PA applications of the future: a crossover of digital audio networks and analogue technology

In the future, PA technology will increasingly merge with the building as well as its individual components will be linked to each other. Installers and planners should take this into account.


100 V technology has long been the standard for commercial PA technology. It is cost-efficient and straightforward. But it is also from a time when there was no Internet, especially not as a standard in supermarkets, hotels and schools. However, why should you give up good 100 V technology if it is fully functional? On the other hand, AoIP technology offers tangible advantages. The MONACOR development team has created an audio solution that links both worlds even more smoothly. Here we show you their vision of the future.

Modern PA technology has to grow with the demands of the world - and combine IP technology with conventional audio systems

The demand for network-based, flexible PA solutions is constantly increasing. This is also related to social and cultural developments: audio streaming is now perfectly common in the private sphere. We are used to being able to easily access music or video streams everywhere. Customers and users are now transferring these demands to the professional sector. With regards to these requirements, two aspects have to be considered:

  1. Media are supposed to be available in a way that is as flexible as possible and almost limitless at almost every location.
  2. Due to digitalisation, low-threshold operation of technologies is, of course, required.

Protocols like Dante® open the door - we have to step through ourselves

It has to be possible to integrate future audio network systems into existing standard networks - and above all, the systems must be sustainable and easy to expand. There are applicable systems meeting these requirements. It is already possible to combine normal Dante® networks with 100 V PA appliations. So expanding a 100 V PA system does not necessarily include tearing open walls and installing new cables. But that is just the beginning. What Dante® installations lack, for example, is the option of volume control, zone-specific time control, an announcement function, which is so important in the commercial sector, and a matrix function. In addition, the operation of Dante® networks by the end user requires a minimum of experience in dealing with IP networks. This is something we can build on.

Web-based operation of PA systems in large installations is just around the corner. And it fulfils a long-cherished desire: it makes the management of extensive PA technology much easier.

The future: easy-to-use zone network audio servers

New developments like MondeF ensure that we can completely rethink audio solutions. They are convenient and very straightforward to configure and easy to operate via touchscreen. New PA solutions can be programmed via the IP network of the building. They have an integrated timer function and provide via the zone network audio server the following features:

  • Standard broadcasting services
  • Stored advertising messages, e.g. for department stores or DIY stores
  • Internet radio
  • The possibility of replaying various playlists or streams simultaneously in different zones
  • The possibility of distributing (licence-free) music via MP3 specifically to individual zones
  • All this can also be managed by means of an automated, preset time schedule
  • Automatic switching on and off of the system, selectable for each zone for maximum energy efficiency

MondeF is a network solution for professional streaming of Dante® audio data. The MondeF servers are fully pre-configured with software developed in-house, drivers and the Audinate Dante® software for use with Dante® audio products. The installed software includes various functions, all of which can be programmed as desired. Furthermore, MondeF servers provide a particularly large number of connection facilities, such as several USB ports, RJ45 network connection, HDMI™ output and DisplayPort for connecting several optional monitors or touch screens.

More about the basics of digital audio networks:

“Do we really need it?” - 4 scenarios that become easier with zone network audio servers

Scenario 1: the PA system has to cover various zones from different sound sources.

Flexibility is required wherever various rooms need different audio content. This could also be realised with a matrix mixing amplifier, but that would require extensive cabling. Moreover, such a set-up would be difficult to expand later. It is true that multi-room solutions were common before, but in the past, installers and planners had to use one device for the break gong, another device for announcements and yet another specific device for other media.

With new IP solutions such as MondeF, it is possible to replay different Internet radio channels separately in four zones with one device, conveniently via laptop or remote-controlled.

Scenario 2: the PA system has to cover different zones via an automated pre-set schedule.

The school recess bell is the basic type of functional PA technology in educational institutions. But announcements, both manual and automatic, are also becoming increasingly important in large schools, just as in museums or art galleries to provide information for visitors. Using a combination of Dante® and a zone network audio server, these designs are very easy to implement. And - even more importantly - the end user can configure them independently.

Time slots of 40 minutes for exams, announcements for the canteen or schedules of consultation hours can be configured very easily via an AoIP system using a laptop.

Scenario 3: you integrate several buildings into the audio network

We already wrote about this PA scenario here. A classic scenario would be an extension on an already established company site. In cases like these, good software combined with zone network audio servers will provide even more flexibility in the future.

Scenario 4: for your project, usability is a particularly important feature

PA applications are less and less operated via PA amplifiers. The future brings professional full HD touch screens with multi-touch panels for easy and precise operation, which are also suitable for continuous operation, such as the MDF-12TS-M. With the rise of 'smart buildings', wall panels are also gaining popularity. These panels consist of six push buttons, which can be programmed as required: volume, presets for popular radio channels, playlists, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, beamer, announcements to be replayed in different rooms. Corresponding wall modules in the building make operation even easier.


MondeF wall panels


Scenario 4: for your project, usability is a particularly important feature

PA applications are less and less operated via PA amplifiers. The future brings professional full HD touch screens with multi-touch panels for easy and precise operation, which are also suitable for continuous operation, such as the MDF-12TS-M. With the rise of 'smart buildings', wall panels are also gaining popularity. These panels consist of six push buttons, which can be programmed as required: volume, presets for popular radio channels, playlists, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, beamer, announcements to be replayed in different rooms. Corresponding wall modules in the building make operation even easier.


MondeF wall panels
 
Herman Crins, Sales Director Monacor Nederland BV

“PA technology is becoming part of the Internet of Things, also in the commercial sector. In 2 or 3 years, we will simply use a tablet to control PA systems and also alarm systems, heating and lighting. That is more and more expected by the end user.”

Headergraphic: AdobeStock - vschlichting

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