Looking to broadcast audio a short distance
August 8, 2004 11:23 PM   Subscribe

I design museum exhibits. Is there an off-the-shelf product that'll broadcast at least 4 channels to 20 or so headphones over a range of not more than a few hundred feet (or some variable distance)? Importantly, the headphones would allow the user to choose which channel to listen to. I'm looking for something far easier than setting up my own FM broadcast station...

There are things that get close, but I haven't seen a single solution that covers all the bases.
posted by warhol to Technology (8 answers total)
It would probably be rather difficult to do this with bluetooth basestations and headsets and a linux server. But some hacker here should try.
posted by Kwantsar at 1:14 AM on August 9, 2004

Thinking expensively, what about some wireless stage monitor headphones?
posted by armoured-ant at 2:42 AM on August 9, 2004

Response by poster: What would be the problem with buying four low-power FM transmitters at $100 each, and as many FM stereo headphones (with digital tuners) as necessary?

Well, I as hoping to avoid having any commercial radio interference. I don't want the headphones to be able to be used for non-exhibit purposes -- restricting their functionality helps prevent them from being borrowed for the long-term by visitors. The way these will be used preclude monitoring by staff and any formal check-in/check-out procedure.

what about some wireless stage monitor headphones?

That's a good suggestion and what I was ultimately thinking along the lines of. I just don't know what some of the other alternatives are, hence my question. Any particular brands with which you've had experience?
posted by warhol at 6:13 AM on August 9, 2004

There was an ask slashdot about this some time ago. Probably worth searching there.
posted by jeb at 6:47 AM on August 9, 2004

Listen, these people may be able to sell you something: "Listen Technologies Corporation is dedicated to helping a venue improve the experience for their guests."
posted by piskycritter at 6:54 AM on August 9, 2004

The Revelstoke Dam in Revelstoke, British Columbia, has 1970's technology radio sets for visitor's use. I think they'd be cheap and certainly no one would particularly care to steal them (butt-ugly and useless without the transmitter).

Maybe you could write 'em and find out what they're using.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:43 AM on August 9, 2004

An art museum in Las Vegas uses little "audio sticks" that contain digital memory and a keypad so you can get them to play messages 1-20 on command.

Considering how cheap flash memory is, these might be cost-effective depending on your situation. I found the speaker at the end of the stick (hold it up to your ear) a bit more comfortable than headphones, and since the device only plays your 20 recordings, it's worthless if stolen.
posted by mmoncur at 10:51 AM on August 9, 2004

Could you set up the low-power FM transmitter and then just take all the receivers and epoxy the tuning setting in place? That way it'd be useless to steal 'em, since they'll only tune in one frequency.
posted by Vidiot at 1:12 PM on August 9, 2004

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