IP Vs Analog Intercoms

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Jun 20, 2016

Intercoms, even within physical security, are a niche.

But Axis' acquisition of intercom manufacturer 2N represents a significant investment into this market segment.

Indeed, Axis is emphasizing the value of IP intercoms both for doing the deal and in focusing future efforts.

But what really is the difference between IP and analog intercoms? Is there something like a 'MP' intercom? Where is each type better or worse?

In this guide, we answer these questions.

Key Comparisons

While performance of intercoms and intercom systems may be basic, there are some some big gaps between the two major intercom technology types. The notable differences:

  • Pricing for Intercoms
  • Hub and Spoke vs Mesh
  • No Central Exchanges Needed With IP
  • System Integrations Easier with IP
  • IP Based Video Quality Better

We examine these points in detail below.

*********, **** ****** ******** ********, *** * *****.

*******' *********** ** ******** ************ ************ * *********** ********** **** **** ****** *******.

******, **** ** *********** *** ***** ** ** ********* **** for ***** *** **** *** ** ******** ****** *******.

*** **** ****** ** *** ********** ******* ** *** ****** intercoms? ** ***** ********* **** * '**' ********? ***** ** each **** ****** ** *****?

** **** *****, ** ****** ***** *********.

Key ***********

***** *********** ** ********* *** ******** ******* *** ** *****, there *** **** **** *** **** ******* *** *** ***** intercom ********** *****. *** ******* ***********:

  • ******* *** *********
  • *** *** ***** ** ****
  • ** ******* ********* ****** **** **
  • ****** ************ ****** **** **
  • ** ***** ***** ******* ******

** ******* ***** ****** ** ****** *****.

[***************]

Unit ****

****** ****** ******** ******* **** **** ***** *** * ****** master ******* ********* **** *** *** ***** *********, **** **** single ******** *******

** **********, ** ********* *** ********* ** ** ** **** expensive, **** *** **** ** ***** ** *** ~$*** ***** and ******* **** **** $*,***+.

Hub *** *****

****** ******** ******* ******* *** ******** ***** **** ********* **** need ** '*****' / *********** **** * ****** *****. *** example, ** *** **** ********* ** ***** ***** (*** ******) and **** **** ***** ***** ** ***** ** *** ************ desk (*** ***), * *** **** ****** ******** *** **** well.

*******, ** *** ****** ********* **** ** '*****' **** **** other ** ********* **** ***** *******, * ******* ******** ***** to ** ***** ** ********** ************* ******* *** ****** ***** do *** **** **** ************.

****

** *****, ** *** ***** ****, **** *** ********** ***** in ** ***** **** *** ***** '****', ** * '****'.

******, *** ***** ******* **** **** ** **** *****, ***** requiring *********** *******, ** ********* *********** *******, *** **** ** an ****** ****** *** ******* ** ** ****** **** ********* central ******** *******, ********* *******, ********* ****** ******* ********, ***********, and ***** ************ ** ******** ** **** ************ ******* *** added.

Fundamental **********: ** ******* *********

****** ******** ******* ********* ******* * ******* ******** ******* ****** (PBX) *** ******* *************. ******* **** ******* ******, ****** ****** architecture **** ** ******* **********, ********** **** ******* ** ****** station *************, ****** **** ****** ******* ** ******* ** ********** calling ****** ** ****** *******.

** **** ****, *** ******* ******** ****** ** *** ***** of ** ****** ******, *** ******* '*******' ** ***** *** designed ** ** **** ***** *** *************, **** ** *** traditional ******* ********* ** ********. *** ******* ******** ********* ** sized *** * *** ****** ** **** ********, *** **** an ****** ***, ********* ****** **** ***** ***** ******** * bigger **** ** ********* ******* ** ** *********.

*** ***** ***** ***** * ******* ****** ******, *** ***** out *** ***** **** ******* ****** ******* ** ** *******:

** ***** ** ****, *** ******* ******** ****** *** ****** intercoms ****** *** **** $*,*** - $*,*** *** * **** supporting * - ** *****. *** ************ ** ******* ********* typically *********** * ****** ** ********* ***** **** ***** * core ****** ** **** **** ***** ******* **** ***+ **** stations. ** **** *****, **** ********* **** **** ******** *** 30+ **** ******** ** * **** ** ~$*,***.

