Theatre Intercom Systems??

Joined
Mar 11, 2019
Location
Forestview High School
We’re attempting to rebuild a high school theatre program and we’re getting to the point where we need a reliable form of communication between everyone. We want a theatre intercom with the headsets, but I have no clue what we need.

What we have;
A Stage XLR input on each side of the stage, the opposite end to those with a wired connection in the booth.

I don’t know where to start or what we need. We’re on a very tight budget, but comercial walkie-talkies aren’t cutting it anymore,
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
We’re attempting to rebuild a high school theatre program and we’re getting to the point where we need a reliable form of communication between everyone. We want a theatre intercom with the headsets, but I have no clue what we need.

What we have;
A Stage XLR input on each side of the stage, the opposite end to those with a wired connection in the booth.

I don’t know where to start or what we need. We’re on a very tight budget, but comercial walkie-talkies aren’t cutting it anymore,
@Aidan Spelbring While we're waiting for someone else to notice your post: What's your budget? How many belt packs and headsets are you hoping to acquire?? Will they all be on a single common talk channel??? Google Production Intercom for rock solid reliable components, fully ClearCom compatible and at optimistically affordable prices. You may find cheaper systems but they're not worth buying. Buy once, cry once. 'nough said. Don't forget you'll need a power supply including a termination network for your system too.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

maccalder

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2008
There are a number of "Two Wire" intercom systems (which are the ones that use standard mic cabling) - clearcom (and various clones), RTS (and clones) etc. What you need is a master station (probably just a single channel master will do you to start with) and then as many beltpacks and headsets as you have people you need on comms.

As far as cabling it, if all your existing XLR patching runs back to your booth, you need a spider or y or z lead (all of which mean about the same thing - multiple XLR's all connected, pin 1 to pin 1, 2 to 2, 3 to 3 to passively split the signal). They are relatively easy to make. You then plug the master and all your patch points in together. The beltpacks can also daisy chain - so you run one cable into the first, then loop out to other operators - however I would suggest that you avoid looping out for deck crew and use another spider/z-lead so that no one is reliant on where another technician is.

If you have a bit more cash to spend - I would perhaps look at something like GreenGo - it is one of the few wireless solutions that is both robust and not insanely expensive.
 

Diana Mullis

Pro Intercom Owner
Joined
Dec 5, 2018
Location
Chicago
We’re attempting to rebuild a high school theatre program and we’re getting to the point where we need a reliable form of communication between everyone. We want a theatre intercom with the headsets, but I have no clue what we need.

What we have;
A Stage XLR input on each side of the stage, the opposite end to those with a wired connection in the booth.

I don’t know where to start or what we need. We’re on a very tight budget, but comercial walkie-talkies aren’t cutting it anymore,
Aidan, if we can help, give us a call at 888-320-5928. There is always someone available to walk through your requirements and make suggestions. Take a look at http://prointercomllc.com/category/econocom/
 
Last edited:

Aaron Becker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2016
Location
US - East Coast
Not trying to be snarky, but did you try using the search? Or even scrolling through the last 2 months of forums? This has been discussed probably 10 times in the past 6 months on this site...
EDIT: Okay, 10 may have been excessive specific to this thread, but did you even look at these?

https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/budget-com-system-best-beltpack-option.44802/

https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/diy-clearcom-or-cheap-solution.45182/

https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/70-all-in-one-mumble-server-and-wifi.43159/

https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/clear-com-purchase.44847/

https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/what-two-way-radio-to-use.44385/

EDIT2: Theatre intercom is something, as mentioned above, is not a place you want to "cheap out" on. You get what you pay for.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 11, 2019
Location
Forestview High School
Not trying to be snarky, but did you try using the search? Or even scrolling through the last 2 months of forums? This has been discussed probably 10 times in the past 6 months on this site...
EDIT: Okay, 10 may have been excessive specific to this thread, but did you even look at these?

https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/budget-com-system-best-beltpack-option.44802/

https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/diy-clearcom-or-cheap-solution.45182/

https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/70-all-in-one-mumble-server-and-wifi.43159/

https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/clear-com-purchase.44847/

https://www.controlbooth.com/threads/what-two-way-radio-to-use.44385/

EDIT2: Theatre intercom is something, as mentioned above, is not a place you want to "cheap out" on. You get what you pay for.
It’s not that I haven’t looked, it’s that I don’t know where to start. I don’t know anything I need or all of the working parts that combine to make an intercom system in a theatre.
 

Van

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Location
Portland, Or.
It’s not that I haven’t looked, it’s that I don’t know where to start. I don’t know anything I need or all of the working parts that combine to make an intercom system in a theatre.
Some of the biggest questions are things like:
Wired vs. Wireless. Wired is going to be cheaper but can you get Mic cable to everyplace you need stations in the theatre?
Where the Master station goes. Are your shows called from Backstage or FOH? Where does your SM sit?
Monitor tie-in.
expand-ability. Can you add wireless solutions later? do you want to be able to add Greenroom paging, later?

