How to build a multizone audio system controlled by iPad?
Small-size installations like restaurants or bars usually need a multizone system with individual remote control for each zone (typically for volume and/or source selection).
The objective of this application note is to provide users an easy and intuitive way to control audio settings, without any technical knowledges. The less buttons to learn, the better, because it usually causes users mistakes.
Example of installation: a restaurant with several audio zones
Let’s take the example of a restaurant with two or three zones with their own audio level: the bar, the dining room and the checkout area. Waiters and barmen usually let the amplifier visible with volume controls clearly indicated (to ensure they will only touch these controls).
In this kind of establishment, the staff is not likely to change audio parameters, because they are scared of ‘doing something wrong’, and being unable to go back to the previous configuration. The many buttons for volume controls, amplifiers or mixer consoles make users even less confident with audio systems.
Some solutions are already available in the market, with softwares or processsors with presets, which have been designed to solve this problem. Unfortunately, they are too expensive for these kinds of installations which cannot afford it.
Our solution for an efficient, easy-to-use multizone audio system
The solution has to be intuitive, customizable and affordable. Let’s see what we can do to achieve such a solution.
To control these amplifiers, we use the new LM 5. This device transmits DMX signals and allows controlling a DMX system with iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod) and PC, through OSC (Open Sound Control). Thanks to the internal memory of the LM 5, it is possible to store DMX scenes (in our case, audio presets). It is also possible to store audio levels for the predefined zones, and assign them a button on the interface.
About the interface, it is possible to use a PC or any iOS device to control the audio installation. As we want to customize the interface (and also because it is definitely more fun!) we have decided to use an iPad and download the TouchOSC application (we’ll see how to configure it later).
Here is the audio installation diagram:
To make installation more simple, it is a mono connection, with L channel connected to the two first zones and R channel to the two other zones (by the way, it is also possible to design a stereo installation for each zone with the SLA amplifiers).
The amplifiers are united in a same DMX network. Operating modes and starting channel are edited through Dip-switch controls. Each SLA amplifier has to be edited in a distinct channel in order to separate zones.
Now we only have to link the LM 5 with the iPad and edit the interface with TouchOSC. This will allow users to control each zone quickly and easily. To do it, we connect both devices to the same WiFi network (see configuration in the LM 5 manual, pages 17-18) and we load the layout designed for this installation. In our example we have loaded one of the many layouts available in the microsite of the LM 5.
The layout is already designed to work with 4 zones (zone 1 for DMX 1 channel, zone 4 for DMX 4 channel). As you can see in the figure, it is possible to control the volume of each zone, mute them, use a Master control for all the zones or choose between one of the 6 volume presets. Now everything is controlled from the iPad, taking advantage of an intuitive, easy to use interface.
Advantages of the solution:
- Intuitive, very easy to manage for users (waiters, barmen, etc.)
- Affordable solution, compared to the softwares and processors available in the market
- Audio customization for each zone
- Wireless control interface (iPad)
- Image of modernity
- Many layouts available + possibility to create your own layouts
- Need a WiFi network (almost any establishments already have it…)
What do you think about this solution? Don’t hesitate to send us your comments and share your experience.
How to build a multizone audio system controlled by iPad?,
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