Give new life to your legacy speakers with the network audio amplifier
Most analog speakers in use today are little more than static background music and paging systems. In sharp contrast, PoE-powered network audio systems are intelligent solutions that deliver a wealth of programmable options for broadcasting live and/or scheduling pre-recorded announcements and playing background music. They even include built-in system health monitoring to ensure speakers and network connections are functioning properly.
Specifically, Axis network speakers include intuitive software— AXIS Audio Player for a single zone or AXIS Audio Manager C7050 Server for enterprise-level and multi zone applications—to make it easy for network audio users to:
- Pre-schedule tones, audio content and announcements by hour, day, season or even special events.
- Group zones together logically to play different content in specific clusters of speakers.
- Synchronize music and announcements across an entire enterprise, such as a chain of retail stores.
- Add insightful analytics such as queue management, loitering detection, emergency mass notification and more to enhance a facility’s ambiance while improving service and safety.
What’s more, network audio has built-in SIP support which makes it easy to integrate the solution with an organization’s IP or VoIP telephone system for live announcements.
While analog users might appreciate the superior flexibility of network audio, most are, understandably, reluctant to abandon their legacy investment. But tossing your old speakers isn’t your only option.
Augment rather than replace
Today there’s AXIS C8210 Network Audio Amplifier, a smart migration tool that converts passive analog speakers into a full-featured network audio system. You simply plug the analog speakers into the compact amplifier which is connected to the network via PoE. There’s no need for any other equipment. Plus, the entire audio ecosystem can be managed locally or remotely through a single user interface.
There are other advantages as well:
- Because the amplifier transmits digital audio to the speakers over the network, you no longer need the complex head-end equipment—cabling, mixers, amplifiers, etc.—that make analog speaker systems expensive to maintain and difficult to scale.
- Because the speakers connect to the amplifier through a shielded CAT cable, you eliminate the electro-magnetic interference buzz and crosstalk that commonly occurs with traditional speaker wire. With CAT, the audio quality is always crystal clear.
- The options for sourcing music over the network are now wide open. You can create and schedule your own MP3 playlists from audio streaming services, play music from an analog source or air local playlists you’ve compiled and stored on an SD card residing on AXIS C8210 Network Audio Amplifier.
Understanding how it works
AXIS C8210 Network Audio Amplifier and its companion network audio bridge provide a lot of the same functionality that encoders brought to analog cameras and much more. They can take a digital input from an SD card, the cloud, or a microphone and decode it into an analog audio signal to the speakers. Conversely, they can take an analog audio signal from a computer, background music player, smartphone or tablet and encode it into a digital audio signal to a network speaker. This means you can keep your legacy system, add network speakers whenever you want, and the technologies will work in unison. (The audio will synch as well.)
Choosing the right migration strategy
How you choose to migrate to network audio depends on whether your speaker environment is strictly analog or a hybrid of analog and network speakers.
- Analog-only speakers
AXIS C8210 Network Audio Amplifier can support passive analog speakers rated from 4 to 16 ohm. You plug the analog speaker or group of speakers directly into the amplifier in a parallel configuration. The intelligent amplifier can synch audio for up to 30 speakers with unicast and hundreds of speakers with multicast. The actual number of analog speakers you can plug into the network audio amplifier will depend on wattage and power requirements.
- A mix of analog and network speakers
In a hybrid environment, you want to enhance the capabilities of your analog speakers while seamlessly integrating and managing the two separate speaker technologies as a single, robust network audio solution. In this scenario you need two devices: AXIS C8210 Network Audio Amplifier and AXIS C8033 Network Audio Bridge. The audio bridge plugs into AXIS C8210 Network Audio Amplifier to connect your legacy analog systems with your IP audio speakers, allowing them to work in unison and fully leverage network music streaming and announcement support across all the speakers.
Giving analog speakers a new lease on life
Communications today are becoming more network-centric than ever. Axis network audio solutions allow you to leverage the intelligence of the network with your existing static analog speakers. It’s a cost-effective way to instill new capabilities into your legacy speakers while extending the life of your investment.
Here are a few situations where your network-enable legacy analog speakers can excel:
Retail stores are all about enhancing the customer experience. By attaching your analog speakers to Axis network audio devices they become IP addressable. This allows you to customize the audio experience in different areas of the store or create a consistent ambience across an entire chain of stores. Now you direct targeted messages or background music to a single legacy speaker or a cluster of speakers. For example, a zone of speakers in the cosmetics department may be announcing a Mother’s Day sale on mascara while a zone of speakers in the apparel area might be publicizing an upcoming fashion event, and a single speaker at the exit might be emitting a warning message to a shopper that the security tag is still on their purchase.
Many schools use an antiquated intercom system to communicate with students and faculty throughout the day. Now you can easily and affordably upgrade that system by connecting the passive speakers to AXIS C8210 Network Audio Amplifier and assigning each speaker or group of speakers an IP address. This gives you the ability to send audio content to a single room (IP address) or a group of rooms (multiple IP addresses) in a specific zone of the building from a central location with the click of a mouse.
For instance, you can send timed tones or chimes to all the classrooms to mark the end of a class period, or send a live message just to the classrooms going on a field trip that the buses are ready for boarding. Because the network-enhanced system is so flexible, you can air different messages to different locations simultaneously. So you could air one set of messages in the cafeteria during lunchtime and another in the gym class during the same period. And if you integrate your loudspeakers with your network video camera analytics, you could even send a pre-recorded message to a student caught loitering in the hallway to get back to class or send a live warning to disperse when audio analytics detects the sound pattern of an aggressive confrontation on the stairway. For more information see Network Audio in Schools.
When it comes to security, it’s all about detect and deter. When your network-enabled analog speakers integrate with your video surveillance system, the cameras can trigger the speakers to issue a recorded warning to intruders. Or the camera can send an alert security to remotely address the individual through the appropriate speaker. Adding a microphone to the audio bridge gives you the option of integrating sophisticated audio analytics into the system to detect sounds such as gun fire, glass breaking, a car alarm or voice patterns associated with duress, fear or anger. Once detected, the analytics would trigger the audio bridge to send a pre-recorded message through the assigned speaker(s) in the area while notifying security of a situation needing their immediate attention. For more examples of how network audio improves security see Network Audio for Security.
The intelligent alternative to rip-and-replace
AXIS C8210 Network Audio Amplifier and AXIS C8033 Audio Bridge provide an easy and affordable way to migrate your static legacy analog speakers into intelligent network audio devices. When you do that, you open up a whole new world of possibilities. Now you can schedule announcements, broadcast audio content to a single speaker or multiple speakers simultaneously, monitor the health of your complete audio system, incorporate audio analytics and integrate your analog and network audio technology into a unified audio solution and much more. And when you deploy Axis network audio in conjunction with your Axis security systems your passive speakers can become an integral part of your active deterrent solution.
So isn’t time to you convert your passive speakers to IP? It’ll be one of the smartest decisions you make.
Author, Chris Wildfoerster is the Axis Communications Business Development Manager for audio.