Booking and checking your audio description equipment

If you have your own audio description equipment, it will need to be checked before every use, to ensure all the elements still function properly.

If you don’t have your own equipment in house, it should be booked so that it arrives (or is picked up) two days before the audio described performance. The technicians should check on arrival that the equipment is complete.

The equipment must include:

  • sound mixer – ideally with push faders
  • Headphones with an attached boom microphone.

The equipment may include:

  • A rifle microphone with clip to create show relay specifically for the audio describers
  • A monitor with IEC lead – used when describers work remotely
  • Various cables if not pre-installed at the theatre (XLR to provide the audio describers with show relay, BNC to provide the audio describers with video if required, and XLR to take the audio description feed from the sound mixer to either the infra-red modulator or the radio transmitter)
  • Power extension cords

Infra-red equipment must include:

  • A modulator for converting the signal into infra-red
  • At least two radiators for emitting the infra-red signal
  • Infra-red stethoset receivers
  • Infra-red stethoset receiver batteries
  • Relevant number of charging trays with power supplies for the stethoset batteries

Infra-red equipment may include:

  • In addition to the cables stated above – BNC cable for linking the modulator to the radiators

Radio Equipment will include:

  • Transmitter
  • Receivers
  • Charging tray

Radio Equipment may include:

  • An adaptor allowing an output to be taken form the sound mixer as an input into the transmitter
  • Cable to allow the correct placement of the transmitter for broadcast to the auditorium
  • Earphones for box receivers

The day before the audio described show the headset batteries/radio receivers must be on charge to ensure they will last throughout the performance, and the equipment should be checked to make sure it is in working order.

At the describer’s position, can sound from the stage be heard in the headphones? Is there also fold-back when the microphone is live? Can the microphone be turned on and off silently? In the auditorium, is the reception clear in the seats to be used? If you are using a two channel system is there a clean audio description feed on one channel with show relay on a separate channel? By testing the day before, you have enough time to solve any problems before the show.

VocalEyes can offer training to technicians. Please contact if you would like to know more about this.

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