Commercial Audio – everything you need to know.
A commercial audio system is a sound system that is designed for use in a commercial setting. These systems are typically installed in travel hubs, retail environments, businesses, schools, and other public spaces. Commercial audio systems can be used for a variety of purposes, such as background music, paging, and announcements.
Unlike hifi and home cinema systems, commercial audio systems tend to be of rugged construction, designed to operate 24/7, 365 days of the year. Commercial audio hardware such as power amplifiers, mixers and music media sources like tuners and CD players are typically 19 inches wide. This is for rack-mounting in secure enclosures which offer protection form water and dust ingress (IP rated).
There are many different types of commercial audio systems available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The type of system that is best for a particular application will depend on a number of factors, such as the size of the space, the desired level of sound quality, and the budget.
Common types of Commercial Audio systems
Some of the most common types of commercial audio systems include:
• Public address (PA) systems: PA systems are used to make announcements over a large area. They are typically used in schools, offices, and other public spaces where it is necessary to communicate with a large number of people.
• Background music systems: Background music systems are used to play music in a commercial setting. They are typically used in retail stores, restaurants, and other businesses where it is desired to create a pleasant atmosphere.
• Paging systems: Paging systems are used to send messages to all or specific zones, often referred to as Zoning. They are typically used in hospitals, schools, and other facilities where it is necessary to communicate with people quickly and efficiently.
Three factors to consider
When choosing a commercial audio system, it is important to consider the following factors:
• The size of the space: The size of the space will determine the power and type of speakers that are needed.
• The desired level of sound quality: The desired level of sound, coverage and intelligibility will determine the type of amplifier and speakers that are needed.
• The budget: The budget will determine the type of system that is affordable.
Once a commercial audio system has been installed, it is important to maintain it properly. This includes cleaning the speakers regularly and making sure that the system is properly calibrated.
Five examples of Commercial Audio system installations
Here are five examples of environments where commercial audio systems are typically installed:
• Retail stores: Retail stores often use commercial audio systems to play background music and make announcements. The music helps to create a pleasant atmosphere and encourage shoppers to stay in the store longer. The announcements are used to inform shoppers about sales, special events, and other important information.
• Restaurants: Restaurants often use commercial audio systems to play background music. The music helps to create the desired atmosphere, encouraging diners to stay longer.
• Hotels: Hotels often use commercial audio systems to play background music in the lobby, hallways, and other public areas. The music helps to create a welcoming atmosphere and make guests feel comfortable.
• Offices: Offices often use commercial audio systems to make announcements and play background music. The announcements are used to communicate important information to employees, such as changes in schedules or company policies. The background music helps to create a productive work environment.
• Schools: Schools often use commercial audio systems to make announcements, play music, and broadcast live events. The announcements are used to communicate important information to students and staff, such as changes in schedules or school closings. The music helps to create a positive learning environment.
Commercial audio systems can be a valuable asset for any business or organization. They can help to create a pleasant atmosphere, communicate important information, and improve productivity. When choosing and installing a commercial audio system, it is important to consider the specific needs of the application.
Commercial audio systems are scalable. Professional system integrators will follow one of two wiring protocols – 100v or low-impedance. 100v, also known as constant voltage is more common due to the simplicity of system design and flexibility. It is possible to mix several different types of loudspeakers, with varying output levels (power taps) on a single 100v amplifier output channel.
Loudspeaker options and where you’d use them
Here are most common Commercial Audio loudspeaker designs:
• Ceiling: Probably the most common loudspeaker design used in commercial audio systems. They typically offer relatively low power output levels which makes them ideal for installations covering larger areas. They are inexpensive and provide adequate performance for background music and announcements.
• Pendant: As the name suggests, pendant loudspeakers are mounted from above. They can be used to control the audio dispersion and spill. Pendant loudspeakers are typically used where a regular ceiling is unavailable, such as industrial workplaces, sports facilities and travel hubs.
• Projector: Often used to provide controlled and directional communications, such as PA announcements on train platforms, sports stadia, outdoor applications and security. A projector (or horn loudspeaker) would not usually be considered for background music (BGM) applications.
• Column: Column loudspeakers are routinely installed where it is necessary to protect the aesthetics of the environment, such as in Houses of worship where their rectangular case design helps them blend in to vertical mounting locations.
• Outdoor: Commercial audio loudspeaker manufacturers routinely offer IP rated versions of regular designs but specific outdoor or garden speakers are more specialist. Their camouflage designed makes them incredibly discreet and particularly useful in shopping centres, hotel grounds, visitor centres and theme parks.
The following commercial audio manufacturers are pioneers of the technology, they did not sponsor this article. Their respective websites include a wealth of information which could help you further:
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