Radios for theater use

I am in a community theater group. We need a low cost communications system for use during a show that will connect our sound booth, light booth, spotlight operator, house manager and two back stage managers. Security is not a big deal at all but we would like hands free operation (with an option to Push-to-talk) and no annoying “roger” beeps or noises when you key up the mic. The radio must have a belt clip and a decent headset since we will have to speak quietly into the mic and it should be comfortable (preferably a small eyepiece rather than a large one that covers the entire ear…and one that can be reversed for right or left ear.) We use the comm sets for a total of maybe 2 1/2 hours for a show so if the radios come with a charger that is a plus. We are looking at the Tri-Square but it seems like overkill for what we require…we only need to communicate within a hundred feet of each other…not miles. We will only be communicating among a group…no need for private communications.
Can you recommend a few products that would suit our needs…especially units that come with good headsets. We are hoping to get six complete radios w/headsets for $180-250.

You know your own facility and workflow better than anyone, but I have spent many many hours with a backstage headset around my head on various theatrical sets, and I would suggest you reconsider if you actually want inexpensive two-way radios. The problem is that the simplex (one way only) communication will be VERY frustrating for your Stage Manager when they are calling the show.

As you know, the SM needs to give almost a constant patter of instructions and a cue can be missed if someone starts walking on your frequency or tries to get a message back to the booth.

You should probably look at a good duplex (where people can talk at once, like a telephone) theatre talkback system. They are less a two-way radio, and more a wireless intercom system.

They are not inexpensive, which is why many small theatres rent them just for each production. (This way, the production pays the cost, and they are easily rented from any good theatre equipment supply house.) They come with one central control box for activating or disabling each belt-mounted substation. They accept a standard microphone XLR input, so you have a wide choice of headsets available for them.

On the other hand, if your sound, lighting and SM are side-by-side in the booth and there is zero need for the SM to give cues outside the booth and you want just simple two-way occasional communications between backstage, booth and FOH, then any good FRS will do. All of them can disable their talk tones, and when a headset is plugged in, all tones are directed through the headset anyway.

I can’t tell you what you need; you are a better judge of that, but if you need constant communication, a simplex two-way radio will make your VERY frustrated. If you don’t, then our gracious hosts will have lots of suggestions for good FRS radio and headset combinations.

You might want to look into the trisquare tsx100- good for short range indoors and should be interference free- uses the same type of speaker mic as motorola talkabout radios…just a thought…

If you do go with FRS/GMRS two way radios, there are plenty of radios that will work. I would look at something like this:

They have VOX (hands-free) capability, and if you get VOX headsets as well this may be what you need:

They have base chargers so they will be a bit less irritating to charge up and also keep organized. You can turn off all the beeps. We also we have plenty of other headsets for Midland radios:

We like TriSquare, but as you stated they are a bit more than you may need. They also have VOX:

There are not a lot of VOX headsets for them though: