Public Address Systems
As we go through our everyday lives, be that in a shopping centre, a school, a hospital, a church or a restaurant, public address systems are busy buzzing away wherever you are.
Used mainly for background music or a public announcement system; public address systems are the most widely used version of sound reinforcement used in society and perform a vital role in our everyday lives.
Public address system is a general term used to describe the audio systems both portable and installed; at locations and venues all over the world; and without them things we take for granted in our everyday lives just wouldn’t be the same.
With various different speaker types and amplification for a wide array of applications, they are the organisers in warehouses, the announcements at stadiums and stations, the background music in stores, and the fire alarm systems for everywhere; and all without many people paying much attention to their existence at all.
To see them you have to be looking for them, as clever design and installation can make public address systems disappear without trace, leaving visitors wondering where the sound could be coming from.
Whether they be ceiling speakers in an airport, column speakers in a church, wall speakers at a leisure centre or horn speakers at a race track, each speaker is designed purposely to deliver a message or music to as wide an area as possible from something as small as possible.
Public address systems can come in many shapes and sizes, and there is a product available to meet every application in existence. If you want a portable public address system, then there are battery powered versions which deliver a fantastic performance from quite literally anywhere and include connections for microphones, instruments, mixers or additional speakers.
For installed options, a simple amplifier and speakers can suffice for smaller spaces, and much larger multi-zone matrix systems exist for larger premises with several different room types and sizes.
PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT SYSTEMS
The most common application for PA is for public announcement systems, with some of the largest buildings in the world using them on a day to day basis.
With large public announcement systems such as those found in airports, speakers for different areas are required such as ceiling speakers for discrete sound, column speakers for long throw in large spaces in baggage halls and duty-free areas, and horn speakers outside in car parks and entrances.
These larger systems will generally all have a centralised management point using 100V line amplifier solutions to cover vast distances, or in the most modern of installations audio over IP technology which utilises an IP network to jump signals from building to building.
There are several types of public announcement system available and each system has its own pros and cons depending on the scenario and budget. At the top of the tree is audio over IP which is seen by many as the future of public address systems because it can utilise your existing network to transmit audio, which not only makes installations far simpler but also gives you every possible option available in terms of usability. The flexibility of audio over IP systems is such that their price remains very high, and so only the largest budgets can afford it, but in some applications where there are multiple buildings, the solution is perfect.
Another type of Public announcement system is using 100V line, which remains the most commonly used type of PA system. 100v line allows you to carry signals vast distances with very limited signal loss, and you can connect as many speakers as the power of the amplifier will allow you to connect all in one single line, making this type of public announcement system a favourite in larger premises and buildings where otherwise cable running and installation costs could spiral. Finally we get to Low impedance systems, which are great for much smaller locations because of the limitations in the number of speakers you can have in the system and shorter cabling distances. Audio over IP is by far the most expensive, with 100V line and Low impedance public address systems about even in price depending on the zone sizes and speaker type required.
Announcement systems perform a very important role in society and have a specific task of relaying information to visitors and customers in the fastest way possible. In larger systems, there will be multiple zones requiring matrix amplifiers to transmit messages across all areas from individual locations, and if one location wants to make an announcement to another location the system you’re using will need to be set up to do this. At times it may be beneficial to have multiple push-button paging microphones so that specific persons throughout the premises can speak to everyone at once without needing to go to one central point to begin the communication, which saves time and passes the message quickly to whoever needs to hear it.
The key to a successful announcement system is coverage, and this is where your system design comes in. In order to cover an open area there is a simple calculation involving the angle of sound projection and distance projected vs the power of the speaker, however in locations with multiple corners and tucked away areas working out how to get complete coverage in an affordable way can be more tricky. To avoid any audio black spots, a professional designer will use various different speaker types along with set calculations to ensure all spaces are covered accordingly and no one misses an important transmission.
Audio Installations are specialist designers of installed Public address systems and Announcement systems and we have the means to not only design the perfect system for your environment but install it as well. We have supplied customers in relatively small premises with simple single-zone systems, right the way up to full warehouse systems covering over a million sq feet in the area across 20 zones. We can guide you through all of the different speaker and amplifier configurations for your individual requirements and budget and will supply drawings for your installers or provide our own installers where necessary.
For band and live music PA systems, check out our sister website ElectroMarket
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Public Address System?
A public address (PA) system describes an audio system used mainly for background music or public announcements. They are commonly seen in a variety of everyday locations including; shopping centres, airports, schools, hospitals, and churches. There are a wide range of PA systems available in many shapes and sizes to suit every setting.
How many types of Public Address System are there?
There are several types of public address system to suit different settings and budgets. Audio over IP systems utilise your existing network to send audio, and can send signals to different buildings. This makes installation simple, but the price is higher. The most common system is 100V line, which covers a large area without signal loss, and allows the connection of multiple speakers to an amplifier in one line. There are also low impedance systems that suit smaller settings, as the number of speakers and cabling distances are limited.
Which PA System is best?
There is no one best PA system, as each system is designed to meet different requirements. To consider the best system for you, first think about the space to be covered. This will determine whether a 100V or 8 Ohm system is better, if you need a multi-zone amplifier, and the number of speakers required. If used for announcements, a paging microphone would be helpful. Please get in touch and we can help you find the best PA system for your needs.
What is a Public Address System used for?
A public address system is mainly used to provide background music or announcements in an area. For example in a shopping centre a PA system may be used to play background music to put customers at ease. While in an airport a PA system may be used primarily to provide passengers with information through announcements. There are also PA systems designed for bands and live music.
What are the components of a PA System?
The components of a PA system vary depending on the venue and requirements. PA systems for small spaces tend to be made up of a simple amplifier and a few speakers. A larger system would include more speakers and a multi-zone amplifier to cover multiple rooms. Some systems include microphones or desktop paging microphones for broadcasting purposes. There are also battery powered PA systems for portable use.