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Is there an affordable Comm system?
Old 12th November 2007
Lives for gear
cajonezzz's Avatar

Question Is there an affordable Comm system?

Hey guys, lookin into investing in a sysetm, that could do FOH< recording AE>stage tech, and 5 camera people.

Is there something out there that's affordable. Are wireless systems popular now? I've never purchased one, really not sure who the players are in that area.

Anything that could utilize in ears as opposed to one ear headphones or cans?

Homemade? Walkie talkie based???


Old 12th November 2007
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
Lightbulb Here's a rather long reply to consider...

Hey Craig,

The first question is...

How many channels does this system need?
It sounds like you will need at least two channels so you can split up the production department with sound and audio departments.

And, what about the LD? Doesn't the DIR need to talk to the LD?

The main players in the communication game are as follows.


IMO, the best sound and most rugged comm system is...
Chaos Audio by Goddard Design.
Our system has been online and working since 1977.
This system can take a serious beating and still manage to keep working day in and day out and I'm not kidding.
Even though we have RTS drops in every truck and a few portable systems we still have our Chaos Audio system in Jethro and TBM. Elroy will also get a system installed.
Our Chaos Audio system is a single channel system since it was only intended to be used by our techs.

I go to auction and do my best to bid low on these systems -- You will usually find RTS or Clearcom systems.
This is one way to get them cheap.

A new system especially the amount of belt packs and bitch boxes you'll need will not be cheap at all.

And the type of headset is another story.
If you're doing loud concerts, you will need serious isolation.
The David Clark or Sennheiser brand of helicopter headset is the only way to go.
You can get by with some of the other styles but...

If you're talking wireless I don't think you can use the word affordable when you need them to work day in / day out.

Furthermore, what about February 2009 when the FCC plans to complete the transition of terrestrial TV broadcasting from analog to digital?

Whatever you do, DO NOT buy anything in the range above 688MHz (Part 74, Subpart H) even though the FCC has not yet drafted any proposed revisions as of yet.

The white space debate is a very serious problem for anyone using and wireless mics, IEM or comm systems.

Frequency coordination will be limited to say the least.
I would hold of for a moment or two until yoiu do a bit more research in the white space debate.

You can build any kind of system you like.
In ear molds
Bitch boxes

We have even used/rented Motorola radios with ear buds or headsets when applicable.

I've seen folks modify consumer radios to do the same thing, but the quality varies depending on the unit and area you're working in.

I hope this helped!
Old 12th November 2007
Lives for gear
Jim vanBergen's Avatar

I'd stay away from wireless. A basic 4-channel RF system starts around 10k, and has all the FCC/frequency issues Steve mentioned.

I'd look closely at an RTS system. A Wired RTS PL system is comprised of a power supply, beltpacks, headsets, and XLR cable to interconnect. My next favorite is Clear Com, whose new 600 series is pretty swank compared to their old 500 series.

But you will want to have two separate channels, minimum (cameras and audio production), So a power supply that has two separate channels is imperative, and anyone who has to talk to both channels (such as a video TD who listens to audio and cameras, or a producer or stage manager) MUST have a 2-channel beltpack or mainstation.

Does this help?

Many sound rental companies can or will sell used systems from their inventory.

Old 12th November 2007
Here for the gear

What kind of cameras?
Triax with ccu?
The configuration depends a lot also on the kind of video technology you are using.
I'd also stay away from wireless, except from Telex systems that you could interface with an intercom wired frame.

There are two big companies, as said before:
Rts - Telex
Clearcom - Drake

Also in Europe we have Riedel, germany based, interesting, similar to clearcom and rts.
Nothing is really "affordable" when you talk about intercom systems, but probably you can find good systems used in the broadcast market.

Hope this help.
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