Backstage Intercom Best Solution

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by DSmith, Sep 20, 2019.

  1. DSmith

    DSmith Member

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    I have been doing some research on a backstage communication system and I was hoping to get some feedback.

    We are a small high school auditorium. We have recently purchased a Clear-Com wireless system (the Dx-210). This is good for the sound and lighting techs to to talk to the stage crew but we still don’t have a system for communication between actors backstage in the green room and dressing room to the booth.

    To solve this I was looking at a couple different options.

    We could get some clear com wall stations and mount them in the green room and dressing room. This way an actor could walk up to it and push the talk button and go through the clear com wireless. The only thing with this is that we would not be able to call a specific area backstage and have someone talk. Also everyone on the clear com would hear the conversation.

    My second idea, although I’m not sure how common it is, was to install a Cisco PBX phone system for use as an intercom. It would consist mostly older gear bought cheaply off eBay. We could have a phone in the booth and a couple backstage. Someone could walk up to a phone and dial an extension and the other end could pick up.

    For a couple hundred bucks more I could get some wireless access points. We could get some wireless Cisco phones and connect them to the access points. That way a couple of the techs could always be reached.

    We are also looking at a backstage monitor system. I was looking at some sip paging interfaces to be able to page backstage from any of the phones.

    Which makes more sense to you? What do you use in your theatre? Any input would be appreciated.

    Thanks
     
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  2. macsound

    macsound Well-Known Member

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    In some theatres I've worked in with poorly designed Clear Com systems, there would be wall panels in the dressing rooms but nothing in the hallways, bathrooms, kitchen area, shop or stairwells.
    To resolve this we put in a 70v sound system and a PTT microphone in the booth. Also piped a mic hung over the audience into it.
     
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  3. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  4. microstar

    microstar Well-Known Member

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    Ron has succinctly explained the standard method, although implemented in many instances without the added cost of the over-ride paging relay. Such a system does not address your need of the dressing rooms talking back to the SM. This portion is often done via a separate Clearcom channel to the SM so as to keep the actors out of the production channel(s).
     
  5. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  6. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    The DX210 is a two channel system. If the base station is in the booth you can get a two channel wired belt pack for the stage manager and then setup a wired point somewhere backstage on channel two. That way there is a way for backstage to communicate with the booth but only the stage manager will hear the calls so there won't be interruptions to everything. I installed a system like this in a previous theater. I used a Pro Intercom HH10B in the greenroom (It's like an old telephone). It needs to plug into a belt pack. This was all screwed onto a wall making it easy for someone to contact the booth. And for the Stage manager, I have used the Pro Intercom BP 2 a 2 channel beltpack. Note: Pro Intercom gear is fully compatible with Clear Com gear, generally cheaper and better built. I have a Clear Com system that came with my theater but when I need new headsets or belt packs I buy Pro Intercom. If you have any questions about Pro Intercom, start a private conversation with @Diana Mullis .

    And yes... a 70Volt system to send a copy of the audio backstage with a god mic from the booth to make general announcements. I like the AKG DST99 for this purpose.
     
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  7. DSmith

    DSmith Member

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    Thanks for the replies so far everyone.

    I defiantly like the idea of a 70v system in all the backstage areas. The attenuator with a momentary bypass relay is also a great idea. I will defiantly do some more research into a system like this.

    I defiantly agree that there needs to be separate Clear Com channels for the communication from the dressing rooms to the booth. Is Clear Com the only way that communication between back stage and the booth is normally achieved? Have you ever seen something like a phone system used?
     
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  8. microstar

    microstar Well-Known Member

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    I've seen a phone extensions between the booth and backstage before, especially in educational environments where they are part of the campus phone system, but they are not used for production communications and, you have to make sure the ringers are off during a show.
     
  9. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  10. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    I like the 70V override thing, Ron, but I've *never* seen it, anywhere...
     
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  11. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  12. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    I read over the link, yeah, but since I've already got like 6 or 8 of them all around my theatre building, rewiring to get the priority signal would be a bitca.
     
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  13. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  14. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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  15. dmx

    dmx Active Member

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    We often send a video feed backstage and place TV's wherever they are needed. The benefits of this include individual volume control per room / location and the added benefit of being able to see where we are in the show. Audio is fed from an open hanging mic onstage, and you could easily mix in a PTT from the SM to layer on top of the feed. Coax is about $65 per 1000 ft and super easy to install. A $25 RF modulator takes a feed from your stage camera and whatever audio you want to send.
     
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  16. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  17. TimMc

    TimMc Well-Known Member

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  18. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  19. macsound

    macsound Well-Known Member

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    Something I learned from situations like Tim's is buildout.
    One dressing room had a single clearcom station on the wall with volume control.
    Second dressing room had 2 overhead 70v speakers.

    Dressing room 1 always missed their cue because the wall panel was always turned down. Dressing room 2 never did because they didn't have volume control.

    But the issue wasn't that the actors were stupid, its that in order for the back of Dressing room 1 to hear any cues, the two actors doing their makeup in front of the wall panel had to go deaf. This led the actors in the back of the room to turn it up the panel and the front of the room turn it down because they couldn't hear themselves think.

    Dressing room 2 had well placed speakers that were able to be run at reasonable volumes but everyone could still hear the music and the pages.
     
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  20. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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