Choosing the Right Wireless Intercom System for your Production

By November 12, 2018 News

Wireless intercom systems offer the convenience of untethered, remote, and simultaneous two-way communication, while providing coverage, flexibility and reliable audio quality for any broadcast production.

With increasing variables including reduced legal RF Spectrum, expanding wireless belt pack count requirements, and customers becoming “Super Users” of wireless intercom features, choosing the right wireless intercom system can often mean the difference between the success or failure of a production.  At the same time, this is not a “one-size-fits-all” scenario.  Depending on the requirements, a different unit may be more suitable to satisfy all your needs.

Bexel is proud to offer a wide variety of wireless intercom solutions that meet the demanding intercom requirements in this new limited RF spectrum. This includes systems in the VHF/UHF spectrum, 900MHz spectrum, 1.9GHz spectrum and 2.4GHz spectrum ranges.

In our market, the two major types of RF deployment are the traditional systems that typically have physical antennas connected to them and operate in the VHF and/or UHF bands, and the “Micro Cellular” systems that enable antennas to be laid out in zones and operate in the 900MHz, 1.9GHz and 2.4GHz bands.

Traditional Systems: Telex BTR-800 and RAD UV-1G

These systems have been the industry standard for many years. Coverage in a single area is quite simple, but the ability to expand them to cover multiple areas requires significant additional hardware.  These systems also traditionally fall within the same band as wireless microphone, wireless IFB, and two-way radios which means tight frequency coordination is required for most sites.

Telex BTR-800 Two-Channel UHF Wireless Intercom System

Telex BTR-800 Two-Channel UHF Wireless Intercom SystemThe Telex BTR800 System operates in the UHF band.  These are offered in single channel (TR700), 2-channel single listen (TR800) and 2-channel dual-listen belt packs (TR825). The end user has the ability to talk and listen to two channels simultaneously, as well as have a talk button for an ISO channel and Stage Announce. It connects to hardwired intercom via 4 Wire or 2 Wire. This system has the ability to support (4) belt packs on a single base station, and is simple but very effective and reliable. While the system is frequency agile, it is offered in different bands of the UHF range.

Radio Active Designs UV-1G Wireless Intercom System

 Radio Active Designs UV-1G Wireless Intercom SystemThe RAD UV-1G 2-channel system operates in a combination of the VHF and UHF spectrum.  What makes this system different than the traditional UHF and VHF systems is that it utilizes the spectrum much more efficiently. Radio Active Designs’ proprietary Enhanced Narrow Band™ technology allows for up to 180 belt packs and 30 base stations in the same RF spectrum as the previous offerings in UHF and VHF intercom systems. This system also has the ability to connect via 4 Wire or 2 Wire to most hardwired intercom systems without the use of any additional equipment. The system is flexible, simple to use and deploy, and the end user operation is likely very similar to what most are accustomed to using, while having much more power behind the scenes than the older systems.

“Micro Cellular” Systems: Clear-Com FreeSpeak II, Pliant Technologies CrewCom, and Riedel Bolero

The “Micro Cellular” based systems operate using different forms of “Spread Spectrum” technology.  This technology allows the transmitters and receivers to “frequency hop” within a certain band. Currently there are systems that operate in the 900MHz bands (CrewCom), 1.9GHz bands (FreeSpeak II and Bolero) and 2.4GHZ (FreeSpeak II and CrewCom). These systems utilize digital technology for the intercom and RF distribution. Each transceiver is typically connected via CAT5 or fiber. While each manufacturer’s system requirements for transceiver placement and quantity are slightly different, they are typically quicker to commission in large deployments.

Clear-Com FreeSpeak II Digital Wireless Intercom System

Clear-Com FreeSpeak II Digital Wireless Intercom SystemThe FreeSpeak II multi-channel system operates in either the 1.9GHz (DECT) or 2.4GHz spectrums. These systems offer 4 Wire and 2 Wire connectivity to hardwired intercom systems. Depending on the frequency range and area of use the system can support up to 45 users in a single zone.  The 1.9 and 2.4 bands can be simultaneously deployed within the same intercom system.

