May 24, 2018

Choosing the Right Wireless Intercom System: Rentability (Part 9 of 9)

When trying to decide what Clear-Com wireless is right for you, you may have a need to add additional beltpacks or systems. If you can't afford to purchase, you may have the option to rent what you need. Here, we discuss this section of the Choosing the Right Wireless Infographic and whether the ability to rent additional units matters to you. 

Download the full Infographic HERE.

While owning an intercom system is ideal, many productions have found that renting such systems is better suited to their bottom line. For AV rental and staging companies, as well as live event communications companies working corporate industrial events, political events, special events, sports events, televised events, and even hotel convention centers, buying a system, or several, in order to rent to a wide variety of clients brings in recurring revenue that isn't easy to ignore. 

Dependable internal communications for the staff of an event is a necessity. A quality presentation can only be achieved when personnel involved in the production can communicate quickly and reliably. When a variety of different manufacturers' technologies are involved, achieving this can be challenging.

This is particularly true in fixed installations, like theaters, opera houses, symphony halls, and houses of worship. In all of these locations, increasingly complex productions require the intercom system to be flexible and capable of being expanded to support multi-floor, multi-site, or multi-venue operations. Integrating an outside participant, like a video production team or touring show, frequently adds to the need for expansion - especially when wireless intercoms are deployed. 

Similarly, in the broadcast world, the need for good multi-venue wireless intercom communications is vitally important during live events. These events include sports, award ceremonies, pageants, and other programs that are produced away from a controlled studio environment. 

All of Clear-Com's wireless systems (DX100, DX210, DX300ES, DX410, FSII 1.9 GHz, FSII 2.4 GHz), all offer rock-solid reliability, the flexibility to scale as needed, and the support for other third-party communications equipment. That means that many different types of rental clients can use them in a myriad of ways. As a rental business, that's the kind of in-demand technology you should look for when building your rental inventory. Any technology you choose has to be favored by the industries you serve in order for you to quickly recoup your investment. 

Rental clients require systems that can be set up and broken down quickly and easily. That's why the intercom products from Clear-Com are the perfect fit for any rental business. Short-term production use is also a great reason to rent equipment from a local source. In addition, if you need more equipment than originally estimated, then a local AV organization can provide you with extra last-minute equipment. 

This is the reason why Clear-Com established the Global Rental Group (GRG), a strategic alliance of top Rental Service Providers from across all market segments and geography. The Clear-Com Global Rental Group Partners are based all over the world and provide communication equipment, including wireless intercoms and support services for events of any size. 

When rental clients consider renting intercom systems, they often look at price, value, service, experience, and other equipment a rental company carries. Clear-Com has become the defacto standard for crew communications. Everyone knows the name and the reputation Clear-Com has built over the decades of serving production business. When that client comes calling, your rental business should have plenty of them on hand.

May 23, 2018

Choosing the Right Wireless Intercom System: Budget (Part 8 of 9)

When trying to decide what Clear-Com wireless is right for you, knowing how to fit the features and functionality into you budget may be a concern. Today, we will discuss the budget section of the Choosing the Right Wireless Infographic. 

Download the full Infographic HERE.

Configuring a wireless communications system to meet the needs of a specific production takes careful planning regarding features and functionality, but it also includes how that system fits into your budget. Everyone wants all of the latest features, but the price tag can often limit what you can afford. Finding a supplier that offers budget-friendly options might be critical to your project's success. The need for a communications system that is both easy-to-use, yet powered by the most up-to-date technology is clear, but cost can be a hurdle to overcome, so research is vital.

A house of worship or college AV department might not be able to allocate the same kinds of funds towards a system as a television network production team working the NFL Super Bowl. So, there is a wide variety of wireless product offerings that Clear-Com offers that meet the wide array of applications. Each can be expanded, but why pay for expandability when you don't need it?

Of course, as you need more complexity and advanced features, the price goes up, but so do the capabilities that are included. Entry-level wireless products, like the DX100, cannot be connected to wired or other wireless systems. Put simply, it is wireless beltpacks talking to wireless beltpacks. We see these systems used heavily in reality TV and the movie film industry for camera and dolly communications. 

Taking one step further, the DX300ES system supports two-channel, hands-free, full-duplex, digital conversation with 4-wire interfacing for intercom communications. Its compact design makes it highly portable and very quick to set-up and operate.

