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AES collaborates with LLB on Networked Audio seminar

On Wednesday 9th May, AES Swedish Section took part in the LLB seminar day held at the Göteborg Kulturmuseet.

Section secretary, Steven Liddle, chaired a seminar session focussing on distributed audio with excellent contributions from market leaders, Harman Professional, QSC and Peavey Commercial Audio.

AES presented an overview of some of the key concepts and technologies from a recent conference held in San Diego, USA which was specifically centred around networked audio and then introduced the specially invited speakers to the sizeable audience that attended the seminar.
Stephen Joy, Peavey Product Specialist, gave a presentation entitled Networked Audio, Past, Present and Future. It was interesting to be reminded that networked audio has been around for quite some time, Cobranet becoming a market force back in 1996. This prevalent layer 2 protocol has now been superseded by several layer 3 protocols. However, even though each of these protocols is based around a similar technology, the implementations are different enough to make them incompatible.

The pro audio market as well audio visual integrators and consumers have been crying out for a simplification or convergence of these digital audio protocols and it seems there is a solution on the way – or perhaps 2…

Justin Hankey, Application Engineer at Harman Professional, presented a detailed look at the networking solution that Harman, as part of the AvNu alliance is supporting – AVB (Audio Video Bridging). This layer 2 protocol has the advantage of being and open source protocol and is therefore a lower cost option for manufacturers to implement – we hope that this translates to cost savings for consumers too. The downside is that there are currently less than a handful of network switches on the market that actually have this IEEE based protocol enabled in firmware.

Martin Barbour, QSC Product Applications Specialist, gave an alternative view on the way the market is heading. QSC’s networked audio products have the advantage of working with currently available networking technology so there’s no need for special hardware. Their layer 3 protocol bears many resemblances to VoIP traffic and is therefore not such a scary prospect for IT professionals to deal with.

The company also supports the AES X192 working group’s efforts in assisting the industry develop a set of common control protocols that will allow different manufacturers’ products to ‘play nice’ with each other.

The X192 working group are in communication with the promoters of AVB with the aim of bringing compatibility between both technologies, and ideally interoperability. Interestingly, several of the major global forces in the networking and pro audio markets actually support both programmes. Cisco, Broadcom, Meyer Sound and Bosch to name but a few.

The seminar was very well received and stimulated debate after the event.There is certain to be a lot of progress in this area in the near future. Indeed, the AES will be hosting a second conference on the subject of networked audio in follow up to the first event on the subject last year. We’ll keep you updated once the date has been announced.

Further info can be found here:-

AES X 192 standards committee

AES 44th Conference on Audio Networking

AVnu Alliance

LLB