Tech Focus: Intercoms, Part 2 — What’s on the Market
System features include DECT-, RF-, and Dante compatibility
By pro-audio standards, intercoms constitute a small market sector, but it’s an essential one. Here’s a look at the latest offerings from the market leaders.
CLICK HERE for Tech Focus: Intercoms, Part 1 — At the Crossroads
FreeSpeak II operates in multiple license-free DECT bands from 1.897 to 1.933 GHz, enabling continuous, clear communication even in RF-hostile settings and eliminating the need for frequency coordination. Time-division technology allows DECT to use a single frequency for multiple channels of transmitters and receivers. With the advent of serious reallocation in the first quarter of this year, users who have been using UHF intercoms will pretty much be forced to abandon those solutions.
FreeSpeak II’s active antennas and wireless beltpacks use separate data and audio channels in DECT6 to create a dependable link between beltpacks and the base station or Eclipse HX matrices. Beltpacks possess cellular auto-roaming technology, allowing them to constantly scan and automatically select the optimal wireless signal. FreeSpeak II is scalable: users can add more beltpack users as their team and workload grows; a single 1RU base system can support 25 full-duplex wireless beltpacks. Implementing it as an integrated wireless solution within Eclipse HX matrices, known as FreeSpeak II Integra, enables up to 50 full-duplex wireless beltpack to be used simultaneously.
The system’s wireless coverage can be expanded with locally powered active antennas. Antennas can be positioned up to 3,200 ft. away, 800 ft. when centrally powered from the base station. Two five-way antenna splitters can be deployed on fiber, and up to 10 antennas can be installed to create a wide coverage zone for beltpack users to roam. FreeSpeak II offers 12 PL channels and 12 groups in the system, and beltpacks offer five intercom channels to enable efficient management of workflows. Such features as Listen Again message replay, quick-reply key, and battery-health, RF-status, and antenna-link monitoring add to the convenience of the system. www.clearcom.com
Tempest has been the go-to wireless intercom system for professionals worldwide for almost a decade. Three modes of operation are available within each Tempest BaseStation: Normal, Shared, and Split. This feature allows from five to hundreds of users depending on configuration, all of which are simple to deploy. Tempest is available in 2.4 GHz and 900 MHz frequencies and in a two- or four-channel configuration. It is fast to set up and simple to use, and its cutting-edge RF technologies provide interference-free communication.
CrewCom is a brand-new type of intercom system, based on proprietary CrewNet network technology. It offers high user density with 200 full-duplex users, unparalleled range with up to 46 RF access points connected via copper or fiber up to 6.2 miles, and 1,024 always available user-defined conferences.
CrewCom provides excellent kHz-bandwidth voice quality; the industry’s smallest full-featured, full-duplex wireless radio packs; and multiple simultaneous frequency bands. It offers users the ability to talk to whomever they need to talk to, without the added expense of a matrix or the restrictions of PL systems. CrewCom is designed to handle any application from simple out-of-the-box solutions to large-scale designs for broadcast, live sound, EFP/ENG, and industrial environments. With the system, production crews can easily deploy communications solutions to connect more people in more places than ever before. plianttechnologies.com
The Artist digital-audio matrix platform can be used for intercom applications and the distribution of analog and digital audio. The system consists of a fiber-based backbone providing a decentralized infrastructure for live audio and intercoms with matrix sizes up to 1,024×1,024 ports. Multiple frames can be interconnected by a dual optical-fiber ring to form a single large, full-summing, non-blocking distributed matrix that looks like one system to the user. With Riedel’s AES67 and Dante client cards installed into the Artist mainframe and then configured through the Director software, the platform can accommodate AVB, AES67, and Dante audio networks. The AES67 interface supports connectivity between the Artist and SmartPanels, as well as other third-party devices.
Tango, Riedel’s first network-based communications platform, supports both the AES67 and AVB standards. It is a cost-effective and efficient 40×80 digital intercom matrix that features two integrated Riedel digital partylines, two AES67- and AVB-compatible ports, two Ethernet ports, one option slot, and redundant power supplies. The 1.5RU system features a shallow mounting depth and low-noise design and is fully compatible with all of Riedel’s current and legacy intercom panels, including the RSP-2318 SmartPanel.
SmartPanel is a powerful multifunctional user interface that includes three high-resolution, sunlight-readable, multitouch color displays; stereo audio; a multilingual character set; and 18 keys in a single RU. The SmartPanel can be further expanded through the use of intercom, control, and monitoring apps. Three intercom apps are available, offering different levels of functionality to suit various feature sets. With the RSP-2324 Expansion SmartPanel, users have the ability to extend SmartPanel configurations to up to 19 displays and 114 keys.
The Performer digital partyline intercom system provides two- and four-channel master stations; rack-mount, wall-mount, and desktop speaker stations; call-light indicators; and two-channel beltpacks. Performer can be directly interfaced to Artist and Tango.
Acrobat full-duplex wireless communications solution offers up to 100 individually addressable wireless control panels/beltpacks and 18 wireless partylines. Compatible with the Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) standard’s base layer, it is well-suited for use in crowded RF environments.
With its recent acquisition of ASL Intercom BV, Riedel Communications has significantly extended its portfolio of intercom technology optimized for demanding live entertainment and broadcast-production environments. The company’s flagship ASL FLEXUS intercom system is notable for allowing multiple standards — Dante/AES67/AVB and RAVENNA — to coexist in a single system, and its Pro Series two-wire systems address the needs for a high-quality low-cost communications solution. ASL also includes Enchorus, a new Dante-based digital-audio network for live-production environments. www.riedel.net/
The BTR-80N two-channel wireless intercom system offers extremely reliable and secure full-duplex communication with up to four wireless TR-80N beltpacks and an almost unlimited number of half-duplex beltpacks. Variable transmit power is available up to 249 mW. Operating in a very tight frequency band (at 25 KHz vs. the 800 Series at 100 KHz), the BTR-80N system can be effectively used in RF-difficult environments and is approved for license-free use in most countries. The system also incorporates unique ClearScan technology, allowing users to select the optimal RF channel for communication at the touch of a button. Features include a choice of two independent or simultaneous audio channels, multiple antenna options and accessories, easy-to-read LCD indicating system status, expanded coverage using BTR-80N access points, simultaneous two-wire and four-wire wired intercom interface, XLR in/out for interfacing with general audio systems, auto-select condenser or dynamic microphone, and a choice or rechargeable or standard batteries supporting a wide temperature range and up to eight hours of operation. www.rtsintercoms.com