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New Clear-Com products enable custom intercom

Clear-Com is featuring two new intercom options, both designed to leverage technologies to make intercom systems more flexible and appropriate to customer needs. Concert is an IP system that can work independently or interface with existing intercom hardware, while Tempest is a flexible 2.4GHz wireless system that is license-free worldwide.

In a recent interview, Bob Boster, director of sales for the Americas and Asia-Pacific regions, said that the Tempest system is already setting a brisk sales pace and getting excellent customer reaction. “The magic of Tempest is that there is no frequency allocation for the user to worry about,” he said. “You marry a belt pack to a base station, turn on and you’re done — no worries about frequency conflict.” A single 1RU Tempest base station supports five belt packs, and up to 10 can be deployed simultaneously, allowing a total of 50 channels of full-duplex operation. The system also features an advanced battery scheme supported by a software portal for system management.

Tempest uses a frequency-hopping spread spectrum scheme to overcome bandwidth limits and interference, as Boster said. “We call it 2XTX, meaning it sends and receives everything twice. The packets are small enough that even if you lose a couple, you won’t get an audible glitch. The system is jumping 200 times per second on a fairly narrow spike of very short duration. And because it’s sending everything twice, it’s got diversity by polarity, time and space. You even get multipath supporting you, because a missing packet can actually get picked up on the bounce and glued back into place. The RF scheme is quite robust.”

Clear-Com Tempest proved itself in tough conditions at Oprah Winfrey’s season-opening events in Chicago and New York, performing flawlessly at both outdoor live broadcasts.

The Concert system is Clear-Com’s latest IP-based product, designed to create an easy-to-build system that can run on either local or wide-area enterprise networks, or over the Internet. Boster describes the systems as “real time, very low latency, very high audio quality and secure, creating a mobile or enterprise intercom system that leverages existing equipment. Basically, if you can network your computers, Concert can create a secure custom intercom for you.”

Concert offers two interfaces. One is a Skype-style directory that shows all users and their status. It also allows for a user-defined conferencing capability, enabling administrators to define groups and send e-mail invitations as needed. This eliminates the traditional conference bridge, allowing all members to simply log in from their computer. The system supports groups of more than a dozen users without the delay or audio “mush” associated with other IP telephony. The second interface is a virtual intercom panel, allowing operators to set up the system exactly as a traditional intercom system behaves, leveraging the look and feel with a drag-and-drop ability to add users.

Clear-Com Concert is highly scalable, capable of operating as a stand-alone unit but also integrating fully with a hardware-based system. The company’s Eclipse matrix intercom system uses an IBC32 card to create a seamless interface, offering a density of 32 clients directly into the hardware of the Matrix system. “So basically, it’s like an IP extension of a traditional intercom. So the production director can be in a meeting but still speak directly with the talent or floor director on an IFB channel,” Boster said. “It extends the broadcast intercom’s footprint into other parts of the organization, yet still allows a hierarchy that allows the user to define how the various layers of an organization interact. Concert brings the two sides of a broadcast organization together, which is a huge positive.”