The above Ad will no longer appear after you Sign Up for Free!

Recommendations for Two-Way Radios and Headsets

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by willbb123, Mar 13, 2009.

  1. willbb123

    willbb123 Active Member

    Messages:
    455
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Iowa USA
    I have a problem every time I have to refocus specials for a band. I have to squeeze my focus in between or during sound check (try not do do it during). If I have to do it during, it is so loud that I can not communicate to the person focusing or to the person at the board.
    I would like to get some radios that our entire crew (5ish) can have for preshow and during loadout. I can see them being used during load in and load out with out headsets, but we would need headsets during soundcheck and the show. We do have a wired clearcom system but it doesent fit our needs for some shows, the PM likes to sit in his office whenever we need him. We would use our clearcom during shows, and radios for pre/post and for emergencies.

    What radios/earpieces have you guys used and what would you recommend for us? We would not get a license, so we are looking at the family band radios. Also we would need to be able to use the radios during loud shows and sound check.
     
  2. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    5,949
    Likes Received:
    225
    Occupation:
    Stageline Operator/Staging Supervisor
    Location:
    Howell, NJ
    Not true, don't forget license free VHF and 900 Mhz.

    Cheap FRS is definitely not suitable for this.

    You need to do a quick RF study and check the FCC license databases to see what is around you that could cause interference.
     
  3. joeboo46

    joeboo46 Member

    Messages:
    76
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Northeast Pennsylvania
    Outside of licensing and that stuff which I know very little about. I would recommend the Motorola Radius CP200 Series I have used these quite a bit in touring situations and I know alot of tours use them too reasonably priced and very reliable too. Good Range and very little problem with interference and such they are also quite durable, I really beat the stuff out of mine and it still work like a charm. You can probably get some good package deals online.
     
  4. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    5,949
    Likes Received:
    225
    Occupation:
    Stageline Operator/Staging Supervisor
    Location:
    Howell, NJ
    You will need a license unless you use MURS frequencies.
     
  5. pacman

    pacman Active Member

    Messages:
    119
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Be careful with FRS (Family Radio Service) & GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) radios. Although FRS are license-free, they have limited output of half a watt or less & likely won't work well at any distance in your theatre because of all the concrete & steel. GRMS outputs 1-5 watts typically so might fare better in range, but they require FCC licensing. Further, there's an organized group of users around the country who police these frequencies against any use other than intended, which precludes pretty much anything other than private individuals. From the FCC website...
    "The General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) is a land-mobile radio service available for short-distance two-way communications to facilitate the activities of an adult individual and his or her immediate family members, including a spouse, children, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, and in-laws (47 CFR 95.179). Normally, as a GMRS system licensee, you and your family members would communicate among yourselves over the general area of your residence or during recreational group outings, such as camping or hiking."

    You might check into radio systems that work with your wired system. Clear Com makes them, as do Telex, HME, Production Intercom, Anchor Audio and others. I'm using an Anchor Audio system interfaced into my Production Intercom wired system. There are some issues I'll discuss if anyone is interested, but the bottom line is that it does work. My main interest was being able to have two or three key stage hands available to work with crews while still being able to communicate with everyone on wired headset, but not being tethered by a cable.
     
  6. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,206
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Mr. Pacman, I'm curious about the issues you're having with the walkie interface. My boss is looking into going that route for our proscenium space. You can PM me or email me if you'd rather not air laundry here.
     
  7. RonaldBeal

    RonaldBeal Active Member

    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    TN
    For walkie talkies... the FRS bubble pack radios don't work well in a high noise environment. Commercial grade MURS radios will fit the bill, and be license free... Also getting a license for the school isn't that big of a deal... most of your local 2-way radio vendors can guide you through the process, and get you much larger variety for the same price.
    Hope this helps
    RB
     
  8. Xboxdm2

    Xboxdm2 Member

    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Might want to switch to Verizon with their direct connect.You can use your blue tooth headset too. awesome much.
     
  9. themuzicman

    themuzicman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    884
    Likes Received:
    178
    Occupation:
    Audio Engineer
    Location:
    On Tour
    I agree, FRS radios are totally unsuitable. I have used them, and I must say I would rather haul around 100ft. of cable with me then have to try and understand what is being said over FRS with static interference.

    MURS is the way to go, and I second the suggestion of the Motorola Radius CP200 Series. I used those for a few load in/outs, and they were very good. Not sure about licensing with them however, I was in a facility that already had them.
     
