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How a Distributed Loudspeaker System Can Transform Commercial Spaces

It’s easy to take for granted technologies that make everyday communication possible and positively impact our lives, so integrated have they become in our public and private spaces. Think of the mood-setting music in a retail shop that gets your head bobbing, the morning announcements in school corridors that pump you up for the big game, and the sacred music ushering you into a church service.

All of these examples require a distributed loudspeaker system for the intended audience to hear properly. Distributed loudspeaker systems work by connecting multiple loudspeakers to a simple high-powered amplifier and positioning them throughout the desired amplification area. Hardware and switches on the loudspeakers mounted on walls or ceilings allow the source sound to be adjusted to levels appropriate to the moment and situation.

While relatively easy to set up and manage, understanding distributed loudspeaker systems requires an education in the basics of how they operate, what their capabilities are, how sound behaves in different spaces, and which type of system fits each situation. Here’s where to begin.

Powering Up

With a large array of loudspeakers, it’s natural to assume there must also be a massive bundle of cables and a huge stack of powered amplifiers to power them. In fact, one cable and one amplifier — the same size as your home theatre AV receiver — can do the job, saving significant time and money during configuration and installation.

The secret is the constant-voltage system, which works very differently than conventional sound systems found in theaters, where each loudspeaker is wired to its own amplifier channel. Instead, this kind of system connects loudspeakers like strands of holiday lights, and each one has a step-down transformer that converts the 70-volt or 100-volt output — depending on the host location’s electrical network — to match the impedance and wattage of the next. This output capability allows one speaker cable to loop a network of loudspeakers together and minimizes power loss over the cables.

Constant voltage is achieved when a power supply sets a uniform voltage across its entire load range. This lets it maintain a constant, uniform, and predictable level regardless of variations in current or load resistance. An ideal source using constant voltage should have little to no internal resistance, no current flows when the circuit is not loaded, and constant voltage regardless of any fluctuation in current.

Calculating Needs

Achieving the benefits of a loudspeaker system requires a bit of math: Multiply the number of loudspeakers with the wattage of each to find the total output required by the amplifier. For instance, if 100 loudspeakers are each 5 watts, your total will be 500 watts. You’ll then need an amplifier that can reach that. In fact, you’ll probably want to go beyond as merely matching the watts leaves no headroom to add more loudspeakers later. Instead, add 25% to the total. In this example, that means a minimum output of 625 watts is the ideal.

The calculation also depends on how high you set the wattage on the loudspeaker. Every 70- or 100-volt loudspeaker will have a tap switch with a wattage identified, such as 2.5W, 5W, 10W, and so on. This allows you to set the sound level of each loudspeaker to suit your needs and equipment. Just remember that each time you double the wattage, the loudness to listeners increases by three decibels.

Choosing the Right Equipment

Whatever your use case, Bose Professional can provide the equipment to support it.


  • PowerMatch: The Bose Professional PowerMatch line of amplifiers provides concert-quality sound with a high level of scalability and configurability. The three models come with multiple channel and power options, including an integrated audio DSP and a front panel interface. An expansion slot supports input from optional digital audio accessory cards.
  • PowerShare: The Bose Professional PowerShare amplifiers support portable and fixed-install applications, sharing total amplifier power across all output channels and shifting it to where needed. Onboard loudspeaker processing options and zone controllers eliminate the need for an additional signal processor in many installations.
  • PowerSpace: Ideal for zone-expansion applications, the Bose Professional PowerSpace amplifiers enhance any premium commercial sound installation with clean, reliable power and digital connectivity. A Bose Professional AmpLink input allows for multiple channels of uncompressed, low-latency digital audio via a single Cat 5 cable. Five available models offer 1000, 600, 300, or 150 watts per channel.
  • FreeSpace: For music and paging applications, the Bose Professional FreeSpace integrated zone amplifiers elevate and optimize commercial applications. FreeSpace amplifiers feature dynamic EQ to enrich audio quality and opti-voice paging for clear speech intelligibility.


  • DesignMax: A complete loudspeaker assortment to enhance any space, the Bose Professional DesignMax loudspeakers combine performance and aesthetics for any commercial sound installation. Fifteen models offer flexibility, too, including coaxial two-way loudspeakers and subwoofers. In-ceiling, surface-mount, and pendant models, plus IP55-rated loudspeakers for outdoors, add to the options. QuickHold mounting mechanisms make installation easy, and black and white versions enable seamless integration with the décor and design of the space.
  • EdgeMax: Bose Professional EdgeMax in-ceiling loudspeakers utilize Bose Professional PhaseGuide technology with high-frequency compression drivers to fill rooms in coverage patterns typical of larger surface-mount speakers.
  • ArenaMatch: Stadiums, arenas, and outdoor entertainment centers benefit from Bose Professional ArenaMatch loudspeakers, which bring proven DeltaQ sound quality and flexibility to outdoor installations. The IP55 weather rating protects it from the elements, adding a significant dose of durability.
  • ArenaMatch Utility: Built for zone-fill coverage or high-SPL foreground music, Bose Professional ArenaMatch Utility loudspeakers boasts a similar tonal balance to ArenaMatch array modules but in more compact designs. It also matches the protection level with an IP55 weather rating.

Transforming the Space

Perhaps nothing can transform a space more dynamically than a high-quality distributed sound system. Knowing one size does not fit all, Bose Professional offers a distributed loudspeaker system to fit just about any space imaginable, both sonically and aesthetically. In each space and with this equipment, all voices are enhanced, goals are met — and success is assured.

Group of people sitting in commercial space.

Distributed loudspeaker systems offer attractive audio options for large retail and gathering sites like schools and churches.