Enterprise Intercom System Selection Guide

Author: 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 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 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 Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

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: Out-of-box platform support within XProtect, including recording of video intercom stations.
  • Tetra Mobile Radio: Integration with 'walkie-talkie' mobile radio system.
  • ComWIN: 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 : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

CODEC Guide 2016 on Nov 30, 2016
CODECs are core to surveillance, with names like H.264, H.265, and MJPEG commonly cited. How do they work? Why should you use them? What issues may...
Selecting Wood Drill Bits For Installers on Nov 29, 2016
Running cables through studs is common for roughing in residential and some older commercial installs. To do this, you will need to drill holes in...
Guide To Selecting And Using Ladders on Nov 15, 2016
Ladders are one of the most important pieces of worksite equipment for the surveillance technician. Too often, however, even highly experienced...
'Legal Protection' From Eagle Eye Contract Vault Examined on Nov 02, 2016
"I was promised the high-end model for the entry level price." "Nobody said there would be a monthly service fee when I signed...
Bidding Divisions (08, 26, 27, 28) For Security Systems Guide on Oct 27, 2016
Navigating the world of system specifications and bidding work can be complex and confusing, but a standard format exists, and understanding it...
Bosch First Starlight 1080p Camera Tested on Oct 13, 2016
Bosch has released their first 'Starlight' 1080p camera, the Flexidome IP starlight 7000 VR. We tested this new dome against competitive super low...
Intrusion Motion Sensors Tutorial on Oct 04, 2016
Motion sensors are one of the most common, and most useful alarm sensors, but they also often cause problems. Many motion sensors types exist and...
Mobile Credentials (BLE / NFC / Apps) Guide on Sep 30, 2016
One of the biggest trends in access for the last few years has been the marriage of mobile phones and access cards. In this guide,...
Access Door Controller Configuration Guide on Sep 27, 2016
Properly configuring access control door controllers is key to a professional system. These devices have fundamental settings that must be...
Axis Launches IP Speakers on Sep 21, 2016
First, Axis introduced an IP horn, then it was video intercoms, and now it is Networked Speakers? While IP-based Public Address systems are not...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Pelco Favorability Results on Dec 02, 2016
This is the first in a series of studies of manufacturer favorability. 100+ integrators rated and explained their views of each manufacturer. We...
Hikvision CEO Declares 'We Do Not Cut Rates" on Dec 02, 2016
Hikvision has led another press trip to China, and this time Hikvision's CEO is sharing insights into their competitive strategy, including...
Network Security Audit App (March Networks) Examined on Dec 01, 2016
Verifying one's video surveillance devices are locked down against common cybersecurity vulnerabilities is increasing important, as hacks using...
FLIR Acquires Drone Manufacturer For $134M on Dec 01, 2016
FLIR has acquired Prox Dynamics, a Norwegian maker of small military-grade drones, for $134M.  FLIR president Andy Teich provided additional...
Down to $50 IP Cameras From Honeywell on Dec 01, 2016
$100 IP cameras are literally old news. And you do not need to buy from spam email vendors anymore to get $50 ones. [premium_content] You can...
Distributor Offers Local Job Site Delivery on Nov 30, 2016
Local distribution branches are a big differentiator for many integrators, as they facilitate quickly picking up supplies locally without having to...
Dump Axis and Hikvision, Arecont Will Pay You on Nov 30, 2016
Do you want to get rid of your Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Hanwha Samsung, Hikvision, Pelco or Sony cameras? Now, Arecont will pay you to dump them for...
CODEC Guide 2016 on Nov 30, 2016
CODECs are core to surveillance, with names like H.264, H.265, and MJPEG commonly cited. How do they work? Why should you use them? What issues may...
Free Online NFPA, IBC, and ADA Codes and Standards on Nov 29, 2016
Finding applicable codes for security work can be a costly task, with printed books and pdf downloads costing hundreds or thousands. However, a...
Selecting Wood Drill Bits For Installers on Nov 29, 2016
Running cables through studs is common for roughing in residential and some older commercial installs. To do this, you will need to drill holes in...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact