Enterprise Intercom System Selection Guide

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Jun 20, 2014

While the surveillance market is crowded, the intercom space is relatively sparse. In this note, we survey manufacturers specializing in enterprise intercoms including Commend, Stentofon and Aiphone, contrasting their various strengths and weaknesses.

Unlike simple two to four station intercom 'kits', enterprise systems have hundreds of stations and integrate with other security systems. Here are key characteristics that enterprise systems have that small systems lack:

  • Multisite Communication allows separate intercom systems to function as a single system at a central administration point.
  • Mass notification: In some cases, enterprise intercoms are also PA, or 'public address' systems, where a single point can broadcast messages to multiple areas, even different sites, at once.
  • Door Access/Gate Operation: A core feature for enterprise intercom systems is the ability to unlock doors or operate gates remotely, based on intercom requests.
  • Video Surveillance integration: pushing an intercom terminal call button servers to trigger a camera to record video, and sometimes audio, of the exchange. This integration serves to aid communication and record significant activities in a way that video motion detection alone cannot.

Integration with other systems is done via relay outputs on intercom stations or through Input/Output cards/ external modules. Specific integrations vary according to the system involved, but at a minimum the four functions listed above are available in the systems described in the following section:

IP Intercom Market Snapshot

Each system mentioned below is an IP-based intercom system, ideal for use in enterprise environments where a well developed LAN is present. Even though wireless intercom systems are available, privacy regulations and interference from external sources exempt them from being considered in every application.

In general, the product series mentioned below are designed for general purpose and if specialty applications or integrations are desired,the information may change.

Commend IS 300 [link no longer available] Series:

  • Supports up to 64 IP stations in a 1U form factor
  • 8MB capacity for pre-recorded Audio Messages
  • Analog stations are integrated via external ET901 encoder
  • 16 kHz audio quality
  • Licensing on a per-intercom basis
  • 12-24VDC power

For multi-site functionality, Commend sells additional management servers that type in 'stand alone' IS implementations, as show to the right:

Stentofon AlphaCom XE1 [link no longer available] Series:

  • Support up to 552 IP intercom stations in a 4U form factor
  • 64 MB capacity for pre-recorded Audio Messages
  • Analog station integration not possible with XE1, must upgrade to XE7 or higher
  • 7 kHz audio quality: wide band detection
  • Licensing on a per-intercom basis
  • 12-24VDC power

Stentofon offers the greatest capacity, by default, with over 500 stations supported from a single unit. This may include IP stations located remotely from, but still network connected to, the primary AlphaCom server. The cost of migrating existing analog terminals into Stentofon's offering should be carefully considered, as no external analog encoder exists. Different, more expensive, AlphaCom servers must be specified based on total number of analog stations to retrofit existing installations.

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Aiphone IS Series:

  • Support up to 32 discretely addressed IP intercom stations in a 4U form factor
  • 10 MB capacity for pre-recorded Audio Message
  • Analog station support up to 30,720 total units
  • No specification given for audio quality
  • No intercom licensing is required
  • Central Communication Unit is 48VDC powered, however most intercom stations are PoE Powerable

Aiphone does not support full-scale network addressing. The IS Series is limited to 32 IP addressed units, while the total system population supports tens of thousands of analog stations designed to use CAT5/5e/6 cabling for transmission. However, the IS series supports widespread use of video at the intercom terminals.

System Comparison

Because Commend and Stentofon are dealer-only product lines, system pricing is difficult to accurately estimate. Addiitonally, both lines feature a variety of integration options that the Aiphone line does not tightly support. However, the Aiphone line is considerably less expensive than the dealer lines, and does not include added expenses like product licenses.

Commend: While Commend is generally the most costly of the three options, it includes the tightest integration options:

  • Milestone VMS [link no longer available]: Out-of-box platform support within XProtect, including recording of video intercom stations.
  • Tetra Mobile Radio [link no longer available]: Integration with 'walkie-talkie' mobile radio system.
  • ComWIN: [link no longer available] A maps based 'building management' platform including 'panic alerts', logging, and access control.

Commend is a good choice when the intercom system is intended to be a part of a converged, multi-system platform. Commend's pricing structure is complicated, and determining exact project pricing requires a deep understanding of the company's product and upgrade plans.

Stentofon: The company's pricing is close or fractionally beneath Commend. Stentofon has focused on audio quality and product development rather than tight integration. In general, Stentofon focuses on design features like redundancy and rugged component design. Stentofon is competitive, or fractionally less expensive than Commend, although final dealer discount varies. Stentofon is a good choice when high-quality audio is desired.

Aiphone: Far and away, Aiphone is the least expensive of the three options. In some cases, pricing is as much as 50% less than rivals plus the IS series does not require the cost of licensing compared to the other options. However, integration into other systems is much more difficult than the other two options. Aiphone is a good choice when a simple, minimally integrated intercom system is desired.

Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Milestone Presents XProtect On AWS on May 04, 2020
Milestone presented its XProtect on AWS offering at the April 2020 IPVM New Products show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video from...
Use Access Control Logs To Constrain Coronavirus on Apr 09, 2020
Access control users have included capabilities that are not commonly used that can help zero-in and discover potential Coronavirus hotspots in a...
Wyze Smart Door Lock Test on Jan 14, 2020
Wyze's inexpensive cameras have grabbed the attention of many in the consumer market, but can the company's new smart lock get similar...
Video Analytics 101 on Mar 16, 2020
This guide teaches the fundamentals of video surveillance analytics. Inside we cover: Why Use Video Analytics Video Analytics Warning Where...
LSP Presents 2nd Generation FP Power Supplies on Apr 29, 2020
Life Safety Power (LSP) presented its FP2 power supply in the April 2020 IPVM New Products show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video from...
Genetec Security Center 5.9 Release Examined on Feb 06, 2020
Genetec released the next major version of Security Center, less than a year after version 5.8. This also follows no Genetec major releases in...
Add Door Operators To Fight Coronavirus on Mar 31, 2020
IPVM recommends that integrators advocate and end-users consider adding door operators to fight the spread of coronavirus. This delivers mutual...
IPConfigure Presents Orchid Fusion VSaaS on Apr 30, 2020
IPConfigure presented Orchid Fusion VSaaS at the April 2020 IPVM New Products show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video from IPConfigure...
Sony Launches AI Camera Sensors on May 18, 2020
Weeks after exiting the branded video surveillance business, Sony is making a splash announcing "the first image sensors in the world to be...
Cisco Acquiring Fluidmesh on Apr 09, 2020
Cisco announced it is acquiring niche wireless manufacturer Fluidmesh. Both Cisco and Fluidmesh have been offering video surveillance solutions...

Most Recent Industry Reports

ZeroEyes Presents Firearm Detection Video Analytics on Jul 09, 2020
ZeroEyes presented its Firearm detection Video Analytics system at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. A 30-minute video from ZeroEyes...
Clinton Public View Monitor (PVM) Mask Detection Tested on Jul 09, 2020
Face mask detection, or more specifically not wearing one, is expanding amidst the pandemic. Clinton Electronics has added this capability to their...
These Florida Real Estate Agents Are Now Selling "SafeCheck USA" Temperature Detectors on Jul 09, 2020
The "Kakon Brothers", William and Nathan, are self-described "south Florida Power Agents specializing in Luxury Real Estate" who "have closed over...
Avigilon ACC Cloud Tested on Jul 08, 2020
Avigilon merged Blue and ACC, adding VSaaS features to its on-premise VMS, offering remote video and health monitoring that was previously limited...
Hikvision's India Dominance Faces Threat on Jul 08, 2020
While Hikvision has become a dominant video surveillance provider in India, recent tension between the governments of India and the PRC is...
The US Fight Over Facial Recognition Explained on Jul 08, 2020
The controversy around facial recognition has grown significantly in 2020, with Congress members and activists speaking out against it while video...
Sperry West / Alibaba Tablet Temperature Measurement Tested on Jul 07, 2020
In April, we ordered a ~$500 temperature tablet from Alibaba. We set it to the side while doing 18 other temperature screening tests but, after...
Facial Recognition: Weak Sales, Anti Regulation, No Favorite, Says Security Integrators on Jul 07, 2020
While facial recognition has gained greater prominence, a new IPVM study of security systems integrators shows weak sales, opposition to...
Video Surveillance 101 Book Released on Jul 07, 2020
IPVM's unique introduction to video surveillance series is now available as a 145-page eBook. Designed for managers, salespeople, and engineers new...
Startup Duranc Presents AI VSaaS on Jul 06, 2020
Duranc presented its system at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. A 30-minute video from Duranc including IPVM Q&A Background on the...