|Listen Technologies Tour Group Kits
by Jim Hanks
Whether you work in a gallery, a factory, or a corporate office, conducting tours
for guests can often be challenging. Not only do you have to speak over ambient
noise, but you also have to avoid disturbing other patrons and fellow employees.
For these reasons and more, headset tours have become more and more popular in
museums today. Most of these tours, however, are taped, thereby preventing any
form of personalized commentary.
A new product from Listen Technologies allows your guests to don headsets and
walk up to 300 feet away while receiving commentary from your own transmitter.
Available in 3-person,
sets, these units are great for tourslarge or small.
There is not much setup to speak of. Just insert the included AA batteries,
plug in the headsets to the receivers and transmitter, and then tune the units
to the same channel. Initially I ran across some radio interference, but because
57 channels are supported, I didn't have trouble finding a clear frequency.
Once the receivers and the transmitter are tuned to the same channel, you're
ready to go.
If you're going to conduct tours with any regularity, I would definitely recommend
paying a little extra money for the rechargeable units. Both models are stored
in a handsome, durable case, but with the rechargeable units the necessary cords
are built into the units' cushioned slots. To recharge, just make sure each
unit is plugged in and then connect the case to an outlet with the supplied
cord. As such, you can recharge all of the units with the briefcase shut. Plus,
if you are in an area without an outlet, the rechargeable units support regular
AA batteries, as well. Whichever batteries you use, you should receive about
12 hours of use before recharging or replacement is required.
Designed with tours in mind, features on the units are kept to a minimum and
the units can clip comfortably to belts or can fit inside pockets or purses.
For the most part, the transmitter and the receivers are identical. Each has
a flip-cover that, when opened, exposes the battery compartment and the UP and
DOWN channel buttons. These flip-covers can be locked with a screwdriver to
keep participants from changing the channel from the transmitting frequency.
However, guests can always adjust the volume and can also tell when they've
wandered too far by looking at the signal strength indicator on the receiver's
LCD. On the transmitter, there is an additional switch that toggles between
mute and talk so you can have individual asides with guests or co-workers.
The receiver headsets are worn over the ear (there are no headbands or microphones)
and they're exceptionally light and comfortable. The transmitter headset also
fits over the ear, but includes a microphone. Highly sensitive and positioned
at the end of an adjustable boom, the transmitter's microphone lets you talk
comfortably and naturally. To test its sensitivity, I placed the transmitter
headset next to a stereo speaker and walked a few feet away while wearing a
receiving unit. Although I could not hear the radio through the stereo's speakers,
I could hear it loud and clear through my receiver's headset.
Reception and range
The units operate in the 72 MHz frequency, so you don't have to worry about
interference with newer cordless phones, Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) networks,
or Bluetooth products (all of which use the 2.4 GHz frequency). When I tested
the units in San Francisco, though, I did run across some radio interference
and had to occasionally adjust the headset cord, which also acts as the antenna,
to improve reception.
But for the most part, range was about 300 feet in radiusas advertised.
I also tested the units out of the city and experienced something I've never
found in 2 years of testing wireless products. I received a range of 500 feetmuch
higher than advertised! Kudos to Listen Technologies for being honest and even
a little conservative in their estimates.
With exceptional range, clear transmission, and volume control for users, these
tour devices allow guests some flexibility when you show them around your workplace.
But perhaps the thing I liked best was the packaging. Self-contained and wired
for the rechargeable units, the sturdy, attractive briefcase allows you to easily
transport everything you need. Starting as low as $1,070, these well-designed
products will greatly improve toursfor hosts and guests alike.
I Liked Best
I Didn't Like
- Attractive and durable briefcase
- Rechargeable (optional)
- Simply designed
- Excellent range
- 57 Channels to choose from
- Flip-covers deter accidental channel switching
- Adjustable volumes