Intercoms & Talkbacks Update

  • With David Kirk

Intercoms & Talkbacks Update

Contributing Editor David Kirk highlights the latest developments from the manufacturers of broadcast communications technology...

Intercoms and talkbacks are an essential element of the broadcast process, functioning as the glue which integrates presenters and their production colleagues into a united team. The following overview looks at recent developments in this core category including new and enhanced products introduced at the mid-April NAB Show and mid-May CABSAT.

AEQ has introduced several new products - XPeak is an intercom system that supports up to 28 user terminals in desktop, rack, wired beltpack, wireless beltpack, and PC configurations. These can be connected to each other without need for a matrix. The stationary terminals have eight four-way lever keys, with two functions per lever, and individual level regulation on the key itself. The beltpacks have four keys. Wired user terminals also have Bluetooth and USB connections. The system is complemented by the XPEAK_IF interface which provides analog, digital USB and AoIP AES67/Dante connectivity. Internet-based automatic remote connection is available. Each terminal automatically communicates via a service installed in the cloud.

TP 9000 is a user panel with four-way toggle keys. Up to 1,000 ports can be controlled on the company’s Crossnet and Conexia intercom systems. The TP9116 supports intercom user terminals via 16 four-way lever keys with two functions per lever plus individual level regulation in each key.

Venus 4 and Venus 4+ are stationary double IP audiocodecs. Features include analog inputs and outputs plus AES/EBU digital I/O, triple network port and dual RS232 data auxiliary link. Versions are available with redundant power supply, 48 volt DC power input and IP audio.

AEQ’s Smartalk is a cloud-based audio codec app with link generation and forwarding to Venus 4 audio codecs. It complements Venus 4 and other AEQ audio codecs by allowing a connection between an occasional or regular guest in a program via PC, tablet or smartphone and the AEQ audio codec designated in the studio. Connection is through a direct web-link which the station sends to the guest. Audio is sent bi-directionally in low-delay stereo format with Opus encoding.

Clear-Com’s Dynam-EC real-time production software is an addition to the company’s Eclipse HX digital matrix intercom, allowing single-point control of all audio input and outputs, audio mapping, interruptible foldbacks and partylines. “Role-based settings for belt packs and intercom panels allow user and show settings to be configured via a few mouse clicks,” says Kris Koch, Director of Business Development. “The software also addresses the need to create transitions between different types of productions.

For instance, as a control room transitions from a newscast to a sports programme, users can enable preset macros that allow fast and reliable execution of any number of changes to audio mapping to prepare for the next show. For automated production environments, the benefits are even more apparent. As many stations leverage automation to use only one production technician in the control room, the simplicity of changing intercom mappings is a game-changer. Additionally, a technician can tie automation triggers into macro/settings changes or easily enable the configuration from any Clear-Com Iris panel, including our new IP-based V-Series IrisX user panels. Another benefit for those moving to remote production is that Dynam-EC allows users to span Clear-Com hardware systems globally. It’s flexible and scalable, allowing production teams to have permission-driven control of just what they need for their production.”

Pliant Technologies’ new CrewCom IP-rated radio transceivers are available in 900 MHz and 2.4GHz versions. “The latest RTs are reliable in all types of weather conditions, making them suitable for a variety of outdoor as well as indoor applications,” says Gary Rosen, VP of Global Sales. “Four models are available: 900 MHz for North America, 900 MHz for Oceania, 2.4 GHz for CE countries and 2.4 GHz for all other areas. The RTs feature a durable ABS plastic housing with silicone-molded connector covers to ensure moisture ingress protection for unused connections. An updated power connector for use with the optional PPS-48V-02 power supply allows push/pull quick-release connection and disconnection.” The IP-rated RT supports seamless roaming and can be software selected for either six normal-mode users or 32 high-density users and is fully percent compatible with all existing CrewCom systems and transceivers. Also new, the CCU-08 control unit allows the use up to eight four-wire ports while retaining all the features of the existing CCU-22 and CCU-44 products. The CCU-08 contains no radio and is frequency agnostic so can control and monitor any device across CrewNet regardless of radio frequency bands being used. Up to 82 radio packs are supported, 18 in normal mode and 64 in high-density mode, across all RF bands. Up to four CCU-08 control units can be used in one system.

