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marketing, Graeme Harrison, echoes the sentiment about simplified systems – “no unnecessary duplication of speakers, amplifiers and other devices, and installation… saving you both time and money. Efficiency [and specifically] the ability of remote systems to share processing resources over the network is a key advantage of networked media systems. You get greater performance with less equipment, with the ability to control all applications from one location.”


So, what kind of functionality can these systems deliver? In addition to core paging and/or intercom functions, currently available systems can offer a wide range of functionality – therefore making them rather difficult to generalise about. For example, Biamp’s Vocia can deliver large, multi- zoned paging and voice evacuation, while its distributed networked processing is said to be particularly advantageous for higher education, healthcare, transportation and other public facilities. Demonstrating that it is able to satisfy a range of price points, the same company’s Audia product range provides a variety of budget-sensitive paging options, while the AudiaFLEX DSP and AudiaFUSION Networked Amplified Processors can handle more advanced system requirements. Barix – whose own offer

ranges from the Barix Simple Paging solution to the IC Paging solution, which is geared towards applications requiring both


Founded in 1641, the Theatre Ulm in Germany is a multipurpose, multi-stage house offering opera, play and ballet. But while its heritage might be long, its equipment is very much up to date, with a recent phase of work expanding its intercom capability with an Artist Digital Matrix Intercom from Riedel. At the core of the installation is a Riedel Artist 32 mainframe that lays the foundation for the communications infrastructure. Due to Artist’s free scalability, systems can be expanded to form infrastructures with up to 1,024 x 1,024 non-blocking ports per installation. Karlheinz Fohlert, chief technician for audio and video at Theater Ulm, comments: “Especially the scalability of the Artist system was really important

paging and intercom from satellite positions to one or more central master stations – encapsulates neatly the change in philosophy underpinning the development of these multipurpose systems. “At Barix, ‘we move audio’ and our solutions are focused on audio,” says Gostick. “From day one Barix has worked to enable the interoperability of separate components. For example, all of our retail in-store audio solutions support priority paging and work alongside our intercom solutions.” Meanwhile, RTS product

marketing manager intercom/aviation EMEA, Manuel Brico, makes it explicit quite how much

2N’s Verso modular security intercom system

to us. It allows for flexible planning and write-off. Only this way is it possible for us to plan cost-effective systems that correlate to our applications.”

A total of 22 Artist 1100 and 5100 series control panels are used at the theatre for various positions such as stage management or stage entry. The Artist 1100 series features talk buttons with integrated OLED displays, allowing for maximum readability. The Artist 5100 series, meanwhile, is billed as “the cost-effective entry into the world of Artist” intercoms and features an eight-digit LCD display that can be doubled with a shift key. A Riedel RiFace integrates the theatre’s radio infrastructure into the wired intercom system. As a result, two-way radios can directly talk to a control panel – or vice versa.

full networking is likely to impact on intercom design in future. “The future of RTS intercoms is the [Bosch- developed] media networking technology OMNEO,” he says. “Firstly the program transport via Audinate’s Dante, and secondly the control and monitoring protocol OCP. Keypanels and other audio sources connected to the matrix via Dante use standard off- the-shelf IP hardware and infrastructure.” Benefits of OMNEO-based intercom include interoperability with other manufacturers’ equipment, AVB compatibility and backwards compatibility with existing RTS products.

MIGRATION TO CONTINUE? Will the migration to combined systems continue, and what new features will emerge? Some system designers continue to press the case for separate paging and intercom systems. But there is a general consensus that the ability of combined systems to reduce cabling runs, minimise training needed to understand different interfaces, and free up capital for system redundancy will mean that the march to convergence will continue.

Christian Diehl – product

manager at Riedel, whose solutions in this area encompass the Acrobat Digital Wireless Intercom full-duplex communications solution and Artist digital

28 May 2014

matrix system – summarises the primary forces at work. “We believe that operating and maintaining separate systems, though perhaps initially less expensive, comes at a cost after the gear is installed and in use,” says Diehl. “Engineers then need to be familiar with multiple interfaces, need to

maintain separate cabling infrastructures, and need to have spares for multiple systems.” By contrast, he says, an integrated approach is “far simpler to maintain and operate”. The feature sets of such

systems will doubtless continue to expand. For example, deployments taking advantage of Riedel’s MediorNet real-time media networking technology will have access to ‘broadcast- quality’ processing and conversion features such as Frame Store/ Frame Synchronizers and Embedders/De-Embedders at any input/output, notes Diehl. Such features typify the

‘A more modern approach to standards

would help the adoption of multi-functional systems while at the same time preserving the vital

functionality and reliability of a life safety system’

Graeme Harrison, Biamp Systems

more general migration towards a software-based approach, meaning they can “easily be expanded in the future without any hardware changes. Ultimately this will eliminate the need for external devices. All this results in a completely new approach to production environments, providing significant savings in infrastructure investments,” says Diehl.

REGULATORY ISSUES As Harrison observes, “the over-riding need” for separate systems observed in some applications to this point is frequently “driven by regulations and standards”. But there are strong indications that with the advent of IP-based operation, this could also be about to


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