Traditional commercial audio systems rely on centralised amplification equipment connected to a dedicated cable based topology that is 'fixed' to create the audio application or function. Freed from cabling constraints, commercial Audio over IP (AoIP) technologies and applications can provide the basis of improved functional capability, service delivery and deployment flexibility, often against a lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
Note: Commercial audio is not restricted to Traditional (legacy) audio 'OR' IP audio technologies. For example, during the design and specification stages for a new, we will often consider and use 'BOTH' technologies to create design integrated solutions to best meet the functional and operational requirements of our customers. For existing systems, we can often look to add/evolve and make improvements (eg. internet or LAN/network radio/music, or adding some IP speakers or an IP distribution amplifier for a new building).
Commercial IP audio applications and wider commercial AoIP audio system designs, leverage and interconnect via IP based network infrastructure topologies (eg. LAN, WAN & Internet / VPN). Freed from restrictive traditional cable connectivity, AoIP can enable enhanced audio application design with flexible installation and deployment opportunities. Some examples of how IP audio can create improved audio design solutions and solve incumbent issues presented with traditional audio are as follows:
Deployment & Topology: Traditional audio deployment and installation topologies are built around restrictive cabling arrangements and limited audio distribution technologies. IP audio (IP speakers and supporting IP devices / system equipment) can be deployed and installed wherever the IP network and network points exists. Improved deployment and design topologies can be created using IP audio that would prove difficult or impossible for traditional audio to achieve (eg. an inter-site public address/PA system using the customers internet VPN.... or perhaps a large site where a customer requires a 'single' speaker 500m away from the main system or nearest speaker line/connection). Example: For a project in a 5* London hotel, our customer a PA/'tannoy' audio application with 100+ speakers and a series of new microphones on the main reception desk. The Problem: extremely limited access/routes for new cabling. Traditionally, the customer was faced with very expensive and disruptive building works to create cable route access. The Solution: the availability of network points behind the reception desk area and throughout the core/levels of the building meant we could readily deploy/install IP speakers and simply 'plug in' IP microphones to the reception desk - simple!
Flexible Audio Zones: Audio zones provide a means for targeting audio to a speaker/group of speakers defined as a 'zone'. A traditional audio design requires speaker/s connected to separate, dedicated cabling for each zone. As a result, any future changes to the zone design (eg. alteration of speakers within an office, room or area to another zone) would require re-cabling works to create a new zone or extend/modify an existing zone. For IP audio, as the speaker/s and supporting system equipment are not fixed to dedicated cabling, the same alteration of speakers and audio zones would simply require software re-assignment to their audio zone configuration. For larger zoned solution designs or designs requiring audio zone alteration, the ability to flexibly alter speaker/s and audio zone assignment (via software/UI) cannot be underestimated.
System Management: Traditional audio design solutions cannot be / are not typically 'managed'. Often running for many years, it's only when systems go wrong, deteriorate or have speaker/s that longer work that attention is drawn and reactive changes/improvements are made. For IP audio, the speakers, audio input sources and supporting system devices are connected to the network and can be configured, controlled and 'managed' - this would typically be from an open source browser and/or manufacturer management tools. In this way, audio service can be managed pro-actively, any issues or device failings resulting in poor or loss of audio service/capability can be quickly identified and resolved.
The following are client project examples using AoIP and Commercial IP Audio design.