HowToAV audio expert - Jon Doar - looks at the options available and how choosing the right loudspeaker for your environment and the correct positioning of your loudspeaker and how significant this is to ensure in an effective communications system.
Indeed, the three disciplines: the informing, warning and entertaining categories that we use when planning a system all follow the same principles when we’re looking at the type of loudspeaker that we need and type of loudspeaker that the environment needs.
Every environment is different – things such as the acoustics, the size of venue and area you need to cover, ambient noise, the amount of people in the environment and what activity is in the environment. These all have an impact on the type of speaker that we need to provide.
Many spaces – offices, schools and retail have low ambient noise levels. The key speaker that you would utilise in an environment as such would be a ceiling speaker; this is placed in the ceiling and provides an even coverage - very simple and straightforward. However, that is not always possible to provide that type of coverage within the environment, so we would look at utilising a wall speaker that’s would sit around the edge of the space and project the sound into the space. This is very effective in an environment with low ambient noise level but where you need to ensure the coverage is clear.
Factories and industrial environments are a little more difficult. Typically you have to overcome machinery or higher ambient noise levels. To overcome this you would look at providing sound through a horn speaker which would give a significantly higher sound output to overcome the background noise or sound pressure levels within the space. Horn speakers are typically used in very noisy environments. If the horn speaker is too much of overkill for that type of environment, you could also fall back onto the sound projector. The sound projector allows the sound to be pinpointed towards the area it is required, but is not as harsh as the horn speaker. Therefore it is going to give us better sound quality.
The horn speaker is tailored more towards voice frequencies where as the sound projector offers a wider frequency response working very well with voice and background music.
In warehousing and retail environments we tend to use suspended speakers. These speakers are typically hung from 4-6 metres high, they allow us to provide (with height) a very wide coverage area and wide footprint of sound coverage that allows you to cover the space effectively for paging and background music.
The outdoor environment has its own challenges. Being outdoors there are a number of factors to consider including; area coverage, difficult acoustics and the environmental conditions of rain, changing temperatures and public access areas where damage and vandalism are concerns. One of the key factors you have to consider when using speakers outdoors is noise pollution. The railway station for example – we need to ensure the messages get through to passengers but that they don’t go through to adjoining housing, school or industrial area. To do this you tailor the loudspeakers little and often to make sure that we’re able to get the message across but not providing a noise pollution or irritant to nearby neighbours and local areas.
Also IP protection or Ingress Protection is really important to loudspeakers as well. A loudspeaker that has an IP protection number against it means that you can very effectively use it outside. The higher the number, the higher the protection for example an IP67 unit – we would happily use that outdoors in the middle of a field and it would work perfectly. However something else which is perhaps 43 or 44 IP range you would look to make sure that was installed somewhere where it was protected or under some sort of canopy.
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