As your requirements increase, you'll need to spend money, but again, the features and functionality increase as well. The DX210 and DX410 systems, for example, offer more capabilities at a higher price than the DX100 and DX300ES, but you are getting comprehensive two-channel digital wireless systems that deliver an overall better experience in performance and range. The DX410 system features the 7KHz wideband audio,while both systems feature 2- and 4-wire interfacing, 2-wire auto-nulling for fast integration with Clear-Com or other wired partyline systems.

At the higher end are the FreeSpeak II 1.9 GHz and FreeSpeak II 2.4GHz systems, which both include the ability to operate in multiple frequency bands. These high performance wireless intercom systems are designed for extensive communication in large-scale operations. Their ability to maintain a strong and continuous wireless connection across an expansive coverage area while providing crystal-clear digital audio makes the FSII systems the ideal wireless roaming solution for live events, broadcast, sport production, industrial, military and government applications, to name a few. 

The FSII wireless stand-alone systems can deploy up to 25 beltpacks and up to 10 transceivers from one base station. That's a lot of capacity and totally necessary if you have a large crew dispersed over a wide production area.

Some systems are more expensive than others, but you get a lot more for your money. That's how you have to look at it when you are considering which system to buy. You might also have to consider buying a system that can be used for many different types of projects, whereas the lower cost systems are limited in their scope of applications. So, if you consider your communication system options wisely, using the number of factors that might impact your budget, you can choose the right system that gives you what you need. Remember - you get what you pay for!

May 22, 2018

Choosing the Right Wireless Intercom System: System Coverage (Part 7 of 9)

When trying to decide what Clear-Com wireless is right for you, knowing the coverage areas of your wireless system's antennas may effect which wireless is right for you. Today, we will discuss the system coverage section of the Choosing the Right Wireless Infographic. 

Download the full Infographic HERE.

Just as with any other product communicating via radio waves, the effective distance between the beltpack and the antenna will differ depending on the environment in which it is being used. Radio waves can be attenuated by walls, floors, ceilings, trees, the human body (such as the audience), and numerous other objects. They can be reflected and/or stopped by metallic objects, such as structural beams, safety doors, lighting equipment and truss, bodies of water and so on.


Under ideal conditions, the maximum range between a FreeSpeak II beltpack and the antenna is 500 m (1640 ft). Typical distances are between approximately 50 m (160 ft) and 150 m (485 ft), depending on the environment. 

As the antenna requirements for an installation are being determined, keep in mind both the number of beltpack users who will be working in an area (based on the beltpack capacity of the antenna), and the layout and potential RF attenuating and reflecting items in the location. Be conservative in distance estimates to make sure that enough antennas are included to provide the necessary coverage for the installation. Remember that additional antennas may be added. 

General rules and tips for antenna placement:

  • Keep antennas high and in line-of-sight (lower placements away from interfering objects can, at times, be beneficial. It depends on the environment)
  • Keep antennas away from larger metallic objects and surfaces
  • Antenna coverage is circular, so put the antennas in the center of the area in which the coverage is required
  • When overlapping the coverage zones in order to create a larger continuous coverage area, test the inbetween areas with a beltpack for potential areas of low RF signal and adjust the positioning of the antennas as needed
  • Because of potential body shielding during movement, it is useful to place two antennas in different locations within larger working areas to minimize low-level signals and potential signal dropouts

The common antenna type used in the DX Series systems is an external Dual Diversity 1/2 ave dipole omni-directional antenna. The DX Series base stations use two of these antennas. The base electronics switch between these antennas to obtain the best signal quality. Both antennas act as a transmit and receive, so one antenna could be removed and the system would still operate. The purpose of having two antennas is to overcome multipath dropouts. If one antenna is remoted, the base will still select the antenna that gives the best signal.

Some installations require that the antennas be removed from the base station chassis and placed in another location to ensure better line-of-sight operation. Antennas can be placed outside of equipment racks and microphone stands, wall brackets, or any other suitable mounting device. To do this, the DX Series has an optional remote antenna kit, consisting of a bracket, coax cable and screws. Adding addition coax cable to the antenna connection will reduce the range to that antenna because of signal loss, but it will fill in a bad coverage spot. Therefore, it is best to keep antenna cabling down to a minimum whenever possible.

General rules and tips for antenna/base station placement:
  • The base station should be located so that you maximize the line-of-sight operation - even if this requires operating through a glass window
  • Metal equipment racks will block RF from reaching the antennas mounted to the base station inside - rear-mounted antennas may not work inside a metal rack
  • Minimize the number of walls between the base station and area where the beltpacks will be operating
  • If necessary, the base station can always be moved closer to the area of highest beltpack usage for more thorough coverage
  • Always do a walk test before making the decision of where to place the base station