Clear-Com FreeSpeak eliminates ‘dead zones’ at Calgary’s SAJA

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 FreeSpeak II Transceiver Antennas, and 20 wired partyline intercom positions.

The SAJA plays host to touring Broadway shows and major rock concerts, along with 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, the SAJA’s technical director for audio. “The problem is the 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.”

FreeSpeak II uses distributed transceiver antennas located at the edge of the wireless coverage area, so expanding coverage simply means locating transceivers in dead zones and connecting them by wire to the Eclipse HX. Clear-Com’s Canadian distributor, GerrAudio, assisted in the design and installation of the system.

“Any time we find a wireless intercom dead zone, we just run a CAT 5/6 cable into the space, connect a FSII transceiver, and the problem is solved – it’s as easy as that,” Belkie continued.

Many of the Broadway shows hosted at the SAJA use multiple wireless microphones, which cause interference issues with 600/700 MHz wireless intercom. This problem has been eliminated however thanks to FreeSpeak II’s ability to operate in the 1.9GHz frequency. The fact that each FSII beltpack supports five separate programmable channels has also made real-time audio communications easier for the SAJA’s production team.

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.”