Suggestions for Motorola DTR550 alternatives and earpieces?

Hi all. I run productions at a high school in Australia. We use full duplex comms for cues and general communication, as our productions are typically regarded as high-quality for school productions, but as our crew grows, there is an increasingly prominent division between senior and junior members of the crew.

I’m looking for high-quality radios that can be used between some of the senior members and a few of the staff, and the Motorola DTR550 was suggested. I’ve been researching them for the last hour, and I can’t find a place to buy them in Australia, and as far as I can tell, they’ve been discontinued. Does anyone have any suggestions for anything around the same quality (and hopefully similar or lower price point - ~$500 AUD)?

I’m also looking for earpieces for anything I buy, preferably 2 or 3 wire.

Please feel free to offer alternatives or direct me to somewhere I could find some! Thanks!

duplex comms for entertainment and theatre are the norm, and for wirless solutions, we tend to use duplex wireless comms - The obvious Clearcom, but here in the UK, we have more tecpro wired systems and these too can have radio comms added. Connection to radios, the usual simplex or semi-duplex ones is possible with a 4 wire adaptor, but it is a real faff - and there is no comparison to proper duplex wireless where you can listen AND speak. For cues, this is really vital. As I have loads of ordinary comms gear, I have linkd the two. There is a Kenwood repeater, and all the comms chat is sent out on frequency A - all the walkie talkie users hear the comms ring. If they need to speak, then their walkie talkie transmits on frequency B, and gets injected into the ring. Everyone knows it’s a radio user because the audio sounds so different - 300-3K being typical. It does mean that it’s useless for some theatre tasks - because it needs a hand to press the PTT. Vox is useless as loud music triggers it. For me, with a radio, I can go anywhere and hear what is happening and can talk back if I need to. The problem is that while I am pressing my button, I cannot hear the person desperately trying to alert me to a problem - imagine me going 5-4-3-2-1-GO when on 4 somebody is frantically yelling - STOP STOP they’re under the cloth. If safety conversations of any kind happen, rather than chit chat, then for schools and colleges duplex is essential. People like greengo now are very popular in Australia for TV and theatre - their wireless units are pretty good.

There is also something else to consider. Digital Radio. These can interfere with our typical sound gear, and on occasions, crash them. try a DMR radio next to your computer - as in sitting in a control room. Zapping windows is unwelcome, and that nasty motorboat noise can easily get into many audio mixers.

For me - trying to use PTT buttons for cueing is a disaster area. I happily give wardrobe, and the house LX people walkie-talkies when they’re doing their own things, but the actual comms ring with many contributor thing for running a show is a good example of where two way radios do a very poor job. In fairness, that’s why there are people spending lots of money on dedicated products. Personally - what brand of wired comms you have - go to them and see what mobile products they have. We hire in the radio comms for our big budget productions - think ten week runs and 1.5 million in box office receipts. We do NOT buy them. For once, cable is king!

PS - and the elephant in the room? Battery charging regimes. I have never found one that works with students.

Hi and welcome to the forum!
The Motorola DTR550 was replaced a few years ago with the DTR600 and DTR700. Like their predecessor, these radios operate on the 900 MHz ISM band and are fully backwards compatible with the older models in the series, including both the DTR550 and DTR410.

Having said that, the question is whether or not these radios are legal for non-licensed use in Australia. We’re based in the US, and the models we have are authorized for license-free use in our country, so I honestly don’t know what the rules are for using them in yours. Even so, these are good, solid radios with decent coverage and about as secure comms as you can get with FHSS technology.

Here are a couple of videos we produced when the products were first launched that give you an idea of what these radios can do.

The Motorola DTR600 digital radio video

Motorola DTR700 video

Your choices are a bit limited. If you are looking for licence-free radios, your choices are the CB radio band (which is a UHF band similar to our GMRS and FRS radios here in North America - not the CB “trucker” band in North America) and the Motorola Curve (similar to the Motorola DLR1060 radio.)

As others have said, keep the full duplex system for cues and communication. If you want two-way radios for communication between heads-of-departments for other than cues/safety/etc. then check out the Motorola Curve radio. Same frequency-hopping algorithms as the DTR series, but cheaper, more compact, and simple to program.

Before you spend a lot of money, deal with a trusted local dealer. Australia has very stringent laws and unique frequency spectrums, so almost anything you can get in North America is illegal down there. Your dealer might even be able to suggest good quality licenced radios that will not be that much more, even with the cost of the licence.

The Curve will give you very private communication, but the CB band in Australia is public radios and you may be getting interference with anything from businesses to schools, drive-throughs and family radios.

Hope this helps.

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Hi! I should have been clearer. I’m not intending to connect the radios to the comms system we already have in place, but rather have them as a secondary system for non-time-sensitive communication (so obviously not cues) that junior students don’t need to hear (or we’d rather they don’t hear), and for communicating with our front of house staff that can’t have comms due to where they’re situated.

However, thank you for the explanation, and for reminding me to keep in mind that point about interference with gear.

We do comms for theatres, events and a bit of TV. Low power ordinary FM causes the least grief. DMR with more than just a few Watts, can be like the problems you get with cell phone polling on high power - and with DMR they tend to transmit for longer. I’ve been to many theatres where the sound position has notices - NO Digital Radios! For just reliable chat - it’s usually down to cost and quantity. 12 modest brand prices could give you 4 Motorolas. In ten years the Motorolas will still be going, while the cheaper brands will probably have been dropped once too many times and died.