Intercoms & Talkbacks

  • By David Kirk

Intercoms & Talkbacks

The April 2022 NAB Show and May 2022 ISE proved convenient launch platforms for a wide range of new intercom and talkback equipment, contradicting the trend from owner-driver hardware and software into pay-as-you-go online services - by David Kirk...


AEQ’s new XPeak’s intercom system supports up to 28 user terminals in desktop, rack, wired belt-pack, wireless belt-pack and PC formats. All terminals interconnect through the internet to allow coordination of remote productions. User terminals have Bluetooth and USB connections, facilitating connection with smartphones and PCs. AEQ’s Talent IP codec provides connectivity for professional microphones and headphones for the host or guests of a program, from any location. A stereo signal can be added to the microphone feed via an external connector or Bluetooth. Telephone interviews from applications such as Skype and WhatsApp can be incorporated into the programme.

Clear-Com has expanded the feature set of its Arcadia Central Station, including integration with HelixNet Digital Partyline. Housed in 1U, Arcadia powers the company’s wired and wireless analog and digital intercom systems, together with Dante connectivity. It supports 1.9 GHz, 2.4 GHz, and 5 GHz systems working together simultaneously. New features also include a 5 GHz scanning tool for FreeSpeak Edge systems, along with increased beltpack capacity for FreeSpeak systems and an increase in licensed port capacity. The 5 GHz scanning tool will display and recommend open frequency channels for FreeSpeak Edge transceivers and beltpacks, assisting deployment of wireless systems without interference from other Wi-Fi-based device traffic. “HelixNet integration is what everyone’s been waiting for,” explains Product Manager Kari Eythorsson. “Customer excitement upon hearing about this new feature has been encouraging, and people are really pleased with how comprehensive the integration is, along with the sheer capacity we’re able to offer in a single rack space. With this latest update, Arcadia provides full support for up to 64 HelixNet endpoints - including HelixNet Remote Stations, Speaker Stations, and Beltpacks - over 24 HelixNet-enabled channels, Arcadia now offers up to 128 IP ports, (previously 96), to allow an additional eight FreeSpeak beltpacks making a total of 40, and up to 24 ports for HelixNet channels while still providing additional intercom access through eight 4-wire ports, four 2-wire ports and up to 64 Dante audio ports.

Datavideo’s ITC-300 is a 1U 8-channel wired digital intercom system allowing direct connections of up to 8 belt packs. With the ITC-300, a director is able to speak to the team crews located at multiple sites simultaneously or individually.

The ITC-300 can be integrated into any rack system or used with Datavideo switchers such as the SE-500HD, SE- 650, SE-2200, SE-2850 and SE-3200.

Pliant Technologies introduced at ISE 2022 a high density mode for its CrewCom and CrewCom CB2 wireless intercom systems. For CrewCom, this new software-selectable mode supports up to 32 radio packs on a single radio transceiver while dynamically allowing any four of the radio packs to communicate in full-duplex across four available talk paths. For CB2, the high density mode supports up to 16 radio packs on a single base station. In addition, users will have the flexibility to deploy normal mode, high density mode or both.  “This new firmware update can be downloaded at no charge to all new and existing users,” says Gary Rosen, VP of Global Sales. The latest member of the CrewCom family, the CrewCom CB2 is a full-duplex wireless intercom. Available in 2.4 GHz and 900 MHz (where legal) frequency options ,as well as 900 MHz Oceania and 2.4 GHz CE compliant models, the system includes the CrewCom CB2 basestation and up to six normal mode or 16 high density mode CRP-12 radio packs. Two CB2 base stations can be combined to double that capacity. Features include two intercom channels as well as interconnectivity with all industry standard two-wire and four-wire intercom systems. CrewCom offers 7 kHz voice quality with four-conference or two-conference full-duplex radio packs, based on a scalable network platform.

