What happened to audio networking


Brad Price TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
i
It may seem hard to believe, but audio networking has now been with us for over 20 years. In 1996, Peak Audio released CobraNet, the first system that used computer networking of some sort to transport audio.

Looking at that early system, it wasn't easy to see all the benefits that were to come. Yes, you eventually got up to 64 channels on a single Ethernet cable, but simply getting products on the system and establishing connections required significant knowledge and effort. Because CobraNet was originally intended simply to replace an analog snake, it was not up to the task of managing the large numbers of channels and sources required for broadcast. Routing audio required different tools from different manufacturers, and channels had to be manually defined in groups. Getting the technology to coexist with other network functions was challenging, which meant that control systems often required separate networks merely to function. In other words, it was like a lot of technology when it is new: fussy, complicated, and not for the faint of heart.

It's 21 years later, and we all have smartphones that put any computer of 1996 to shame. Unsurprisingly, networked audio has also made the leap from arcane to indispensable. What changed to make it so important and popular?

1 - Everything around networking got better. Networks became dramatically faster. The associated gear became far less expensive and simultaneously more reliable. Standards evolved, tools became more elegant. It was now possible to imagine audio running over networks that could provide incredibly high system channel counts and virtually perfect performance, allowing broadcasters to expand access to a nearly unlimited number of sources.

2 - Audio networks became truly easy to use. Modern audio networking solutions leverage advances in standards to automatically discover devices, self-configure clocking, and provide simple, clear workflows with visual feedback to operators and integrators alike. Just as our phones hide their immense power behind intuitive screens, audio networking now "just works" under the hood. Rather than requiring a technician to change physical connections for an event, broadcast or show, operators could now simply load a preset using ordinary PC software and go.

3 - Audio networks could now scale up to any size. Clients today want to know that the system they choose will be able to expand in both devices and channel count, something that in the past meant prohibitive costs. Modern Gigabit-speed solutions like Dante provide up to 512 bidirectional channels per device and can be extended by simply adding inexpensive switch ports, allowing for systems that support thousands of sources and destinations. Lightweight Ethernet cable can be unobtrusively pre-installed to allow for nearly instantaneous future expansion at a site or studio.

4 - More gear leads to more use which leads to more gear. Any technology that connects things together needs lots of devices to succeed - if there were only a handful of telephones in the world, having one wouldn't very interesting. The right combination of technology, tools and engagement have resulted in a thriving ecosystem of networked audio products using Dante, providing users with over a thousand products from which to choose and build systems today. This creates a win-win for broadcast professionals, giving them the freedom to select gear that matches requirements while ensuring absolute network compatibility.

5 - Computers are now everywhere. The term "computer" no longer simply means a bulky desktop system. Our phones are computers. Our DSPs are computers. Most modern mixers and even power amplifiers now contain computers that do much of the audio "heavy lifting", driving controls and features. In such an environment, computer-style networking makes sense, allowing devices to freely communicate, passing audio, commands, information and warnings to devices that request or require them. This integration streamlines the system, reducing errors and problems commonly encountered when combining non-networked convertors, routers and controllers as broadcasters have had to do in the past.
6 - IT taught us something about management. Modern computer networks are administered to grant users the access they need, while keeping others out. When there is a problem, it can quickly be found and corrected. Most audio installations have no such protection, and may be in environments where users can make potentially destructive changes, requiring hours to track down and solve. By applying IT management techniques to audio networks, installations may now be kept secure and stable, providing the system administrator with notification of any changes or failures - who, what and when. Only a networked, computer-driven system can provide this type of control and peace of mind.

The proliferation and popularity of audio networking isn't due to any single event or change. An accumulation of improvements from within and without the audio industry drove product development and put opportunities within grasp, while at the same time users greatly increased their use and trust in digital technology. Like the modern smartphone, the pieces were just waiting to be assembled into something new and powerful - and that time is now.