Riedel Communications’ Bolero 2.4 GHz operates on the 2.4 GHz band Instead of Bolero’s standard DECT band. The 2.4 GHz iteration is intended for use in regions where DECT carrier frequencies are either limited or unavailable, such as China, India and South Korea. Bolero 2.4 GHz has a feature set which is practically identical to the DECT version, including the same three network modes: Integrated, Standalone Link and Standalone 2110 (AES67). The 2.4 GHz band limits use to eight beltpacks per antenna instead of 10 but allows connectivity anywhere with just one ‘global’ region for 2.4 GHz antennas. “Having won both the DECT Award and Red Dot Award, the Bolero system has shown itself to be highly intelligible, efficient and resistant to multipath reflections” says Senior Product Manager Wolfgang Fritz. “Now, compared with other 2.4 GHz wireless intercoms, Bolero 2.4 GHz has double the operational range and supports more than twice the number of belt packs per antenna.

“The 2.4 GHz iteration comes with Bolero’s high clarity voice codec and its unrivalled multipath tolerant receiver technology adapted to 2.4 GHz, allowing the system to continuously adapt to changing RF reflection environments. With near-field communication (NFC) touch-and-go beltpack registration; an ergonomic, robust beltpack design; and three modes as beltpack, desktop key panel, or walkie-talkie, Bolero 2.4 GHz is just as easy to use, sleek, and versatile.”

RTS Intercom Systems’ DSPK-4 digital speaker station is an IP-based version of the company’s wired analog speaker station predecessor. “The latest addition to the RTS Digital Partyline product lineup, it features several key enhancements such as high-quality digital audio, Power Over Ethernet and hybrid IP/digital/analog functionality,” says Senior Sales Manager Nico Lewis. “Using standard Ethernet connection, the DSPK-4 interfaces with a range of working environments and is available in desktop, flush-mount and wall-mount versions. The DSPK4 has a full-colour TFT display and an icon-based menu interface which allow local configuration to match customer preferences. RTS has also introduced a feature set specifically designed for SMPTE ST 2110 operation. “Our KP-Series keypanels, Odin matrices and OMI (Omneo matrix interface cards) now ship 'hardware ready' to facilitate glitch-free operation. A call light function for Odin and OMS (Omneo Main Station) which is compatible with the latest third-party supplier call lights has been implemented for the theatre and entertainment industry.”

Studio Technologies’ 545DC and 545DR intercom interfaces allow analog party-line intercom circuits to be used with contemporary Dante audio-over-IP applications “Analog party-line intercom remains a staple of broadcast, theatre and industrial workflows, creating a need for seamless integration into modern Dante applications,” says the company’s President, Gordon Kapes.

“Our enhanced intercom interfaces ensure that analog party-line applications can become part of contemporary Dante-based applications. The supported audio quality is excellent, ensuring that all users are provided with effective intercommunications.”

The 545DC supports two single-channel party-line intercom circuits and is directly compatible with Clear-Com’s single-channel analog party-line products. The 545DR offers a two-channel interface and works directly with the RTS TW-series of two-channel analog intercom circuits. Both can interconnect with Dante-supported devices such as matrix intercom systems, digital audio processors and audio consoles. The interfaces are also compatible with Studio Technologies’ line of Dante-enabled user beltpack, intercom station, and intercom audio engine products. The 545DC is designed for use with single-channel analog party-line intercom circuits which use one 3-conductor cable to provide power and one channel of intercom audio. The audio path also includes a DC-based call function that the 545DC directly supports. The 545DR is intended for use in applications, typically broadcast, that provide two analog party-line channels on a single three-conductor cable. High-frequency call signals are combined with voice audio and are supported by the 545DR. Each interface is capable of providing DC power, allowing direct connection of a limited number of analog party-line user devices. The 545DC and 545DR can be powered via PoE or an external 12 volt DC source. Standard three-conductor XLR connectors allow the analog party-line intercom circuits to be directly interconnected. Both units are housed in half-rack aluminum enclosures and are intended for desk or tabletop use. Optional mounting kits allow one or two units to be installed in 1U of a standard 19-inch rack enclosure. A PoE Ethernet connection is all that is required to make the 545DC and Model 545DR part of a networked audio system. Operating parameters are configured using the STcontroller software application which is available for Microsoft WinOS and Apple macOS operating systems.

Telos’ Infinity brings comms to any modern computer, tablet, or smartphone through an HTML5 browser or the new VIP App for Android and iOS.

Whether hosted in the cloud or on-premises, VIP can be used standalone or integrated with existing Telos Infinity hardware installations. Telos Alliance has also partnered with Grass Valley to offer VIP on the AMPP platform and with Vizrt to make VIP available on the Viz Now portal. “Telos Infinity revolutionised comms with its matrix-free design,” says Telos Alliance Business Development VP Martin Dyster. “With VIP, we’re putting a fully-featured broadcast intercom in the cloud for the first time. That opens up a new world of communication workflows, including support for the ever-expanding remote workforce.”