Cheap and cheerful old school digital system with no integration capability vs. 4 IP-based intercoms with integration to many systems.
Are the results surprising?
Intercoms are certainly increasing in popularity, driven by the integration of video and IP networking. But who is the favorite? On the one side, you have incumbents like Aiphone, Commend and Stentofon / Zenitel. On the other, you have large IP camera companies like Axis (plus their 2N subsidiary) and Dahua and Hikvision looking to take ground.
148 integrators told us who their favorite intercom manufacturer was and why. We detail the top 5 finishers and share dozens of integrator comments on why they chose what they did.
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Cheap and cheerful old school digital system with no integration capability vs. 4 IP-based intercoms with integration to many systems.
Are the results surprising?
Aiphone does have an IP based system and Series 2 is coming out later this year and will have SIP, self monitoring, multiple rollovers and many more features. Also Aiphone does integrate with other systems as well.
Are they going to update the cameras so they are on par with Axis/Avigilon and others? Setting up a SIP server to handle video calls is easy and doesn't use proprietary cabling or boxes. For simple PTP calls, you don't even need a SIP PBX.
More proof that people TALK way more about sophisticated integrations then they actually DO sophisticated integrations? Don't get me wrong, for a simple front door that rings to a guard or reception desk Aiphone was always my go-to, but if you have a large enterprise system and need coordinated audio that can transfer to possibly multiple locations depending on multiple scenarios, Aiphone isn't going to cut it.
I agree with that statement. If you have a large enterprise customer with sites all over the US or even the world then systems such as Commend and Stentofon are much better solutions. With these two systems you have a centralized database to run such a massive deployment otherwise administration would be a nightmare. Of course "Integration" means something different to everyone.
"Axis has a great door station with the A8108, but completely missed the boat on an inside desk station by not offering one. So you are left to roll your own answering system."
Through 2N Axis resells the Grandstream GXV3370 and they work great as an answering station as you can add a DTMF soft button overlay on the video image to unlock the door. The Axis part # is: 01695-001.
What I think is even better than a desk station for the Axis intercoms is just using a simple tablet. We have several customers using the Axis door stations and they simply put a tablet on the desk with a stand and answer using that. The call basically comes in like a facetime call. Works really well. Or you can simply have it ring to your cell phone when you are at work then it doesn't matter where you are in the building.
The issues we have seen with tablets, at least on Apple, is when they go on standby or somebody accidently closes the applications the front desk people have no idea how to get it back.
What application is the tablet using to receive calls?
The Grandstream runs on Android 7.0 and has full access to the Google Play store so you can use it to run security apps, SIP apps or anything else for that matter. It is basically a 7" tablet with a phone stuck to it.
Has Grandsteam updated the processors in the 7inch phones? Last time I used them they were sluggish and 3rd party apps crashed a lot. Also, the ram/memory was very limited.
Shannon (not surprisingly) knocks it out of the park.
For a one-to-one IP intercom option, there is no better than the Axis doorstation + iPad that I have found. As mentioned by UD#3, placing the iPad in Kiosk mode to where it doesn't go to sleep and connecting it to a charger at the desk is a fantastic solution. A receptionist can grab it and take it with them when they're away from the desk, move throughout the building, etc, and still be able to grant people access when needed.
Great, great solution for us.
Don't you need software running on a server for this to work?
Right so you need the Axis Companion software running on a server for the app to work with intercom correct?
No you can just do this on the app only. The desktop version was just for reference.
But in that scenario you are limited to (1) iPad, correct? You would not be bale to have, say, (3) iPads locally that would get the video call.
I hope Axis changes it back so you don't need to use the 2N cloud for video intercom support with 2N door stations. We got screwed when they stopped supporting iOS for direct device to intercom support soon after an installation and said they'd only support it in the 2N Cloud.
Aiphone is great. However, the lack of UL or comparable certification requires that we pay thousands of dollars to have them field certified.
Of note, we are planning to test both 2N and Aiphone gear later this fall. If anyone has specific feedback or recommendations for other brands to test, please suggest.
I would suggest the Zenitel Stentofon Turbine product for the best clear sound and that that can auto adjust to ambient noise. If you are putting in a communication device you need to hear, be heard, and be understood. The Turbine can be used in many modes including SIP and their PULSE ( distributed server solution ). The volume and clarity can not be beat.
I've used and sold Aiphone, 2N, and Commend. They are all for different markets IMO. Aiphone is great for SMB, 2N handles extreme conditions and scales, and Commend was awesome for noisy locations.
