Commercial Sound Systems
A commercial sound system is designed to fit in seamlessly and become a working part of the building, integrating into all areas to provide a cohesive audio path throughout. It can include several types of speaker designs and amplifier types to achieve this.
The functional requirements of any commercial sound system will automatically dictate the equipment that is suitable for that specific installation, especially when there are both indoor and outdoor areas in operation. Commercial audio systems allow background music for a nicer working environment, therefore making for a warmer and relaxed experience for staff and customers in any retail or service based location.
With the exception of ceiling speakers, the world of commercial audio is quite unique, with its speaker design and emphasis being on covering large areas rather than outright sound quality.
That said, the sound quality of a professional audio installation is extremely impressive, with the use of modern commercial sound equipment being able to disperse music and announcements with hi-fi like clarity in most situations.
From a simple 100V line amplifier and a few speakers, up to a multi zonal matrix system with fully controllable independent areas throughout the building, a commercial audio installation is designed to suit its environment perfectly for the very best results.
COMMERCIAL SPEAKER SYSTEM
Traditional speakers have a fairly basic set of parameters to fit into, whether it’s at home as part of a nice hi-fi system, or for use as background music in a restaurant, they only need to perform well in that specific setting.
Commercial speakers on the other hand need to have a much broader range of capability, as their designs must be able to adapt into a wide variety of buildings and environments.
This sees them split into the four distinct design types of wall speakers, ceiling speakers, pendant speakers, and horn speakers. All of which behave in very specific ways when presenting audio into an area.
Ceiling speakers are popular in restaurants and businesses, offices and public places like restrooms and shops.
They offer a discrete solution to placing speakers throughout an area with the most minimal of visual intrusion possible. You often won’t even see them unless you really look.
With many commercial properties using dropped ceilings in their office spaces, a ceiling speaker is the ideal choice for a quick and smart installation, giving excellent audio quality and superb area coverage.
Though they can be used anywhere you choose, a pendant speaker is primarily designed to operate in areas with high ceilings, where they can extend down on cables to provide the sound where it’s required.
Using pendant speakers greatly reduces unwanted noise pollution across areas, say on a factory or warehouse floor, as it brings the sound closer to head height, which allows a reduction in overall volume.
Pendant speakers also feature a unique 360 degree dispersion, which allows a considerable amount of area to be covered with just a few of these units in place.
Wall speakers come in several different types for commercial audio use, with larger units being a great option for social areas and noisy workshops.
Wall speakers are also perfect for venues such as sports centres and entertainment facilities where loud music playing all day is part of the business.
Column shaped wall speakers find favour in houses of worship, where they fit discreetly into the aesthetic without compromising on available performance.
The outdoor kings. The durable all weather materials of a horn speaker, coupled with its ability to project sound over large distances makes them the industry standard for most commercial settings.
Ideal for loading areas, garden centres, playgrounds and outdoor sports venues where they can be used for both background music and emergency announcements.
They of course work just as well inside too, with their long throw characteristics being used in warehouses and factory floors for excellent sound dispersion over large areas.
COMMERCIAL AUDIO INSTALLATION
For larger businesses and sites, a fully cohesive sound system can be installed to allow control over all the chosen areas or ‘zones’ from a central location.
Zoned systems work in several ways depending on the size of the installation, and just how much control is required.
For a standard multi zone system, it’s standard to use the 100V line style systems, which are ideal for running background music and announcement capabilities from a single point out to the different areas.
Volume can be controlled both centrally, and using local volume attenuators, and the ‘daisy-chain’ nature of a large 100V line speaker system makes them a favourite of installers.
For more complex requirements though, the simplicity of a 100V line system using standard single or multi zone amplifiers may not give the flexibility of signal routing and zonal control that is desired.
100V LINE AUDIO SYSTEMS
A ‘normal’ stereo system, like your hi-fi at home, or PA speakers used for DJs and live music operate on low impedance. The speakers and amplifier work on a give and take method of power delivery, with the speakers themselves often capable of pulling several hundred Watts of energy from an amplifier.
This setup is fine when using a pair of speakers, as the amplifier will be matched in power output to cope with the speakers demands.
Connect up 10 speakers though, or 50 speakers, and without getting into the science of it, you’re going to have a problem.
100V line to the rescue ! operating in a unique way, these systems work on a high voltage supply compared to a normal amplifier. This drastically reduces the required current, and most importantly for installs, removes the problem of speaker impedance calculations.
Basically, a high voltage audio system allows as many speakers to be connected as the amplifiers power can supply, with the added feature that 100V line speakers include selectable power output wiring options.
In simple terms, a 100V line amplifier rated at 100W audio power output could power 2 speakers tapped at 50W each, or 4 speakers tapped at 25W each, and so on.
It’s the installers friend for good reason, making light work of cable runs and removing the complications of mismatched equipment.
When a standard zone amplifier cannot provide the right amount of routing or control, its time for a matrix amplifier.
These systems allow multiple signal inputs, which can be assigned across any or all of its multiple zone outputs in any order you require.
A matrix system also provides independent zone control with local inputs, which means you can commandeer the speakers in a zone and use them to play whatever you need to, without affecting the main system.
This is ideal for many large businesses, and for schools and education facilities, where the system can play the same background music in every zone, or just in selected zones, or each zone can be fed a separate audio source all at once if desired.
AUDIO OVER IP
For larger installations that contain multiple buildings on a site, an audio over IP system can offer all the benefits of a matrix based zone system, but utilises the buildings ethernet network cables to connect its digital control units.
This offers each building its own zonal control and local inputs for both audio sources and announcement microphones, whilst also being connected to each other via the network to allow system wide broadcasting.