Clear-Com HME DX210 Digital Wireless Intercom

by Richelle Thompson
in Audio

The Clear-com HME DX210
The Clear-com HME DX210
A long look at the Clear-Com HME DX210

During November and December, I had the opportunity to field test Clear-Com’s latest wireless system: the HME DX210. The HME DX210 is a two-channel intercom system that operates in the 2.4GHz band. Its basic setup consists of a 1RU base station (BS210), beltpacks (BP210) and an all-in-one wireless headset (WH210). In addition to testing the system amongst the audio crew, we also let our stage ops have at it, using the system in the run of our holiday musical, A Christmas Memory.

Integration was a concern—our hardwire system is RTS. Clear-Com boasted an easy, adaptor-free integration and sure enough, one standard mic cable patch and one mash of a “System Select” button on the back of the BS210 later, we were in business. The BS210 easily switches between single and dual channel transmission. In single channel use, the packs transmit on either channel button so the operator doesn’t have to worry about hitting the “right” button. The base station also offers an auxiliary audio input for program or other audio feed. Four co-located base stations can be used together for a total of 16 hands free-units in “full duplex mode.” Throughout our test the reception was clear and the signal quality remained strong, with good coverage.

The BP210 beltpack for the system is small and incredibly lightweight. If you’re worried about it getting mashed backstage, the beltpack comes with a santoprene rubber beltpack pouch that provides both protection for the pack and a belt clip. It’s a good fit, too. The beltpack locks securely into the pouch and the buttons, while bump-proofed by the pouch, are still easily accessible.

Pairing beltpacks and base stations isn’t intuitive, but it is simple. With the base station on and packs off, press the“REG” on the base station, then power up a pack while holding the "ISO" button—one pack at a time. The units automatically find each other and determine send and receive frequencies. The process is similar to—and as easy as—using the sync feature of a wireless mic.

In addition to beltpacks we tested the WH210 “all-in-one” headset. I’ll admit, originally I was skeptical. I was concerned about how heavy the unit would be, but at 6 ounces it’s no heavier—and probably even lighter—than many other headsets I’ve worn. Certainly I’ve worn heavier corded headsets in my time. Since they were so light, I then got worried they’d be fragile. They weren’t. They felt sturdy and survived tech rehearsals and the run without a problem. My stage ops, particularly the fly crew, have a big problem ripping headset cables—this unit took away that issue entirely and survived their handling.

One feature I liked but my director didn’t is that the WH210 has two color changing LED’s—one on the ear piece, the other on the mic boom—that indicate when talk is active. (Green for active, red for inactive.) The LED was so bright that my director and lighting designer could see it through a scrim panel during a blackout/scene change like a bright red firefly. We taped over the LED’s so the op wouldn’t become a floating specter behind the scrim. Still, I was a big fan of the all-in-one WH210 unit. [Clear-Com responds that the LED's can be turned off, forgoing the need for tape. -ed.]

Both BP210 and WH210 units use the BAT41 rechargeable battery, which is among the smallest of rechargeable units I’ve seen, easy to pop in and out of either all-in-one or belt back with a sliding release latch. The AC40A battery charger has four charging slots. Each have a yellow “Ready” LED, a red “Charging” LED and a green LED when the battery is fully-charged. Batteries take 2.5 hours from zero to full charge. The station has 6 storage slots for charged batteries—a great way to track batteries ready for use.

The only aspect of the system that I didn’t care for is the beltpack-to-headset adapter. Unlike previous Clear-Com systems I’ve used that take a standard female 4-pin XLR, the DX210 was designed with a mini 4-pin in the packs. This saves space in beltpack’s housing, but means an adapter is necessary. As adapters go, the one Clear-Com includes is pretty respectable—but I would rather be able to plug directly in.

Something to pay attention to if considering this system is that it is completely user definable. Namely, you buy just what you need—not only are the base station and beltpacks sold individually, but so are the charging station, batteries, belt pouches, adapters, headsets, etc. Make sure you have all the components you’ll need on your list before ordering!
While we put the beltpacks and headsets through stress tests and heavy usage, we barely scratched the surface of what the HME DX210 can be configured to do. It’s a powerful system for someone who wants more than our simple ‘com setup, but also provided a reliable, quality ‘com for our uses. After our lengthy (two-month) test, we deemed the Clear-Com HME DX210 a great success.

Clear-Com HME DX210
What It Is: Digital wireless intercom system
Who It’s For: Anyone who wants wireless.
Pros: Good signal, rugged headsets, backwards compatible.
Cons: Small beltpack necessitates a beltpack-to-headset adapter
How Much: Depends on system configuration.