Cutting through the noize


Louisa Daley chats to Duncan Strain, director, Silent Noize Events, about how its technology is creating more engaging and inclusive events.

Silent Noize Events, established in 2010, initially entered the events industry as a pioneer in the silent disco scene, supplying organisers, festivals and weddings rented headsets. However, in 2015 – it all changed and there was a shift towards business events, according to its founder Duncan Strain.

“People in the conference and exhibition space started asking us for headsets to help control noise. In these environments, you have lots going on – like multiple panel discussions, workshops and networking sessions, so noise often bleeds out onto the show floor. This not only causes a disruption for exhibitors trying to talk to potential clients, but the clunky sound systems also stop event organisers being able to use their space creatively,” he explains.

Strain tells me he saw a gap in the market and therefore, in 2016, opened up a second brand called Silent Seminars. “We are not selling disco headsets to the events industry, we are supplying bespoke, 10 channel headsets to drive audience engagement and help event organisers deliver audio in the most effective way at trade shows and conferences,” he reveals.

“All attendees, whether they’re sat on the front row, or the back row, or even stood outside the theatre – should be able to get the same experience.”

This core belief also extends to how attendees consume the audio. “We are committed to creating experiences for all, and we have recently partnered with Interprefy and now offer language translation through the headsets, as well as their captioning services alongside it. This ensures all attendees can engage with and experience the content, regardless of its format,” he explains.

“The better experience attendees have at an event, the chances are they’ll come back again. They’ll also leave more inspired and informed, talking about the event and sharing key trends with other eventprofs,” Strain adds.

Working together at scale

Silent Seminars regularly supplies its headsets to various industry events like International Confex, works with a range of clients including Red Bull, BBC, and Microsoft.

“Our biggest event is a tech summit that takes place at ExCeL London every year. As well as an exhibition space with several theatres, the summit also has eight large seminar theatres all situated side by side with around 800 seats in each. The only thing that separates the rooms is a black drape.

“So, for the client to deliver the event successfully, they use our headsets. In total, there’s about 8,000 headsets live all at the same time, but all operating on different channels.”

But it’s not just about providing high-quality headsets to organisers, it’s about offering expertise and guiding them along the way too. “It’s not just as simple as giving organisers headphones and attendees going into use them. We can offer technicians on-site to help manage and facilitate the channels,” he says.

According to Strain, the company’s support can vary depending on the scale of the event. “We can provide a technican to manage the RF radio frequencies with Ofcom, set up the infrastructure behind the headsets, and ensure the cleaning protocols are implemented afterwards too.”

“We stand out because the technology – we’ve developed it, we are using technology in a different way, and combined with our expertise and skills, we can help deliver a better, more engaging experience for all.”