SIP is awesome if Aiphone includes a widely accepted sipstack to make it work on various systems.
2N will be putting in better cameras from axis soon Im assuming rather than what they have used, but I don't expect it to be a full featured device.
On a much more serious note for a Friday, how do you pronounce "Aiphone"? I say A Phone with a hard A, as in day. I have heard people call it "Airphone" , "A I (both hard) phone", I even heard someone call it "Earphone".
But I have also heard someone who was supposed to be knowledgeable pronounce POE as P over E.
I personally really like the Stentofon turbines. We use them at electric substations for recording, PA, and gunfire detection. They're regularly pelted with rocks and all sorts of things from bored kids I suppose, but they keep going strong.
I'm surprised there is no mention of Europeans like comelit or fermax, I also expected that Korean manufacturers like commax and kocom will have more responses
I would say Aiphone ranks clearly at the top of this would be the fact that it has been around for a long time and has always been readily available through local distribution. For that mere fact alone people don’t usually tend to change much and sense the new IP versions can be picked up locally as well would explain them still being a favorite. We use lots of Aiphone but we also have started selling the Axis as well. The one beef I have with all of the new IP solutions is the door release function. The relay for the door release is at the door station typically which is an inherent security risk. Otherwise you have to buy an IP output module to put somewhere which drives cost up. I will say one item with the Aiphone IP which is frustrating is if you want to use say a PC to answer the door stations you have to buy one of their I/O modules whether you use its functionality or not. That is how they license the mobile feature. I think it’s either 4 or 8 licenses per module and you must have a master station setup as well as that is what stores the programming. This is where Axis is far superior if you want to use a mobile device and don’t have the need for a master station.
Have you seen Axis's secure relay which pervents someone from removing the intercom and unlocking the door?
Yes in fact for the first two we sold I included this option but, I hate saying this, they were on back order for several months and they never got installed. I will say those are pricey as well. If you have two stations going to the same panel location the I/O module makes sense price wise.
They are a little tricky to install too. Once youyou it working it makes sense but the first one we installed every time the door closed the lock would stop working. We finally figured out you have adjust the tamper sensitivity much lower in the intercom and then everything worked fine. To reset the lock you have to push the reset button on the relat.
If you use one of Axis's network relays you can use VAPIX commands to open doors from the intercom.
Do the axis ip intercoms work reliably? Ive never used it.
We did a takeover where the end user said the existing axis intercom would sometimes not ring or the door release wouldnt work or they could not hear the person at the door. We ended up putting in some Aiphone stuff (non IP)as a “fix”.
Talk about down grade. ;)
We set them via SIP and have zero reliably issues or complaints. Customer love the HD image quality and the ability to search in the VMS everytime someone presses the call button.
I agree with you it is a downgrade. Im personally sick of Aiphone but not confident enough in other products.
To be honest im not really sure what you mean when you say “we set them via sip”.
I would suggest you look at Zenitel's Stentofon Turbine product. I can be programmed in SIP mode and is a better value, in cost and quality.
Aiphone has been teasing SIP integrated units for well over a year now. I'll believe it when it's available for order in distribution. Showing off a a mock up at a trade show doesn't count.
I like Aiphone products as a whole. They are a bit expensive, but you can dig around around look at their analog systems for a 1 or 2 station setup.
My biggest gripe is their desk stations (IP-MV) are real expensive for what they are. I wish that they had a lesser expensive option for a desk station that only has 1 or 2 remote stations. A typical SMB is going to have a front door and a back door, so to have something as physically large as the desk phone IP-MV and as expensive as it is, seems silly. You can use their JR or JF series, but they are analog, meaning you have to pull a new 18-4 from site to site. So, that's silly if you already have network in place.
So, Aiphone, if you're out there, make a more simple network base station that isn't $1100!
I work in the corrections industry where there can be hundreds of intercom stations at doors and inside rooms or cells. These stations could call to one or many control stations. The typical "go to" in corrections intercom/paging audio is Harding Instruments or Telecor. Could any of the "favorites" talked about here be applicable for corrections?
I do not think 'door stations' (point-to-point) in general would be a good fit for corrections (multi-point to multi-point), and being that integrators mostly deal with door/opening/parking garage applications, this list probably looks different in a 'Top 5 for prisons and jails'.
Some of the brands above do indeed have 'corrections' offerings, for example Aiphone's IX & IS Series for corrections (as do Commend and Zenitel), but the products used for that niche might not have or need the same general strengths of the rest of their products.
