ProSoundWeb Community

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

Pages: [1] 2 3   Go Down

Author Topic: The Matrix Coms thread  (Read 11465 times)

Justice C. Bigler

  • SR Forums
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2560
  • back home in Oklahoma
    • My homepage
The Matrix Coms thread
« on: March 24, 2011, 05:18:22 pm »

I'm working on a redesign of our stage communications systems. We currently have a one or two channel Clear-Com system installed in all four of our theatres. We are going to rip out that legacy system and do a wholesale replacement of the entire system, including copper, base stations, belt packs, and to include wireless coms (our current wireless is HME 800 running right around the 470MHz mark).

I want to get some input from other users on the two predominant digital matrix coms systems on the market, Clear-Com Eclipse and Riedel Artist.

As I mentioned previously, we have four spaces: a 2,400 seat proscenium theatre, a 430 seat proscenium theatre, a 200 to ~300 seat black box studio theatre, and a 100 to ~150 seat black box theatre, with back stage and dressing room areas attached to all spaces. We also have a banquet hall and another black box area that we mostly use for wardrobe or catering staging area for the shows in the large space. These last two spaces are not on our stage coms system, but we want to bring them onto the grid so we can have full coms in every performance space in the building. Also, currently, the only space to include wireless coms is our large 2,400 seat theatre. We would like to expand wireless capability to include at least the 430 seat small theatre as well.

What we are looking for is a robust, scalable, easy to maintain system that will be durable and usable for both professional stage hands, and community theatre "volunteers" alike. Obviously, the level of sophistication offered to each group will differ based on the needs and competences of the group. But the capability of point-to-point and point-to-group communications for our ballet, opera, etc... is something that we are very much interested in. Smaller community theatre groups may have only a one or two channel system, but our large house may use as many as 7 or 8 different group assignments. AND, we want to be able to network all six spaces together if the need should arise (but mostly they will operate independently).

I have demoed in the last two months, both the Riedel Artist with Performer, along with the Acrobat wireless system, AND Clear-Com's Eclipse, Tempest and Cellcom and Helix systems. I have my own opinions, but I want to see what other sound technicians out there feel about each, and what kind of success and challenges they have had with each.

What are the pros and cons of each system?
Logged
Justice C. Bigler
www.justicebigler.com

Mac Kerr

  • Old enough to know better
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6885
  • Audio Plumber
A Matrix Coms ramble
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2011, 11:09:41 pm »

I'm working on a redesign of our stage communications systems. We currently have a one or two channel Clear-Com system installed in all four of our theatres. We are going to rip out that legacy system and do a wholesale replacement of the entire system, including copper, base stations, belt packs, and to include wireless coms (our current wireless is HME 800 running right around the 470MHz mark).

I want to get some input from other users on the two predominant digital matrix coms systems on the market, Clear-Com Eclipse and Riedel Artist.

As I mentioned previously, we have four spaces: a 2,400 seat proscenium theatre, a 430 seat proscenium theatre, a 200 to ~300 seat black box studio theatre, and a 100 to ~150 seat black box theatre, with back stage and dressing room areas attached to all spaces. We also have a banquet hall and another black box area that we mostly use for wardrobe or catering staging area for the shows in the large space. These last two spaces are not on our stage coms system, but we want to bring them onto the grid so we can have full coms in every performance space in the building. Also, currently, the only space to include wireless coms is our large 2,400 seat theatre. We would like to expand wireless capability to include at least the 430 seat small theatre as well.

What we are looking for is a robust, scalable, easy to maintain system that will be durable and usable for both professional stage hands, and community theatre "volunteers" alike. Obviously, the level of sophistication offered to each group will differ based on the needs and competences of the group. But the capability of point-to-point and point-to-group communications for our ballet, opera, etc... is something that we are very much interested in. Smaller community theatre groups may have only a one or two channel system, but our large house may use as many as 7 or 8 different group assignments. AND, we want to be able to network all six spaces together if the need should arise (but mostly they will operate independently).

I would say the predominant matrix intercom systems on the market are RTS ADAM, and Riedel Artist. While the Clear Com Eclipse is as viable a system, it does not have the market penetration of RTS or Riedel as far as I know.

