‘Real time’ distribution of audio, video and data signals is an essential requirement of professional content creators. As technology has developed, traditional analogue tie-lines and patchbays have been replaced by digital signal formats and routers. While analogue interfacing has near universal compatibility, digital interfacing required standardisation to ensure ‘interoperation’ between devices. The next stage in the development is seeing the adoption of ‘commodity of the shelf’ computer technology to deliver more cost effective and powerful solutions.
For more than 20 years ‘real time’ audio distribution formats have been available, based to some degree on computer technology. A wider definition of ‘Audio over Ethernet’ or ‘Audio over Cat5’ , encompasses numerous formats, such as Cobranet, Ethersound, REAC, and more recently Dante, AVB and Ravenna. The simpler formats using computer network hardware as a low cost interconnection for propriety data signals, while the more sophisticated formats are developed on OSI networking standards and designed to carry audio data alongside general network traffic.
There are compelling benefits to using computer technology. The data throughput of a low cost Ethernet switch is equivalent to 1,000 channels of digital audio. Editing and storage devices are typically computer based, allowing direct connection of ‘Audio over IP’ streams. Computer networks using fibre cabling allows ‘real time’ distribution over large distances.
But AoIP is not mature, there is no inherent compatibility between different formats and some knowledge of computer networking is needed to set up and manage systems. Industry bodies such as the AES and SMPTE have published standards and these continue to evolve. However, the potential of this technology and the aspirations of producer are probably outpacing the development of technical solutions.
HHB has been supplying AoIP solutions for over ten years, in the last four years the majority have been based on Audinate’s Dante format. We have built up a wealth of practical knowledge, supplying and commissioning AoIP for customer looking for everything from minor system upgrades to core infrastructure technology. All of HHB’s technical support team are Dante accredited and we are an authorised reseller of Audinate’s Dante Domain Manager. Our involvement with industry trade associations and our distributed brands, means we are knowledgeable of the developing SMPTE standards.