For example, anti-ligature designs are important in corrections, but not generally for commercial projects. The general approach of surface mounting a doorstation may not apply to a mandatory flush mounted correctional intercom, so installation of a 'favorite' listed above might be significantly different and more expensive when used in corrections.
Does that help?
Yes, that helps Brian. Thank you. You're right, the individual stations would need to be a vandal proof design. Whether that be a door intercom or paging speaker in the ceiling.
I know that most of the offerings in this article are point-to-point and mostly in a stand-alone environment. What caught my eye were some of the posts from other subscribers that mentioned enterprise level systems. I thought that maybe there would be some comparison to the correction industry.
In the last few months I've seen correctional facilities ask about IP intercom/paging systems as an upgrade to their existing analog intercom/paging systems (corrections hang on to legacy equipment for a long time). Correction facilities are usually pretty hand-cuffed by their budget. The requests are mainly from their IT department. I was hoping to find out if there are any alternatives to Harding Instruments and Telecor.
For IP FLUSH mount stations Zenitel also offers the following communication solutions:
This a classic case where the poll results do not reflect the global perception. Aiphone is a non-player outside of the US. From my experience working in the US and Caribbean, Aiphone was the defacto intercom for mid-large size residential and integrators then just took that model into commercial areas - with the clunky buttons and brittle yellow tarnished housings.
For years, Italian manufacturers ruled the Euro circuit with kit that, well, can only be described at "Italian". You built your intercom up from a million different part numbers and hoped to god it all worked - invariably, you'd be missing at least one part. The kit was also pretty well less than commercial.
That left a gap for decent, cutting edge, IP & SIPP commercial solutions. Enter 2N, Zenitel Stentofon, Castel and Commend. My personal favourite is Zentil (Stentofon), initially designed for use on North Sea container ships - the kit is more rubust than a robust thing and the clarity/quality of speech is exceptional. Integrates with anything that is meaningful and just does whats its meant to do without any dramas.
Paxton in the UK is slipping in with the Net2 Entry, although this is best suited to being an extension to a Paxton Net2 access platform and really doesn't work with a great deal else.
For correctional facilities consider ISM Ultimate. Widely used in police custody suites you effectively have a cell call system with a full audit of the activations and resets - with the cell call turning into a Personal Attack system from when locally acknowldging the alarm (and going into cell) and resetting the alarm - (leaving the cell), all this with a shiny bolt on enterprise class SMS - Genesys. We did clever things like route external calls from solicitors/family directly into the system that also recorded the converstaions (both parties fully aware)
So in summary, I think if you had 3 polls; 1) US 2) EMEA 3)Asia/Oceania, you would a seismic shift in poll results.
In confirmation of the UK view - Stentofon / Castel & Commend are typically the way forward for us. Castel gets my vote for ease of configuration AND 100% POE from day 1 - others may be catching up, but for a long time you had e.g a "POE" outstation - unless you wanted a camera or IR - then "of course you need a PSU" would be the comment.
Stentofon for industrial (rock solid / vandal resistant) and great performance - and their ability to offer bespoke / mad architect compliant finishes and specials in a professional repeatable way.
Commend is our choice for one (call) to many receivers but also for calls to remote ARC / SOC when rqd.
There is still very much a place for BPT - but we wouldnt use it outside of the simplest price sensitive installs - and yes in agreement with earlier comments you can easily forget one of the 53 components you need for a working install.
This a classic case where the poll results do not reflect the global perception
You can disagree and object but you have no data to support the 'global perception'.
Aiphone is a non-player outside of the US.
You know the world market that well to definitely declare that? Also, Aiphone is a Japanese, not an American, company.
We're just installing a point to point Castel IP system (no server required) and just using a PoE switch for power and have also just quoted a Stentofon solution for a similar set-up.
Agree with BPT comments. Out of the Italian stables, they have probably become the most anglicised, with fast quote turnaround (direct account), bespoke designs and tidying up the old box of parts scenario. Have just installed a rather tasty charcoal MTM-GSM that is looking and feeling more like Stentofon and works pretty well.
You probably have the same challenges as I do with the tenders in London for mixed-use Grade A office developments. Architecturally demanding ground floor lobby entrances, several clean and fully integrated commercial floors and then upwards with high-end residential.
Challenges for me are the increasing demands for AV integration (2N have this nailed), SIPP (most have this sorted), and as ever - the problem that never goes away is the inbuilt reader functionality. I've pretty well bottomed out the latter using a natty reader from Controlsoft, that's iClass compatible and fits in a typical 40mm2 cutout.