Sound bars boost audio clarity in some commercial settings
Though usually considered a consumer technology, sound bars are also effective in many commercial settings. That’s because a sound bar enhances audio quality, compared to a display’s onboard speakers, improving the flow and impact of meetings. According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, audio quality is more important than video quality in how a meeting is perceived. That study found that people were more likely to consider a meeting productive if audio quality was high, even when video quality was marginal. A sound bar helps ensure this degree of audio quality, especially in smaller meeting spaces.
The advantages of a sound bar
Sound bars offer improved audio in a package that is easy to install and control, so they function reliably. Other sound bar advantages include:
1. Better speakers – the speakers built into a sound bar are larger than the speakers found in a display. Sound bars are also designed with additional space for the speakers, allowing for more engineering freedom. The result is a higher quality output device that can produce full range audio in a compact package.
2. Forward facing speakers – Because space is at a premium inside a display, built-in speakers are usually positioned on the display’s underside or rear. Sound emitted from these speakers is aimed away from the listener. By the time it reaches the listener, the sound has bounced off of other surfaces, cutting into its quality and adding reverberation.
Sound bars are built with forward facing speakers, so the sound is directed right at the audience. This improves effective volume and keeps people focused on the presenter.
3. Less sound transference – Powerful audio drives meetings, but it can also be a distraction if it leaks into other rooms. Sound bars, by nature of their design, do not transfer as much sound to other spaces. This is due to their forward facing speakers. Because sound is directed toward the audience and not toward any walls or floors, it is easier to contain. Contrast this with a display’s built-in speakers, which may be aimed at the wall behind the display.
Commercial sound bars are often designed so that they output less bass, which tends to be the issue when sound transferring is present.
4. Advanced volume controls – More on sound transference because it’s a common problem in commercial settings. Commercial-grade sound bars are built with advanced volume controls, allowing for precise control over output levels. For example, the sound bar may have a switch that puts a cap on its maximum volume. If needed, this switch can be protected with a cover plate that prevents tampering, so volume levels never exceed a defined maximum.
Another advanced feature of some sound bars is their ability to receive IR signals from a variety of remotes. These sound bars allow for volume control at the display or at the bar itself, and they can “learn” a remote’s IR signals, even if the remote is not universal. This allows for volume control from a variety of devices.
5. Several mounting options – Sound bars are designed to be easy to use, and it starts with mounting. Most sound bars can be mounted to a wall or on top of a surface, and there’s reasons to consider both. A wall mount looks streamlined and ensures the sound bar remains perfectly positioned. With a surface mount, though, the sound bar can be moved around as needed and accessed with greater ease.
6. Durable construction – Consumer sound bars may be made with cloth and lighter plastics, which limits their longevity. Commercial sound bars are built with improved materials, so they are more durable, easier to clean and easier to maintain.
Where a sound bar works best
Sound bars are best suited for smaller spaces, where they are a clear upgrade over onboard speakers. Some relevant applications include:
- Huddle rooms – Huddle rooms are quickly gaining in popularity, as they allow small teams to meet and communicate quickly. A huddle room is centered around a display, and the space is small enough that powerful speakers are not necessary. A sound bar may be the perfect solution for these rooms.
- Classrooms – Sound transference is a primary concern with classroom audio systems, and sound bars can help keep it in check. Additional volume controls are also important for classrooms to prevent tampering with the system.
- Hotel and staterooms – Hotels and cruise ships are filled with people living in close quarters. Excessive noise is a frequent concern in these settings, which makes sound bars and their low sound transference a valuable solution.
Sound bars are already a major success among consumers, where they are frequently featured in home theatre systems. Now, they are proving their worth in the corporate and educational sectors, too, where they offer excellent audio quality and controllability.