When BlackHawk Golf Club approached us to do an AV upgrade to their Club house as part of their 10 year anniversary renovation it was clear that a conventional wired solution was not going to work and some out of the box thinking would be required.
You usually don’t hear the word Sonos and commercial audio system in the same sentence. Sonos is a popular streaming music system normally used for residential whole house applications but with a little outside the box thinking integrator Doyle Serink of Ion Security has successfully installed Sonos Music Systems in various commercial establishments from restaurants, offices, warehouses and now a golf course.
What I like most about Sonos says Doyle, is the simple, straightforward interface for our customers. Often commercial AV systems can be complicated and difficult to use but with Sonos the customer just gets it and almost immediately knows how to operate the system with very little training. Sonos systems are also extremely flexible allowing us to install music in places where a wired system would be impossible or very costly to install.
Two different integration companies had previously installed the audio and video components at Blackhawk over the years. The AV company that did the initial install provided a basic 70V audio system with paging and years later during an expansion reno a second AV company added some HDTVs to the lounge and mens locker room. The existing system was a complete nightmare with many zones in the audio system not working properly and nobody on the staff really understanding how to work the system.
The main goals of the AV renovation was to get all zones of music working again and improve the outdoor microphone paging. The audio system in the banquet room also needed to be improved but that would be a separate project.
The audio system for the Club House would be getting a complete facelift and five new Flat Screen HDTVs would also be added to the lounge.
The TV and video side of the project was pretty straight forward however the audio system quickly became a challenge. The main wiring for the AV system was centralized in the lounge however the Clubhouse was renovated and expanded a couple of times and there was no way to run wiring between some of the new and original portions of the building. The ceilings were drywall, vaulted in some areas and the roof lines between different sections of the building didn’t line up. Going underground wasn’t an option either because the basement was a parking garage for the golf carts and only extended underneath a portion of the building and not the entire structure. There was no way we were going to get wiring to some parts of the building.
In addition to the wiring challenges Doyle discovered that the existing audio system consisted of a mixture of 70 volt and 8 ohm speakers in various zones. Normally large commercial sound systems are all 70 volt however at BlackHawk it appears the two previous AV companies really mixed things up.
Doyle and the Ion team went to work redesigning the AV system from the ground up. In preparation for the new back bar millwork the existing AV equipment was removed and the current system was stripped down to the bare wiring.
With the bare wiring exposed Doyle set out to design a new AV system which would take advantage of the existing Hardwired zones and then creatively use SONOS components to bring music wirelessly to the zones which couldn’t be hard wired.
12 Independent zones of audio were needed including the restaurant, lounge, banquet room, locker rooms, hallway, washroom, pro shop, patio deck, kitchen, outside tee box and driving range. The restaurant speakers were 8 ohms allowing a Sonos Amp to be connected directly to them without modification however the remaining speaker zones were all 70 volt speakers. Sonos components are normally not designed for commercial 70 volt installations so Doyle used 70 Volt output transformers to convert the Sonos Amps from 8 ohm to 70 Volt output and added Sonos Connects to the 70 Volt amplifiers in the hard wired zones.
Audio sources included two microphones, 1 from the proshop and 1 in the banquet room, two satellite audio feeds, a laptop and ipod feed for a total of six audio sources. While some sources could be hardwired to the AV system others were located in different rooms or areas of the clubhouse and needed to be connected and streamed wirelessly. Sonos Connect units were used to enable some source components to be connected wirelessly back to the main AV system and other zones.
With the AV system fully installed the next step was to show the staff how to operate new system. The old system was complicated and difficult to operate requiring staff to flip several source switches and adjust numerous volume controls for each zone of music. The old system also limited all zones to only two sources of music.
The new Sonos hybrid system was controlled entirely by two dedicated Sonos handheld controllers. The new system allowed users to select music or audio sources for each zone directly on the handheld controller and assign or group zones together to play the same music on all zones if desired. The staff and ownership was delighted with the ease of use and touch screen control of the Sonos system …. no more flipping switches.
This was the first time we used a Sonos Amp for paging purposes with a microphone says Ion Integrator Doyle Serink. I wasn’t sure if the Sonos amplifier had enough headroom to handle the dynamic range of a live microphone but surprisingly it did. It was a little tricky to balance the Sonos Amp and microphone gain but once it was set the sound quality was excellent and there was no audible amplifier clipping.
While Sonos is primarily used in home audio applications there are many commercial projects where Sonos can be an ideal fit, Sonos wireless architecture allows you to affordably install sound in rooms which otherwise may be cost prohibitive and with a little creative out of the box thinking Sonos can be a creative solution to many audio obstacles.
If you would like to know more about Sonos audio systems for your home or business or have a Sonos system which is not working properly and require assistance give Doyle at Ion Security a call 780-489-5522