Best music sound systems for business including restaurants, bars and retail shops
You need a great sound system to help play on-brand music. Here's a guide to the best sound systems for businesses from restaurants and bars to retail stores and shops.
Posted on September 15, 2022
Music is a vital component in most business environments and customer experiences. Selecting the right music and playlists helps to build brand identity, foster brand loyalty, and encourage repeat customers. Though the music you play is a key one component, you also need the right sound system. Even with good music, the wrong sound system can ruin the experience for those visiting your business. Customers will notice when your sound system is sub-par, or lacks the ability to maintain audio quality.
When playing music for your business, it’s important to use a licensed commercial music streaming service. Consumer streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and Youtube are not legal to use for commercial use in your business. Soundtrack Your Brand music catalog and playlists are licensed for business play, eliminating the risk of getting fined or sued for overhead music misuse.
What’s in this guide:
In this guide to the best sound and music systems for restaurants, bars, retail stores, hotels, offices and other businesses, we detail the important things to consider, including different types of sound systems, along with a few hand-selected recommendations.
General Considerations When Setting up Your Business’ Sound System
Wireless Versus Wired Sound Systems
Types of Wireless Sound Systems
Recommended Wireless Sound Systems
Recommended Wired Sound Systems
General considerations when setting up your business’ sound system
What is the best music sound system?
Selecting the best sound systems for restaurants, retail, offices and other business environments begins with figuring out your unique music playback needs. Square footage, for example, will dictate sound coverage including the number and size of the speakers deployed and sound level desired. Finding the right high-end audio system for your square footage keeps you from wasting money.
Multiple ceiling-mounted speakers can be set to a slightly lower volume level than a pair of much louder speakers and still output focused audio toward the desired areas in your venue. Focused sound means less disturbance to adjacent areas, which is a consideration for businesses located in an open mall with other stores around it.
Zones are especially important when selecting the best sound systems for bars, restaurants, and other businesses streaming music in various areas. If you run a noisy bar next to a quieter dining area, for example, you need to consider different music programming and sound systems to stream a variety of music at different volume levels.
Louder music playback requires larger speakers that can produce low end frequencies and subharmonic bass. Certain music genres often feature more bass and trying to play louder levels on smaller speakers won’t reproduce the true sounds of the song. Music tilted towards more bass (and less treble) is easier to talk over.
Spaces separated from the bar and restaurant such as restrooms or outdoor patios may require a separate set of speakers set at the appropriate volume level.
Spaces that connect or are within earshot of one another would demand consideration of the music played in each space. The simple solution is to play the same music exactly in sync in both spaces. Volume is also an important aspect and depends on the targeted spaces. For example, the bar may have to be louder and use more speakers than the dining room.
Acoustic room treatments
Acoustic treatment products applied walls and ceilings can be expensive and require expert installation. However, getting this element right makes a tremendous difference to both the feeling in the room and the acoustics. Music sounds much better in rooms with acoustic treatment. There is less echo and reflections coming from hard surfaces like uncarpeted floors and stone, marble or plaster walls, or windows.
The right acoustic treatment also enables natural conversational tone and volume even while music is playing.
The best times to install acoustic room treatments within new walls are during remodeling and as part of any sound isolation (sound proofing) construction.
Ready to add stylish and effective acoustic treatment products to your existing room? We recommend these companies for both the audio quality of their products and also their free consultation on the installation.
Installation processes and costs
The best speakers for retail stores and other businesses (loudspeakers) are one of the biggest equipment costs, especially if you need to cover a large space with multiple speakers. Speakers are usually attached to mounting brackets on walls, installed in ceilings, or placed somewhere out of reach of customers. White and black are the primary mounting bracket colors but many manufacturers offer custom colors if you plan to install multiple speakers.
There are both powered and passive (unpowered) loudspeakers. Unlike the passive PA/paging system speakers from back in the days, modern powered speakers have power amplifiers built inside of them which require wiring for AC power (from a wall socket) in addition to the actual audio signal.
Proper speaker installation is subject to local electrical building codes and safety, so consider consulting an electrical contractor first.
The source is the unit that receives the music stream from the Internet and plays it out to the speakers. Many commercial streaming services provide dedicated units with analog stereo audio outputs that connect to your powered speakers and a Cat-5 network connector that plugs into your router. Usually, a simple app on your smartphone handles your account and details.
