PA System Configurations

Comparison of PA Systems

Network Attached PA Systems

What is the best IP paging system? There are several configurations and implementations that can be used depending on your requirements. In general, the PA over IP system is much easier to install than the older central paging amplifier systems.

Instead of running wires from a central amplifier location, the IP paging systems use the network infrastructure that’s already in place. There is a choice of PoE powered speakers that attach to your network or small network-attached amplifiers that drive multiple speakers.

This article compares two types of implementation: the powered IP speakers, and the IP amplifiers with multiple attached speakers.

In our example, we used a floor plan that requires eight speakers. Your sound requirements are probably different, but this comparison will give you some idea of the trade-off between the two configurations. To determine the best PA system, take a look at our article, How to Design Your IP Paging System.

Powered IP Speakers for PA System

Powered IP Speakers for PA System
Powered IP Speakers for PA System

The powered speakers are the most convenient to install. Each IP speaker system is connected to a network that provides PoE.  Since they are modular, it is very easy to add additional speakers. It is so simple to install; you can do it yourself.

There are several speakers available such as wall type, ceiling tile type, and hallway type speakers. These 8-Watt speakers provide adequate sound levels for areas as large as 2500 sq. ft. The background noise in an area can affect the size of the area covered.

A computer running Talkmaster Focus software is used to control where you send the pages. You can also use a VoIP SIP telephone to make a page.  Using a microphone connected to the sound card of your Windows computer, you can talk to the selected zones.  You can choose one, some or all the zones using the software.  The voice message is broadcast on the network to the selected network-attached speakers.  Each speaker has an IP address just like any other computer on the network.

Benefits of the Powered IP Speakers

Since the system is connected using the standard network, you can have multiple remote sites tied together so that one location can be used to send pages to any or all other locations. The command control center can also be at multiple locations.  The sound level at each amplifier can be adjusted remotely. You can easily add additional speakers. You don’t require any speaker wire. Everything is network connected. The speakers use Power Over Ethernet (PoE), so only one network wire is needed for each IP powered speaker.

Cost of the Powered Speaker System

You can select from the following types of speakers. The pricing provides a comparison of systems and is based on list pricing. Your actual pricing will be lower.


IP enabled speaker system.  8” Wall Speaker. The 8-watt amplifier provides about 106 dB of sound.  Half Duplex.  White, 8 Watt, PoE Only.

List price is $379

Or the drop ceiling tile type:


IP-Enabled Ceiling Tile Lay-in Speaker, Full or Half Duplex, 8 watts, PoE, White

List price is $389


IP-Enabled 4″ Dual Wall Mount Bi-Directional Hallway Speaker. Typical Coverage 40‐100 feet. White, 8 Watt, PoE Only. Sensitivity: 92dB SPL at 1Watt/1Meter – Maximum SPL: 98dB SPL at 1Watt/1Meter – Dispersion: 130degrees – Frequency Response: 130Hz‐9kHz – Weight: 5.5lbs

List price is $499

Cost Summary of PA System with Powered IP Speakers

The following cost summary is just for comparison purposes and is based on list pricing.  The actual pricing will be less.  If you used four wall mount speakers, three ceiling tile speakers, and one hallway speaker, the total cost (including Talkmaster-Solo single console software) is:



Spkr-IP SYS1-HD $379


SPKR-IP 11-BD-P $499






 $ –
System Total   $ 3,182

The pricing provides a comparison of systems and is based on list pricing. Your actual pricing will be lower.

PA System with IP Amps and Speakers

PA System with IP Amps and Speakers
PA System with IP Amps and Speakers

This PA system configuration uses small network-attached amplifiers with attached standard 70-volt speakers.

A few speakers can be attached to one amplifier.  For example, the IP7-SS40 amplifier provides up to 40-watts and can support up to 16 speakers.  The IP7-SE8 is a PoE powered amplifier and provides up to 8-watts. Since you have less power available, only two or three speakers can be attached. The more speakers you have connected to an amplifier, the lower the sound level available. The audio sound level you require at each location will determine the best network-amplifier and the number of speakers you can connect. For more details look at the article, How to Design Your IP Paging System.

Benefits of the IP Amplifiers

This configuration provides similar benefits as the IP powered speaker system, except it is less incremental. Each amplifier can be selected by the paging software, rather than each speaker. Additional speaker wiring is required. All the amplifiers are connected to the network. The 8-watt amplifier is powered over Ethernet (PoE). The 40-watt IP amplifier requires a separate power supply.  Note that you can’t adjust the sound level at each speaker from the software. You can only adjust the power to all the attached speakers.

Cost of the IP Amplifier System

The pricing provides a comparison of systems and is based on list pricing. Your actual pricing will be lower. In this comparison, we have to consider the cost of the amplifier and then the cost of the speakers used in the PA system.

