If you’re the typical worship leader like myself… that means you are not only in charge of the music, but you’re also in charge of the sound system, video projection, lighting, the choir and setting up the chairs! What does that mean? It means that time is a precious commodity that we have little of. That’s why it’s great to see a product come out that not only provides a great solution, but is also simple to set up and easy to use. This is how I feel about the DX200 Wireless Intercom System from HM Electronics, Inc.
From an installation standpoint, it only took minutes to set up. All of the belt packs were already registered to the base unit when we received them, but the registration or matching process to match the belt packs to the base unit is very easy and well documented in the manual. We installed the base unit at the sound desk in the middle of the sanctuary with remotes being used in all directions including three cameras that were in the same room, one remote unit that was 120 feet away and behind two walls and two directors located in our media room upstairs through one wall. The units communicated flawlessly with very clear audio… even at the furthest distances.
Up to fifteen remote units can be assigned to each base station, four of which can be used in hands-free mode. In our case this is more than enough for us, but for larger applications the expandability makes this unit highly favored.
For the person who is using the equipment throughout an hour and a half worship service, comfort is number two just behind functionality. The belt pack that houses the controls for the headset is also very light and not too terribly bulky as compared to other units we’ve used.
Another key feature for us had to do with the battery life of the units. The BAT41 rechargeable batteries lasted all morning without any problems. According to HME, the batteries can last up to 18-20 hours on a single charge. The easily removable batteries are located in each belt pack and are very small for how long they last and the headsets they are powering. Having a removable battery instead of a built in rechargeable battery allows the units to stay in production while additional batteries are being charged. The battery charger itself allows one to charge up to four batteries at a time with a charge time of three hours. This is ideal for events that last over the period of several days such as training events or conferences. With the HME DX200 we can eliminate the purchase of hundreds of 9 volt batteries and put the funds to better use for the glory of God.
I want to mention the BP 200 Belt Pack and the WS 200 Remote Speaker Station. The belt packs are engineered in such a way that you can program the unit to make it hands free (latching) and push to talk or push to talk only you can set up the unit to be . This level of flexibility is extremely useful depending on the role you have on the media team in the case of camera operator or video director.
I also need to mention that different types of headsets are available – everything from HS14 single and HS14D dual earmuffs to the HS4-3 in-ear systems with lapel mic, depending on the type of function you need. We tested the HS12 Headset that was extremely lightweight and comfortable. If the belt pack is too bulky, HME does provide the WH200 ComLink, an all-in-one headset with the controls discretely built into the earmuff. Although we didn’t test this particular headset with our media team, I have to confess that I want one because it really looks cool.
The WS 200 Remote Speaker Station works identically as the belt pack but also has an external speaker and is outfitted to use a headset. Why a remote base unit? In our case, we have a separate music room where musicians, drama team members, pastors, etc. wait to enter the platform based on their part in the program. The Remote Speaker Station allows us to stay in sync with the rest of the production crew. Again, we were impressed at how clear the sound was based on the fact that the unit was through two walls and over 100 feet away from the Speaker Station. This kind of performance was only previously guaranteed by wired units. And did I forget to mention portability? You can literally set up the Remote Speaker Station wherever there is an electrical plug… and if there is no plug available, no problem because it also operates on batteries!
No review would be complete if we didn’t have a little bit of a wish list for this particular model. For a television production or video production environment, we would love to see a footswitch for the director. We would also love to see a directors unit that allows the director to communicate to two channels at the same time. I’m sure this is probably something that can be programmed into future belt pack units as an option. Why two channels at once? In our application we have one channel dedicated to camera operators and one channel dedicated to video projection and sound in order to coordinate the playing of video clips or displaying lyrics for songs. We often find it necessary for the director to coordinate between both groups simultaneously, but we do not want the groups to hear each other as they talk within their channel.
However, after reviewing HME’s catalog, they really do address many of these issues with other models and even add some additional features that make this one of the most well thought out product lines I’ve seen.
One feature that was unique to the HME Wireless system was a private channel where you could quickly and easily slip into private mode, have a chat and then come back. I found this extremely useful during a live Sunday morning production. Another feature that was unique to this system was the on and off voice that would let you know that your unit was on or your unit was turning off. Sometimes I simply get confused and don’t remember if I’ve turned off the unit. This feature removes all doubt. Plus it just sounds cool.
What would you expect to pay for a basic HME DX200 Wireless Intercom System? Quite honestly, after doing a little bit of price research I found this system to be comparable to other systems we were looking to purchase on the market today. However because of the ease of use, the functionality and the portability of the product, I would highly favor this system above all others I’ve seen.