Axis Introduces... An IP Horn?

By Brian Rhodes, Published Mar 27, 2015, 12:00am EDT

Axis invented the IP camera. 

[UPDATE 2017: IPVM Test Results on Axis IP Horn]

Now they claim to have the "first open standard, network loudspeaker for remote speaking".

You may not be that excited but Axis trumpets this as "really an IoT (Internet of Things) device."

In this note, we look at how it works, how it integrates with VMS systems and how it compares to existing analog and network-based horns.

Product Details

The idea of the horn is simple: a single network-connected device that drives sound and can be integrated with video management platforms. Not only can the bad guys be seen by your cameras, but with the C3003-E, you can tell them directly 'they are seen' and sound alarm claxons, sirens, or just stern warnings.

The promo video below gives a product overview:

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Major Claims

The C3003-E basic features include:

  • All-in-One Device: Axis' horn is a complete unit including the amplifier, sound driver, webserver, and loudspeaker in a single integrated unit.
  • PoE Powered Only: The C3003-E is powered by Class 3 802.3af PoE, with a max of 12.95W. The 'single cable' connection allows for simplified wiring during install, and mitigates the need for exterior power supplies.
  • IP66 Rated: The horn claims to be environmentally sealed to IP66, meaning it can be used outdoors in wet and dusty environments or indoors alike.
  • Loudspeaker: The horn claims sound output of more than 120 dBs. In contrast with integrated camera speakers outputting ~30dB of sound, or even intercom speakers producing ~105dBs [link no longer available], the C3003-E outputs sound at a higher intensity well above typical outdoor ambient noise levels.
  • Integrated Mic: Audio is two-way with the unit's internal microphone, allowing operators to 'hear' as well as speak.
  • Webserver Based: The horn is assigned an IP address and the main interface is reachable by browser, using the same basic design used for cameras, I/O module [link no longer available], or the access controller.

Compared to Cameras With Built In Audio

Many cameras, including ~60 from Axis, support full-duplex audio built-in. The main advantage of the C3003-E is sound power. Unless external, separately powered devices are added to amplify an attached speaker, the sound power will be a fraction of what the C3003-E drives. Being heard over hundreds of feet or over the background din of a busy area requires amplified sound like the IP horn offers.

Cost

MSRP is $499, which means street pricing will be ~$425. This price places it at the top high-end of loudspeakers, where $85 or less analog units are easily found.

Offsetting the higher price is the unit's ability to be directly powered and networked. In contrast, using an analog horn requires an additional network interface and power supply that can cost hundreds alone. (Axis' own P8221, with a street price of ~$350 is one example).

Integration Details

The C3003-E claims 'integration with just about anything', but there are 2 practical ways for this.

Most will integrate with the horn via Axis VAPIX API, which is the interface most VMSes already support for integrating Axis camera's video and audio. The C3003-E will be the equivalent of an audio-only 'non-camera'.

The device also supports SIP, however given the rather limited availability of SIP compatible VMS platforms, this will be less common. The platforms include Genetec, Milestone, and Aimetis, but additional modules or plug-ins- may need to be purchased. (For example, see our Genetec Adds IP Telephony (Sipelia) note.)

While the SIP feature of 'assigning the horn a phone number and calling it for direct access' is possible, such smooth integration is not likely the case unless a site already is using a SIP based VoIP system and integrated VMS.

Drawbacks

Other potential downsides include:

IP Integration Only: In order to integrate analog systems or components, additional network interfaces are required as the tie-in point. The C3003-E includes no I/O or contact ports.

No Direct Camera Integration: The horn does not support direct integration to cameras, either. While the horn can be used in conjunction with video, all integrations must be done within the VMS. Even 'routine' triggers like motion detection or manual talk-down must be done through a seperate platform.

Comparisons

IP connected loudspeakers are not new. Similar networked loudspeakers are available from non-security vendors like:

  • Valcom [link no longer available]: The company's "FlexHorn' line also features an IP66, PoE powered loudspeaker, for a modestly less expensive price starting at $375. However, with no widespread direct driver support available in VMSes, integration may be difficult. Users will most likely use this option separate from an integrated VMS solution.
  • Atlas [link no longer available]: The IHVP line also is network based. However, integration with other platforms is limited to SIP availability. In lieu of VMS integration, the company offers proprietary ControlKom or InformaCast [link no longer available] software to send live audio.

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