When choosing a wireless headset system, it makes sense these days to consider a system based on digital transmission. Sure, the Telex BTR 800 series or older HME series have served us well, but going digital provides superior sound quality and incredibly stable signal transmission.
HME, now part of Clear-Com, has introduced the DX210 two-channel system based around triple diversity transmissions in the 2.4Ghz bandwidth. Every transmission is redundant and sent on two different frequencies to two different antennas.
The system is built around the BS210 base station. The BS210 offers complete connectivity to 2-wire Clear-Com or 4-wire RTS systems, making integrating the DX210 to a wired system a snap. One BS210 amazingly supports up to 16 full-duplex or 44 half-duplex wireless beltpacks, a plus of going digital. The front panel is pretty straightforward with basic controls for input and output gain on each of the two transmission channels. For users of previous HME units, the BS210 will feel familiar.
HME addresses the common echo you hear when wired and wireless intercoms are connected with something the company calls Digital Auto Nulling. The auto nulling provides "the deepest hybrid balancing in the industry," according to HME, which also claims it is flat across the entire speech bandwidth. Through this, echo is automatically eliminated.
The base station communicates with any combination or beltpacks (BP210), all-in-one headsets (WH210), or speaker station (WS200). It is also backward-compatible with the older DX200 Communicator series units.
The BP210 beltpack is a mixed blessing. On the plus side, its small size (a mere 3.4"x2.6"x1.5") and flush sealed buttons make it a smart and durable unit. It also has lovely voice prompts that tell you what volume you are set to or when you’re leaving a coverage area or when your battery is low. There are talk buttons for Intercom 1 and Intercom 2 (it’s a two-channel unit), volume up and down, isolator feature (when you only communicate with other wireless users), and power--pretty straightforward. It also has internal antennas and comes with a snazzy rubber carrying pouch--a tight unit.
Good clean reception, extremely small size, smart design, voice prompts--so what’s the down side? Mini-DIN: seriously, that’s it. For some, this might not be a deal-breaker. But for many, it is. You can’t easily use your current and standard 4-pin XLR headsets with these beltpacks. The headset receptacle on the BP210 is Mini-DIN. Ideally, you’d buy HME’s headsets that are made to work with the BP210. They have the HS15 (standard-weight, single muff headset) or the HS16 (lightweight, single muff headset). Both come with the Mini-DIN connector. To use a headset with the 4-pin XLR connector, you need to buy the MD-XLR Headset Adaptor, XLR-Male on one end, Mini-DIN on the other.
While I’d guess that using the Mini-DIN saved considerable room on the overall BP210 design, I’d say it’s a fairly inconvenient trade-off. Telling a client that its current headset inventory won’t work with the new wireless system is never great. Reassuring the client that the work-around for an expensive system is a clunky adaptor is just unfortunate.
The WH210 and WS200 units are built from the same idea as the BP210, just in a different form. The all-in-one WH210 basically puts your beltpack in your headset--pretty slick, except you might feel like you’re working the drive-thru. Personally, pushing buttons on the side of my head to talk doesn’t seem very easy, but that’s just me.
The WS200 is a speaker biscuit box with the same functionality of the BP210. On the plus side, you can drop this box anywhere you need and hear cues and respond when needed. On the other side, do you need a rather non-mobile speaker box to be wireless?
The BP210 and WH210 both use Li-ion rechargeable batteries (BAT41). These batteries are charged in the AC40A Battery Charger, which can charge four batteries at a time. HME says the BP210 and WH210 can give you 14 hours of latched use and 20 hours of more normal push-to-talk use on single charge. The WS200 can be powered with six AA batteries or via AC or DC power connections.
The HMDX210 system is a big advance in wireless communications. The interference-free operation and clear sound will surely please many. The small beltpacks are outstanding, but in my book, not quite at the cost of using the Mini-DIN headset connector.