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Utilizing Web Resources for Designing Distributed Sound Systems
Home < Pro Audio < B&H Email Newsletter < Utilizing Web Resources for Designing Distributed Sound Systems

Utilizing Web Resources for Designing Distributed Sound Systems

By Robert Morton

Conference rooms, classrooms, restaurants, office buildings, and other commercial facilities use "Distributed Sound Systems" as an efficient means to distribute sound. Configuring these systems can be a little confusing if you don’t have the right tools and information. Thankfully, there are many useful resources on the Web for helping you select the right components for a Distributed Audio System.

We went through the basics of Distributed Audio Systems in our May 2007 Pro Audio Update. These systems are easy to configure and offer an economical solution for many applications. They allow large numbers of speakers to be chained together in parallel, and there is no need to calculate impedance- just total power.

So…If you need to setup a music and/or paging system in your facility, don't be intimidated; simple configurations can be tackled without taking a graduate course in Audio engineering. Think of B&H Pro Audio as the "Home Depot" of Distributed Audio Systems, we want to help you do this yourself.

As a quick reminder- Distributed Sound Systems are made up of the following Basic Components:

1. Source Components- CD players, Tape decks, Tuners, MP3 players, etc.

2. Mixer & Amplifier- These provide input selection, signal control, and the power to drive speakers

3. Speakers– Two types of speakers are commonly used for fixed installations: Surface-Mount (external) & Ceiling-Mount (internal)

4. Speaker Wire - Most installations use 18-gauge, 20 conductor,stranded, jacketed wire. (There is no need for a shield)

5. Wall-Mounted Volume Controls (Optional)–Allows users to remotely control volume

Ok…now that we've taken a look at the hardware you will need, let's take a look at a Basic System Illustration, and some of the Software Tools and Resources that will help you find the best solution for your application.

Basic 70-volt Distributed Speaker System Illustration


TOA Resources

Speaker System Design Software

Very easy to use — design and layout systems in minutes!

Click here to download the program

JBL Resources

Ceiling System Design Software

This free utility program helps select the proper JBL ceiling speaker to use for various applications, based on desired music level (for music systems) or background noise level (for paging systems).

Click her to download the program

Distributed Speaker Systems 101

Helpful step-by-step guide for understanding Distributed
Audio Systems

Click here to view the pdf

Ceiling Speaker Calculator Sheet

Easy–to–use Calculator helps you quickly determine how many speakers your room needs

Click here to view the pdf

Bogen Resources

70V System Design Guide

How-to Guide walks you through all of basics including a helpful "Site Survey Check List"

Click here to view the pdf

Designing Better-Sounding In-Ceiling Business Music Systems

Comprehensive guide to designing and configuring a music system for office applications.

Click here to view the pdf

Atlas Resources

Distributed Sound System Basic FAQ's


70-Volt & Distributed Sound Systems-Rules of Thumb


Electro Voice Resources

EVID Series Integrated Ceiling Speaker Systems


The B&H Pro Audio Website

The "Contractor & Installation Sound" section of our Live Sound & PA store on www.bhproaudio.com has a comprehensive selection of products and accessories to help you get started.

If you have any questions about Distributed Audio, or maybe you are ready to configure and install your first system, feel free to contact us on the phone, online, or in person at our superstore in New York City.

Feel free to speak to one of our Pro Audio experts at 1-800-416-5090 or visit www.bhproaudio.com today!

Top Pro Audio categories:

Recording | Desktop Audio | Keyboards & Synths | ENG, EFP & Broadcast | Live Sound & PA Accessories

Please email feedback on this article, or suggestions for future topics, to emailfeedback@bhphotovideo.com