Any matrix intercom system is going to mean a big change in the way everyone thinks about com vs a standard 2 or 4 channel TW system. In a matrix system you really have to think about who talks to who, vs everyone being on common talk channels. It is a very different way of communicating, and requires some understanding of how and why things work, even at the user level. It is hard to get people who are used to a PL system like Clear Com or RTS to get used to point to point communication. You may find that you end up creating all the same common PL channels you had before and just using the Artist panels as what would be master stations in PL land. If this is what is going to happen it may make more sense to install a high quality flexible PL system instead of a matrix. An RTS system with a SAP1526 or 2, and a few 803 stations in key locations could give you as many as 12 channels, with 2 available on every belt pack, and all 12 available on the 803 master stations. It would cost a lot less than a matrix system.

If you want the ability to have a lot of multichannel user stations with the ability to talk to any station in the system, and you want to have audio in and out of the system for various program monitoring, and announce feeds to BS, Lobby, House PA, all from the stage manager's station (or anyone else's), a matrix system is what you want.

In my experience the Riedel Artist is the easiest to program, and understand the flow. I have not used Eclipse, but I cut my matrix comm teeth on a Clear Com Matrix Plus. With your multi theater venue you could have multiple Artist frames connected by fiber to simplify wiring, or you could have a big central matrix that everything connects to. It is much harder to link multiple smaller systems with either Adam or Eclipse.

I think, even if you go with an Artist system, you might want to consider interfacing it to an RTS TW system for belt packs. The RST 825 packs are bullet proof, and if you had 8 or 10 ports of Artist interfaced to a 12 channel RTS SAP and power supplies you could use standard mic cable to run all your belt packs. The Riedel Performer belt packs will not work with regular mic cable, it must be 110Ω digital cable. It will be a PITA to stock 2 different kinds of cable that look similar. One wrong cable can take down a large part of your comm system.

Can we assume that both Riedel and CC tested their RF comm systems and found your site to be an acceptable one? I don't think CC will sell Tempest to someone who has Sprint PCS cell service nearby as it can render the comm system useless. The same holds true for Riedel Acrobat. Acrobat is an unbelievably powerful system if it will work in your location, but it won't work with Sprint PCS.

I would be more inclined to get a few BTR800 systems and design an antenna system for your venues that lets you get the coverage you want. The BTR80N uses less bandwidth, so you can squeeze more channels in, but it sounds terrible compared to a BTR800. It is limited audio bandwidth as well, and has a higher noise floor than a BTR800.

If you have any specific questions I will be happy to answer them.

Mac
« Last Edit: March 26, 2011, 12:08:45 pm by Mac Kerr »
Logged

Steve Anderson

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 94
Re: A Matrix Coms ramble
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2011, 12:51:36 am »

The Riedel Performer belt packs will not work with regular mic cable, it must be 110Ω digital cable.

I was told at a trade show in Australia a couple of years back that there was some setting somewhere that could enable it to work. At the time it sounded like a bit of a lie, because I would think that the electronic interface itself is what would govern this, and there is no "standard" impedance for mic cable.

Have you heard this at all?

Or do people have limited success the same way they do for running regular AES or DMX down mic cable. "It's wrong but if it works... right?"   :-\
Logged

Justice C. Bigler

  • SR Forums
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2560
  • back home in Oklahoma
    • My homepage
Re: A Matrix Coms ramble
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2011, 02:20:50 am »

If you want the ability to have a lot of multichannel user stations with the ability to talk to any station in the system, and you want to have audio in and out of the system for various program monitoring, and announce feeds to BS, Lobby, House PA, all from the stage manager's station (or anyone else's), a matrix system is what you want.

I think this is what I want, though I'm sure my definition of "a lot" of multichannel user stations is different from yours, based on the level of shows that we do.

Quote
With your multi theater venue you could have multiple Artist frames connected by fiber to simplify wiring, or you could have a big central matrix that everything connects to.

This is something that I have been mulling over. I guess the big liability with a centralized system is if it goes down, or I need to repair one room while it's dark, the other rooms all go down also. What other issues could I expect going one way or the other?

Quote
I think, even if you go with an Artist system, you might want to consider interfacing it to an RTS TW system for belt packs. The RST 825 packs are bullet proof, and if you had 8 or 10 ports of Artist interfaced to a 12 channel RTS SAP and power supplies you could use standard mic cable to run all your belt packs. The Riedel Performer belt packs will not work with regular mic cable, it must be 110Ω digital cable. It will be a PITA to stock 2 different kinds of cable that look similar. One wrong cable can take down a large part of your comm system.

