Exploring Audio Systems for Commercial Businesses: A Guide to Background Music Solutions

We know that audio systems and music play a vital role in enhancing the ambiance and customer experience within commercial spaces. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of audio systems for commercial settings and discuss the various types of audio systems, their features, and considerations for selecting the right solution to create an immersive sonic environment that leaves a lasting impression on customers and fosters a positive connection with your brand.

The three primary audio system setups commonly employed in commercial environments and that we will explore are 70V line systems, 8-ohms setups and wireless solutions.

Briefly, 70V line systems are commonly employed for installations needing numerous speakers and long wire and cable runs. These distributed systems are ideal for large-scale venues like shopping malls and large retail spaces, whereas 8-ohm systems are preferred for venues where high-quality audio is preferred as in amphitheatres, offering greater control over speaker runs and amplifier distribution for enhanced performance.

An audio installer is shown installing a speaker system for a new business.

70V line System

Overall, a 70V line system is well-suited for various environments such as offices, corporate buildings, large retail spaces, hotels, resorts, and outdoor areas that require extensive cable runs and speakers. Its ability to handle multiple speakers, simplified installation, and efficient signal distribution make it an advantageous solution for many commercial applications.

In order to simplify the explanation and avoid excessive technical details about watts and power, let’s focus on the concept of a 70V line system for powering multiple speakers. By utilizing a 70V system, you can connect and efficiently power many speakers on a single amplifier. To put it simply, you can set the 70v line speakers to 8 watts, and with a 120-watt amplifier, you can comfortably connect around 12 speakers while still achieving excellent bass and clear sound quality.

Let’s break down the calculations. To ensure optimal performance, the total combined wattage of your speakers should not exceed 80% of your amplifier’s maximum wattage output. This leaves a 20% headroom or buffer space for smooth operation of your amplifier. In the case of a 120-watt amplifier, 80% of 120 is 96, meaning your amplifier can handle up to 96 watts. Considering that you can set or tap the 12 speakers at 8 watts, the total wattage is 96 watts needed to power the speakers, which is well within the capacity of your amplifier of 120w while still achieving excellent bass and clear sound quality.

Benefits

The 70-volt line system offers several benefits that make it a preferred choice for distributed speaker setups. One of the main advantages is the simplicity it brings, eliminating the need for complicated calculations to determine total speaker impedance. Instead, you can easily add together the wattage of each speaker, as explained in more detail below.

Another advantage is the ability to connect numerous speakers to a single amplifier. This flexibility allows you to easily add extra speakers to the system as needed. 

You can independently adjust the volume of each speaker, ensuring that different areas, such as the toilets and foyer, have appropriate sound levels without overpowering one another.

Additionally, the 70-volt line system enables longer cable runs with minimal line loss. This means that cables can extend for hundreds of meters or thousands of feet while maintaining excellent sound quality.

Limitations

There are a few limitations to consider. Due to the power distribution required for all the speakers, the maximum volume levels and overall sound output of each speaker may be restricted. Moreover, not all speakers are compatible with a 70V system, making the sourcing of suitable speakers a bit more challenging and potentially expensive. 

The 70 volt line system offers several benefits that make it a preferred choice for distributed speaker setups.

8 Ohm System

Setting up speakers in a commercial setting using an 8-ohm system is less popular on larger commercial designs but may be more familiar to the casual audio person as it can be similar to how you would arrange speakers in your home. It involves running speaker wire directly from each speaker to the amplifier. Generally, you can power up to four speakers in this setup comfortably if you wire the speakers in a parallel configuration. The advantage of this approach is that it provides improved bass and overall sound quality. However, beyond four speakers, the installation process becomes more complex, requiring careful consideration of speaker wiring and calculations to ensure proper functionality.

With an 8-ohm setup, you can enjoy quality sound reproduction and create an immersive audio environment in smaller spaces so it’s ideal for boutique shops, small offices, or intimate cafes. For richer sound in large venues like places of worship, night clubs and amphitheaters it’s worth delving into the complicated wiring to get that richer and more powerful sound.

Benefits

As we have mentioned a few times already, 8-ohm systems truly shine when you are looking for high-fidelity audio. It can provide high-quality audio reproduction, particularly when paired with high-quality speakers and amplifiers.

In some instances an 8 ohm setup can be a cost-effective solution especially as there is more choice of product on the market.

Limitations

Power Distribution: An 8-ohm system may face challenges when it comes to distributing power to multiple speakers over long distances.

Limited Scalability: An 8-ohm system is typically best suited for smaller to medium-sized commercial settings. It gets complicated when you want to connect many speakers and will require some math.

Wireless Audio Systems [somewhere in there link to our Sonos for business page]

Wireless audio systems have revolutionized the way we experience music by eliminating the need for cumbersome cables and amplifiers. Utilizing cutting-edge wireless technology such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, these systems transmit audio wirelessly from devices like phones, tablets, media players, or streaming platforms to speakers positioned throughout a space.

One standout example of wireless audio excellence is Sonos. With a Sonos speaker, all you need is a power outlet to connect the speaker and unleash a world of music control through a user-friendly app on your phone. For smaller spaces measuring less than 1600 square feet, Sonos proves to be an ideal solution, particularly if conveniently located power outlets exist near the desired speaker placement.

Benefits

The benefits of wireless audio systems are significant. Notably, they typically offer a more cost-effective alternative to traditional wired systems, as the high installation costs associated with extensive wiring are mitigated. Control over the music is effortless, facilitated by intuitive smartphone or tablet apps. Moreover, scalability is a breeze, allowing easy addition of speakers without the need for complex wiring. Small-scale commercial environments, including offices, retail stores, small restaurants, and cafes, greatly benefit from the convenience and flexibility afforded by wireless audio systems.

Limitations

However, a few challenges exist. In cases where the wireless network strength is insufficient, music dropouts or interruptions may occur. Additionally, enlisting the expertise of an electrician might be necessary to install power outlets in areas lacking suitable access points for speaker placement. Wireless systems can also be susceptible to interference from other sources, particularly in compact environments such as malls where Wi-Fi interference can hinder performance.

In conclusion, wireless audio systems offer a remarkable blend of convenience, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. With the ability to control music effortlessly and scale up without complicated wiring, these systems prove invaluable for small-scale commercial spaces seeking a superior audio experience.

Conclusion

In the realm of commercial audio systems, 70V systems have traditionally held the spotlight as the most popular choice. However, wireless systems are rapidly gaining popularity as advancements in technology and sound quality continue to improve year after year. While 8-ohm systems still exist, they have become rarer and are now typically reserved for specific small-scale setups and certain applications where their use is justified. As businesses seek convenient and high-quality audio solutions, wireless systems are increasingly becoming the go-to option in today’s ever-evolving landscape of commercial audio.

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