Tags: iss125 | audinate | networking | audio | dsp | Brad Price
Contributing Author Brad Price

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • Media Defined Networking from Media Links at IBC 2017

    Media Defined Networking from Media Links at IBC 2017

  • Bella 22 MK11 Network Audio Monitor from Glensound at IBC 2019

    Bella 22 MK11 Network Audio Monitor from Glensound at IBC 2019

  • VisLM Loudness Meter update from Nugen Audio at IBC 2019

    VisLM Loudness Meter update from Nugen Audio at IBC 2019

  • Hitomi Matchbox Glass lipsync, audio and video alignment. Now Wireless on a free app. IBC 2019

    Hitomi Matchbox Glass lipsync, audio and video alignment. Now Wireless on a free app. IBC 2019

  • TSL Products acquire DNF Controls plus TSL SAM-Q SDI Audio Monitor NAB 2019

    TSL Products acquire DNF Controls plus TSL SAM-Q SDI Audio Monitor NAB 2019

  • Glensound show Beatrice the AES67 Network audio intercom beltpack at IBC 2018

    Glensound show Beatrice the AES67 Network audio intercom beltpack at IBC 2018

  • Latest audio product updates from TSL Products at IBC 2018

    Latest audio product updates from TSL Products at IBC 2018

  • Nugen Audio Loudness Meter, Halo Upmix and Halo Downmix at NAB 2018

    Nugen Audio Loudness Meter, Halo Upmix and Halo Downmix at NAB 2018

  • 7.1.2 Dolby Atmos support by Halo from Nugen Audio at NAB 2017

    7.1.2 Dolby Atmos support by Halo from Nugen Audio at NAB 2017

  • Nugen Audio at IBC 2016

    Nugen Audio at IBC 2016

  • AudioVideo BrandBuilder Corp at NAB 2016

    AudioVideo BrandBuilder Corp at NAB 2016

  • Nugen Audio at NAB 2016

    Nugen Audio at NAB 2016

  • Minnetonka Audio at NAB 2016

    Minnetonka Audio at NAB 2016

  • Nugen Audio Loudness Toolkit at BVE 2016

    Nugen Audio Loudness Toolkit at BVE 2016

  • Nugen Audio Halo Upmix at BVE 2016

    Nugen Audio Halo Upmix at BVE 2016

  • NUGEN Audio at IBC 2015

    NUGEN Audio at IBC 2015

  • NOA Audio Solutions at IBC 2015

    NOA Audio Solutions at IBC 2015

  • NUGEN Audio at BVE 2015

    NUGEN Audio at BVE 2015

  • Nugen Audio at NAB 2014

    Nugen Audio at NAB 2014

  • Audio Network on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Audio Network on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • NOA Audio Solutions at IBC 2013

