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Author Topic: Comm System  (Read 4860 times)

tim.j.phillips

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Comm System
« on: April 11, 2011, 06:02:03 am »

Hey guys:
Our theater is contemplating buying a new communication system since one was never put in to begin with.  I know Clearcom and Telex are pretty prevalent companies for these systems but I was wondering about any other company you guys have worked with.  Both info on wireless and wired systems work as they haven't decided what to buy yet.

Thanks for the help.

-Tim
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Timo Beckman

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Re: Comm System
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2011, 06:28:23 am »

Hey guys:
Our theater is contemplating buying a new communication system since one was never put in to begin with.  I know Clearcom and Telex are pretty prevalent companies for these systems but I was wondering about any other company you guys have worked with.  Both info on wireless and wired systems work as they haven't decided what to buy yet.

Thanks for the help.

-Tim

ASL for the wired stuff works ok .
The best wireless system i've come across is Overline . not cheap but does the job every time even in places with about 10.000 to 50.000 people in the venue (rotterdam ahoy and amsterdam arena). For wireless stuff telex is also very good .
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Lee Buckalew

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Re: Comm System
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2011, 07:40:26 am »

Hey guys:
Our theater is contemplating buying a new communication system since one was never put in to begin with.  I know Clearcom and Telex are pretty prevalent companies for these systems but I was wondering about any other company you guys have worked with.  Both info on wireless and wired systems work as they haven't decided what to buy yet.

Thanks for the help.

-Tim

Tim,
The typical standard in theatre and touring is Clear-Com (or a Clear-Com standard) for wired while sporting venues and broadcast typically utilize Telex and/or RTS.  That said Production Intercom offers very good systems, Clear-Com, Telex and RTS offer systems from simple 2 wire, single channel through digital matrix configurations.  There are others.

To choose a system you need to look at a number of questions.  Here are a few.
How many independent channels do you need, cost for various systems, including any required new wiring, to get to that channel count, do you need to interface with other companies in town (rental or production) or interface with any tours, do you need to interface to various other systems like radio's, etc.
Once you begin to look at interfacing wireless com you need to ask yourself many additional questions, among these, Do you need to utilize the wireless intercom along with wireless mics (may require frequency co-ordination depending on each system), how many channels are required, how many simultaneous, do the systems need to be shared among different spaces, does it need to be compatible for cross rental or other purposes, etc.

Many of the answers to these questions may vary depending on your local.

Lee Buckalew
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Henry Cohen

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Re: Comm System
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2011, 10:46:05 am »

The best wireless system i've come across is Overline .
Not available or approved for use in the US (the OP is in the state of Maryland, USA).
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tim.j.phillips

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Re: Comm System
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2011, 03:02:30 pm »

Tim,
The typical standard in theatre and touring is Clear-Com (or a Clear-Com standard) for wired while sporting venues and broadcast typically utilize Telex and/or RTS.  That said Production Intercom offers very good systems, Clear-Com, Telex and RTS offer systems from simple 2 wire, single channel through digital matrix configurations.  There are others.

To choose a system you need to look at a number of questions.  Here are a few.
How many independent channels do you need, cost for various systems, including any required new wiring, to get to that channel count, do you need to interface with other companies in town (rental or production) or interface with any tours, do you need to interface to various other systems like radio's, etc.
Once you begin to look at interfacing wireless com you need to ask yourself many additional questions, among these, Do you need to utilize the wireless intercom along with wireless mics (may require frequency co-ordination depending on each system), how many channels are required, how many simultaneous, do the systems need to be shared among different spaces, does it need to be compatible for cross rental or other purposes, etc.

Many of the answers to these questions may vary depending on your local.

Lee Buckalew
Pro Sound Advice, Inc.


Just to answer a few of the questions:
We are a relatively small k-12 school theater so nothing to extravagant is really needed.  We only need about 10 body packs and 3-4 channels in full duplex (i believe that is where more then one person can talk at once).  The theater already has tie lines and intercom lines in various places so the wiring isn't really a problem. 

As for wireless, we have 8 in house senn ew300's and usually rent an additional 10-12 shure slx wireless mics to produce our bigger shows.  From my understanding, the comm systems usually run at a much high frequency then our wireless mics so i don't think interference will be a problem. 

The system itself does not need to be shared as we only have one space and the space is not usually rented out to anyone but having the ability to interface with a company thats coming in to use this space would be nice to have.  The system itself (if its wired) will sit in a tech booth 99% of the time and there is no chance the equipment will be rented out to anyone. 

We are located in Maryland, I believe i answered all the potential questions....Anyone see anything that could potentially go wrong?

-Tim
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Henry Cohen

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Re: Comm System
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2011, 05:05:09 pm »

As for wireless, we have 8 in house senn ew300's and usually rent an additional 10-12 shure slx wireless mics to produce our bigger shows.  From my understanding, the comm systems usually run at a much high frequency then our wireless mics so i don't think interference will be a problem.

