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How IP speakers work in integrated systems

How IP speakers work in integrated systems
A host of components go into IP speakers to make them convenient and efficient.
Before setting out to use IP speakers in your projects, systems integrators (SI) should have a clear idea of how these devices work. There are several components that go into an IP speaker. There are some areas that are similar to traditional speakers, while a lot of parts are not. Understanding how they are made and how they function is critical to a proper installation. At its core, IP speakers have built-in amplifiers that are powered by PoE. This allows them to function without any additional power connection and makes the installation simpler than their traditional counterparts. Parts and Components

In a blog post, Bob Mesnik, President of Kintronics, explained the major components that make up a network speaker and how they work together in an integrated system setting.

“The network-attached speakers include a built-in amplifier, micro-computer, D to A Converter, and a network connection,” Mesnik writes. “They also can include an optional microphone so you can use these speakers as intercoms. The amplifier module inside the speaker includes a network interface with a specialized micro-computer. The D to A converter (digital to analog converter) provides the analog audio signal that is amplified. The amplifier increases the sound power level so that it can drive the speaker. Since this is all inside the speaker it makes it very easy to install.” The powered speakers are part of the total network paging system, the blog post further explains. Besides these IP powered speakers, you can select individual IP amplifiers that drive multiple speakers or intercoms to create a complete audio system. There are a number of different IP speakers available. You can select ceiling type, bi-directional hall speakers, wall-mounted, or speaker panels that fit in a drop ceiling panel.

Sound quality and range

Bob Mesnik,
President, Kintronics

Depending on the kind of place where the speakers are installed, their output capacity becomes a factor to consider. Mesnik points out that wall speakers provide a maximum of 99dB at 1-meter distance. This sound is comparable to that of a jackhammer or lawnmower. Naturally, the greater the distance, the lower the sound. To put this in perspective, in an averageclassroom, the sound level used for paging purposes should be lower than 70dB. You can increase or decrease the volume by adjusting the power to the speaker. “Outdoor applications usually require a separate amplifier,” Mesnik said. “The sound level can be dramatically increased by selecting higher power IP amplifiers. Speakers with higher sound levels allow you to project the sound over a larger area. Sound levels above 85 dB can be harmful. The danger depends on how close you are to the speaker, and how often you are exposed to this sound level. Speakers that are very loud are usually mounted high up, on a pole or ceiling.”

Software to use with IP speakers

Announcements through IP speakers can be made from a computer or other input devices. When used with a computer, compatible software is crucial. An ideal software would let the user select the audience to whom an announcement will have to be made. This could be a single person or a group of people. In a school, for instance, this could mean you could make an announcement to a single classroom or staffroom, a building, or to everyone in the school. Perhaps IP speakers are even more useful when integrated with surveillance cameras. When a camera detects an unwanted situation, as the entry of an unauthorized person, the operators can use the speaker to communicate with them. With the right software, operators can choose specific cameras and speakers associated with them to make announcements or notifications.
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