System ***********

*** ******* ********* ** ********* **** **** ****** ***** ** the ********** ******** ** *** ******* ** ********* *********** ******* exchanges *** ********* ********* ********. *******, *** ****** ********* ** be ********* **** ****, ******** ****, ***********, *** **** ***** intercom **** ********.

** ******** ** ********** ******** ***********, ******* ***** *********** ** typically ********** ** ***** ************ **** *.***** ******** *********** ********* **** ***** *, ******** *** ******** camera ***** ** ** **** *** ******* **** ******* ************ cameras, ******** *** ********* *************** **** ****** ***** ******** *****.

What ** ***?

*** ****** ********** ********** *********** ** **** ** ********* *** ***** *** ***** ***** over **. ****** **** ***** ********* **** **** **** *********** support ************** ********* ** ***** *** *****, *** ****** ************* communication ** **** *****. ** * ******, *** ** **** by ******** ***** ******* *** **** *****, *** **** ** some ******* ********* ******** *** ***** *****. *** **** ***** uses *** (**** **** ********) *** ***** *** *****, *** TLS *** **********.

System ***** ********

*** ******* ***** ** ** ********* ******* **** ** ** used ** ********* *** * ******* ** ***** *******-***** *******, often **** ****** *******, **** ************, ** **** ******* ******* terminals.

*** *** *** ************ ************ ****** ***** ******* ** ****** an ** ********'* *************, ************ '****** *******' **** ******** ** selected ***** ************ ** ****** * ****. **** ********** **** access *******, *** ******** ******* ****** ***** ***** * ****** or **** ****** *** *** ** **** ** ******* **** locks ** *******.

*** **** ***** ** ********** ******** ******** **** ****** ***** vary, ********* ****** ***** ** *** ******* ******** ******. **** IP *******, *********** ********** **** ******** ** *** ******* ********, even ** *** ***** **** **** ***** (*** *******:*******) **** ***** *********** ********** ** ***-***** ******** *****, ******* to ******* ** ****** **** ***********.

******* ****** ********* *** ** ***** ********* *** *** *********** of ********-***** ****** ******** *** ****** ****** ****** ************ ******* apps *** ****** ********. ***** ****** ******* ********* ******* ********* and *********** ****** **** ********, ** ******* *** ** **** on ******* ** ************ ** **** ** ***** **** **** their ***** **** ********* ** ****** ******.

Video *******

** *******, ** ***** ********* **** * *** **** ** terms ** ********** *** ****** ******** *******. **** ********** ** units ******* *********** ** **** ** *******, ******** **, *** even ***, ***** ****** ***** ********* ******* ****** ***** ****** components ****** *** ** ** ***********.

** ****, ** ****** ***** ** *** ********* ** ******** vendors *** ** ********** ******** ** * ***** ****** **** CVI, ***, ** *** ** *********.

*** *******, *** ** ************ ***** ******** **** * * ** (***) ******, ***** *** analog******* **-** ****** **** ******** **** * ******* ** (***) ******.

****, ***** ********* ***** ****** **** ** ***** ** ******* straightforward, ****** ** *********** ******** ******** ******** ** ********** ** mainstream ***, ***** ********* ****** ***** ****** ********* ******* ** additional ****, ********, *** ******* **** ***** ********** *** ******** to ****** ****** ****.

*******, ***** ******** ******* ******* ** *** ******* ********* ************ cameras ***** **** *** *******, ********* *** ** *** **** angle/fisheye ******* ****. ***** ********* ** *** *********** ***** ** a **** *******, *** ******* **** ** ********* *** ****** for ******* **** ************.

Callbox ******* *******

** *******, **** ******* ******* *** ******* ****** ** *** company ****** **** *** ******* ** ***** ** ** ******. In **** *****, ****** ** ** ****** **** ******** *** available **** ****** ******* ******* **** * ****** '****' ****** to ** ************ ****** **** ** ** **** ********* **** destinations. ***** ******* **** ****** **** *******, ***** *******, ******/************ housings, ** **** ********* *** ***** ***** *** ******** *********.

Market ************

******* *** ******** ******** ** ** ***** *****, *** *** cost *** *************** *********** ** ****** ******** ******* ****** * strong *** *** *****/****** ********. ********** ************ **** ***** ** less **** ******** ***** * ****** ********** ** * ****** master, *** ********** ** ***** ****** ******* *** *** ********** by **** ****** ** ***** *********.

