This “focus” is centered on a kind of equipment which is rarely “under the spot light” when compared with mixers, light consoles and other devilries, but whose importance is paramount in the daily lives of professional technicians and engineers.
We are talking about an intercom system produced by one of the leader companies in this sector, Riedel Communications.
The German company sent us a large box containing a complete set-up consisting in a 4-channel intercom of the new Performer line.
The box included a CR-4 main module, a series of C3 Digital Beltpack Headset Station and various headphones: a “close” model named PRO – Closed Professional Headset, a lighter model named AIR – Ultra Light Professional Headset, and their cabling.
We have carefully inspected the materials and used it for more than a month even if we couldn’t do a real “test”.
An intercom system is a rather difficult tool to test in a complete way; we believe that a thorough test should include different settings and locations…
Nevertheless, we immediately noticed that this is a very well finished and engineered product.
The flight case– in a vaguely military style – feels robust and reliable, as well as all the included accessories: headphones, cablings, boxing.
Let’s start from the master station, that is the 19’’-rack CR-4.
Performer CR-4 Master Station
CR-4 is the first digitale partyline intercom system by Riedel and offers 2 and 4 channels master stations (CR-2 is the two-channel version, ndr), rack or desktop mounting speaker station, back-lit call indicators and 2 channels beltpack headset stations.
Besides normal partyline applications, the use of the C44 interface makes the Performer series the first “digital” integrated solution for digital matrixes and partyline intercoms. The Performer product line is completed by the Performer 32 management system, which allows the users to remotely control the units. (Hi-Res photo)
Depending on the set-up the integrated power supply of the 19”/1RU device can power up to 32 Performer devices such as beltpacks, split-boxes or desktop speaker stations per line.
The user interface is easily readable and allows to perform all the basic functions even without reading the user manual.
The colour-illuminated buttons are very helpful, even in low light settings.
A special “plus” is the “remote mic-kill” function which allows the user to silence any open microphone on the intercom channels. The CR-4/CR-2 features an additional program input that can be mixed individually to each of the intercom channels. Other features include individual listen volume controls for all partylines, Call and S-Call, IFB and a stage announce function to use the intercom microphone to talk over the PA system.
In general, this rack unit looks robust and well designed, in “perfect teutonic style” (which made our German editor, Guido Block, rejoice. ndr).
Performer C3 Digital Beltpack / Headset Station
The C3 Digital Beltpack captured our attention tank to its excellent ergonomics and design.
The controls of a Beltpack are just a few but, in our opinion, two of its features are extremely important: the controls can’t be activated accidentally, and they can be easily reached and activated.
The design is very linear and is characterized by features which are really appreciated in typical “service” situations. We are thinking of the controls being slightly embedded in the chassis, for example.
The Performer C3 is a fully digital 2-channel beltpack system which includes all the standard features of analog systems, including daisy-chaining.
The beltpack uses high quality digital audio providing noise- and hum-free signals. Extensive DSP signal processing provides perfect side tone-nulling and excellent intelligibility in applications with very high ambient noise levels.
The back panlel includes three XLR connectors, one for headset, one for signal input and one for signal loop through, which can also be used as an additional analogue program input. Two large rotary level controls on the top of the C3 adjust the listen volumes for CH-A and CH-B. Pushing on the A or B volume control toggles talk on/off with momentary/latching operation to the respective channel and includes talk LED indication. The C3 is easy to configure and features also a call send button. A bright call light indicates an incoming call to all daisy-chained Performer devices.
We received two headphone models. The “close” model, named PRO – Closed Professional Headset are built with high quality materials, are fairly light and can be freely adjusted for a comfortable use. The aural pavilion is very soft and it is lined with a comfortable patented material named DuPont Coolmax®.
Particularly interesting is also the connection of the transport cable which looks tough, as required by the overwork of our job.
The headphone, produced in collaboration with Beyerdinamics, includes a dynamic microphone with hypercardiod pattern, which can be rotated following a 270° angle, which allows to use the headset in both ears.
Nothing to say on sound quality, in line with high quality of the system.
Equally interesting, even if a little less attracting, are the “small” AIR – Ultra Light Professional Headset, whose “plus” is a really incredible light weight.
We didn’t feel the need to use this lighter version, as the larger model is very comfortable, however, they can satisfy some users’ needs …
Its features are very similar to what is offered by the larger model, except a lower isolation ability.
Both headphones can be purchased in single or two pavilion versions; we had the single-pavilion version, so we could only partially test the acoustic isolation capabilities of the product. However, keeping the free ear shut, the isolation seemed effective, especially in the closed model.
We didn’t have many ciance to make “extraordinary” tests of this intercom system.
To tell the truth, the first test took place in a theatre during a music festival, with many bands on stage; then, we concentrated on the materials in Drum Code Studio (www.drumcodestudio.it), based in a wonderful old mill, where we could benefit of the help of our “historical” Zio Keepsound that is Italo Lombardo.
As I arrived at the theatre, in the excitement of the setting up and rigging to which I was actively participating, I just opened the case and connected the cabling, then I gave the headphones and beltpacks to my colleagues who were really satisfied and believed that the owner of the PA company had bought new equipment.
Nobody needed help and everybody highlighted the quality and user-friendliness of the product.
What more? Allowing the users to easily communicate without thinking too much of contols and configurations are the features that an intercom system in this target range should do, and this product by Riedel can do this very well.
On Riedel website I discovered that this system can be used in many different ways and can be largely expanded …
ZioGiorgio Editorial Office