All depends on what wireless intercom system you would be renting in. The most common offerings from rental houses operate in the same overall UHF-TV band as most wireless mics. It would be best to rent all the additional wireless equipment from a single [knowledgeable] vendor so they can provide frequency coordination.
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Brad Weber

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Re: Comm System
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2011, 08:14:17 am »

Just to answer a few of the questions:
We are a relatively small k-12 school theater so nothing to extravagant is really needed.  We only need about 10 body packs and 3-4 channels in full duplex (i believe that is where more then one person can talk at once).
If you need 3-4 channels that's fine, but the wiring and connectivity will be more complex and 1 or 2 channels is probably much more common in K-12 (I often simply split two channels for BOH and FOH).  Also think about if you need anything besides beltpacks, for example speaker stations in dressing rooms and/or the box office, handsets at entries and so on.
 
The theater already has tie lines and intercom lines in various places so the wiring isn't really a problem.
What wiring is in place may very much determine what is feasible for a wired system.  I'm actually going through this on a project where the Contractor wants to save money by 'daisy-chaining' comms connections rather than providing home runs.  On the surface it seems like a good idea, however it would limit the connections to the initial channel assignments with no ability to easily change those assignments for a location or to expand to additional channels in the future (it also means that any problems on a line affect everything 'downstream').  So your existing wiring may dictate how many wired channels are possible and what is available where.  For example, if it is wired so that all the existing comms lines connect together at some point then you would be limited to one channel for all of those conenctions regardless of what you did for the main station.  So it may be good to start with researching your existing wiring and what it appears intended to support.
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tim.j.phillips

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Re: Comm System
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2011, 10:52:28 am »

The wiring in the building is actually fairly good.  Along with a single intercom connection between booth and 2 backstage points, there is also 6 separate tie lines available alongside the intercom line.  I know most of the time we have lights on one channel, sound on one channel (except when i am mixing, can't stand wearing those things), the ASM's on another channel and the stage manager able to talk to all of us.  I don't know if in a professional theater this is how it is supposed to work but i know most shows the stage manager calls the cues and everyone else just needs to talk to people on their team so the stage manager needs to be able to talk to everyone. 

I did come across a need for a dressing room headset and to make it more professional, one in the entry/box office would be nice so i think wireless would come in handy here since there are no tie lines or intercom lines in those areas. 

I think i am going about this the right way, just want to make sure I plan properly before buying anything.  The lack of planning when they built this new theater was how we wound up with no comm system to begin with...
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Timo Beckman

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Re: Comm System
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2011, 05:15:40 pm »

Not available or approved for use in the US (the OP is in the state of Maryland, USA).

To bad . It's a winner on big venue's (also in price by the way) . For the smaller venue's telex will do the job perfectly
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Justice C. Bigler

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Re: Comm System
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2011, 03:27:42 pm »

We are a relatively small k-12 school theater so nothing to extravagant is really needed.  We only need about 10 body packs and 3-4 channels in full duplex (i believe that is where more then one person can talk at once).

When you say "channels" what exactly do you mean? In com world, a channel is a line dedicated to a specific department or task. The people on Channel A will not usually be able to talk to the people on Channel B and so on (unless you have a two channel system and each person has a two channel belt pack).

If you are talking about channels in regards to the different people or positions that you need to have coms, but want them all to talk together, then that is one channel. It's called a "partyline" system, where everyone is all on the same line, or channel.

For a school theatre, the most that I can see you possibly needing is two channels. You will likely run 97% of your shows with everyone on the same channel. Perhapse you will have a separate channel for the lighting designer to talk to the lighting board programmer or spots, etc... But everyone else will all be on the same channel so they can hear their cues being called by  the stage manager. For a k-12 school theatre you don't need to bother with the hassle of a multi channel, or digital matrix coms system.

It's actually fairly common in a theatre to have all the wall jacks daisy-chained together. For instance, you might have three or four jacks along the stage right wall or back wall where they are chained together. Likewise your com jacks in the catwalks will all be chained together, as will the ones in the spot booth. And then each of those legs is a home run to the com base station. If you have something like the Clearcom SB704 then you can assign each of those legs to any of four different "channels". If you have single channel belt packs, then each of those belt packs would be on separate, individual channels with no ability to talk to each other. If you are using a two channel belt pack, then you can assign any two of those four channels to each belt pack. So you will have a common line, and a private or auxiliary line.

Clearcom is the ubiquitous coms system for low to mid level theatres. But their current belt pack design sucks huge donkey balls, and they seem unwilling to redesign the packs. You can get the Telex beltpacks in either single channel or dual channel configurations that will work on Clearcom systems. The Telex beltpacks are all kinds of better than the Clearcom belt packs.

For wireless, you really have to define what you want out of the system. The normal UHF wireless coms systems (aka Telex and HME will run in the range of about $9,000 to $10,000 for a single base station and four wireless belt packs. The cost skyrockets upwards after that. Something to look into is whether you will be well served by one of the digital wireless coms systems in the cellular or wifi ranges.
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Re: Comm System
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2011, 03:27:42 pm »


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