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Next Generation IP-Based Intercom Systems: Guidelines & Requirements


Intercom IP is used in fixed and mobile broadcasting as well as entertainment and houses of worship. The system has a central audio router, called a “matrix”, and connected devices such as keypanel control interfaces. We’ll be focusing on the matrix, and how it translates into product requirements.

Connecting a wired matrix

Many keypanels can be connected to matrix intercom systems with analogue connections. Each keypanel requires its own connector. As a result, the number of breakout panels and physical connectors required grows in line with the system’s growth. It is difficult to connect traffic from multiple analog keypanels to a single cable with no additional equipment. Each keypanel requires a homerun cable to connect back to the matrix. This means that installation and cabling costs can quickly add up.

This has all changed with digital audio over IP. To decentralize traffic, switches are used. Each keypanel does not need a separate hardware connector. Two standards dominate digital audio over IP. Audinate’s DanteTM standard is today the most popular, and it is supported by hundreds upon hundreds of hardware manufacturers. AES67, which was recently introduced, allows interoperability among multiple protocols including Dante.

Requirement 1: The matrix must support digital audio over IP in an ubiquitous format.

Distance Bridging

IP audio connects remote-broadcast-reporters to the intercom system. To compensate for the higher network latency for remote connections, digital audio over IP must either be compressed or delivered. Many companies offer technology that can compress audio between Mbit/s and kbit/s. RTS provides a Dante compatible solution to high-quality audio via IP, with only 20 ms network latency. This technology allows field reporters to connect with CD-quality audio.

Digital audio must be able to travel great distances with the system.

It would be great if the 2nd requirement could be fulfilled with perfect audio quality.


Although audio over IP offers many advantages over analogue, there are still many legacy analogue keypanels. Two-thirds to three quarters of intercom system investments are made by keypanels. Users need to find out if analogue keypanels will work with a new matrix.

My analogue keypanels must be supported by the new matrix.

Two-wire technology is used in many marketplaces. If the matrix does not have two-wire ports, a converter box is required to connect a twowire system to it.

It should be possible to connect two wires without the need for adapters.

Digitalization will see the end of analog-only keypanels. Although Matrices require fewer connectors to analogue keypanels than they do for matrices, they still need them. ]=

The matrix must have analogue connectors in order to avoid the need for a breakout panel.

Maintenance and configuration

The Matrix hardware installation process is only the beginning. It must be configured after installation and cabling. The configuration is performed on a separate computer connected to the matrix over IP. It runs vendor-specific software. Windows is the most popular operating system in the United States. Configuration, setup, and maintenance can all be combined into one application or secure website.

system expansion

Intercom matrix products are often able to expand the system. Modular intercoms come with a frame and cardslots. As needed, additional ports can be added. Modular frames can be made up of two or more racks. Modularity is not possible. An expanded single-rack-unit matrix is possible. First, additional ports can be added without the need for hardware. The capacity of multiple units can be increased by interconnecting them.


Redundancy boosts reliability. Redundancy can increase reliability by making redundant power converters, main processors, switching fabric, expansion card, and connectors, as well as frames.

Analogue devices such as keypanels cannot be automatically switched. A technician will need to switch frames if a connector breaks.

Investment protection

The longevity of matrixes is important. You can add new cards to a modular matrix. A new firmware can be “teach,” or “teach”, a modular matrix in a single rack unit. All NICs must be gigabit speed to support IP networks.

Dynamic Trunk Allocation

Matrix must permit distributed networks with more ports that a single matrix. Hardware and inter-matrix communications are vendor-specific. Trunks refer to matrices’ transmission capacities. To determine the best path between two matrices and allow calls to pass through, special nodes might be required. That’s trunking.

If the former is being used to connect multiple sites, the new matrix should be able to connect to it.


There are many benefits to using an IP-based intercom system. Your intercom system specifications should include the minimum requirements outlined here, as well as any additional information required by your production.

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