I really love the Riedel beltpacks. They seem butch, well built and with the thick rubber end caps seem like they will take alot of abuse. I also like the RTS beltpacks. I demoed one of them in January also, because I thought it would work with our two channel Clearcom system. I really wanted it to work, because I loved the size, construction, form factor. Unfortunately it wouldn't work on our system.

Quote
Can we assume that both Riedel and CC tested their RF comm systems and found your site to be an acceptable one? I don't think CC will sell Tempest to someone who has Sprint PCS cell service nearby as it can render the comm system useless. The same holds true for Riedel Acrobat. Acrobat is an unbelievably powerful system if it will work in your location, but it won't work with Sprint PCS.

Sort of, they both brought their wireless systems and had them up and running. Although they were not really installed, just hooked up and the antennas propped up on a table, they all worked. The Riedel Acrobat system worked much better, had better range, and sounded crystal clear compared to the Clear-Com stuff. I haven't yet had a comprehensive RF analysis of the celluar com systems done for either system.

I have not looked at the RTS Adam system. I'll have to investigate it further.

Our current system for the large theatre is a four wire, two channel Clear-com system, but the other spaces are all two wire single channel systems. Also, our copper infrastructure is original equipment from 34 years ago. Reidel would mean pulling all that copper out and replacing it with the 110 ohm digital cable (and/or Cat5 or coax for the runs between nodes) that they use. But it also means that we would have a uniform architecture for all spaces, and can use the same belt packs and cables anywhere in the building. One of the issues that I'm trying to solve is getting rid of all the extraneous chatter from various departments (or rather limiting it to intra-departmental chatter and not everyone on the production). And though we don't normally use more than one space at a time for each event, we would like to be able to have them all networked into a single system, which would likely require a matrix system versus the expanded party line system.

We're not a broadcast house, or a large production show like the ones in Vegas with 200 people on the crew. We do, even in our large space, what amounts to just your run of the mill local community theatre. So we may have up to 7 or 8 groups with as many as 6 to 8 people, and as few as 2 in each group. But then we will also have a combination of wired belt pack, wireless belt packs and the multichannel user stations for the SM, and light booth, sound booth, LD, maybe director, etc... But we do occasionally do some broadcast work every few years where some TV station or production company will bring in a remote truck and do a live broadcast, or record a show for rebroadcast later, so the ability to expand the system relatively easily and to interface with whatever they might be bringing is a definite requirement.

I guess the question really comes down to, do we need the full capabilities of something like the Riedel Artist? And if no, how to we qualify what we really do need, versus what we want just because? But being the major performing arts production venue in town, there is a certain expectation that we will try to stay somewhat close to the state of the art (which we have been lagging behind in recent years).
Logged
Justice C. Bigler
www.justicebigler.com

Timo Beckman

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 151
  • Rational Acoustics/Isemcon/Fulcrum Acoustic NL
    • Timo Beckman Geluid
Re: The Matrix Coms thread
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2011, 05:51:42 am »

You might take a look at the Overline system if you're interested in wireless intercom .
I've worked large arena shows (50.000+ people) with that system and with good placement of antenna's it's the best system i've come across .
Logged

cory waters

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 13
Re: The Matrix Coms thread
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2011, 08:52:10 am »

Do not underestimate the push-back you'll get from your users.  We went from using two channels of RTS (one for cameras, the other for about everything else) to a Ridel matrix.  Users (including myself) have had a hard time going from hearing all that chatter to not hearing anything until someone pushes your button.  I spend a lot of time explaining that "your headset DOES work, it's just that nobody's talking to you."  We also spend a lot of time now configuring for each show and really understanding who wants to talk to where.  You need touild that time into your pre-show call and make sure your clients understand your new system.  Some of them will probably hate it and you'll have to figure out how to work through that.
One situation:  When we could hear everything on the line, one knew when it was a good time to poke the audio guy and when to keep quiet because he's busy at the moment.  If you're out in the house with no chatter in your ear, you may not know that the atmosphere in the booth is not likely receptive to your attempts at humor just now. etc.
Of course, the Riedel has LOTS of configurability so we set-up director/producer snoops so we can keep tabs on what's really going on. 
Recall-ability is very cool too.  We now have two football teams calling our dome home and it's super easy to switch from Panthers on Saturday to Falcons on Sunday. Having the Producer's panel all set with everyone's names where he asked them to be when he walks in is a PLUS.
Ya wins some, ya lose some. 