** ************ ********* * ***** ****** ** **** ******** *********** across ***** ***** *** ******** *****, ** ********* ***** ******* in ************** ******** ******* **** ******* **** ******* ******** ********** for ***.

Comments (19)

The Aiphone LEF series analog intercom does not require extra equipment to enable selective call or all call, at a very reasonable price.

By selective call do you mean the master can select the sub, or a sub can select a sub?

If it's the former then it doesn't need any extra hardware because there is no routing, no?

A master can call any sub or any master. A sub can only ring (initiate a tone on all masters). A master must then initiate a call, which allows hands-free conversation between master and sub. Masters can also monitor subs. They sell subs with and without a privacy button.

ok, thanks, that helps.

Assuming a ten station all-master system, can there be 5 seperate conversations going on concurrently?

"The LEF Series is a selective calling open voice, audio only system with the capacity of up to 11 total stations."

So as long as it is a smaller, audio-only, non integrated system this could be a good option. Looks like pricing is ~$275 for most station types.

Thank for bringing it up!

So selective call means?

Using that system, selective call means 'mesh' or station-to-station calling is supported. The LEF is one example of a small analog system that supports this, although there are others. 'Small' systems generally mean less than 12 - 16 units and typically are audio only.

I'll add a short section above to clarify this.

Station to station, meaning master station to master station, I'm assuming. If you just get the door stations, they only go to the master, I believe.

For the all call option, it sounds like an extra box is required.

Correct me if I'm wrong please - The LEF does not require additional equipment, but its wiring for a selective/all2all configuration, is a 20 wire (per station) $@# mesh...
If you add this to the single talkpath, non-integration and non-expansion limitations - it is obvious that Axis strives to introduce a <$200 intercom station in the near future.

This is a good point, and while LEF series is not a 20 wire system in all configurations, the bottom line is you need to pull and install many wires, to a degree that a single bundle of UTP Cat 5/5e/6/6a is simple in contrast.

The exact wire config varies depending on mix of station types, but consider this example setup that requires 10 wires connecting stations together:

Even when these exact stations aren't used (other LEF series stations might be), the wiring requirements are heavy:

For an 11 station system, at least 15 wires are needed, even more if standard things like strike releases are installed.

The bottom line: while central exchangeless analog systems are available, the cost of additional wire runs and connections can be substantial.

Great article, Brian. A subject that needed touching on for awhile. Surprises me there is still so many little integration with ACS and VMS (I know there's some, I'm saying more). But it seems like one of those things that should just be a logical extension. With the advent of SIP, there is really no excuse why more ACS and VMS systems should not be able to integrate with intercom devices.

I wonder when will the different substations, by different vendors/manufacturers, shown in the picture, be able to "converse" among themselves across the network, based on an open/standard integration platform...

Axis releases anther intercom station.

AXIS A8105-E Network Video Door Station

Interesting, it's essentially a mullion mount-width intercom at <2" wide.

Long distances are also an advantage of analog systems. Analog systems can handle distances longer than 400m easily, while IP systems are limited to 100m (without fiber or switches). Depending on the type of installation, this can make a big difference in cabling costs and infrastructures needed.

Yes, but you need dedicated cabling instead of unified (catX) cabling, and you will probably need a separate power supply for units 400 m away. I believe most of us prefer the notion of "intelligent infrastructure", which can be extended, expanded and monitored easily, while providing both centralized and distributed capabilities.

Commend digital stations (2 wire) can go 1500m. If wire needs to be retained a pair is all that is needed without compromise of audio quality, 16kHz, full hands free open duplex, full supervision, scream alarm technology with units and modules for every environment.

This is a seriously under explored segment and thanks to IPVM for giving it some attention.

Been using an aiphone system for years, lots of options for localized mesh installs (JP series using twister pair to the door and Cat5 between masters) or remote reception functions (the later using IP converters to software at the headend 2500 miles away).

Biggest challenge now is finding a hybrid of both worlds as our business evolves, something local during core hours which can be forwarded to a central station after hours. Their AI series is getting close but has limited VMS partners and I'm generally reluctant to deploy IP intensive solutions due to management and cyber concerns, something to be said for the simplicity of analog when troubleshooting. Then there's the issue of audio quality with IP, not the best experience in the remote reception role.

