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An overview of audio networks - finally no more big multicores

Networks for audio in the professional broadcast area have been in existence for more than 20 years. Then the entire live area followed, and now network cables, switches and RJ45 ports have become an integral part of the studio area. But unfortunately it's not as easy with it as with an analog audio connection. Much has to be considered and most of the systems available on the market are completely incompatible with one another. That doesn't necessarily make it easier for the end user.

I would like to bring a little light into the darkness and shed light on the background of the audio networks as well as list the common systems.


BASICS

A basic distinction is made between two types of systems for audio transmission in networks:

The proprietary solutions, which completely exclude any further communication in your network from the outset, have been on the market for a long time. This includes systems such as the Behringer’s Ultranet or Riedel’s Rocknet, or the sound grid from Waves. Standard hardware such as network cables, switches and hardware are used, but each solution uses its own protocol. The performance of such systems is ultra stable, especially since everything is completely predictable, nothing interferes from the outside and only layers 1 and 2 from the network transmission technology are used here. The biggest disadvantage is that you cannot fall back on an existing network, but have to build your own in parallel.

On the other hand, there are the newer solutions, all of which are based on Layer 3 and can transmit audio in existing network structures. This is also their greatest advantage over proprietary systems. After all, you want to connect everything in the network. The DAW computer with the server, with the backup computer and of course with the Internet. They include Dante von Audinate, AVB (TNS) and Ravenna.


FORMATS

I just want to go into the more modern formats based on Layer 3, as the proprietary formats are not that interesting:


DANTE

Dante was developed by the Australian company Audinate back in 2006. Within a gigabit topology, over 500 channels including word clock synchronization can be transmitted on a single network cable over long distances and with extremely low latency.

The common manufacturers on the market have all integrated Dante in their hardware. They include such illustrious names as Yamaha, SSL, Focusrite, Stagetec, DAD and a few more. The Dante logo is emblazoned on over 1000 products. This makes it the most successful and widely used system on the market, making it the leader among audio networks.

A great way to integrate the DAW computer into the Dante network is the so-called DVS "Dante Virtual Soundcard". The software turns a computer with a network port into a fully-fledged audio interface with up to 64 inputs and outputs.


AVB

The open source protocol AVB (Audio Video Bridging) was renamed TSN (Time Sensitive Networking) in 2012. AVB requires special switches as they are responsible for the clocking of the system. However, some managed switches can be configured so that other network applications can also be used in parallel.

With this format, as the name suggests, both audio and video data can be transmitted in parallel.

In the studio sector, the manufacturer Motu, which now has a huge range of AVB devices in its portfolio, is a pioneer. AVB converters have also been used reliably here in the rurtonstudio for over 4 years.

In the live area, Avid relies primarily on the format and uses it for communication between its mixing consoles and stage boxes.


RAVENNA

The Ravenna system was developed by the German manufacturer Lawo "ALC Networx".

As with Dante, it is possible to integrate a DAW computer into a Ravenna network via the software “Standard Virtual Audio Device”.

Ravenna can be found above all on radio and television. In addition to the manufacturer Lawo, Merging (Pyramix), Riedel and Neumann use it in devices.


AES67

The AES67 format is committed to solving the "language problems" between all Layer 3 formats. The AES (Audio Engineering Society) has been campaigning for years to get all manufacturers and users around one table in order to be able to present a uniform protocol at some point. That would be a dream. But one is still miles away from that, because so far one remains in one's "world" and there is no exchange between the systems.


SUMMARY

The advantages of audio networks are very clear: analog multicores, which are heavy and expensive, become "digital" and therefore much cheaper. Complex routing

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