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The Softer Side Of Pro Audio Meeting hospitality expectations with easy-to-use technology. By Jim Schwenzer Ashly Audio


ast year, in the October issue of Sound & Communications, we explored the need to “play zone” when looking at integrating professional audio (or, for that matter, full-AV solutions) in the hospitality space. To “play zone,” in short, is to recognize the multiple uses that exist within the hospitality market—both in terms of the vertical and within individual facilities. We’ll touch on the zone concept again, albeit briefly, because of how critical it is from a planning perspective. However, the 200-level course in hospitality integration looks more at what types of solutions are demanded by the end user, and it focuses on customer satisfaction and the guest experience. This article discusses the real-world demands and the ways in which integrators can help end users meet these requirements!

A Refresher On Zone Let’s swiftly recap my article, entitled “Playing Zone.” The hospitality vertical is quite broad: Hotels, restaurants, amusement parks, golf courses, movie theaters and stadiums each can fall into the categor y. Further, the lines have blurred greatly in each of those types of facilities. Hotels often have restaurants. Restaurants are often found inside amusement parks or stadiums. Golf courses and bars have merged into wildly popular recreation centers. There are pools, lobbies, hallways, dining rooms, main rooms, sports bars, live-music venues, retail spaces

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and conference rooms, all of which have divergent primar y uses. In short, one size no longer fits all. Thus, the concept of “playing zone” was born. Integrators—along with facility managers and business owners—must consider ever y hospitality space in terms of its specific areas and zones, each of which requires its own soundscape. Then, the integrator must find a way to integrate or, perhaps, separate those zones to create a cohesive audio experience. The solution to this is to find ways to delineate each zone, design specifically to the area and then integrate it back into a singular system. Finally, make it easy to install, troubleshoot and control. Typically, this requires some type of networked audio component (for example, the Dante audio network platform). This is an excellent start. However, what specific considerations are the supporting pillars to this approach? What insights should one arm oneself with as one prepares to work in such a complex, yet exciting, vertical?

More Than Integrated Solutions—Integrated Products Integrated solutions are, of course, the end game. The goal is a single system that’s tied together through an easy-to-use interface that works seamlessly between the multiple uses of a facility. But what if the project isn’t the next mega-resort attached to a magnet amusement park? What if we’re looking at a local pub that fills up both for Friday night’s upstart rock band and then again for Saturday afternoon college football? What if we’re looking at a local restaurant in which there are premium, private dining rooms that require their own sound? Should the small-to-medium-sized hospitality spaces be left out? Of course not! The answer to such applications lies in offering the same integrated experience that a major stadium, hotel, amusement park or resort would offer by means of an integration that fits that particular business perfectly. Enter the era of the integrated product. Single products now exist that offer multiple zones of mixing, along with DSP, power amplification, routing, auto-mixing, ducking, amplifier monitoring, event scheduling and triggering, and mic preamplification. They now also come in single-rack units, which means that installation is done quickly and that the atypical install space—common in hospitality—is no longer a concern. Small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) have long believed the path to true pro audio was out of reach, primarily because of space considerations and price. But the world has changed and the democratization of pro audio is upon us. This is a huge development not just for the local bar or the beloved family restaurant, but also for the integration community because it opens up new business for AV professionals. These types of solutions are simple and cost-effective for the end user, but they’re built on the powerful technologies that ser ve as the backbone for the larger integrations we’ve previously mentioned.

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This month, we focus on hospitality venues, with a dive into the system design at Denver’s Mission Ballroom and Oakland’s Brown Sugar Kitche...

Sound & Communications October 2019, Vol 65 No 10  

This month, we focus on hospitality venues, with a dive into the system design at Denver’s Mission Ballroom and Oakland’s Brown Sugar Kitche...