Wireless versus wired sound systems
The first decision to make before you select the best sound system for your shop, restaurant, bar, or business is between wireless and wired.
Wireless speakers use low-power microwave radio frequencies for either Bluetooth pairing or a WIFI connection over a network connection to convey the music to them, from a source device. Wireless systems save you the hassle of drilling holes and running cables like you would need to do for a wired system.
You may already have a pre-existing wired speaker system in place that can work, but may be limited to a single zone. Your current speaker system could be outdated, placed in a poor position for optimal audio, or simply unfit for the aesthetic or décor of the space. Modern sound systems have come a long way and generally sound a lot better. However, you can consult with a sound contractor or integrator before you make the decision to replace an already wired system.
Wireless sound system for your business pros and cons
Cleaner look - A wireless sound system offers a more modern, neater look with no wires hanging from the walls or ceilings. .
Safer - A wireless sound system saves you the trouble of worrying about customers or staff tripping over speaker wires.
Simple to operate - Digital sound systems use a digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) and an amplifier to create the sound you hear. Both components work automatically with a wireless sound system, saving you the hassle of tinkering with them.
Better for multi-room businesses that need multiple speakers - No wires means easy installation even if you need several speakers around your facility.
More expensive - Wireless sound systems use advanced technology to transmit sound without wires, which can make them more expensive.
Lack of control - Wireless systems handle DAC and amp settings for you, which takes away your ability to perfect the sound. However, unless you put on concerts or other events, the standard settings sound great for most businesses.
Smart speaker are generally not conducive for businesses
Wired sound system for your business pros and cons
Now, let’s dive deeper into the advantages and disadvantages of wired sound systems.
Top sound quality - With a wired sound system, you can control the sound better and benefit from decades of manufacturers’ experience. Remember that most listeners are more than happy with the sound of a good wireless system.
Reliable - Reliability is important. No need to worry about speakers becoming unpaired or the WIFI going down. As long as your sound system is connected your music is good to go.
Less expensive - Wired sound systems tend to cost less, which makes them a good fit for mid-size to small businesses.
Easy setup (for small spaces) - With no speakers to pair or wireless connections to set up, a wired sound system can be easier to set-up, if you only need a few bookshelf speakers.
Can be hazardous - Aside from being an eyesore, if placed in the wrong area, wires can be a tripping hazard for your customers and staff. Consider where you will place equipment before making your final decision.
Challenging for more than a couple speakers - If you need four or more speakers in your restaurant, office, or retail shop, expect a few hassles and planning required to connect and hide all of the wires.
Difficult to move around - Moving wired equipment after the initial setup can be a hassle. Only go with a wired system if you don't plan on moving things around.
Types of wireless sound systems for your business
There are two main types of wireless sound systems, Bluetooth and WIFI-based. Most businesses will choose WIFI, but small restaurants and cafes might opt for Bluetooth.
Bluetooth speakers are best for short-range use in small rooms. Bluetooth is a single device ( smartphone, tablet or laptop) that pairs to a single speaker.
Bluetooth speakers require pairing every time you use them. You may also have to re-pair them often if radio frequency interference derails the Bluetooth signal.
Keep in mind that wired sound systems can also include Bluetooth technology to allow you to play music from your smartphone. However, the amplifier and speakers will all be wired.
WIFI speakers can operate over longer distances without an HDMI or other type of wire.. You can connect any number of speakers all on the same WIFI system.
WIFI systems generally sound better than Bluetooth. WIFI systems don’t compress data the way Bluetooth does (to squeeze good music fidelity into a low bit stream) and, once set up, the speakers start playing automatically, as soon as they power up. This is a blessing if you are in an area of frequent power outages. Rarely, WIFI signals can be interfered with, but this only causes temporary silence (instead of having to re-pair the device, as you would with Bluetooth).
The Best Music Player for Controlling Playlists Remotely
As a business, you need to consider who you want controlling your background music and sound system. If you don’t want employees on location to be able to set the music, then you should use a remote player that allows you to control what songs and playlists are playing at all times.
Our Soundtrack Hardware Player is available on Amazon and preferred by our Enterprise customers who’d rather control the music centrally. You can always add the iOS Remote app if you want your employees to adjust the volume or switch songs. Even though our hardware is well suited for Enterprise businesses with many locations, the Soundtrack Player is also a great alternative for any size business seeking to pre-set their music.
