When Caitlin Visel joined Uvalde Grand Opera House as manager in September 2019, she was immediately tasked with replacing the nearly 40-year old wired intercom system. As the second oldest theatre in Texas, Caitlin needed to find a comms system that would cover the entire building with its thick, concrete walls. When she realised that repairing the outdated system was beyond her budget, she began the search for a replacement. Through some online research, Caitlin was immediately intrigued by Pliant Technologies’ MicroCom M digital wireless intercom system.
“I was instantly drawn to Pliant’s intercom offerings for its wireless capabilities,” said Caitlin. “Having a wireless intercom system has been a massive benefit as we can communicate with staff members throughout the entire building. Whether they’re with talent backstage, in the lobby collecting tickets or behind the bar making drinks, everyone can communicate seamlessly. Also, the affordability of the MicroCom M intercom helped to make Pliant the obvious choice for us.”
In addition to its wireless capabilities, the range of the MicroCom M system is a standout feature for the theatre. “When I first began my search for a new intercom, I was worried that it would be difficult to find a system that could function throughout the building as there are obstructions, solid walls and high ceilings,” explained Caitlin. “During an onsite demo of the system, I was blown away by its extensive range. With MicroCom M, we’re able to communicate from all ends of the building without losing the signal—it’s really amazing.”
With the old system having heavy, metal belt packs and bulky headsets, it was extremely difficult to deploy so the staff ended up resorting to texting. However, due to the 129-year old brick structure, cell reception is unreliable in the theatre. “When we demoed Pliant’s MicroCom M, the compact size of its belt packs really stood out,” said Caitlin. “It’s like night-and-day compared to our previous system. The packs are compact and lightweight. You can drop it in your back pocket or wear it on a lanyard around your neck, which has been especially helpful as we staff a lot of women who often wear dresses to events.”
Working with mostly volunteers, it was also important that Uvalde integrated a system with a simple interface and minimal learning curve. “As someone without an audio background, and without much intercom experience, it was really easy to learn how to use MicroCom M,” said Caitlin. “It’s been great to have a system that anyone can learn.”
In addition to MicroCom M, the theatre also purchased Pliant’s SmartBoom PRO single-ear headsets. “Everyone loves the convenient flip-up microphone muting feature of the headsets,” added Caitlin. “This feature was particularly beneficial when I had to crawl up into the attic to fix a lighting issue. I attached the pack to my belt and was able to communicate with my assistant on the ground floor while having my hands free to crawl through the tight space.”
Uvalde purchased five Pliant MicroCom M beltpacks with the SmartBoom PRO headsets and plans to expand the system once productions are fully back up and running. “With MicroCom M having a listen-only feature (with unlimited users), we want to get more packs and headsets for our freighters and stage managers. Additionally, the single-ear noise cancelling headsets have been great for our purposes. For a comedy showcase we held in August, we had someone at the door taking everyone’s temperature and someone collecting tickets. They were able to hear all of our communication through one ear and all of the outside noise with the other ear, and it worked beautifully—even with everyone wearing a mask.”
Overall, Caitlin has had an extremely positive experience with Pliant Technologies. “Working with Pliant has been an absolute pleasure. We really appreciate their support and the time they took to come down to the theatre to set up and demo the system in-house. Now I see why Pliant was so highly recommended online. I’m really happy that we chose Pliant’s MicroCom M.”