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war of the wireless

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by Dreadpoet, Feb 23, 2007.

  1. Dreadpoet

    Dreadpoet Active Member

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    I want to be able to use wireless headsets for backstage/front-of-house communication. I've had a few rep's try to sell me on their product...but what are your thoughts? BTW walkies bite.
     
  2. Eboy87

    Eboy87 Well-Known Member

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    IDK, I've had pretty good results with using Motorola FR60 radios with headsets. What's the venue layout? I admit, I'm still learning all that I can about wireless (both mics and intercom), but I'm partial to Clear-Com products. I've heard through the grapevine that Telex aren't all they're cracked up to be. I was doing a little reading on Clear-Com's site. It looks like you can hook up a wireless base station backstage, then run a com line out to FOH to connect to an existing wired system. Personally, I like wired intercom. I've never had a problem with wireless radios before, but I have had trouble with mics before, and if I have an ASM backstage, or even my wireless wrangler, I want to know that I'm not gonna lose contact with them 'cause of the intercom dropping out, but that's just my personal prefrence.

    Search around on the net, and/or go to a venue that has wireless com. Talk to the house guys and see what are the pros and cons. I think this'll be an interesting thread to follow.
     
  3. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I have never had an issue with telex wireless... their wired stuff ain't the best, but there wireless is pretty bulletproof. Production Intercom also has some good wireless stuff. The thing with wireless com though is you really do get what you pay for. Its going to be over a couple thousand to get a system that is actually worth using.
     
  4. fosstech

    fosstech Active Member

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    We've got a 20 year old analog Clear-Com wireless system that the ASM's, deck elec and master carp use backstage. We put the base on a shelf about 10 feet up on the wall stage left where it gets hooked into channel A. It's a little past its prime, and is prone to interference in this day and age of wireless communications. But it works (most of the time :p), and gets us through the show. Our wired clear-com system works great.

    Maybe someday our old wireless system will break and we'll have to buy a new one....
     
  5. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Occupation:
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    There are several threads on this topic for you to check out like these two:

    http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3534&highlight="clearcom"
    http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4196&highlight="clearcom"

    I saw this product at LDI and was very impressed with it however I still haven't found a customer who actually owns it. http://www.eartec.com/ For about $2200 you can get a kit that includes three digital full duplex wireless headsets and an interface that simply plugs into any wired clearcom jack. They also can operate independantly as their own freestanding full duplex wireless system. It looked really slick but I would really like to hear a first hand recomendation before buying one.
     
  6. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Don't buy eartec's wireless. It is truly crap. I have posted on that stuff before, read my posts their and the posts that follow... Andy has some things to say about those.
     
  7. JSFox

    JSFox Active Member

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    I get a kick out of comments like "but I'm partial to Clear-Com products. I've heard through the grapevine that Telex aren't all they're cracked up to be." Note that Clearcom subcontracts their wireless stuff to Telex and the systems are identical except for the logo.

    I can't imagine doing productions without good wireless intercom and I think they're especially important in educational environments where it's even more critical that an adult tech director be able to communicate clearly with everyone at all times.

    My first priority at schools I work with is to install a good intercom which is currently a BTR800 base, 4 wireless beltpacks, MS2002 base, x wired beltpacks.
     
  8. fhs-tech

    fhs-tech Member

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    I'm not totally sure whether Clear Com and Telex are related but at the very least there is more difference than just logos. For example, if memory serves me, Clear Com wired systems work on unbalanced system, where as Telex wired work on a balanced system. I know that the Telex body packs are compatible with both types, however there is a jumper inside the pack that needs to be changed to work with a Clear Com system. This is at least true on the newer Telex stuff.
     
  9. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I have mixed and matched Telex and Clearcom boxes on both telex base stations and clearcom base stations and have never had a problem, and have never opened up either of them to throw a jumper.
     