    NOA Audio Solutions at IBC 2013

  • NuGen Audio at IBC 2013

    NuGen Audio at IBC 2013

  • NUGEN Audio: Loudness Toolkit at NAB 2013

    NUGEN Audio: Loudness Toolkit at NAB 2013

  • Nugen Audio at IBC 2012

    Nugen Audio at IBC 2012

  • Audio Developments at ProVideo2011

    Audio Developments at ProVideo2011

  • Audio Developments at BVE North 2011

    Audio Developments at BVE North 2011

  • Junger Audio at IBC2011

    Junger Audio at IBC2011

  • Studio Technologies at NAB 2014

    Studio Technologies at NAB 2014

  • Source Distribution and Genelec at BVE North 2011

    Source Distribution and Genelec at BVE North 2011

  • K-tek Stingray range shown at NAB 2019

    K-tek Stingray range shown at NAB 2019

  • Calrec Apollo IP Console at NAB 2019

    Calrec Apollo IP Console at NAB 2019

  • Nugen Halo Upmix and AMB Updates at IBC 2017

    Nugen Halo Upmix and AMB Updates at IBC 2017

  • Canford at BVE 2017

    Canford at BVE 2017

  • Telos Alliance at BVE 2017

    Telos Alliance at BVE 2017

  • The Telos Alliance at IBC 2016

    The Telos Alliance at IBC 2016

  • Glensound at IBC 2016

    Glensound at IBC 2016

  • Studer Glacier at IBC 2016

    Studer Glacier at IBC 2016

  • Wohler at IBC 2016

    Wohler at IBC 2016

  • Video Devices PIX-E at IBC 2016

    Video Devices PIX-E at IBC 2016

  • Sound Devices Wingman app at IBC 2016

    Sound Devices Wingman app at IBC 2016

  • Sound Devices 688 at IBC 2015

    Sound Devices 688 at IBC 2015

  • Video Devices PIX-E Series at IBC 2015

    Video Devices PIX-E Series at IBC 2015

  • RTS at BVE 2015

    RTS at BVE 2015

  • Glensound Dante at IBC 2014

    Glensound Dante at IBC 2014

  • NOA Archive Solutions at IBC 2014

    NOA Archive Solutions at IBC 2014

  • RTW at IBC 2014

    RTW at IBC 2014

  • RTW at NAB 2014

    RTW at NAB 2014

  • Sound Devices at NAB 2014

    Sound Devices at NAB 2014

  • Clear-Com ProGrid at NAB 2014

    Clear-Com ProGrid at NAB 2014

  • Clear-Com HelixNet Partyline at NAB 2014

    Clear-Com HelixNet Partyline at NAB 2014

  • Glensound Atomic Copper at NAB 2014

    Glensound Atomic Copper at NAB 2014

  • TSL Products SAM1 MADI at BVE 2014

    TSL Products SAM1 MADI at BVE 2014

  • Glensound Cub at BVE 2014

    Glensound Cub at BVE 2014

  • Calrec on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Calrec on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Wohler Technologies on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Wohler Technologies on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Nexidia QC on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Nexidia QC on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • TSL Products PAM1, SAM1 and PAM PiCo at IBC 2013

