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

April 2018 IP Networking Course on Mar 18, 2018
Save $50 ends this Thursday, March 22nd. Register now and save. Lots of generic network training exists but none of it really explains how it...
Camera Form Factor Guide on Mar 16, 2018
When selecting surveillance cameras, users may choose from a number of different form factors, each with its own unique strengths and weaknesses,...
Access Control - Restricted Keys Guide on Mar 15, 2018
Not all doors, even in larger facilities, can justify using electronic access control. And even for doors that do have electronic access control,...
Network Addressing for Video Surveillance Guide on Mar 14, 2018
The goal of this guide is to explain addressing devices on IP networks, focusing on how IP cameras and recorders are used in those networks. For...
IPVM Camera Calculator User Manual / Guide on Mar 09, 2018
Learn how to use the IPVM Camera Calculator. The guide below includes instructions, images, gifs, and videos demonstrating and explaining the...
PoE for IP Video Surveillance Guide on Mar 08, 2018
This guide provides comprehensive explanations of the elements in selecting and using Power Over Ethernet with IP cameras, covering: PoE vs Low...
Vehicle Gate Access Control Guide on Mar 07, 2018
Vehicle gate access control demands integrating myriad systems to keep unauthorized cars out. Everything from high voltage electrical, to...
Cellular (4G / LTE / 5G) For Video Surveillance Guide on Mar 06, 2018
In this report, we explain using cellular for video surveillance including: 4G vs LTE vs 5G 4G standards 5G future Advantage: Placing cameras...
Dynamic vs. Static IP Addresses Tutorial on Mar 01, 2018
While many cameras default to DHCP out of the box, that does not mean you should use it. This may seem basic for some, but those new to the...
Next Gen 5MP / 6MP Camera Shootout (Axis vs Dahua vs Hanwha vs Hikvision) on Feb 28, 2018
Many manufacturers have released new generation 5MP / 6MP cameras that tout super low light, WDR and other features historically typical in 1080p...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Save $50 Ends Tomorrow - April 2018 IP Networking Course on Mar 21, 2018
Save $50 ends this tomorrow, March 22nd. Register now and save. Lots of generic network training exists but none of it really explains how it...
Dahua Global Launch LeChange on Mar 20, 2018
Dahua is getting into the consumer video surveillance market globally, with "LeChange", an offering long available inside of China is now being...
Axis Z-Wave IP Camera Tested Poorly on Mar 20, 2018
Z-Wave is drawing notable interest for video surveillance use. In IPVM's initial coverage, 84% expressed interest in it, with nearly half being...
'As-Built' Drawings Tutorial on Mar 20, 2018
Closeout documentation can be invaluable for future expansions or maintenance work, and 'as-built' drawings are a key aspect for finishing projects...
Hikvision RSM Professional Misconduct on Mar 19, 2018
A Hikvision RSM engaged in professional misconduct of a US State's licensing law, involving continuing education held at an ADI branch. In this...
Thank You - Today, IPVM Turns 10 Years Old on Mar 19, 2018
IPVM turns 10 years old today. 10 years ago, IPVM was an experiment. Today, it is the largest and most read publication in our industry. I wanted...
Integrator Help Desk Software Usage (Statistics) on Mar 19, 2018
Maintaining accounts and customer satisfaction often depends on the effectiveness of responding to issues. Keeping an integrator's support...
May 2018 Camera Course on Mar 16, 2018
Our next course starts on May 8th. Register now for the Spring 2018 Camera Course This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based...
ADT Hammered Again, Loses Another Billion In Market Cap on Mar 16, 2018
ADT's CEO told investors that, 'in baseball terms', ADT was batting 5 for 5. But investors told ADT's CEO, 'in baseball terms', that he was...
Camera Form Factor Guide on Mar 16, 2018
When selecting surveillance cameras, users may choose from a number of different form factors, each with its own unique strengths and weaknesses,...

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