Tech Focus: Intercoms, Part 2 — What’s on the Market

By pro-audio standards, intercoms are a small market sector, but it’s a critical one. Here’s a look at the latest offerings from the market leaders.

The new FreeSpeak II operates in multiple license-free Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) bands from 1.897 to 1.933 GHz, enabling continuous, clear communication even in RF-hostile settings and eliminates the need for frequency coordination. Its active antennas and wireless beltpacks use separate data and audio channels in DECT6 to create a dependable link between beltpacks and the base station or Eclipse HX matrices. The beltpack features cellular auto-roaming technology, allowing them to constantly scan and automatically select the optimal wireless signal. It’s IP-65–rated, which means that it is water- and dust-resistant. The rugged housing is constructed of polycarbonate plastic and thermoplastic elastomer overmold, making it highly durable. FreeSpeak II is scalable: beltpack users can be easily added as the team and workload grow; the system can support 20 full-duplex wireless beltpacks. Implemented as an integrated wireless solution within Eclipse HX matrices, known as FreeSpeak II Integra, it can handle up to 50 full-duplex wireless beltpacks simultaneously. The system’s wireless coverage can be expanded with locally powered active antennas. Antennas can be positioned up to 3,200 ft. away or, when centrally powered from the base station, 800 ft. Five-way antenna splitters and up to 10 antennas can be installed to create a wide coverage zone for beltpack users to roam. FreeSpeak II beltpacks offer five intercom channels to enable efficient management of workflows. And such innovations as Listen Again message replay as well as battery-health, RF-status, and antenna-link monitoring add to the convenience of the system.

Oratis compact professional intercom matrices are a highly cost-effective entry-level solution. The platform offers up to 48 digital panel ports (16 on AES/EBU and 32 via Dante) and up to 120 four-wire ports (16 two-channel AES/EBU, 64 Dante, and 24 analog I/O lines) in only 1RU featuring the CS 1624 Dante model. The CS 1212 Dante and CS 0800 Dante versions downscale the specifications to meet smaller–port-count setups at a minimum price.

Delec is also present in large systems, providing non-blocking solutions with more than 4,000 active ports with its oratis MF4 frames (all of which can drive intercom panels).

At IBC 2014, Delec announced the world’s first intelligent trunking solution for professional wired intercom and RF handheld two-way radios. Delec recently integrated Kenwood NEXEDGE technology into its matrices. Using a Delec digital RIF interface equipped with one or two Kenwood base stations, the system enables dedicated calls to one of 63 NEXEDGE groups or talk to one of 189 single-unit IDs. Likewise, handhelds are able to address a single Delec subscriber through this interface.

NEXEDGE is a digital TDM-based algorithm modulated on a single RF channel supporting up to 65,000 ID addresses. Delec users have the option to transparently interface to the third-party VCOM virtual intercom system, enabling extended communication over cellular, WiFI, and the Internet and facilitating local, national, and international bidirectional communication. The feature is fully programmable, allowing access via the Delec IconXP user interface.

Riedel Communications
Artist is a digital-matrix platform for intercom applications and the distribution of analog and digital audio and TCP/IP data signals. The system comprises a fiber-based backbone providing a decentralized infrastructure for live audio and intercoms with matrix sizes up to 1,024×1,024 ports. Multiple frames can be interconnected by a dual optical-fiber ring to form a single large, full-summing, non-blocking distributed matrix.

Tango is Riedel’s first network-based communications platform supporting both the AES67 and the AVB standards. With its own dedicated app, My First Riedel, Tango becomes a cost-effective and efficient 40×80 digital intercom matrix. It features two integrated Riedel digital partylines, two AES67- and AVB-compatible ports, two Ethernet ports, one option slot, and redundant power supplies. The 1.5RU system has a shallow mounting depth and low-noise design and is fully compatible with all of Riedel’s current and legacy intercom panels, including the new RSP-2318 Smartpanel.

Performer digital partyline intercom system provides two- and four-channel master stations; rack-mount, wall-mount, and desktop speaker stations; and call-light indicators and two-channel beltpacks.

Acrobat full-duplex wireless communications solution offers 120 individually addressable wireless control panels/beltpacks and 18 wireless partylines. It uses the benefits of the DECT standard’s base layer, suiting it for use in crowded RF environments.

The BTR-80N two-channel wireless intercom system offers extremely reliable and secure full-duplex communication with up to four wireless TR-80N beltpacks and an almost unlimited number of half-duplex beltpacks. Variable transmit power is available up to 249 mW. Operating in a very tight frequency band (at 25 KHz vs. the 800 Series’ 100 KHz), the BTR-80N system can be used effectively in RF-difficult environments and is approved for license-free use in most countries. The system incorporates ClearScan technology, allowing users to select the optimal radio-frequency channel for communication at the touch of a button. Features include a choice of two independent or simultaneous audio channels, multiple antenna options and accessories, easy-to-read LCD indicating system status, expanded coverage using BTR-80N access points, simultaneous two-wire and four-wire intercom interface, XLR in/out for interfacing with general audio systems, auto-select condenser or dynamic microphone, and a choice of rechargeable or standard batteries supporting a wide temperature range and up to eight hours operation.

Click here for Tech Focus: Intercoms, Part 2 — Finding Alternative Channels.

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