Ohio, US-based Dutchman Hospitality Group has recruited Swiss audio-over-IP specialist Barix to centralise its in-store radio programming.
Based in Amish country in rural Walnut Creek, Ohio, Dutchman sought a unified solution to deliver audio programming across multiple buildings to "maintain a consistent and pleasant customer experience" – something that proved impossible with separate CD players and an "everyone's a DJ" approach. The company put its IT contractor Mark Greenawalt, of Makarios Networks, in charge of finding a cost-efficient solution that would offer better control of the overhead music in each building.
"When we made the business decision to have a single source of overhead music on each campus, the challenge of distributing the audio seemed to require pulling new wires between each building," Greenawalt explains. "I discovered Barix Store&Play while conducting research, and discovered that their solution converts audio to data packets for network distribution before converting back to audio at the playout point. Once I realized we could use our existing infrastructure, it became clear that transitioning to Barix would save a lot of time, labour and money. The devices are inexpensive, and the ease of setup made the overall transition very affordable."
Greenawalt has transitioned Dutchman Hospitality Group's Walnut Creek (pictured) and Sugar Creek sites, which include multiple buildings (a mix of shops, restaurants and inns) spread across large areas, to Barix Store&Play. In the Ohio town of Berlin, the company is streaming music from the Berlin Farmstead Restaurant to the Carlisle Country Inn a quarter-mile down the road, taking advantage of Barix's flexibility in networking audio across separate, distant properties.
The Barix Store&Play solution is configured to minimise use of network resources, downloading programmes for playback on a scheduled basis. The network architecture includes a central Instreamer device on each campus, to encode audio into files for streaming over the network, and Exstreamer devices at each remote building to receive and decode the files back to high-quality audio. With fibre-optic connections and a gigabit Ethernet backbone already in place, Greenawalt had the Barix system online and streaming audio across all assigned locations within days.
"Being a musician, I have to say that I'm very impressed with the sound quality," says Greenawalt. "But the ease of configuration and reliability is what really makes this special. The Barix receiving devices plug directly into our sound systems, instead of requiring investment in new amplifiers and loudspeakers.
"As one representative in a two-person IT department, having a low-maintenance solution is huge. It really is a set-and-forget system, with no wires to pull and no extra materials or components required."