Riedel’s new 16-key ESP-1216HL expansion panel is designed for use with the company’s 1200 SmartPanel series. Connected to a 1200 series panel, each ESP-1216HL adds 16 hybrid lever keys and two touch-sensitive colour displays, supporting up to 96 additional keys with total of six expansion panels connected. “The SmartPanel concept decouples the panel’s capabilities from its hardware and turns it into a generic device on which customers can install different apps to enable different capabilities,” says Benjamin Lampert, Product Manager, Panels, at Riedel Communications. “Uniting powerful intercom, control and audio monitoring functionality in a single keypanel, the 1200 series SmartPanels deliver a unique combination of capabilities that empowers users while saving valuable rack or desk space.”

Two apps are currently available and a third is due later this year. With the new Control Panel App, third-party control, monitoring, and automation systems can be adapted to the SmartPanel‘s user interface. The upcoming Audio Monitoring App will allow users to keep track of their audio quality while managing a production via the Intercom App, letting them monitor up to 16 stereo AES67 channels from a total of 256. 

RTS has announced three flexible redundancy options for its multi-frame Odin digital intercom. Backup and restore functionality in RTS AZedit software can be used to upload and save the complete configuration of an Odin frame to a file, from where it can be applied to another frame. A frame swap function is used to replace a single frame in a multi-frame Odin intercom system. This is similar to backup and restore but it is performed via the front control panel and does not involve AZedit. The third option, redundant frame operation, supports two modes: One-to-one redundancy and intelligent redundancy. In either mode the system can be configured for automatic transfer of control (a redundant frame takes over automatically when it detects a failure) or manual transfer (a redundant frame only takes over at the direction of the user). 

RTS’ OMS (Omneo Main Station) and DBP (Digital Beltpack) mark the beginning of a new product family: RTS Digital Partyline. OMS allows analog partyline users to advance to digital and IP communications while extending the working life of legacy equipment. It is available in five configurations, expandable via software license updates. OMS converts between Dante, AES70, RVON, four-wire AIO and two-wire. DBP can be used in partyline mode with OMS or in portable keypanel mode with an RTS Odin or Adam matrix. Up to six DBPs can be chained together.

Studio-Tech’s 5304 Intercom Station provides four independent talk and listen channels that are compatible with Dante audio-over-Ethernet networks. The four channels can be part of a virtual party-line intercom system created with other compatible devices. The unit’s lightweight aluminum enclosure is intended for desktop or tabletop use. Optional mounting kits allow one or two units to be mounted in 1U of a standard 19-inch rack enclosure. Only a headset and PoE connection are required for operation. Configurable parameters include electret microphone powering, microphone preamplifier gain, talk and auxiliary button operation, call signal support, headphone channel assignment, and remote control inputs. Specific user features include integrated sidetone operation, remote mic mute, LED display intensity and microphone audio level display. An auxiliary pushbutton switch located on the right side of the Model 5304’s front panel can be configured to serve as a call button. In this way, any active talk channel will include a 20 kHz call tone when the auxiliary button is pressed. A call signal present on any of the four Dante receiver (input) channels can be detected and displayed. Call functions allow users to send and receive channel-specific visual alert signals. Four audio channels arrive via Dante and can be independently routed to the left headphone channel, right headphone channel, or both the left and right headphone channels. A USB connector located on the unit’s back panel allows the embedded software to be updated using a standard flash drive. The 5304 uses an UltimoX4 integrated circuit from Audinate to implement its Dante interface. The firmware in this integrated circuit can be also updated via the Ethernet connection.

Telos Infinity’s Virtual Intercom Platform (VIP) is designed for use on smartphones, laptop or desktop computers, or tablets. Users can also employ third-party control devices like Elgato’s Stream Deck to control VIP. Telos Alliance offers several deployment options ranging from a few remote smartphone VIP instances to a hundreds of instances. VIP can be integrated with Telos Infinity hardware comms or any third-party intercom or audio subsystem using AES67 or SMPTE 2110-30 connectivity. A complete communications infrastructure in the cloud with connectivity options allows integration with third-party cloud-based and on-site audio subsystems. Various third-party Telos Alliance partners will offer a TSaaS option, allowing users to lease VIP in a virtual environment.