Review: Williams AV Digi-Wave 400
A tour guide system. But potentially so much more than a tour guide system.
Review:/ Christopher Holder
Tour guide audio systems have been around a while. The concept goes something like this: a tour guide has the talking stick and a big red paper flower on a pole, while the group carries a wireless pack with an up/down volume control to hear the commentary. Normally there’s plenty of gesticulating and fiddling with packs and often the system is dispensed with half way through, often forcing the tour guide to yell hoarsely to be heard.
Williams AV’s Digi-Wave 400 series is a tour guide system that takes the tour guide concept but, thanks to some well-considered digital features, raises the level of sophistication considerably without a commensurate hike in ease of use.
For starters, Digi-Wave allows people in the tour group to talk back.
This is a radical concept! Some might say a dangerous concept. But if you think about it, a two-way system solves a whole bunch of issues where questions may arise or if the tour guide seeks feedback. It’s as easy as the participant pressing the momentary talk button and speaking into the built-in mic on their lanyard pack. If you don’t require this feature, then Williams has a dumb, one-way receiver pack alternative.
Digi-Wave’s flexible, two-way configuration opens up other possibilities. For example, it’s easy enough to configure the units such that one presenter communicates to a translator who in turn talks to a tour group, translating in real time without any special additional gear, such as a base station.
Digi-Wave could even function as a straightforward and cost effective comms system in smaller venues — the system can handle as many as six people talking at once. To get that sort of capability in a traditional comms system with a base station you’d be making a considerable investment.
Finally, it’d be remiss of me not to mention that Digi-Wave makes for a very capable hearing assist system, given this is Williams AV’s heritage. Where you can’t install a loop or it’s impractical to install other hearing assist measures (such as IR), a portable system such as the Digi-Wave 400 makes a lot of sense.
WITH THE BAND
Digi-Wave operates in the 2.4GHz band and is constantly sniffing the airwaves to find clean frequencies, which results in some excellent sonic performance even when you’re confronted by lots of wifi pollution. Don’t be deterred by previous experiences you may have had with systems that rely on 2.4GHz. We’ve all been burnt before, but I’m confident that you’ll find Digi-Wave far more solid, and you’ll get more than enough range.
If security is important to you, you’ll be pleased to hear that Williams AV takes its encryption seriously, with up to a quoted 128+87-bit encryption, which sounds formidable enough to thwart even the most superior extra terrestrial surveillance.
It’s this dedication to security that has seen Digi-Wave 400 appearing in courthouse applications.
If you’re invested in legacy Digi-Wave 300 series hardware you’ll also be pleased to hear that the new range is compatible — except for the aforementioned super-charged encryption — when you’re mixing systems, you’ll need to settle for 87-bit encryption.
Williams AV Digi-Wave 400
1800 251 367
- Communicate as a group, or broadcast audio one way
- DLR receiver supports unlimited listeners
- Backwards compatibility with Digi-Wave 300 series
- Superior sound quality
- Completely portable: no base station or rackmounted components required
- 128+87-bit encryption and PIN code
- Simplified usage and set up
- Increased range
- Easy group join (for guest units)
- Easy pairing
PACK & SEND
Williams AV has done its best to make programming and provisioning the packs as easy as possible. For starters, the oLED screen is larger and clearer than the previous Digi-Wave generation. What’s more, Williams AV has programmed a variety of preset modes, selectable on the display — such as Tour Guide, Translation, Hearing Assist and Comms. There are multiple Groups to select. So if you have a pile of Digi-Wave inventory you can easily assign packs on a per-needs basis.
From a punter’s perspective, operating Digi-Wave 400 is a doddle. It pairs easily. The aforementioned up/down volume buttons are easy to find. The range and power is solid. And you can plug in your choice of earphones (seeing everyone has their own these days and we’re all still a little gun-shy about sharing), or use one from Williams AV.
You can buy Digi-Wave components or purchase a bespoke system. Depending on the system, it can ship with absolutely everything you need — leads, packs, charging station etc — all in a solid pelican case.
Digi-Wave doesn’t have the two-way, push-to-talk, encrypted tour guide market to itself but has plenty to recommend it.