Home Sound Systems:

  • Set up to take a limited number of speakers – In order to run more speakers off the system, you either need to add additional amplifiers, or use an impedance matching device to fool the receiver that it is still seeing an 8-ohm load
    • If you add more amplifiers to the system, it starts to get expensive very quickly
    • If you use an impedance matching device, the system will still not be able to distribute the power evenly – The speaker closest to the receiver will get most of the power, while the speaker the farthest away will get very little

  • Usually designed to be used for a shorter period of time and then turned off
  • Most home equipment comes with only a one-year warranty – They are not really meant to last much longer than this

Commercial Sound Systems:

  • Typically have 70-volt transformers built in to accommodate the use of 70-volt enabled speakers – this simply allows for hooking up many speakers on one simple speaker line
  • Made to run multiple speakers off of one amplifier and with transformers that are able to distribute the power evenly throughout the entire system – This allows the speaker closest to the amp to receive the same amount of power as the one that is the farthest away
  • Made for the worst-case environments – They are designed to run 24 hours a day if used properly, and built with heavy-duty electronics to withstand the rigors of high performance and endurance
  • Warranty on most commercial equipment is 5 years because they are built to last – They have even been known to last much longer than this

Why is it better to use a commercial amplifier at a commercial/business location?

A commercial location has different needs than a home system. Your commercial application may have background music but also need paging microphones. These microphones need to be hooked up to your phone system to provide paging or simply to play background music while a phone is on hold. All of these things cannot be done with a home system.

Also, because of the heavy-duty components and electronics manufactured into commercial amplifiers they can maintain long hours of operation…many commercial sound systems need to stay on and run properly 24 hours a day. In addition, using a 70-volt line will allow for many speakers to be powered simultaneously off of only one amplifier, making for a rather simple installation and more cost-effective solution.

Using a home audio amplifier would necessitate the use of impedance matching speaker distributors and/or additional amplifiers to drive multiple speaker applications…making for a higher initial cost as well as higher electricity demands and long-term operating costs.

What complications may arise if you were to use a home amplifier in a commercial setting, instead of a commercial amplifier?

Some of the most common calls we get are from folks who have used a home audio amplifier for their business, but have experienced either the system “coming on for a short while then shuts off intermittently throughout the day” or the panic call “my power amp has died and won’t come back on.”

Usually in an attempt to attach more speakers for extended coverage in their business they have exceeded the amplifier’s rated output “load” and therefore it gets “hot” causing the power amp to go into thermal shut-down mode in order to cool down. Sometimes the amp may work just fine for a few months, or perhaps even a year or so, but then finally gives out as it is simply not designed to run all day every day in this type of environment.

In summary: Use the right amplifier for the right job. You wouldn’t go deep sea fishing with a simple fly rod, would you? Of course not. (Well, unless you enjoy picking splinters out of your hands!) You would want to use heavy rods and reels designed to take the punishment and abuse of landing a big fish.

It may cost a few bucks more to invest in a commercial amplifier initially, but it should be an investment to last for many years in your business, without the anxiety or risk of intermittent operation, or failure from using a home amplifier.