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Old 12-02-2015, 01:16 AM
Chickenhawk Chickenhawk is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Canada
Posts: 199
Default Re: Looking for recommendations and licensing questions

I can't speak to details of business licences because this varies by country. The advantage of a business licence is that you get your own private channel and there won't be interference from anyone else on that channel (when used within your licence area.) There are lots of good quality business radios on the market that will do exactly what you want.

As for licence-free radios such as FRS, GMRS (in Canada) and MURS, that really depends on your area. Some places will have many other businesses on the same channels and other areas can be dead quiet. All one can do with FRS/GMRS is to try them out and just hope you don't get some kid coming up on your channel some day. FRS and MURS don't require a licence if you are in the U.S. If you are in Canada, FRS and GMRS don't require licencing.

But having worked a lot in theatre and knowing exactly what you are looking for, I would suggest you will be far happier if you avoid the cheaper consumer radios. I would suggest a better quality business-class radio just for the reliability, long battery life and good audio output.

If you are in a quiet area with few other users, MURS is an option in the U.S. They share five frequencies but there are fewer out there than consumer-level FRS/GMRS.

One thing to keep in mind is that the better quality business-class radios have higher audio outputs, and for your purposes, you want radios that will have good headsets available. Just because you can plug them in doesn't mean you are going to get the audio quality you want. This is another reason why I would avoid consumer radios.

I have tested the licence-free DLR1060 and DTR550 in a theatre environment that is over six floors of solid concrete, from sub-basement to the very top of the wings. They worked 100% and were very clear. They will easily run good quality headsets.

The only downside to the DTR/DLR radios, as you have probably already researched, is that being digital, there is about 1/2 second delay from transmission to reception, plus about 1/2 second for the handshake to take place (to determine another radio is in range.) This means they are not ideal if you need them for instant cues.

Two-way radios are a poor choice if you need to use them for cues anyway. All it takes is one transmission coming up at an inopportune time and you have missed an important cue. If you have your own business channels and enforce radio discipline during a show, you might get away with them but there is a reason why theatres always use full duplex systems. On film sets, we tend to be spread wider and full duplex would not work, but we always use a "working" channel (channel 1) that everyone stays off during takes, and a common channel for other important communications (channel 2) then they work okay for cues. But don't forget we might need to cue actions 20 or 30 times a day; theatres might have 600 cues a show.

Last edited by Chickenhawk; 12-03-2015 at 12:56 AM.
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