Intelligibility Becomes a Must for Notification Systems

At the Glasgow Central train station in Scotland, Tannoy QFlex speakers utilize beam steering technology to ensure direct sound.

Speech intelligibility has been pushed to the fore over recent years,not only as a result of the events of 9/11 and other subsequenttragedies, but also a more widespread understanding that excessivenoise levels and incoherent sound can be unhealthy. In short, improvedintelligibility and controlled noise levels can effectively save lives.

‘It’s nice to see this renaissance of increased expectation of sound quality,’ said Amanda Roe, global public relations manager and researchmanager at Biamp Systems, ‘because intelligibility falls right into that.It’s not just the advantage of being able to hear music like it was intendedto be heard, but it’s also the fact that, if you are on a teleconference call,or walk through an airport or a train station and a page is announced,you can hear what is being said, clearly and concisely.’

Delivering intelligible speech is now inextricably tied to emergencycommunication systems. In the U.S., with UL 2752, and in Europe, withEN 54, voice communication is an integral part of mass notificationsystem (MNS) standards.

It’s a pet peeve of mine when a building has PA speakers, distributed audio (background music) speakers, and fire alarm / mass notification speakers. It’s time to see all of these converge onto the same system. Sound intelligibility may be driving the way.



About Matthew Peterworth

I currently work as a Technology Specialist at Henderson Engineers in Kansas City – a Mechanical-Electrical-Plumbing (MEP) design firm. Prior to that I was a Project Manager for Information Technology Services (ITS), the central IT department at the University of Texas at Austin. As of July 2008 I am a Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) through BICSI. And as of June 2011 I am a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) in the great state of Texas. Please follow me on Twitter @mpeterworth.

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