January 29, 2013

AVB: Pro Ethernet for Pro AV

Back before dubstep, Pink, Lady Gaga, Youtube, and even CDs, there was rock and it was analog and it was good. Bands like AC/DC, Rush, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple built the soundtracks of the lives of a generation. The music was good, but the situation with the cabling to make, record or perform that music was a bit of a nightmare.

Cabling Ratsnest, Problem Solved by AVB

This is the “before” picture.

In many cases with analog cabling, instead of a vast number of channels sharing a single cable, every channel got its own piece of copper. This quickly gets out of hand and becomes an operational and troubleshooting nightmare (see image above).

In fact, the cable plant for some pro audio/video applications became so heavy that the buildings housing those facilities required special reinforcement and structural considerations in order to support the weight of the cabling.Just like HDMI replaced an ugly rats nest of interconnects and cables in home theater, IP over Ethernet eventually came to the table in Pro AV applications in the form of proprietary solutions such as CobraNet, EtherSound and Dante. These technologies all offered some relief from the non-multiplexed tyranny of analog, allowing multiple channels per link instead of one channel per wire. While there was obvious benefit to going digital, the implementation details left these earlier efforts wanting.

One way in which these earlier efforts were lacking was network complexity. While the physical complexity of the rats nest of cables was addressed, the rat’s nest of cables was replaced by a rat’s nest of VLANs and QoS and complex configuration in an attempt (not always successful) to try to reserve adequate bandwidth for the audio stream. There were other challenges too, with CobraNet for example, latency introduced by the network can be significant enough that installers must manually compensate by using audio processors with tunable delay parameters.

Enter AVB – For Those About to Rock, We Support You

He’s a roadie, save him from complex CLI QoS Configuration

We are excited to be the only true enterprise class player in the AVB capable switch market and are excited to be working with the AVnu Alliance, UNH-IOL helping us all out with interoperability testing and partners like Avid, Meyer Sound, Intervalzero, LabX Technologies, Harmon Kardon and others.AVB, Audio Video Bridging, an open standard by the AVnu Alliance and the IEEE (see also IEEE 802.1AS, IEEE 802.1Qav, IEEE 802.1Qat and IEEE 802.1BA), addresses many of these shortcomings. An open standard, it makes it easier for manufacturers such as Biamp Systems, Harmon Kardon or Meyer Sound to get the documentation they need in order to build good products. It also helps shelter those doing installs from having to muck around with VLANs, ACLs and QoS when, in the best of Apple fashion, you type a single line, “enable avb”, plug in some AVB end points and it just works.



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