IBC 2010: Clear-Com Previews HelixNet Platform, Enhances Eclipse Intercom System

At IBC 2010, Clear-Com has unveiled HelixNet, a unified digital intercom platform based on Clear-Com’s I.V.Core Technology that offers a mix of technical capabilities for live productions. The HelixNet platform was developed from the ground up with five design concepts in mind: cabling simplicity, ease-of-use, networking flexibility, system intelligence and audio clarity. Clear-Com is now previewing the first two HelixNet products, HelixNet Main Station (HMS-4X) and HelixNet Beltpacks (HBP-2X), at IBC  (Stand 13.C26).

“HelixNet is the latest stage of our intercom evolution that combines the powerful configuration and network management capabilities of a matrix system with the flexible cabling and simplified user interface attributes of 2-wire party-line systems” says Chris Barry, Product Manager of HelixNet at Clear-Com. “HelixNet delivers the new standard for mission critical voice communications—complexity simplified, unparalleled voice intelligibility, and dependable hardware operating-over the dynamic networks of today and tomorrow.”

Flexible and simple cabling and networking are major benefits of this HelixNet platform.   All products on the platform are designed to work on a wide variety of twisted-pair cabling, such as microphone cables and CAT-5; HelixNet can operate over a facility’s pre-existing cabling and, soon, Main Stations will be able to connect via standard LAN / IT network infrastructure. Moreover, power and all audio channels are transported over a single cable. HelixNet beltpacks interconnect passively facilitating  dynamic cabling options: Y-splits, one-to-many splits, daisy-chaining beltpack to beltpack along with a mix of wire guage.

The system design allows users to simply “plug-and-play.” HelixNet is compatible with all of Clear-Com’s intercom systems such as the Encore party-line and the 4-wire Eclipse Matrix wired and range of wireless systems. No preconfiguration is necessary. The Main Station provides expansion bays that accept optional 2-wire and 4-wire interface modules enabling seamless connections to  virtually any 2-wire or 4-wire audio source.

System intelligence provides HelixNet with exciting new intercom functions, including an autocheck feature that checks beltpack firmware upon connection and updates accordingly as well as a USB Connection for the Main Station to easily conduct software and firmware maintenance and updates.

High audio clarity is retained with the company’s signature, “Clear-Com Sound,” and further enhanced with digital precision. The high signal-to-noise ratio on each system ensures users can hear each word with absolute clarity from the moment it is spoken.

Furthermore, the HelixNet powered 2-channel beltpack is rugged and ergonomic. It features unique tactile controls for intuitive touch operation and bump-proof volume knobs, making navigation on this feature-rich 4 channel system easy to master. Beltpacks also feature high-contrast OLED status displays for easy visual operation. Its rugged design assures reliability and durability that will last through the most demanding conditions.

Clear-Com Enhances Eclipse Digital Matrix Intercom System

At IBC 2010, Clear-Com is also showcasing enhancements to its Eclipse digital matrix intercom system, including the recently released Production Maestro Pro with Clear-Vu, an add-on metering module.

Clear-Com upgraded the Eclipse Configuration Software (ECS) with new features that automate the setup of intercom communications, reducing operator engagement and improving workflow. These new advancements allow the system to auto-detect matrices and networks, load or change pre-established configurations and auto-default to a factory setting.  The new ECS software also includes assisted on-screen help for instant trouble-shooting.

Broadcasters can employ the enhanced Eclipse to better manage production environments. For example, during live remote news broadcasts, an operator can quickly link reporters and production staff in the field with the swift click of a mouse. He can then save those setting configurations for use in the future. If an operator needs to make any changes, these can easily be accomplished using the ECS.

“Just as production workflows, trends and needs evolve so does Clear-Com’s technology. It is the goal of the company to provide its clients with the most up-to-date and relevant products as possible to help fulfill their equipment needs,” says Simon Browne, Senior Product Manager, Clear-Com.  “These latest enhancements to the Eclipse Configuration Software further reinforce this commitment. Broadcasters will find the real-time solution they need to keep up with the increased demands laid upon them.”

