Production Essentials: Wireless "Crewmunication" Systems



"Extend the intermission for two more minutes, the lead just had a wardrobe malfunction."

"Check if the groom's wireless transmitter is connected properly, we can no longer hear him on camera A."

It doesn't matter if you're a team of photographers, theater techs or a coaching staff; efficient communication is vital when you work as a crew.

 An experienced group of people can usually communicate pretty well without having to say a word, but there are still plenty of occasions when having a dependable wireless intercom is indispensible. These systems will quickly pay for themselves from the time that you save and will help you avoid unnecessary disasters. They're a must-have tool for any serious production with a multi-person crew.

If you've tried using inexpensive intercom systems for professional jobs and found out the hard way that they were completely inadequate, perhaps it's time you stepped things up. Read on for a close look at a system that's earned a reputation for dependability. When the project you're working on doesn't have room for error, you need tools that go above and beyond what's required of them.

You need a system capable of passing its signal through solid walls and across great distances. You need an industrial strength build quality in the beltpacks and headsets. You need beltpacks with a powerful rechargeable battery that can be removed and replaced with disposable batteries in a pinch. You need a system that can be integrated with other wired intercoms that may already be in use.

Porta-Com ProLink systems meet all of these requirements. The beltpacks are very easy to use, and operate on included rechargeable batteries (for up to 15 hours) or they can run on standard AAs. There is no wired base station. All of the members can wander around freely and continue to communicate, with an optimal range of 250 feet (75 meters). The signal can pass through solid walls and glass; however, the fewer obstructions there are between the units, the better they will function.

A basic ProLink kit consists of a Master beltpack and three Remote beltpacks. You can run the system either in a "Push-to-Talk mode" (PTT), where you have to physically push a button on the beltpack to activate your headset mic. Or you can run the system in "Always-On" mode where you can speak openly without having to push a button.

There are two sets of frequencies available to the ProLink system, which are designated as A and B. The frequencies are in the 900 mHz range, which tends to have less traffic and is completely in line with FCC regulations. The two frequency groups makes it possible for the Master headset to communicate with two separate groups independently. For example, if you have a lighting crew and a sound crew, a director could flip the A/B switch on their Master beltpack to toggle between the two groups. This way, the sound crew doesn't have to hear the communication of the lighting crew, and vice versa.

The 7-User ProLink kit allows the Master to speak to two groups of three Remotes independently.

The ProLink kits are available in two sizes. There is a 4-user kit, which provides you with one Master beltpack and three Remote beltpacks. And there is a 7-user kit, which provides you with one Master and six Remote beltpacks. The 7-user kit is intended for situations where the Master needs to communicate with two groups separately, such as a football team where the coach needs to communicate with the offensive and defensive staffs. It's only possible for a Master beltpack to communicate with three Remote beltpacks at a time.

The kits come with either single or double-sided headsets that attach with a professional 4-pin XLR connector. Single-sided headsets are preferable for users who need to keep an open ear to their surroundings. Camera operators who use shoulder-mounted cameras also prefer single-sided headsets. Double-sided headsets are preferable in noisier working environments, such as in a loud factory or at a racetrack.

If you need to incorporate a ProLink wireless intercom into a wired intercom system, you can do so with the separately available WingMan interface. The WingMan is also compatible with the Telex BTR-700 wireless base station.

If you have any questions about wireless intercom systems, we'd love to see them in the Comments section of this post!


Hi SL -

The COMSTAR XT-3 3-User Full Duplex Wireless Intercom System from Eartec is a fully-functional wireless intercom that offers full duplex communication in a simple design that does not require the use of beltpacks. The system consists of a Com-Center base station and 3 wireless headsets. Additional headsets can be added to the system, allowing you to create a wireless network of up to 8 users who can all communicate simultaneously with no delay or voice activation, ideal for applications where teams need full use of their hands. You can even split users into 2 groups of 4 people, or bring everyone together in conference mode.

Each headset connects wirelessly to the Com-Center at distances of up to 400 yards in any direction, allowing the headsets to be up to 800 yards apart while still enjoying full communication capabilities. The around-ear cushions and padded headbands provide lasting comfort for all-day use. Integrated controls make it easy to adjust the volume of the headsets and program them in the field. The COMSTAR system is self tuning, so no remote antenna is needed.

Expandable System
The system comes with a Com-Center base station and 3 wireless headsets, but additional headsets can be added, allowing you to create a wireless network of up to 8 users
Full Duplex Communication
All users can communicate simultaneously with no delay or voice activation, similar to a wired intercom or a telephone system. This is ideal for applications where teams need full use of their hands
Dual Channel Operation with Conference Mode
You can split users into 2 groups of 4 people, or bring everyone together in a single large group in conference mode

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:


Is there a system with which all of the users can communicate with each other?