  10. Spiceboy

    Spiceboy Member

    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    Clearcom have two licence free systems

    CellCom uses the 1.92 to 1.93GHz Band

    http://www.clearcom.com/support/bro..._Wireless_Brochure_(For_USA_and_CAN_only).pdf

    and the "soon to be released" Tempest uses the 2.4GHz band

    Clear-Com - About the Company: 2007 News Archives

    Yes I know it says 2007 on the press release but "the best laid plans of mice and men..."

    They both use the same headsets as the wired Clearcom and also have built in PL and 4 wire interfaces.

    In addition to the companies listed by Pacman these guys may have soemthing suitable.

    Production Wireless | Wireless Microphone Sales and Repair | Wireless Products

    It largely depends on your budget
     
  11. awhaley

    awhaley Member

    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    18
    While not exactly answering the topic (I've had the same experiences as others radio wise- MURS is incredible if someone will pay for them. FRS is cheap but after a couple of frustrating days, these usually go in a cabinet never to be touched again.) the value of a clear set of hand signals for focusing lights cannot be overstated!

    I use a set of hand signals with clear voice instructions whether I'm focusing in complete silence, with the carpenters sawing, or with a rock band warming up.

    I stand facing away from the light so I can see what I'm actually hitting, with my head where I want the center of the beam and use hand signals for left, right, up and down which ALWAYS refer to the direction I want the beam to move in relationship to centerline and plasterline... I don't try to second guess the electrician and tell him how I want him to move the yoke and tilt.

    I have a hand signal for lock the fixture down, one for run the barrel, one for pull or drop color and one for spin the axis of a par or the barrel of a s-4. Shutter cuts are also always done with a hand signal. I use a big rotating gesture towards the console operator or ALD to signal that I want the next fixture, and just keep giving that signal until the bring up the right one... unless there's a simple way for me to give them a number sign or something similar to tell them which channel I want next.

    These signals take the electricians about two minutes to pick up on, and then we can continue focusing no matter what happens noise wise in the space. They definitely don't replace all the things radios can do for you when working in a big space, but they do allow us to get shows focused under adverse conditions, which seemed to be your big concern in the OP.

    Art Whaley
    Art Whaley Design
     
  12. pacman

    pacman Active Member

    Messages:
    119
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Eboy87, you asked about the issues I had with the Anchor Audio interface. I have the Anchorman package with the Wingman interface Anchor Audio AnchorMan Wireless Intercom. Check the specs if you are interested; I'll stick to the problems I've run into.

    There are four groups of four pairs of channels - one transmit/receive in each direction. It took some trial & error to find a group where we got reasonably clear signals with all four packs (they can communicate independently without a "base station"). Since they operate in the 900 MHz band, I suspected I might run into some interference problems, but thought it might be less congested than the 2.4 GHz band that the HME DX series runs. Range is adequate for my needs, but not spectacular. It covers a 710 seat proscenium theatre, catwalks and backstage areas including orchestra pit pretty well; much better than our failed attempt with FRS radios. Venture beyond this area & we get dropouts and/or static.

    Next we tried the wireless to wired interface, which Anchor calls the "Wingman". They claim it is compatible with two wire or four wire systems. Documentation on the product is pretty skimpy. A call to Anchor produced little help (see more about other problems dealing with these guys below). Has anyone ever noticed that manufacturers seem to have never heard of anything except ClearCom? Well the folks at Anchor are no different. I guess they could have told me how to set the Wingman to work with ClearCom, but I have a Production Intercom wired system (not my choice... it was there when I arrived, but it works perfectly well, even through it's not CC). Of course, I called Anchor before purchasing the Anchorman/Wingman and they assured me it was compatible with P.I. I finally got it to work, but have never been able to use the 4th beltpack. It appears the Wingman interface uses the fourth pair of transmit/receive channels to communicate with the other three beltpacks. We initially had some volume level differences, but the Wingman provides an adjustment & that solved that problem. I'm not a fan of the VOX circuit, but I prefer to run them in push-to-talk mode anyway to avoid all the chatter.

    My overall satisfaction is probably tainted by problems with the original shipment. It comes with four boom mic headsets of your choice, the beltpacks and a four pack charger (uses AA NiMH rechargeables or alkaline AAs). When the package arrived, I opened it to find that the headset connectors were 4-pin mini XLR, but the beltpacks require standard 4-pin XLR. How can that get screwed up when you are buying a standard package? I mean the factory should know what kind of headset connector goes with the beltpacks, right? The Wingman interface was not included. I got on the phone to my dealer & left a message, then I called Anchor. They promised to send replacement headsets with the proper connector right away. They had no clue that I ordered the Wingman & referred me to my dealer. When I talked to my dealer, he swore he ordered the Wingman along with the Anchorman. A call back from the dealer assured me the interface & proper headsets would ship out the next day via expedited UPS. Eight days later, nothing had arrived. I called the person at Anchor but he did not return my voicemails. Finally, I looked at the corporate directory on the website & called the Vice President of Sales directly. He took my info & promised to get the problems corrected. He also claimed they had no order from my dealer for the Wingman. Called the dealer, who called Anchor & said everything would be resolved. A week later, the stuff finally arrived. This was not exactly five-star customer service!