Since the Soundtrack Player is equipped with analogue outputs and is dedicated for our service, it also works perfectly for small to medium venues with more traditional Hi-fi setups such as amplifiers and cabled speakers. Simply connect the Soundtrack Player next to the amplifier and easily control it remotely from your iPad or mobile device through the web portal or by using the Soundtrack remote app.
5 Recommended wireless sound systems
Here are a few of the top-rated wireless sound systems for businesses. (You can also check out our Sonos speaker page for more information on their wireless sound systems):
Audio Pro makes four complete system sizes with up to 80 of their SP-3 wireless speakers in their X-Large version. The smallest system has four SP-3 speakers, one SUB-3 wireless subwoofer, the TX-1 transmitter and the VOL-1 handheld wireless remote control. Interesting to note the SP-3 speakers look like track lights and get their power from the track and also they use different frequencies than WIFI or Bluetooth and claim twice the range.
Bluesound makes wireless extension speakers for your TV and/or stereo that can be used at a business and/or home. All under control of the same App, the speakers come in three sizes, can be individually voice-controlled, and stream in hi-resolution, 24-bit/192kHz audio.
Denon also makes wireless speakers and subwoofers using their HEOS® technology. You could start with their AVR-S660H receiver and add their Denon Home 150 wireless speakers as needed around your shop. The speakers work on either Bluetooth or WIFI.
Ecler makes their WiSpeak system that starts with their Core transmitter to send wireless Bluetooth audio to both their Tube and Cube loudspeakers that attach anywhere in your business on compatible track light rails or on walls or desktops using one of their accessories. Core transmits individual configuration commands to each loudspeaker
Genelec Smart IP Manager is a software application that interconnects all Genelec 4400 Series Smart IP (PoE) speakers in a network using conventional CAT-5 or CAT-6 cabling to all speakers and your Network PoE router at once. Each speaker receives power, audio, and control via Ethernet wiring. The Smart IP Manager software conveys all audio and control signals including zone setups, volume, frequency response, and optimized acoustic performance for any zone. If connected to a wireless router, Genelec also offers the Smart IP Controller application for your smartphone or tablet.
5 recommended wired sound systems
If you’re looking for a dependable audio experience and aren’t afraid to install some wires, then check out these great systems:
The Rockville RCS650-6 650-watt 6-Zone 70volt Commercial/Restaurant Amp uses Bluetooth technology to allow you to play music from your phone, but it is actually a wired sound system, because you’ll need to connect wires between the amplifier/receiver and your speakers.
JBL offers many different commercial sound systems and speakers, including ceiling speakers and in-wall speakers. You can purchase the amps, speakers, and speaker wires that you need for your unique location. Commercial-grade speakers tend to be more discreet and less of an eye-sore.
SVS makes high quality wired sound systems and speakers. Although the company does cater to home theater systems, it can be a great fit for businesses looking to create a sound system where everyone is seated in more or less the same area, such as in corporate meetings. It could also be a great fit for cafes with open mic nights or karaoke nights. With their System Builder, you can purchase a pre-built system or customize your own, placing the speakers exactly where you want them.
The Pro Acoustics Retail Store Sound System includes 3 pairs of Pure Resonance Audio S3 3” loud speakers that are easy to mount, a commercial amplifier, and 250 feet audio speaker wire. This system is an excellent choice for small retail stores, shops, and boutiques. It can also work for small med spas or other offices. The Bluetooth connectivity allows you to play music from your phone, but keep in mind that the system itself is still wired.
The Bose Restaurant Sound System with 12 FreeSpace FS2P Pendant Mount Speakers can cover up to 5,000 square feet of space. It includes 12 pendant style speakers, one commercial amplifier, one separate mounted for volume controls, and 500 feet of audio speaker wire to connect everything together. The system is a great fit for larger restaurants or retail locations. It system also includes Bluetooth functionality for playback from your phone.
Redefine your music streaming experience
Great music is an essential part of any shopping or dining experience. Make sure that you have the right sound system on board to help customers enjoy your playlists.
Check out Soundtrack Your Brand for commercial music licensing and easy playlist scheduling, or jump straight into all of our most exclusive features with a no obligation 14 day trial, unlocking everything normally available in Soundtrack Unlimited
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