Audio zoning in the world of commercial AV is now a non-negotiable, must-have. Even a café or small bar will want a handful of zones to independently control the level on the balcony, the bathrooms, the VIP area, and the main room. A venue manager will want easy control of those levels.
You don’t need an expensive DSP-heavy audio zone mixer to achieve the right result in most installations. For example, with a product like the Cloud Electronics 46-120T, handling multiple zones is made easy. It’s a four-zone mixer/amplifier with four 120W outputs per zone. Six stereo line inputs allow you to connect CD/MP3/USB media players, and two microphone inputs allow for venue-wide announcements and paging. Check out the diagram for an example of how you might put this to use in a restaurant with four zones — Private Dining, Dining, Bar, and Patio.
Zoning amplifiers give you control over both audio source and level. Lunchtimes may call for the same music sent to all four zones, with conservative levels in Private Dining but going hard in the Bar. For the dinner crowd you might like to send smooth jazz to the Dining area and louder rock ’n’ roll to the Patio. Check out the diagram for how this would look.
4-Zone Restaurant Application Example – Click to download PDF
At the other end of the spectrum, for larger venues and projects, Ashly Audio has a number of hugely powerful alternatives. Ashly Audio, also distributed by NAS and manufactured in the US, produces matrix processors designed to manage a host of inputs and outputs. Ashly’s Protea range includes products such as the ne24.24M, a powerful DSP platform with 24-bit conversion that’s controllable via software. Depending on your requirements you can configure the modular unit to have the perfect combination of inputs and outputs, up to 24 channels. Comprehensive DSP processing and routing options are available on both inputs and outputs so you can get your source audio where you want it and how you want it.
Not just for hospitality applications, zoned audio systems are also employed in retail spaces, corporate offices, hotels, community centres, houses of worship, schools and educational institutions to name a few.
Thanks to AV Asia Pacific for their original write-up, which can be viewed here.