighting. Evans and his team have been providing the audio to the Ft. Worth Race for the Cure® for the last five years and have seen the audio system needs grow just as the event has grown. The solution came via a system that included a Shure microphone system with speakers and a Listen LT-800 Stationary FM Transmitter and a LA-107 Ground Plane Antenna on the main-stage. Two delay stations were equipped with a Listen LR-100 Stationary Receiver/Power Amplifier connected to a weather proof powered speaker.
 
Listen’s Wireless Audio Distribution System is ideal for events that don’t have existing hard-wire infrastructure available for audio distribution. Additionally, it saves rental staging companies significant time, money and hassle to deliver sound to their events.
 
The Listen equipment “blew me away” says Evans, who is certain he’ll be using it for other events. “We’re a full-service sound, stage, lighting and video rental company. I can see this equipment being used for many of our events, one that comes to mind is a Fourth of July event we do that has eight different stages and eight different sound systems. It will be easy to integrate the Listen system with the other systems we use.”
 
For more information on Listen products, check the website at https://www.listentech.com
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