 

Clear-Com Tempest Wireless Intercom System

Clear-Com Tempest Wireless Intercom SystemThe Tempest multi-channel wireless intercom system has options for 900Mhz or 2.4Ghz operation.  2-channel and 4-channel belt packs can be included. This system is somewhat of a hybrid of traditional technologies and transceiver-based technologies. A single base station can support up to 5 belt packs, but remote transceivers can be added to allow the system to cover a larger area. Up to 10 base stations can be connected together, providing up to 50 belt packs in use simultaneously.

 

Pliant Technologies CrewCom Wireless Intercom System

Pliant Technologies CrewCom Wireless Intercom SystemThe CrewCom system is the next generation of the popular Tempest system. While it offers a complete redesign of the concept, radio, and deployment, it did retain the rugged manufacturing practices deployed by CoachCom. This system is offered in both 900MHz and 2.4GHz ranges. This system has some unique features such as an internal programmable intercom matrix and end user authorization by transceiver. The belt packs offer not only 4 main channel talk buttons, but 4 independent volume controls for each channel. As in most of these systems, this system can connect via 4 Wire or 2 Wire to most hard wired intercom systems. This system allows for 18 users per base unit and up to 4 base stations can be intelligently linked together. This system is suited for medium and large scale applications.

Riedel Bolero Wireless Intercom System

Riedel Bolero Wireless Intercom SystemThe Bolero system seamlessly integrates with their popular Artist Matrix intercom systems. This system is offered in the 1.9GHz (DECT) band. When used with the Artist Matrix intercom panels and system, the 6-button belt pack essentially becomes a wireless key panel. This system allows for a great number of transceivers (100) to be connected to the system via an IP network. In addition to having access to all the resources of the Artist Matrix, the Bolero belt packs have some unique features like Bluetooth headset compatibility, a built-in speaker and mic so you can use the belt pack in “Two Way Radio” fashion, and smart charging indication when placed in the battery charger. It is well suited for large scale deployment.

Need Help?

Understanding transceiver and antenna placements is critical in this new era of RF intercom. With over 25 years of experience in the wireless intercom industry, and over 35 years in the broadcast industry, Bexel has the knowledge and experience to help determine which system is best for your situation. We offer custom designed and built, UHF and VHF Managed Antenna Systems (MAS), Frequency Coordination, Intercom System Design and Custom Integration Solutions for both short term projects (rentals) and permanent installations.

Let us help you find the right solution for your needs.


About Bexel
For over 35 years, Bexel, an NEP Broadcast Services Company, has been a leading global provider of outsourced innovative broadcast solutions for producers of sports, entertainment, and live events. Our services include production equipment rentals and engineered solutions for 4K and specialty cameras and lenses, RF audio and intercom, production workflow, custom flypacks, frequency coordination, and fiber optic solutions. We pride ourselves on exhibiting operational excellence from concept to completion. From our custom shipping cases designed for each rental package to save our client valuable time and money, to our commitment to quality when designing, building and installing full-service broadcast infrastructures, Bexel’s reliability is unmatched for providing value-engineered solutions and services.

Follow Bexel
Twitter | Bexel Facebook | Bexel LinkedIn | Bexel YouTube | Bexel

About NEP

For over 30 years, NEP has been a worldwide outsourced technical production partner supporting premier content producers of live sports, entertainment, music and corporate events. Our services include remote production, specialty capture, RF and wireless video/audio, studio production, audio visual solutions, host broadcast support, post production, connectivity and transmission, premium playout and innovative software-based media management solutions. NEP’s 4,000+ employees are driven by a passion for superior service and a focus on technical innovation. Together, we have supported productions in 87 countries on all seven continents. NEP is headquartered in the United States and has operations in 24 countries. Learn more at nepgroup.com.

All trademarks appearing herein are the property of their respective owners.