Since July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act has protected people with disabilities in the US. Among its many requirements is the stipulation that businesses and other venues provide the same opportunities for those with disabilities as for those without. For people with hearing loss, this means that places must have an assistive listening system if audio amplification and communication are essential to the use of the space.
So you know you need an assistive listening system for your venue. With different types of assistive technology available, though, choosing the right one can be difficult. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly system, radio frequency (RF) technology may be perfect for you. Once you decide on RF technology, though, you have another decision to make: Do you need 72 MHz or 216 MHz? The US uses the two frequencies for assistive listening, and each has pros and cons. Here’s the rundown on both bands.
Mainly used for indoor venues with multiple adjacent rooms, a 72 MHz system has an impressive list of pros and some drawbacks.
- Has higher audio quality, with 80 decibels signal-to-noise ratio
- Uses up to six channels simultaneously
- Has better signal penetration through obstructions
- Has lower coaxial cable loss
- Doesn’t have an outdoor-rated antenna
- Has limited range—up to 1,000 feet
- 80 inches of vertical clearance required for antenna
Systems with 216 MHz are ideal for large outdoor venues. Like the 72 MHz systems, there are pros and cons to this frequency.
- Range up to 3,000 feet
- Has an outdoor-rated antenna
- Only 25 inches of vertical clearance required for dipole antenna
- Maximum of three channels can be used simultaneously wihtin the same space
- Has higher coaxial cable loss
- Signal fades through obstructions
- Lower sound quality than 72 MHz, at 70 decibels sound-to-noise ratio
If you have a venue where the ADA requires an assistive listening system, radio frequency technology is a budget-friendly choice. If your venue is indoors, like Hale Centre Theatre, a 72 MHz system may be the right decision. For large outdoor venues, like Dallas Cowboys Stadium, 216 MHz may be the perfect fit.
If you need help deciding which system is right for your venue, talk to us. We’d love to help you design a system so all your customers can share the same great experience.