  10. Chris Chapman

    Chris Chapman Active Member

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    I'm partial to Clear Com as well. We have Clear Com as our wired solution, and then have a Telex BTR as the wireless point. The Telex BTR's are compatable with Clear Com with a dipswitch change on the main board. It switches the base station between balanced and unbalanced. The Telex Wireless Systems are a "little bit" cheaper than the Clear Com solution.

    Don't give up on Walkies though. I'm using the Radio Shack (ducking to avoid flames) FFR series with Motorola Headsets. We use those for when we tour and have had very good success. At $60 a set and then $20 for each headset this is a VERY good low budget way to go. The price point and the FFR frequenceies also make replacements and add ons very attractive.

    Speaking as a HS TD, Single Channel radio also reinforces Com discipline. Getting kids to shut up on Clear Com has been a hassle, but on the Radios They HAVE to shut up and listen to the SM. It's made our Clear Com com traffic much much much better in the discipline realm.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2007
  11. mbenonis

    mbenonis Wireless Guy Administrator

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    I'd like to point out that in the United States it is against the FCC regulations to use FRS (Family Radio Service) or GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) radios for theater or any other business use (these are intended only for personal communication between family members). Almost all of the radios you see at electronics retailers fall into this category.

    You can, however, use MURS (multi-use radio service) radios for theater operation, as well as apply for a VHF or UHF business radio license. The MURS radios will have better performance than the FRS/GRMS radios because they operate in the VHF band (around 150 MHz) instead of the UHF band (around 460 MHz). The radios tend to be more expensive but much more durable than the cheapie-FRS radios you'll find at retailers.
     
  12. amodaus

    amodaus Member

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    clear com has a cell com product that is pretty sweet. im not quite sure if it has hit the market but i think it has. i got a chance to play with a demo. The way it works is you set up cell ant. points and aslong as your reciver is in range of one of the ant. points your golden. now i understand its pretty price but it gives you alot of flexiablity with programing sperate channels and such. http://www.acehk.com/eng/Manufacturers/clearcom/wireless_cellcom_intro.html there is a link to it.
     
  13. Andy_Leviss

    Andy_Leviss Active Member Premium Member

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    Chris Chapman started on this a bit, but I'll clarify with a bit more detail for those interested. ClearCom and Telex are NOT the same, although they are in certain situations compatible.

    First, there are two Telex systems. One is RTS Telex, which is not directly compatible with ClearCom at all, as it carries two channels down a single 3-conductor cable, overlaying the power supply on one the first audio channel (technically, RTS channel B is the same pinout as ClearCom, but you can't just cross-connect them). The other, which is what we're talking about, is Telex AudioCom.

    AudioCom is by nature a balanced system; it's similar to RTS, except that instead of two channels of audio, it's using one line as a hot and one as a cold. BUT, AudioCom has an unbalanced option, which is mostly ClearCom compatible (although technically the "ideal" PSU voltage is slightly different, they're both within each others' working range).

    Unbalanced mode AudioCom systems (this mode is selected by a small switch inside each station) have the same termination requirement, pinout, and audio level as ClearCom, so they can be used interchangeably. The one catch is that the call signal will not interoperate; ClearCom dumps a DC voltage onto the audio line to trigger its call signal, whereas AudioCom uses a super-audible (theoretically, although I can hear it, and it drives me nuts!) tone to trigger its calls. (RTS also uses tone to trigger call lights, but it uses a sub-audible tone instead.)

    The downside to running AudioCom in unbalanced mode, of course, is that it's more susceptible to hum and other noise. Balanced AudioCom is, by far, the best sounding com system I've ever used, of ClearCom, RTS, AudioCom, and Production Intercom (which, as you may know, is fully ClearCom compatible, including call signals).

