What is the Most Reliable Paging System?
By Bob Mesnik
How important is your paging system? Is it critical that it continues to work reliably? Well, if your answer is yes, then paging over IP is a good choice for you.
What does IP Paging do that the older analog paging systems can’t do? It provides increased reliability and redundancy.
What happens if your analog amplifier stops working? Well, your paging system is down and out. There’s no easy recovery except to replace the amplifier. With a network attached IP paging system, all the amplifiers are decentralized, and the paging console station can be redundant, providing a much more reliable system. Here’s why IP paging systems are more reliable.
IP Paging Versus Analog Amplifier Paging
Here’s a quick review of the difference between the two systems. While analog paging systems are centralized, IP paging systems are distributed.
Analog systems connect all the speakers to one large amplifier, while digital IP systems connect speakers to many small IP amplifiers.
Some analog amplifiers have a number of discrete outputs that define each zone. Once a speaker is attached to an amplifier output, it is part of that specific zone. The only way to change it is to physically move the connections to another amplifier output. Good luck finding the right speaker wires.
Digital IP paging systems use small IP amplifiers. In the Digital Acoustic IP system, all the amplifiers connect to the network, so they can be located anywhere you have a network infrastructure. All the audio is digitized and directed to the IP amplifiers. Since each amplifier has its own IP address, the sound can be directed to any or all the amplifiers. It’s very simple to create zones, and the zones can be dynamically changed from the command control software. For more about how IP paging works, take a look at our article How Network Attached Amplifiers and IP Intercoms Work
IP Paging Provides Increased Reliability
Increased reliability starts with the Talkmaster Focus software that runs on Windows computers. It provides notification of amplifier failures as well as running on multiple Windows computers for redundancy.
Amplifier failure notification: All the IP amplifiers keep in touch with the Talkmaster console communication software. Each IP amplifier periodically sends health messages to the central console. If one of the amplifiers sends a failure detected message or doesn’t send any message within a certain amount of time, the software notifies the user about the problem.
Command Console Redundancy: The Talkmaster console software can run on multiple Windows computers. This means that if the primary console is down (the computer is off), the amplifiers switch to a backup command console. You can actually install more than one backup depending on the reliability you need.
Since each amplifier is in touch with the central console software, if it detects no response from the designated computer, it automatically looks for the secondary back computer. This patented Fail Forward technology in Digital Acoustics’ IP Endpoints allows them to determine when the TalkMaster FOCUS Server is no longer available, whether due to a network outage or maintenance to the TalkMaster FOCUS Server. Once detected, the IP Endpoints can automatically “fail forward” to a redundant TalkMaster FOCUS Server.
IP Paging Operates Even When Power is Down
One nice thing about IP amplifiers is that they can be powered using Power over Ethernet (PoE). The power comes from network switches that support PoE to a device, or by using power injectors. By using uninterruptible power sources (UPS) to power your network switches, you can increase reliability. When your network uses UPS, you can make a page even if there is no AC power.
IP paging systems are more reliable than the older analog paging amplifiers. They provide notification when an amplifier is not working, and allow you to use multiple redundant consoles. They can even operate when there is no AC power available.
If you need help selecting your IP paging system or IP intercom system, just contact us. We can be reached at 1-800-431-1658 in the USA, or 914-944-3425 everywhere else, or use our contact form.