Cory
Logged

Wes Collingsworth

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6
    • Follow me on Twitter @wcollingsworth
ADAM-M Matrix
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2011, 09:14:43 am »

Anybody know what an average street price (US$) for an RTS ADAM-M Matrix is? I've got some numbers on keypanels and such but I haven't gone to a dealer for the ADAM-M yet. Just looking for a budgetary number.
Logged

Henry Cohen

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1026
  • Westchester Co., NY, USA
Re: The Matrix Coms thread
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2011, 11:46:26 am »

You might take a look at the Overline system if you're interested in wireless intercom.
I've worked large arena shows (50.000+ people) with that system and with good placement of antenna's it's the best system i've come across.
Not available (nor type approved for use) in the US.
Logged
Henry Cohen

CP Communications    www.cpcomms.com
Radio Active Designs   www.radioactiverf.com

Mac Kerr

  • Old enough to know better
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6885
  • Audio Plumber
Re: A Matrix Coms ramble
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2011, 12:47:03 pm »

I was told at a trade show in Australia a couple of years back that there was some setting somewhere that could enable it to work. At the time it sounded like a bit of a lie, because I would think that the electronic interface itself is what would govern this, and there is no "standard" impedance for mic cable.

Have you heard this at all?

Or do people have limited success the same way they do for running regular AES or DMX down mic cable. "It's wrong but if it works... right?"   :-\

My personal experience is that it does not work. My first time with Performer packs we tested regular mic cable in the shop, and go it to work out to 400', onsite with no alternative available, it did not work. I have also had a single 25' mic cable disable an entire channel of comm. AFAIK only 110Ω AES cable will work reliably.

Mac
Logged

Mac Kerr

  • Old enough to know better
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6885
  • Audio Plumber
Re: A Matrix Coms ramble
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2011, 01:09:07 pm »

I guess the question really comes down to, do we need the full capabilities of something like the Riedel Artist? And if no, how to we qualify what we really do need, versus what we want just because? But being the major performing arts production venue in town, there is a certain expectation that we will try to stay somewhat close to the state of the art (which we have been lagging behind in recent years).

This really is the crux of the matter. You need to define the capabilities you want from the system. Then you will know whether they can be met with a standard analog system like RTS, or whether you need the capabilities of a digital matrix system.

If you intend the comm to be a separate system that only does comm, has a couple of multichannel stations in each venue, and has 2 channel beltpacks for everyone else, I think you would be better served with an RTS system. With a SAP 1626 and a few power supplies you have 12 channels of comm that can be routed to 26 different outputs as 2 channel combinations of any of the 12 channels plus program. If you need more outputs, you can add more SAPs to the system, adding 26 outputs for each SAP. While RTS falls short on the 4ch multichannel master front compared to Clear Com, the 12 channel RTS 803 Master station is very nice. An 803 for a stage manager, and everyone else on BP325 beltpacks is the way a lot of shows operate. While the 803 requires a telco type 25pr cable, all the rest of the system runs on the standard mic cable, or STP you already have installed in the walls.

If you want to integrate the comm system with the sound system, so you can make announcements to multiple destinations, listen to multiple program sources, easily interface to other 4W comm systems or telephone lines, have lots of private conversations, and an essentially unlimited number of channels, you want a matrix system. This will require CAT5 or coax from the frame to wherever you want to be able to put a key panel, and all digital capable cable for beltpacks unless you interface the matrix to a standard analog beltpack system like RTS.

Of the 2ch beltpack kind of systems available now, I think the RTS system is the most straight forward, and is very reliable. Clear Com has never really gotten the SAP concept for assigning channels to the system. For matrix systems I think Riedel is currently ahead of all others in ease of use, key panel design, and ease of combining systems.

Mac
« Last Edit: March 25, 2011, 01:27:57 pm by Mac Kerr »
Logged

ProSoundWeb Community

Re: A Matrix Coms ramble
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2011, 01:09:07 pm »


Pages: [1] 2 3   Go Up
 



Page created in 0.047 seconds with 22 queries.