    TSL Products PAM1, SAM1 and PAM PiCo at IBC 2013

  • Glensound with the USB Commentary Mixer at IBC 2013

    Glensound with the USB Commentary Mixer at IBC 2013

  • TSL Products at IBC 2013

    TSL Products at IBC 2013

  • Calrec at NAB 2013

    Calrec at NAB 2013

  • Sound Devices at NAB 2013

    Sound Devices at NAB 2013

  • TSL Products at NAB 2013

    TSL Products at NAB 2013

  • Thear Technology at BVE 2013

    Thear Technology at BVE 2013

  • TSL Systems at BVE 2013

    TSL Systems at BVE 2013

  • TSL Products at BVE 2013

    TSL Products at BVE 2013

  • AC Entertainment Technologies at BVE 2013

    AC Entertainment Technologies at BVE 2013

  • Pinknoise at BVE North 2012

    Pinknoise at BVE North 2012

  • Shure Distribution at BVE North 2012 LIVE Show

    Shure Distribution at BVE North 2012 LIVE Show

  • RTW at NAB 2012

    RTW at NAB 2012

  • Sonifex at NAB 2012

    Sonifex at NAB 2012

  • Sound Devices at NAB 2012

    Sound Devices at NAB 2012

  • Emotion Systems at NAB 2012

    Emotion Systems at NAB 2012

  • Clear-Com Eclipse MADI Card at NAB 2012

    Clear-Com Eclipse MADI Card at NAB 2012

  • Glensound at NAB 2012

    Glensound at NAB 2012

  • TSL at NAB 2012

    TSL at NAB 2012

  • Triveni Digital at NAB 2012

    Triveni Digital at NAB 2012

  • Petrol at NAB 2012

    Petrol at NAB 2012

  • Qualis at NAB 2012

    Qualis at NAB 2012

  • Calrec at NAB 2012

    Calrec at NAB 2012

  • DK-Technologies at NAB 2012

    DK-Technologies at NAB 2012

  • Glensound at BVE 2012

    Glensound at BVE 2012

  • Calrec at BVE 2012

    Calrec at BVE 2012

  • Sonifex at BVE 2012

    Sonifex at BVE 2012

  • DiGiCo at BVE 2012

    DiGiCo at BVE 2012

  • 4HM at BVE 2012

    4HM at BVE 2012

  • Thear Technology Limited at ProVideo2011

    Thear Technology Limited at ProVideo2011

  • 4HM at BVE North 2011

    4HM at BVE North 2011

  • TNP and DSMB at BVE North 2011

    TNP and DSMB at BVE North 2011

  • The Mic Store at BVE North 2011

    The Mic Store at BVE North 2011

  • Sennheiser at BVE North 2011

    Sennheiser at BVE North 2011

  • HHB and Soundfield at BVE North 2011

    HHB and Soundfield at BVE North 2011

  • Riedel at BVE North 2011

    Riedel at BVE North 2011

  • Solid State Logic at IBC2011

    Solid State Logic at IBC2011

  • Dolby at IBC2011

    Dolby at IBC2011

  • Murraypro at IBC2011

    Murraypro at IBC2011

  • Calrec at IBC2011

    Calrec at IBC2011

  • TC Electronic at IBC2011

    TC Electronic at IBC2011

  • SADiE at IBC2011

    SADiE at IBC2011

  • RTW at IBC2011

    RTW at IBC2011

  • Prodys at IBC2011

    Prodys at IBC2011

  • DK Technology at IBC2011

    DK Technology at IBC2011

  • Linear Acoustic at IBC2011

    Linear Acoustic at IBC2011

  • Sound Devices at IBC2011

    Sound Devices at IBC2011

  • Glensound 4 x Loudspeaker monitoring subrack at BVE 2019

    Glensound 4 x Loudspeaker monitoring subrack at BVE 2019

  • Oxygen DCT at IBC2011

    Oxygen DCT at IBC2011


Related Shows
  • The future of audio with BBC R&D at BVE

    The future of audio with BBC R&D at BVE


Articles
The Making of Zero
Keith and David Lynch

The Brothers Lynch explain how they created the sinister atmospheric world for their new sci-fi short

In a post-apocalyptic world where humankind has emerged victorious in a war against artificial intelligent machines, a young girl dares to venture into the unknown. This is Zero, the new sci-fi short film from acclaimed British writer-director duo The Brothers Lynch which has premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Tags: iss139 | blackmagic design | davinci resolve | editing | grading | grade | mk2 zeiss | superspeeds | cinema 4d | molinaire | Keith and David Lynch
Contributing Author Keith and David Lynch Click to read or download PDF
To Remotely Go - TVFutures
Michael Parsons One of my biggest concerns as an academic responsible for the education of hundreds of students is the ‘appropriateness’ of much of the technology we purchase and implement within the curriculum. The last few years have seen tremendous change in all sorts of technologies, and the broadcast industry is just one sector that has seen some significant leaps in innovation.
Tags: iss139 | university | portsmouth | graduation | guildhall | newtek | streaming | pxw-fs7 | ndi | ip | ndihx ptz camera | Michael Parsons
Contributing Author Michael Parsons Click to read or download PDF
Keeping Pace with the Content Revolution
Kevin Fitzgerald These are uniquely challenging times for broadcasters and their technical teams. Not only are they having to negotiate the move to IP-based infrastructures and the introduction of new formats and techniques such as 4K and HDR, they are also having to generate more content than ever before to support OTT and web services as well as traditional linear broadcast.
Tags: iss139 | streamstar | streaming | case 800 | ipx | ipx-3g | Kevin Fitzgerald
Contributing Author Kevin Fitzgerald Click to read or download PDF
Original KVM or KVM over IP
Jochen Bauer Will the technology used in broadcasting solely consist of IP devices? For years, IP has been entering all areas of life. Especially control room applications as they are typically deployed in broadcasting benefit from the IP revolution in many ways. But an “IP-only broadcast world” is not yet here. Nevertheless, the trend clearly moves towards IP transmission, even though a large part of content production still uses traditional transmission paths. And therefore we continue to live in a hybrid world, using both original and IP-based technology. KVM experts Guntermann und Drunck still rely on both original KVM and KVM-over-IP™ to be able to offer their customers the best of both worlds.
Tags: iss139 | kvm | gdsys | guntermann and drunck | kvm-over-ip | Jochen Bauer
Contributing Author Jochen Bauer Click to read or download PDF
The Future of Broadcast Connectivity
Jamie Adkin The use of KVM equipment has been essential to meet the evolving needs of the broadcast industry for many years. Over that time, many in the industry have recognised the importance of using IP-enabled KVM to break down technological barriers and enable real-time access to visuals wherever and whenever they’re needed. These components are vital parts in live production environments in particular.
Tags: iss139 | adder | kvm | ip kvm | Jamie Adkin
Contributing Author Jamie Adkin Click to read or download PDF