I'm a huge fan of PI myself. <formerly Production intercom now Pro Intercom LLC>
 

Diana Mullis

Pro Intercom Owner
Joined
Dec 5, 2018
Location
Chicago
It’s not that I haven’t looked, it’s that I don’t know where to start. I don’t know anything I need or all of the working parts that combine to make an intercom system in a theatre.
Let's start with identifying how many stations would be required and how they will communicate with FOH. Do they need to be in constant contact and will need to wear a headset or can any of the stations be better served by a wall-mounted handset or headset station? Once you know how many stations/people will be involved, you can determine how much power will be required and how many channels between FOH and your team.
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
It’s not that I haven’t looked, it’s that I don’t know where to start. I don’t know anything I need or all of the working parts that combine to make an intercom system in a theatre.
@Aidan Spelbring Wireless in any form usually equates to batteries which necessitates battery costs, replacements and re-charging if you go with re-chargeables. Wired is normally powered via wiring from your master station and thus you're not dealing with the expense and bother of batteries. Some day in the future you may acquire a new lighting or sound board and you might purchase a UPS (Un-interruptable Power Supply) to keep your computer based lighting and sound systems powered during momentary power interruptions. If / when you have a UPS you may as well power your wired intercom's main station from your UPS so your SM can maintain contact and control in potentially panicking power interruptions. @Diana Mullis and anyone else: What're your thoughts on powering your wired intercom from your UPS; it's not like it's adding much appreciable load?
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

Diana Mullis

Pro Intercom Owner
Joined
Dec 5, 2018
Location
Chicago
@Aidan Spelbring Wireless in any form usually equates to batteries which necessitates battery costs, replacements and re-charging if you go with re-chargeables. Wired is normally powered via wiring from your master station and thus you're not dealing with the expense and bother of batteries. Some day in the future you may acquire a new lighting or sound board and you might purchase a UPS (Un-interruptable Power Supply) to keep your computer based lighting and sound systems powered during momentary power interruptions. If / when you have a UPS you may as well power your wired intercom's main station from your UPS so your SM can maintain contact and control in potentially panicking power interruptions. @Diana Mullis and anyone else: What're your thoughts on powering your wired intercom from your UPS; it's not like it's adding much appreciable load?
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
Agreed. Powering from a UPS is always preferable to avoid surges and outages. Any decent intercom system will have power conditioning built in as well.
 

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Joined
Mar 11, 2019
Location
Forestview High School
Let's start with identifying how many stations would be required and how they will communicate with FOH. Do they need to be in constant contact and will need to wear a headset or can any of the stations be better served by a wall-mounted handset or headset station? Once you know how many stations/people will be involved, you can determine how much power will be required and how many channels between FOH and your team.
Ideally, I would like there to be 7 stations. Only 2 would be on deck, the other five would be within 20 feet proximity of the control booth.[/QUOTE]
 

Jay Ashworth

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Joined
Feb 7, 2014
Location
St Pete FL USA
@Jay Ashworth A ClearCom, or equivalent, main station / power supply places an almost inconsequential additional load on your UPS whereas your "something you can PA / God mic the house from" would place a significantly heavier load on your UPS. Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
Well, sure, but you shouldn't be using anything smaller than a 1500 for this, so that's not really an issue...
 

gafftaper

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Consider Eartec's UltraLITE & HUB 7 person system complete with case for about $ 1500. Larger or smaller packages are available. BTW, it is a wireless system.
I spent $3,000 on an ear tech system about two years ago and it was absolutely garbage. It worked for about 15 minutes and then it was just static until you recharged. There was no documentation that made any sense. I tried contacting the factory and got no support. I sent it all back and saved up for a Freespeak.
 
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gafftaper

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As @Van said, I too am very partial to Pro Intercom LLC. (formerly Production Intercom) @Diana Mullis who has been participating in the discussion is the owner. I encourage youto ggive her a call and ask for help, they are extremely nice people running a small business, eager to please. Their products are amazingly well built and completely compatible with Clear-Com gear, but cheaper. The BP.15 is the best wired belt pack you can buy Heavy aluminum case, a fraction the size and weight, and better priced than the competition It's a win all the way around. I love the SMH 710 headsets. Super light and comfortable, reasonably durable given what they are and 1/3 the cost of Clear-Com's lightweight set. Their SMH 210 headset is pretty much bullet proof, but the comfort of the 710 is worth replacing one once in a while. I have 10 SMH 710s in my high school theater that I bought a little over a year ago, none have been broken yet despite the expected abuse that kids do.

Pro Intercom also has partnered with "Listen" on a wireless system. I haven't tried it but it is super light weight and interesting looking. If you go Wireless, regardless of the brand, buy from a dealer with a good return policy. You never know what the steel in your walls will do to a system until it's in your space.
 

Diana Mullis

Pro Intercom Owner
Joined
Dec 5, 2018
Location
Chicago
As @Van said, I too am very partial to Pro Intercom LLC. (formerly Production Intercom) @Diana Mullis who has been participating in the discussion is the owner. I encourage youto ggive her a call and ask for help, they are extremely nice people running a small business, eager to please. Their products are amazingly well built and completely compatible with Clear-Com gear, but cheaper. The BP.15 is the best wired belt pack you can buy Heavy aluminum case, a fraction the size and weight, and better priced than the competition It's a win all the way around. I love the SMH 710 headsets. Super light and comfortable, reasonably durable given what they are and 1/3 the cost of Clear-Com's lightweight set. Their SMH 210 headset is pretty much bullet proof, but the comfort of the 710 is worth replacing one once in a while. I have 10 SMH 710s in my high school theater that I bought a little over a year ago, none have been broken yet despite the expected abuse that kids do.

Pro Intercom also has partnered with "Listen" on a wireless system. I haven't tried it but it is super light weight and interesting looking. If you go Wireless, regardless of the brand, buy from a dealer with a good return policy. You never know what the steel in your walls will do to a system until it's in your space.
Kind words. Very much appreciated. The partnering with ListenTalk has been fabulous and requires only our AD903 adapter and our custom C3M_105 cable to run from the AD903 into 1 ListenTalk LK-1 transceiver which acts as the base for all the other LK-1 transceivers in the group. Voila! You have wireless on your intercom.
 

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