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Directional Speakers at Events and Trade Shows

Directional speakers are a great way to improve the visitor experience at your next event.

On a busy trade show floor, you need something special to stand out, attract visitors, and hold their interest.

If you do it well, the results can be fantastic: better conversations, increased brand recall, new partnerships, increased sales, and thousands more people being interested in your products.

If you're running a corporate event, large-scale convention or hobby expo, you can use directional sound to make the experience more fun, interesting, efficient, and safe.

By using this technology, you can focus sound on specific areas of your event space, creating a more immersive and engaging experience for your guests. Below, we'll teach you what directional speakers are, and how you can use them to make your next event a huge success.

What are directional speakers?

Directional speakers, also known as or focused or parametric speakers, are a type of loudspeaker that directs sound in a specific direction. They create a focused beam of sound that is only heard when someone walks through the beam or stands in the right spot.

You can find out more in our ultimate guide to directional speakers, including how they work, where you can use them, and how to install them.

Why use directional speakers at your event?

Directional audio creates a ton of opportunities to delight visitors and engage their attention, no matter the type of event.

Trade show booth displays and event kiosks are a primary use case, being perfect for people visiting for a few moments at a time who want to learn more about your product or offering.

Think of a car show – if you're displaying a new model, you can direct branded audio to specifically cover the area surrounding the car, so it's only heard when attention is being directed towards it. Visitors could see the amazing piece of technology in front of them, while hearing the designer explain the creation process directly to them.

This creates a much more human connection than simply reading a list of features.

There are other uses if you're a guest exhibitor at a retail show, too. Here, you can compliment your digital signage, demos or video screens with high-quality directional audio, giving someone interested in your product a much more immersive experience. (You can find more inspiration for increasing sales with directional audio in our guide to directional speakers in retail.)

And it's not just for sales.

You can use it for hobby events, like gaming conventions, where different people coordinate in different spaces throughout the day.

We have plenty of experience catering for directional audio at artistic exhibitions, galleries and museums too, and we've seen an awesome range of creative ways that it can be used to can delight visitors. In almost any environment where people gather around something they're interested in, there's opportunity to be creative and give them a memorable new experience.

Case studies: directional speakers at events

If you're looking for inspiration, our case studies show some great examples of the devices in high-traffic areas.

Firstly, Samsung used them for digital signage as part of a large hanging LCD display in the Gare de Lyon station, Paris. Our Samsung case study shows how you can play intimate, direct audiovisual content even within a busy space with people walking in many directions.

While retail stores are permanent, their product and marketing installations are not, rotating through the year depending on trends. So you can see in the Comptoir de l'Ours case study a flexible way to integrate directional speakers with the type of interactive kiosk you could set up at an event.

And you can see the promotional kiosk for ebooks in our Cultura case study, showing how someone using your product can benefit from focused sound enhancing the buying experience.

Samsung display with Akoustic Arts directional speaker array

The best ways to use directional speakers at an event

1. Improve visitor engagement and interest in products

The first thing you'll think when you step into the beam of a focused speaker is "wow". It's a unique experience that people pay attention to; interesting without being overbearing or annoying.

For that reason, it's ideal for marketing in retail or trade floor exhibits. Directional sound can help you turn heads towards your product, and attract people to learn about your offerings in an exciting new way.

You could install one simply to play your own ambient music, branded ads, or product information. Or you could go a step further and integrate them into a custom multi-sensory branded display arrangement.

Venue managers could even make use of directional speakers at their ticketing booths for a pleasant check-in as people enter. Take a look at our Blanc-Mesnil town hall case study to see how this can work in practice.

2. Avoid unsanitary headphone swapping

This is especially useful if you're using interactive kiosks or TV screens that play sound the visitor needs to listen to.

With a pair of headphones, you have to deal with the sanitary concerns of 50-100 people per day handling them, and you'll have to clean them throughout the day. There are also maintenance concerns – the amount of times they're put on and taken off (not always carefully!) means they'll wear out quickly and you'll have to replace them frequently.

With directional speakers, these concerns are avoided, but your visitor can still listen to relevant sound directed right at them.

3. Reduce local noise pollution

Directional audio doesn't spread around a space in the same way sound from a conventional loudspeaker does. So by staying localised to the area you direct it to, you prevent it from disturbing other parts of the event with sound leakage.

This means your salespeople won't have an important customer conversation interrupted by music or irrelevant messages. And other exhibitors and people nearby won't be disturbed by unpleasant ambient noise, where everything mixes together and creates a horrible mess. Sound will stay where it needs to stay.

4. Amplify sound from on-stage presenters

When you've got crowds gathering to listen to a keynote speaker, they can have trouble hearing them, especially if it's on a busy exhibition floor.  A possible solution is to give them a microphone and turn the volume up on the venue loudspeakers. The problem here is that the sound really disturbs other people in the space, and can be unpleasant or even painful to listen to.

Instead, listening to a seminar can be made much more pleasant for all with directional speakers. They can play the audio stream from the presenter's microphone and direct it only to people in front of the stage. This means they can enjoy isolated sound for their ears only, focusing on the most important thing – the content.

5. Warnings and safety announcements for individuals

In a busy showroom, exhibition or shop floor, you want everyone to get where they need to be safely. For example, a one-way system through a certain area might be needed for crowd control, or there might be an area that's off-limits to visitors because it contains dangerous equipment.

When there's lots of sound, lights and other distractions, people don't always pay attention to the signs in front of them. So you can deploy a directional speaker pointing at the walkway, informing people which way they need to go, or where they should avoid. You could even utilise a simple motion sensor to trigger a warning when someone steps into a specific zone.

These arrangements can also make it easier for people with visual impairments to get important information, without having to rely on directional signage – a real accessibility bonus.

6. Specialised information broadcasts

Directional speakers aren't just designed to play recordings. You can make use of them to send real-time information based on what's happening at that moment.

Think of a train station using focused audio to send different announcements to each platform, based on which train is expected. Similar ideas can be done at events.

In an area where many people are in line for food or drinks, you provide a notification to one line that an item has sold out, without misleading other people waiting. You could send special offers to specific groups of people and tell them

You could have a similar setup whether your show is about health & fitness, pet, toys, business and marketing, technology, or something else.  

What to consider when setting up directional audio at your event

The technical specifications for using Akoustic Arts directional speakers aren't very demanding. All you really need is a power source and an audio input, things which shouldn't be too difficult for an event manager to arrange. You can mount the devices to walls, pillars or scaffolding.

It's important to think about the acoustics surrounding your display. You don't want to place your directional speakers too close to conventional loudspeakers, as the noise might leak over and disrupt it. As well as this, think about how people are going to find your exhibition, what the foot traffic is likely to be, and if the environment is comfortable for them to spend a few moments in. A few chairs, plants or quiet corners can make all the difference.

Whatever your event needs are, contact us for more information on how to make your events so much better by using directional sound.