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The Advantages of Audio and PA over IP

An IP Audio System is a full public address system, using LAN, WiFi or Internet networks instead of 100V cabling. It enables its users to stream background music (BGM), Internet radio, broadcast recorded announcements or online page information using a microphone ­ all by using current data infrastructure.  The major advantage of all IP audio systems is that you can install it in places where it is difficult, or even impossible, to use 100V audio cables. You can simply use current LAN or WAN network infrastructure for interconnecting all loudspeakers instead of jamming audio cables. Even if you have no wires or a LAN, you can still interconnect your loudspeakers without any cables - over  WiFi!

There are many benefits that IP audio can bring. The most important is probably that by using IP technology, distance no longer becomes a problem. You can simply interconnect locations distanced more than 1000 miles away.  (A typical example would be a retail chain providing centrally managed BGM and adverts from a headquarter in all shops around the country)

Other benefits are:

• Use of existing LAN/WAN network  - savings on 100V cables
• Central management
• Effective dissemination of advertisements
• Fast and simple installation
• Native integration with telephony systems through VoIP (SIP)
• Online email reporting of the current status of all speakers

How does it work? First of all, analog audio signal is encoded to digital audio signal (compressed or uncompressed), which is then translated into packet data. These packets are transmitted over the network and then decoded back to traditional analog audio signal.

There are many protocols used for IP audio streaming in data networks. It is useful to know that not all of them are fully fledged IP. Protocols like CobraNet or Ethersound are using L2 ­ frames -  for audio streaming (layer 2 in the OSI model). They can use current data infrastructure (routers, switches, Cat5e cables), but they work within a LAN only ­ so distance is a limit. On the other hand , they have very low latency ­ much less then 10ms. L2 protocols are good for live performance applications. Real IP audio protocols like RTP use packets in the IP network (layer 3 in OSI model). Systems using packets for audio streaming have higher latency (typically 20-200ms) which excludes them from live performance apps, but they are sufficient for public address, installed sound, and in-store audio applications. In addition, the most important advantage is that IP protocols can be routed over standard network infrastructure without any limits. It means, there is almost no limit in distance. Everywhere you have data connectivity, you can stream audio signals from any place of the world.

The 2N® NetSpeaker is an IP audio system that enables acoustic communication or other audio streams to be played from a given PC in a LAN/WAN network. For audio transmission over IP all you need to do is connect a standard speaker or amplifier to the 2N® NetSpeaker, thus creating a virtual central broadcasting system. This allows for any audio to be played, using provided options, to create separate zones with different communication content. This solution can be used, for instance, in schools, shopping centres, office buildings, train stations, athletic, cultural or health facilities and in many other public spaces.


Traditional PA vs Audio and PA over IP

In a traditional public address (PA) system, sounds are transported from the source to the speakers via dedicated cables, and wired in parallel. To allow volumes to be transmitted long distances over relatively thin wires the voltage is increase to a maximum of 100v in the UK.


amp pic 2N


There are a number of downsides to traditional PA systems…

Audio and PA over IP transmits sounds over an IP network, in a similar way to VoIP telephony. A PA over IP system simply converts sounds into IP packets at the source and transmits these over the existing network. At the destination the IP packets are reassembled and played out over the speaker.

2N Tech Diagram


There are many advantages to PA over IP including…

There is no denying that when calculating the cost of PA system, IP based components are more expensive. However when this is offset against the reduced labour costs and the increased functionality, IP based systems offer good value for money.

Units/Speakers are connected to a network, and allocated an IP address. Each component is then configured by software. This can be done via a direct connection or remotely over the network.

The IP PA system can then be configured and run from any pc with access to the network. Access is secured, so users can only perform tasks or actions they have previously been given the rights to change by the system administrator.


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