Digital Accoustic's caught my attention at one time but has a limited catalog compared to AiPhone, and to fully realize the potential of a VMS as a PSIM through SIP requires the decision to commit. Heard good things about Security Centre, anyone have experience going all-in with Genetec?

Undisclosed 7 might consider going all-in with Genetec a gamble.

Login to read this IPVM report.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts unique testing and research funded by member's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.

Related Reports on Low Cost

WDR Tutorial on Jan 11, 2019
Understanding wide dynamic range (WDR) is critical to capturing high quality images in demanding conditions. However, with no real standards, any...
Worst Products Tested In Past Year on Jan 09, 2019
IPVM has done over 100 tests in the past year. But which products performed the worst? Which ones should users be most aware of? In this report,...
2019 Video Surveillance Cameras Overview on Jan 07, 2019
Each year, IPVM summarizes the main advances and changes for video surveillance cameras, based on our industry-leading testing and...
Network Cable Shootout - Belden, Commscope, Hikvision, Honeywell, NavePoint CCA, Windy City Wire on Dec 17, 2018
Every IP camera install needs UTP cabling. But how much of a difference is there between dirt cheap generic cables found online and the bigger,...
Hanwha L Series Lowest-Cost Camera Tested on Dec 04, 2018
Hanwha has released their lowest-priced IP camera line ever, the L series, that competes on price with low cost competitors Dahua and...
Ideal SecuriTest IP Vs Unbranded IP Camera Install Tool Tested on Nov 21, 2018
In our recent IP camera installation tool shootout, multiple members questioned the Ideal SecuriTest IP's features compared to low-cost unbranded...
Best Alternatives to Banned Dahua and Hikvision on Oct 17, 2018
With the US government ban and a growing number of users banning Dahua and Hikvision, one key question is what to use for low cost? While Dahua and...
Network Cable Testing Guide on Oct 02, 2018
Proper cable installation is key to trouble-free surveillance systems. However, testing is often an afterthought, with problems only discovered...
Hikvision 4MP Camera Tested (DS-2CD2345FWD-I) on Sep 27, 2018
Hikvision's latest Performance Series / EasyIP 3.0 4MP model, the DS-2CD2345FWD-I, was the top performer in our 4MP shootout, besting rivals from...
4MP Camera Shootout - Axis, Dahua, DW, Hanwha, Hikvision, Uniview, Vivotek on Sep 24, 2018
4MP usage continues to climb, especially for low cost fixed lens models. To see who was best, we bought and tested seven 4MP models from Axis,...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Cable Trenching for Surveillance on Jan 21, 2019
Trenching cable for surveillance is surprisingly complex. While using shovels, picks, and hoes is not advanced technology, the proper planning,...
Milestone Favorability Results 2019 on Jan 21, 2019
Milestone's favorability moderately strengthed, in new IPVM integrator statistics over their results from 2016. While the industry has been...
Intersec 2019 Live Day 1 - Massive China Presence on Jan 21, 2019
There’s a massive presence from Chinese or China-focused video surveillance firms, chiefly Hikvision, Dahua, Huawei, and Infinova, at...
The IP Camera Lock-In Trend: Meraki and Verkada on Jan 18, 2019
Open systems and interoperability have not only been big buzzwords over the past decade, but they have also become core features of video...
NYPD Refutes False SCMP Hikvision Story on Jan 18, 2019
The NYPD has refuted the SCMP Hikvision story, the Voice of America has reported. On January 11, 2018, the SCMP alleged that the NYPD was using...
Mobile Surveillance Trailers Guide on Jan 17, 2019
Putting cameras in a place for temporary surveillance where power and communications are not readily available can be complicated and expensive....
Exacq Favorability Results 2019 on Jan 17, 2019
Exacq favorability amongst integrators has declined sharply, in new IPVM statistics, compared to 2017 IPVM statistics for Exacq. Now, over 5 since...
Testing Bandwidth Vs. Low Light on Jan 16, 2019
Nighttime bandwidth spikes are a major concern in video surveillance. Many calculate bandwidth as a single 24/7 number, but bit rates vary...
Access Control Records Maintenance Guide on Jan 16, 2019
Weeding out old entries, turning off unused credentials, and updating who carries which credentials is as important as to maintaining security as...
UK Fines Security Firms For Illegal Direct Marketing on Jan 16, 2019
Two UK security firms have paid over $200,000 in fines for illegally making hundreds of thousands of calls to people registered on a government...

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