AVB, Audinate Dante, and AES-67

The trend in professional audio systems seems to be that audio signals are move and more moving from balanced analogue interfaces and proprietary digital interfaces to Ethernet networking. There are many good reasons for that, which I am not going through in this post, for more information on reasons for transition look my earlier postings Dante and AVB and USB and Ethernet audio.

When everything is connected to Ethernet, it does not guarantee that everything can be connected together. The reason for this is that there are different incompatible systems and standards to transfer professional audio signals over Ethernet network. To get the idea what is the situation in Ethernet nowadays and in near future, read Controlgeek blog posting AVB, Audinate Dante, and AES-67: Peering into My Crystal Ball. It gives a good overview of the current situation and gives ideas to what changes to expect in the near future. The rest of the posting is my interpretation of AVB, Audinate Dante, and AES-67: Peering into My Crystal Ball article.

There has been different standardization efforts for transferring audio signals over Ethernet. IEEE 802.1 standards effort for Audio-Video Bridging (AVB) have been in the works for a long time in the IEEE standards-making process. AVB (as part of Ethernet) operates at Layer 2. The biggest problem of AVB (besides that it is late comer to race) is that it requires those special AVB-capable switches to function properly, so without a wide array of these on the market the standard is effectively stalled out from the user’s perspective.

During these four years it took AVB to get standardized, of course, the market did not stand still; Audinate’s proprietary Dante audio network solution (Layer 3 protocol) basically took over the live sound market.

There is on the works also a new and potentially game changing standard: just ratified AES67-2013: AES standard for audio applications of networks – High-performance streaming audio-over-IP interoperability. AES67 is new Layer 3 audio transport protocol. All this means that with AES67 we now have an open-standard, Layer 3, modern way of getting high quality audio between networks.

AVB, Audinate Dante, and AES-67: Peering into My Crystal Ball article contains a nice drawing shows how the writer John Huntington sees the live sound networking world in the near future.

According to AVB, Audinate Dante, and AES-67: Peering into My Crystal Ball all manufacturers listed in the graphic have been working, actual product on the market using those networking technologies as of this writing. As you can see, the scales are tilted pretty far over towards the Dante side, so it seems that Audinate’s Dante has won the race. Those who have committed to AVB should provide AES67 inter-operability for their systems so we can use it to connect to Dante equipment. AES67 can provide the bridge between those worlds for the users.

3 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    AVB and Audinate’s Dante: An Update After Infocomm 2014
    http://controlgeek.net/blog/2014/6/24/avb-and-audinate-dante-an-update-after-infocomm

    In 2009, that something new was Audio-Video Bridging (AVB), an IEEE open standard for transmitting time-synchronized audio and video over Ethernet, using special network switches. I’ve long been a supporter of open standards, and I was a big supporter of AVB. But after the 2013 AES convention, four years after that very public roll out, it seemed to me that AVB had been too slow out of the gate, and that Audinate’s proprietary Dante audio networking technology had already won dominance in the live sound market.

    Everything I saw at this year’s Infocomm further supports that conclusion.

    There’s actually less on display this year than last year. There was the (very nice) AVB-based Avid S3L console, some interfaces, and switches from Extreme Networks, who, as of now, are the only company to get AVNU-certified switches onto the market. The Extreme switches seem very nice, but when I priced them recently I was surprised to learn that the AVB option costs over $300+ extra per switch. With so little AVB product available for our industry, what does that $300 get me?

    Here, there was lots of stuff from popular pro audio manufacturers that you can buy today, all connected together using standard switches and patched with a consistent interface. And in this all-day Dante love fest, they showed real world, completed installations, and lots of new, working stuff. My friend Jamie Anderson from Rational Acoustics presented on a recent SMAART class he taught where he replaced his old analog signal distribution system with Dante, saying it saved him several hours on the class because it “just worked”:’

    So, it seems the prediction I made after peering into my crystal ball back in November still holds up: “… Audinate’s Dante has won the race, while AVB is still being tweaked by the mechanics over in the pit lane.”

    Almost everything you list in your comment–Cisco’s involvement in AVB (you still can’t buy a Cisco AVB switch, as far as I know), Yamaha with a beta AVB system (never got beyond beta, as far as I know), AVB in Mac’s (still can’t use it), etc etc, was all true last year, when I was more optimistic about AVB’s prospects.

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    AVB and Audinate’s Dante: An Update After Infocomm 2015
    http://controlgeek.net/blog/2015/7/2/avb-and-audinates-dante-an-update-after-infocomm-2015

    In recent years, Infocomm has become the go-to show for the convergence of Audio, Video, Networking, and Control (all the areas I follow most closely), and this year was yet another great show.

    My primary focus in my work and teaching is live sound, and walking the audio areas of the floor the hottest topic of conversation amongst my live sound-focused friends was Audinate’s proprietary Dante audio network transmission system, and of course IEEE’s open Audio Video Bridging (AVB) standard.

    Work on AVB started back in 2005, and I first saw a demo of it at Infocomm 2009
    It seemed like a great idea, and I was a big proponent of it. However, by 2013 I was concerned that the AVB development was dragging behind the needs of the live sound market

    after AES in November of 2013, after the release of the AES-67 inter-operability standard, I peered into my crystal ball and wrote, “Audinate’s Dante has won the race, while AVB is still being tweaked by the mechanics over in the pit lane. “. That was further reinforced by what I my visit to Infocomm last year, and even more so this year

    Dante was in so many places on the trade show floor that Audinate was running a scavenger hunt promotion and were giving away T-shirts to people who could find a certain number of products.

    While there is still one big player in our live sound market–Meyer–holding onto AVB, it seems almost all the other big live sound market players have jumped onto the Dante bandwagon. And this includes Avid, with their upcoming S6-L mixer; this is particularly interesting development since Avid was one of the few companies selling an AVB-based mixer system. And it seems that Harman (JBL, etc) is heading towards Dante as well.

    when everyone else is using something different, and your users need to connect, we can’t stay analog forever. And its just not likely the rest of the world will go Meyer’s way and suddenly switch to AVB tomorrow.

    So where are we today? I no longer need my crystal ball–Dante is currently the defacto audio networking solution for the live sound industry.

    So where does that leave AVB? I talked to a guy from Extreme Networks at the show, and it seems they are still the only company making AVnu certified switches, and the ability to carry AVB is still an option that costs about $400 per switch.
    “more cool AVB stuff is on the way real soon”, I’m afraid I’ve heard that too long–I just can’t even imagine what the product or solution would be that would make everyone drop Dante and go to AVB.

    But AVB still has a potential (and fascinating) future: As I wrote back in January of this year, It seems that AVB and the AVnu alliance has shifted to offer a solution for Time Sensitive Networking (TSN), and this was reinforced on the show floor with an AVB/TSN graphic, which listed only a handful of live sound companies and Audinate itself, who list some of same companies as licencees

    Also the automotive market is apparently very interested in AVB/TSN as well–using special connectors and AVB they can use Ethernet to save lots of weight in cars, which is a big deal.

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Dante Via
    https://www.audinate.com/products/software/dante-via

    Dante Via is easy-to-use software that delivers unprecedented routing of computer-based audio, allowing a wide range of applications and devices to be networked and interconnected, easily and inexpensively.

    Dante Via enhances any USB or Firewire audio device with network connectivity, allowing you to easily expand your Dante system with hundreds of readily available products. Simply connect your device and check “Enable Dante” in the Dante Via interface, and it’s ready to connect with your entire network, unrestrained by short cable runs.

    Works on Windows and Macintosh computers

    Reply

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