    I originally considered the Anchor product & the HME DX series. The HME product is pretty impressive DX200 Digital Wireless Intercom - HME. I saw a demo at LDI a couple of years ago. It is license free & operates in the 2.4GHz band. Of course there's all sorts of stuff floating around there. It has rechargable batteries, but they are proprietary. As I said earlier, the Anchor uses AA rechargeables or standard AA alkalines. HME has voice prompts on setup & even tells you when you are getting near the edge of range. I think HME is probably pretty good stuff because they make most of the fast-food drive-up systems you see, so it has to be durable to stand up to that kind of abuse. What really pushed me to the Anchor product though, is it cost about half what the HME system would run.
     
  13. pianoman55

    pianoman55 Member

    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    I know that our theatre doesn't use them... but might I suggest a Clearcom Wireless system? I did a show once at a theatre that used them. They're pretty nifty things. I think these people used the ClearCom Tempest series. Any tech with a wireless pack could go anywhere.. wire free. Reception was pretty good. Receiver/Transmitter base stations could be set up in your PMs office so he could listen in if need be. Plus typical stage manager tasks could be covered through the headsets. They have the Stage-Announce system in case you have a backstage/dressing room monitor setup for a stage manager to make announcements on. All in all.. good product. Link below:
    Clear-Com - Products: Wireless - TempestĀ® 2400 & TempestĀ® 900
     
  14. tech2000

    tech2000 Active Member

    Messages:
    285
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    N/A
    My theater uses Icom radios (good quality and build) but I would rather have wireless clearcom. Unfortunately the Tempest is 2.4ghz and we always have issues with 2.4ghz products as the wireless internet interferes with transmission.
     
  15. firewater88

    firewater88 Active Member

    Messages:
    157
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    West Michigan
    Check out Motorolas DTR series. I think there is a 550 and 650 model. They are basically a Nextel 2 way radio without the cell phone. They are license free. You can have 1 to group conversations, or 1 to 1 private conversations. The 650 is a master unit (if you can call it that) where you can shut off a unit from a menu. We have 10 units in all, one being a 650 (mine). They take normal 2 plug accessories for mic/speaker. We have many options on headsets, the mot popular is the 2 wire "Secret Service" earpiece and mic. I use a speaker mic on the shoulder for rehearsals/load ins and plug a earpiece in for shows. They can be labeled so you know who is calling you. There can be several public groups, for example we have all front of house on public one. Custodians are on public 2, EMT on public 3. When you need a specific group, just scroll to it and talk. That way the other groups don't need to hear all the other jargon online the whole time. They have great range, even in our building where you have trouble making cell calls! In fact they can go from our theatre into the basement of the next building here on site.

    The other reason we went with these is that we have touring shows that come through and we didn't want to infringe on any possible channels they might be using with thier own radios or such. So going digital eliminated that. No interference and license free and secure.
    Look into them...
     
  16. Seldred

    Seldred Member

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Florence, MA
    I'm looking to do exactly what Pacman described - I'm keenly interested in hearing about any and all cost-benefit issues regarding the Anchor Audio "Anchorman" system (Portable Sound Systems | Public Address and Wireless Sound Reinforcement), as well as the Eartec systems (index) which are similar. I just read Pacman's EXCELLENT detailed response on this topic - does anybody else have experience w/ Anchor or Eartec?
     
  17. shiben

    shiben Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,129
    Likes Received:
    229
    Occupation:
    Lighting Technician (Tour)
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    We used Icom radios and Clear-Com, both wired and wireless. I ended up getting my own earpiece and mic set for the radio so that I could still be on radio while in the house, but overall I think they were decent quality. I still prefer some of the newer Motorola handsets, but the Icom worked passably. We have a campus wide FCC license, however, covering 4 repeaters and something like 12 10 talk groups, so this system is probably not exactly what your looking for.
     
  18. KeepOnTruckin

    KeepOnTruckin Member

    Messages:
    84
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Richmond VA and Wash DC Metro
    I used an eartec system a while back that was jsut eartec slapping their label over some Kenwood GMRS walkie talkies. The headsets were extremeley comfortable and had convenient PTT buttons but they weren't durable.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice