June 11, 2012

Madmen, AVB and the Ethernet Future of Pro AV

There are folks here in the office who love the TV show Mad Men. I am one of them. While for some the 1960s may not seem so far away, some things about the show just make it seem like life on an alien planet. All the drinking and smoking at work, for example. Typewriters, are another.

Hard to imagine, but in the past it was common to use an impact device to put stains on pieces of dead trees which were then passed out to people in the form of communications called “memos”. The shift from memos to email, IM and blogging changed our lives to the point where it would be absurd to go back to the old way.

A similar sea change is coming to the world of pro audio and video, something called Audio Video Bridging, or AVB. PBXs, the devices used to provide central phone switching for companies, used to be analog affairs but now they have all moved to VOIP. Pro audio and video is going to Ethernet/IP over AVB.

Right now, getting the basics done, things like cabling and basic installs, is a challenge in the world of professional audio and video. Analog installs are all point to point. Moving to Ethernet requires proprietary approaches and compatibility is a problem. With AVB, pro AV becomes more like the Apple experience – it just works. Everyone benefits, but it is the smaller shops that will likely benefit the most. Skill wise, it’s “IP’ without “IT”.

 Rat's nest of cables

This is the “before” picture. Almost makes the Selectric look fun in comparison.

There is a lot of excitement around AVB. At Extreme, we are excited too, not just about AVB and getting to do cool things with AV, which is inherently cool and interesting, but also about a change in approach. AVB is now an open, multivendor effort. All vendors, one network, easily deployed.  You will need less cable and it will work in more places. Mics, speakers will add AVB or be connected to an AVB snake….and switches will have to support AVB. Want some hands-on proof? Come see it in action at the AVNU booth at Infocomm 2012.

Speaking of Infocomm 2012, we will be there at booth C11039. Come by and see us. Like I said earlier we are pretty excited about the next step in the evolution of professional AV. It doesn’t hurt that a lot of the attributes which make a high performance switch good for data also make it good for digital AV.

Bill Murphy and Jason Lackey, both with Extreme Networks, talk about the Coming of Ethernet to Pro AV

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Extreme Marketing Team

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