IP amplifier 40W @ 8 ohms, attaches to the network and provides output for a speaker.  This amplifier requires a power supply. Optional transformer required for 70V speaker systems.  3 lbs.
List price is $409

Add the following power supply:

Power Supply
24 VDC Switching Power Supply, Single Output, DIN Rail. Rated Power: 60 Watt. Input Voltage: 85 ~ 264 VAC Rated current 2.5 Amp. Used with IP7-SS40.
List price is $45

You will need to use the following transformer for 70v speakers:

40W 70V Constant Voltage Distribution Transformer (for IP7-SS40)
List price is $80

The following amplifier uses power over Ethernet and supports about 2 to 3 small speakers:

IP amplifier 8W @ 8 ohms with 2-way audio and 2-Ethernet ports, External I/O for relays and sensors. Attaches to the network and provides output for a speaker.  Uses Power over Ethernet (or 12VDC).
List price is $399

Optional transformer:

Line Transformer 70.7V 20W, Dual Voltage Audio Transformer for IP amplifier.  20Watt, Ship weight: 1.5lb.
List price is $17


We selected 70-volt speakers for our example. 70-volt speakers have built-in transformers, so the amplifiers require 70-volt transformers at their outputs. SA 70-volt-speaker system allows us to attach multiple speakers to a single amplifier.

Ceiling Spkr

One-piece, 1 ft x 2 ft lay-in tile speakers with 8″ cone.  Plenum compliant pre-assembled speaker package with tap setting switch built-in. 8″ twin cone, 5W with transformer and steel grill. 95W SPL dB at 1 W/1 M. 90 – 20KHz frequency response.

List price is $95

Alternatively, if you can’t install the speaker in the ceiling, you can place speakers on the wall.


Surface mount molded ABS speaker system. Pre-assembled steel mesh, mounts horizontally or vertically.  6W, 6″, dual cone 70.7/25Volt.  At 5W provides about 99 dB of sound output.

List price is $75

For the hallway you can use the following speaker:


Bi-directional extruded aluminum sound projector. Two 5 Twin-cone Speakers for Excellent Dispersion. 30 Watts, 170-19,000 Hz ±6 dB, 95 dB at 1 W / 1 M, DISPERSION @ 2 kHz (6 dB DOWN): 110 x 110 bi-directional. 5.29 lbs.

List price is $185

Cost summary of PA System with IP Amps

As an example, we used the configuration in the diagram above. This provides the same sound coverage as the powered IP Speakers configuration. It includes four wall speakers, three ceiling tile speakers, and one hallway speaker.



IP7-SS40 $4091 $409
Power Supply $461 $46
Transformer-60W $801 $80
Ceiling-Spkr $953 $285
Wall-Speaker $751 $ 75
Hallway-Spkr $1851 $185
Total   $1,080
IP7-SE8 $3991 $399
Transformer-20W $191 $19
Wall-Speaker $753 $225
Total   $643
System Total    $1,723

The pricing provides a comparison of systems and is based on list pricing. Your actual pricing will be lower.

Optional Paging Management Software

The following software is available for both configurations. This optional management software provides additional capability. The pricing is under $500 for most licenses. For example:


Adds an additional console that allows paging from another computer. Enterprise-Operator for TalkMaster. Provides an additional operator license after first free license. Per Console License. Allows sophisticated users and applications, TalkMaster Enterprise provides flexibility and expandability in addressing the special needs of complex, multi-station, multi-operator and multi-site installations.

To be able to add video to the system, you will need to add the following software.  You can add a camera if you don’t have one that is supported.


Adds video from the selected camera.  An intercom system can view people at the door as well as talking and releasing the door lock. Additional hardware may be required to control the electric lock depending on the application.

The following software module provides two powerful capabilities. It can be used for “if-then” logic that allows you to create automated announcements. Or, you can monitor outside emergency feeds from RSS and CAP/Atom sources. Here are more details:


Adds automation such as:  if / then decisions, Play audio messages, activate lights/sirens, lock-down perimeter, Email alerts for system interruption, Text-to-Speech engine supporting RSS/CAP: Atom Feeds

Summary of PA System Configurations

We compared two system configurations for IP paging systems. The first uses powered network-attached speakers, and the second uses separate amplifiers and speakers. You can also have a mix of the two configurations with some speakers attached to one amplifier and some as independent IP powered speakers.

The IP powered speaker solution cost more for the hardware but can save money in the installation. It is also the most flexible system. You can add one speaker at a time without adding any other equipment. The sound level of the IP powered speakers can be adjusted from the application software.  The separate amplifiers and speakers cost less but are not as flexible. It also has a higher installation cost of the speaker wires. The best system for you depends on your total cost of labor and the flexibility you would like.

If you need help selecting the right PA system, please contact us at 1-800-431-1658 in the USA, or at 914-944-3425 everywhere else, or use our contact form.