    So yes, ClearCom and Telex are compatible, but they are not identical, and are made by completely independent and competing companies!
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2007
  14. Dreadpoet

    Dreadpoet Active Member

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    Currently I'm looking at a company called HME. They provide wireless systems that are more affordable to smaller theatres. As I understand it, they started by making wireless headsets for fastfood restaurants, but are looking to break into the performance market. They do not require licensing...so are no hassle that way. I'm wondering if anyone has heard anything...good/bad about them. The benifit by purchasing this would be a startup kit being around $5000rather than $6-8,000.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2007
  15. Cooze

    Cooze Member

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    I have interchanged Clear-Com and Telex and never had a problem, I agree that they are the same product.

    To reply to the general question of this topic, I would say to watch who you are giving wireless packs to, people that can walk around with the pack will, a lighting board operator with a wireless pack can may and will go backstage with the pack on and although he is talking to you there is no way of knowing where he is, this can become a problem if something needs to be changed quickly, I would only recommend giving a House Manager or a Director a wireless pack, then you know that anyone else who you are talking to is located where they need to be. But some people feel different so do what you wish, this is only a suggestion.
     
  16. Andy_Leviss

    Andy_Leviss Active Member Premium Member

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    Just to clarify, again, they are NOT the same product. They are products which, if set to a certain mode of operation, are compatible (with the exception of call signals). They are not in any way, shape, or form the same product, however, and in balanced mode, a Telex AudioCom system will NOT be ClearCom compatible at all.

    As for HME, various HME products have been pretty standard on Broadway and tours for quite some time. The analog systems are great, and the new DX200 series has been getting pretty good reviews. We've got a full set at the shop, and so far everybody who's rented it has been happy. There's a slight bit of latency, and some other quirks, that take getting used to, but for com they're serviceable.

    The other new kid on the digital block is ClearCom's CellCom system, but because of coverage issues, ClearCom won't sell it to you unless they do a site survey to ensure adequate coverage, and as such won't sell it for anything other than a permanent install. (This may change, but this was the case as it stood when I spoke with them at LDI back in October.)

    --A
     
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  17. fhs-tech

    fhs-tech Member

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    ANDY- I just wanted to say thanks for the support and more information on the idea that clear com and telex are not the same systems. Your knowledge and insight have been greatly appreciated.
     
  18. Cooze

    Cooze Member

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    Sorry for that, I havent combined bigger parts of the system, the most common combonation thing I have done is headsets, other things were just general so they wouldnt affect the operation of the system, I didnt mean they were the same product different name, I more was generalizing that they were ment to do the same thing. Sorry, I have a tendency to not be specific. haha
     
  19. Andy_Leviss

    Andy_Leviss Active Member Premium Member

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    No worries, I just want to make sure we're putting accurate info out here :)

    For further assistance/confusion, the headsets are, indeed, directly interchangeable, it's the beltpacks and base stations that are different. Beyond that, RTS headsets are interchangeable, too, with the caveat that you need a barrel to change the gender of the headset, since RTS and Clearcom/Telex use opposite genders for their headsets!
     
  20. Traitor800

    Traitor800 Active Member

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    I will admit i am a fan of the wired intercoms, be it Clear-Com or Telex, mainly for their clarity, but last semester I started to do shows at one of the other colleges where I take one tech theatre class a semester, and the TD there found an interesting alternative for communication between crew members, since were a college theres phone lines run to all major areas, so he purchased some $30 wireless headset telephones made by GE, we then set one pair up backstage on one line and another pair up in the booth on another, and then all the SM has to do is call the backstage line one person answers and then the other two people turn their phones on and everybody is connected, we've recently added for the current show another line so we now have a three way call and a wired phone with headset for the SM because it has better call quality. Everything is working great and the entire cost is around $150. Another bonus is since we use the schools phone lines the IT department maintains them so if theres ever an issue with the wiring we just have to ask and they fix it, so theres no running of wires involved on our part at all. We are now looking at upgrading even more because theres going to be a full scale musical next fall, so were talking to the IT department to get more wall jacks put in on the same 3 lines and were also getting more wired ones for the booth crew, and looking at an amplifier/splitter because if you try to split phone lines their signal strength gets weaker.
     

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