Tech Blog




Copy That: Hearing You Loud and Clear with 5GHz

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It’s often said that the best intercom is one where the user doesn’t notice it is there. Ideally, communicating via headset should feel just as natural as having a conversation face to face.

Creating that natural quality of vocal exchange is a technological feat influenced by three factors: Listener fatigue, which is exacerbated by a higher noise floor and distortion; audio quality as measured by contoured frequency bandwidth; and headroom — the more potential gain, the better.

Until recently, it was hard to get the perfect blend of these factors for optimal clarity. Analog intercoms delivered high-bandwidth 12kHz audio and a good amount of gain, but with a higher noise floor. Then, when digital intercoms came on the scene, they offered a lower noise floor but also a lower 7kHz audio bandwidth and a gain limit.

Now, the seemingly elusive combination of high-quality audio factors has been realized in a wireless system with Clear-Com’s adoption of 5GHz technology for its FreeSpeak Edge™ digital intercom system. Built from the ground up for better sound, the FreeSpeak Edge digital intercom system takes advantage of the wider expanse of bandwidth provided by 5GHz to deliver the 12kHz quality of analog intercoms, minus the audio artifacts, and plus a 6dB increase in gain.

The gain in particular is a real boon to clear communications. In loud environments where intercom is typically used, more gain means less volume is required, which keeps the noise floor low. But even without relying on that gain, when users go to maximum volume with the FreeSpeak Edge, they’re surprised at the minimal increase in noise floor.

In field tests that Clear-Com has been conducting in large venues, with and without crowds in attendance, broadcast engineers and A2s are raving about the clarity. One rapturous comment from a tester was, “It’s like a phone call from heaven.”

That clarity is also due in part to another engineered element of the FreeSpeak Edge. Clear-Com used the high-quality, low-latency OPUS codec in the completely new radio design for this product. The same open codec that was used in Clear-Com’s LQ® Series. OPUS handles digital packetization in an efficient manner, occupying very little over-the-air bandwidth, thus helping to create a more reliable RF connection.

FreeSpeak Edge’s delivery of highly intelligible audio is further boosted by Clear-Com’s specialized radio technology, which was engineered to prioritize signal delivery in dense wireless environments. As that agility is put to the test in more real-world, large-scale applications, such as major broadcasts and live events, these innovative technological advantages make the results sound great.

Users have good things to say about one of the other primary factors in the perception of communications comfort — listener fatigue. FreeSpeak Edge is getting rave reviews from an ergonomics perspective.

So with glowing reports about less fatigue, better clarity and increased gain, the 5GHz technology in FreeSpeak Edge is poised to be that intercom system that’s so good, people barely notice they’re using it.

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