LSAV Audio Engineer, Dan Cantlin Reviews Digital Communication System

Clearcom’s HelixNet Digital Intercom solves the problems that have plagued wired intercom for years: scalability, noise, and channel isolation. The move to digital audio takes away the buzzes, hums, crackles, and pops that have crept into systems over the years while creating more capability with less cabling, hardware, and frustration.

A single cable run of over a thousand feet can support up to ten stations without signal degradation; meaning one HRM-4X main station (housing two runs) can support up to twenty HBP-2X beltpacks and twelve unique communication channels.

Three card slots in the rear the HRM-4X allow for customization to solve common challenges. A two-wire card unlocks the ability to integrate traditional 2-channel analog (Clear-com, RTS) or wireless intercom (BTR, Tempest, FreeSpeak II). This makes scaling the system for larger productions, feeding intercom to technicians on the move, and connecting to older systems hassle-free. Meanwhile, fiber and Ethernet cards enable main stations to be linked (up to three), increasing the distance possible between intercom locations and easily doubling (or tripling) the possible size of the network.

Along with improved audio comes simplified setup. Because a single cable carries all twelve com channels, a beltpack’s channels are no longer defined by the cable running to it. The new HBP-2X beltpacks let the technician choose any two of the twelve channels to be active on the unit. So while the audio engineer’s and lighting designer’s com stations may be powered by the same line, they do not need to share the same feed. It also allows for a station to quickly change roles (graphics operator to producer, client, or camera man) by changing the available channels at the beltpack without the need of re-running cable. Meanwhile, Clearcom’s new GUI (Graphic User Interface), called Core Configuration Manager (CCM), allows the technician to easily monitor and adjust the devices in the system from the ease of a web browser on a laptop connected to the network. This means as an A-2, I can monitor a system’s wireless microphones, intercom, and Dante network simultaneously from the same place, making problems quickly identifiable and shortening the troubleshooting process.

Far less influenced by the radio waves and power flows around it, Helixnet’s audio is crisp and clean. The added channel count allows for isolation of conversations within technical departments, clearing up airwaves for easier communication between the whole production team. Its’ modular approach lets us tailor to any size production we support and improved design makes setting up, operating, monitoring, and troubleshooting intercom simpler than ever before.