In addition, Clear-Com has developed a new audio monitor card for Eclipse, the LMC-64.  This card enables Clear-Vu on Production Maestro Pro, an add-on module for Eclipse introduced earlier this year, to display visual levels on screen by using up to 64 real-time graphical meters.  Through standard VU or Nordic scaling, customers can easily adjust audio levels by selecting a few icons on a computer monitor.

Clear-Com Now Shipping Enhanced Tempest 2400 Worldwide

Clear-Com is now shipping worldwide its Tempest 2400 digital wireless intercom with a new firmware update. This update introduces two new modes of operation — Shared Mode and Split Mode — and functions that increase the capacity, flexibility and usability of the system, such as the ability to connect an unlimited number of BeltStations to a Tempest2400 BaseStation.

Building upon Tempest’s ability to connect up to 10 BaseStations within the same RF area, the new firmware update gives users the opportunity to combine three different modes of operation to accommodate most production wireless intercom requirements. In addition to the Normal Mode that offers up to five full-duplex BeltStations per BaseStation, Shared and Split Modes were added to allow for an unlimited number of users per BaseStation. In Shared Mode, all of the BeltStations can utilize the dual listen/talk feature and BeltStation users can individually select which channels they listen and talk to just like in normal mode. While all of the BeltStations can talk, only five BeltStations may have talk enabled at any one time. If a sixth BeltStation tries to talk, the user will receive a busy signal. In Split Mode, users operate in a combination of the other two modes: Normal and Shared, offering the use of four BeltStations that utilizes the standard anytime talk back capability and an unlimited number of BeltStations sharing one talk path at any given time.

“We are thrilled to begin shipment of this enhanced version of Tempest,” says Stephen Sanford, product manager at Clear-Com. “Already a breakthrough product, these upgrades bring this product family to the next level in its evolution. The Tempest system is known for its superior range and performance, even in the face of significant interference, and now we are able to open up the roadmap to the future for our customers, giving them an unprecedented amount of increased capacity on this system. And by doing so, we’re also improving the efficiency of their workflows.”

Tempest2400, available in two- and four-channel versions, is a cost-effective option for broadcast professionals who require fewer channels of communications and offers users unprecedented access to license-free communications. Utilizing patented Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum radio technology to ensure robust, reliable communications, Tempest2400 operates license-free in the 2.4 GHz band worldwide, allowing interference-free communications even in environments heavily populated by other wireless devices. While Tempest operates in the same unlicensed spectrum as WiFi (802.11b/g), its unique RF design allows it to utilize the entire available spectrum over time, while using only a very narrow portion of the spectrum at any one moment. This narrow band hopping technology complements WiFi’s wideband RF signature.  With today’s professional broadcast studios and arenas inherently packed with WiFi devices, Tempest’s superior technology allows the system to coexist comfortably with WiFi, providing greater range and performance for customers than competing products.

Tempest also provides the same robust RF performance in all types of production environments, indoors and outdoors.  Proprietary 2xTx redundant audio transmission technology built into the Tempest system also ensures that all information broadcast via the digital wireless intercom system is sent over two different frequencies at two different times.  As the frequencies are separated into two different parts of the 2.4 GHz band, the robust Tempest system ensures that at least one of the signals will pass through an interference-free area of the spectrum.

Tempest also frees up much needed UHF space. Replacing previous intercom systems with Tempest and transferring communications out of the UHF space and into the 2.4 GHz band frees up additional space for wireless devices, giving users ultimate spectrum efficiency. Further, unlike older analog UHF systems, Tempest does not require frequency coordination.

Other new features also include BeltStation push and turn volume control, push and hold channel changing, a 4db gain increase on 4-wire I/O BaseStations and the ability to control remote BeltStation sidetone levels and mic gain from the BaseStation or the T-Desk software program.

Finally, the Tempest BeltStation’s user interface operates similarly to a wired beltpack, allowing even a first-time user to quickly understand and operate one.  Users do not require additional RF expertise, so even crew members unfamiliar with RF technology can use the system quickly and efficiently. Combined with the Tempest’s unique RF design and ease of use, the Tempest BeltStation adds further value to users of this system working in any location or venue around the globe.

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