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Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium Eliminates 'Dead Zones' with Clear-Com


Installing FreeSpeak II wireless means no more missed cues during touring shows, rock concerts, and opera performances

The Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium (SAJA) in Calgary, Canada, has ended years of intercom coverage gaps and signal drop-outs by installing Clear-Com’s FreeSpeak II (FSII) wireless intercom inside its 1950s-era facility. FreeSpeak II is a key component of a combined wired/wireless intercom system comprised of a Clear-Com Eclipse HX-Median Digital Matrix, two FSII E-Que-HX wireless cell controller cards, 25 FSII wireless beltpacks, 10 FSII Transceiver Antennas, and 20 wired partyline intercom positions. SAJA plays host to touring Broadway shows, major rock concerts, plus orchestral and opera performances on a regular basis.
“Our last intercom system’s wireless component simply couldn’t reach throughout our entire facility,” said Mark Belkie, SAJA’s Technical Director – Audio. “The problem is SAJA’s construction: built in 1957, it has steel-reinforced concrete walls up to three feet thick. These walls severely reduce any radio signals that try to get through them.”
In contrast to traditional wireless intercom systems that rely on centrally-located transceivers and antennas, FSII uses distributed transceiver antennas located at the edge of the wireless coverage area. Expanding coverage is simply a matter of locating transceivers in dead zones and connecting them by wire to the matrix.
“Any time we find a wireless intercom dead zone, we just run a CAT 5/6 cable into the space, connect a FreeSpeak II transceiver, and the problem is solved - it’s as easy as that,” Belkie continued.
Many of the Broadway shows hosted at SAJA use multiple wireless microphones, which cause interference issues with 600/700 MHz wireless intercom. This problem has been eliminated thanks to FSII’s ability to operate in the 1.9GHz frequency. The fact that each FSII beltpack supports 5 separate programmable channels has also made real-time audio communications far easier for SAJA's production team. “We can now give stage carpenters their own channel during shows, without their talk distracting sound engineers or any other crew,” said Belkie. “The result is more focused intercom communication with no cross-talk.”
Installing FreeSpeak II has fundamentally resolved the SAJA’s long-running intercom issues. “I can tell when everything is working, because everyone stops complaining,” added Belkie. “Now that we have FreeSpeak II, they’re not complaining at all.”
“Solving connectivity, coverage, and interference issues is what FreeSpeak II is all about,” said Jay Wallace, Product Manager of Clear-Com. “Its versatility allows it to ensure strong connections and outstanding audio clarity in any venue.”
Clear-Com’s Canadian Distributor, GerrAudio, assisted in the design and installation of the system.