Taking out elaborate, costly features, the PowerZone series offers what few amplifiers do in a product that can be easily managed by the end user. San Williams unearths what makes this series a highly effective audio solution.
Audio can be the lifeline for a hospitality venue and can make all the difference between entertaining guests, setting the mood or boosting the accessibility of an event. So, when it’s Saturday night, the bar is at full capacity and a technical issue cuts out the audio, it must be fixed, promptly.
But let’s face it, most commercial audio solutions can be complicated and normally require an integrator to troubleshoot if a problem should arise. This can take away from other jobs that need finishing.
A gym instructor may be in the middle of their class and lose their headpiece microphone connection. They need to re-establish the audio signal promptly if the class is to continue but this isn’t going to happen if that instructor needs to understand an intricate, highly technical audio solution.
Taking the complexity out of audio, Blaze Audio’s PowerZone Connect series, distributed by Jands, is a specialised range of amplifiers that deliver reliable, easy-to-manage audio for commercial settings including corporate environments, educational institutions, entertainment venues, retail spaces and healthcare facilities.
“What we’ve seen a lot of in bar or hospitality venues, is that they’re going to need that big front-end Digital Signal Processor (DSP), which is going to cost the end user seven to ten grand, plus programming. And programming can take 16 hours or more depending on how complicated it is,” Jands senior technical systems engineer Thomas Kelly says.
“We saw a niche area for a product that has an integrated DSP that’s simple enough to do a small application without having to put in a large DSP front end. Not everybody needs all the features, especially with all the costs that come with them.”
The PowerZone Connect series saves time and money by reducing the number of things that integrators need to bolt together to make a working solution for end users, such as video-over-IP, video-over-Ethernet or network receivers in each monitor.
“In a gym setting, each space usually shares sources so there is a need to switch between them, so why not have a simple and intuitive controller on the wall that allows users to select what they need? For example, a spin class instructor, who has no idea about audio really needs to be able to turn up the volume and have it work,” he says.
The Audinate Dante technology-equipped amplifiers allow the unit to be easily integrated with other Dante-enabled devices for quick and easy application, allowing the integrator to spend less time managing the system and more, higher priority jobs.
There’s no specific application needed to set up the solution. All integrators need to do is open the GUI in their web browser (this can be done on a smartphone, tablet or laptop) and connect it wirelessly to the unit. Integrators don’t even need an existing network as the amplifiers have their built-in WiFi, made specifically for the setup.
The PowerZone series varies in power and channel capacity ranging from the 125W, two-channel PowerZone Connect 122D to the 3,000W, four-channel PowerZone Connect 3004D. Key features include transmission-over-Ethernet networks, improved network management and sleep/wake functionality highlighting the amplifier’s focus on operational efficiency.
Thomas says the PowerZone series would be especially practical for facilities such as schools that may have outdated infrastructure: “A common issue now is that schools being built or needing to be retrofitted have limited cable infrastructure and I don’t want to channel cabling between buildings.”
Having an amplifier that is capable of receiving audio over the network using Dante makes the PowerZone a perfect solution in this case, according to Thomas. The amplifier would provide or allow additional functionality for the school, enabling a variety of capabilities over just an overhead paging or bell system thanks to the Dante solution and the extra inputs that can be used for local inputs. All these signal priorities can be set so the bells can override whatever is currently playing over the speakers, for example.
PowerZone series brings the latest firmware update, enhancing functionality with the latest DSP features and improved network stability.
The series also boasts the integration of the Dante Ultimo chip. This not only extends Dante networking to endpoint products like speakers and amplifiers but also supplies as far as 4×4 channels at 44.1 and 48kHz (or 2×2 channels at 88.2 and 96kHz), providing for unique sound performance demanded in commercial settings.
With the PowerZone series, Blaze Audio has created an interface that gives maximum control to the end user and an effortless system for an integrator to use, set up or configure. The series represents a culmination of what a commercial hospitality space expects in a high-quality, immersive audio solution.