Trick Or Treat


Clear-Com and MW Comm Solutions solved the tricky facility-wide intercom coverage requirement at Washington DC’s MGM National Harbor Theater

By Pradeep Suvarna

Qhen The MGM National Harbor Resort opened in December 2016 at Washington DC, it had a wow factor that astounded even this been-there-done-that county. Within a year, according to the city’s officials, the $1.4 billion resort and casino had over 6 million visitors, many of who came to enjoy the performances at its 3000-seat theater.
Over the past year, the MGM National Harbor Theater has emerged as a leading entertainment destination in the country attracting popular including Bruno Mars, The Who, Chris Rock, and Tom Jones. What was needed now was to upgrade its diverse intercom and audio-visual system without affecting its continual operational schedule.
Systems integrator PSX Worldwide Audiovisual Technologies of New Orleans, LA was hired to translate the theater’s ambitious AV design into a functional and dependable reality. “The hybrid intercom system at The Theater at MGM National Harbor is all based on Clear-Com technology, including three HelixNet digital partyline intercom systems and a two-wire, four-channel analog partyline system,” said Ed Vigueira, senior engineer and project manager, PSX Worldwide Audiovisual Technologies. “When we anticipated challenges in achieving the specified connection choice, we turned to Clear-Com, a provider of real-time communication and connectivity solutions, for help – and help they did.”

Mindful that PSX Worldwide needed answers fast to complete The Theater’s AV integration on time, Clear-Com directed Ed Vigueira to MW Comm Solutions for a creative custom solution to this tricky intercom challenge. “MW Comms came through for us by designing and custom-building 1 x XLR to 10 x shielded CAT-6 jack rack-mounted distribution boxes for this project, giving us a clean, dependable way to bridge the gap from the base stations to the patch bays,” Vigueira said. “With the addition of shielded STP patch cables, we had everything we needed to get the entire intercom system working. There was no noise, no latency, and MW Comms plug-and-play design saved us many hours of labor. At the same time, this solution allowed us to get 10 physical outputs out of each intercom channel.”
Originally, The Theater’s AV design specified connecting the venue’s diverse intercom systems over shielded CAT-6 cables. These intercom cables would have been terminated to shielded punch blocks inside patch bays at The Theater’s equipment racks, while using XLR connectors at field panels throughout the complex.
What’s more, the custom solution added more flexibility and configurability. Normally, a theatre system is hard-wired and it changes very rarely. However, the Clear-Com HelixNet solution with the MW Comms ‘jumper connection’ allows The Theater to make changes on the fly. With big-ticket artists coming through multiple times per week, this allows them to change production easily for each performing artist.
The importance of MW Comms custom solution, spurred into existence by Clear-Com’s knowledgeable customer support, made all the difference to The Theater at MGM National Harbor’s AV installation.
Using the solution offered by Clear-Com and MW Comm Solutions, PSW Worldwide successfully completed its AV installation at The Theater at MGM National Harbor. “Our client was delighted with the final intercom product, and the designer was satisfied that we had met his requirements,” said Vigueira. “As a systems integrator, you sometimes find yourself squeezed between specifications and physics. Fortunately, Clear-Com and MW Comms stepped up and solved this challenge for us; easing the pressure!”
“Part of being a trusted intercom supplier is assisting clients with their technical issues, no matter how unique these problems may be,” said John Kruman, regional sales manager at Clear-Com. “Better yet, the CAT-6 connectivity solution that MW Comm Solutions devised for PSX Worldwide could prove to be useful to other integrators and venue operators down the line.”

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