I have written several earlier on audio over Ethernet technologies. Audio over Ethernet (AoE) is the use of an Ethernet-based network to distribute real-time digital audio. It is designed to replace bulky snake cables and fixed wiring with standard network structured cabling. Most AoE systems use proprietary protocols (at the higher OSI layers) which create data packets and data frames that are transmitted directly onto the Ethernet (layer 2) for efficiency and reduced overhead.
There are several different and incompatible protocols for audio over Ethernet. I have earlier posted about Dante and AVB. I might have mentioned JACK Audio Connection Kit, that is Linux audio API for audio applications to communicate with each other and with audio hardware, and there have been several efforts to provide JACK-over-a-network (for example NETJACK).
In professional audio world there are several proprietary standards widely used for Audio over Ethernet, and also some standards for inter-operation to be made. My posting AVB, Audinate Dante, and AES-67 tried to look at what the situation was few years ago.
Now there is time for update what is happening in this field. Controlgeek blog has an excellent posting AVB and Audinate’s Dante: An Audio Networking Update After Infocomm 2016 that gives view to what is the situation in Audio over Ethernet right now. Live sound market is driven by end users, with manufacturers making decisions like what audio networking protocol to use and then selling us a solution. The continuing success of Audinate and Dante was not hard to see at Infocomm 2016.
Dante so widespread in the live sound market, what about the companies that build their product lines around other solutions? There are people who want a networking connection from Meyer’s AVB world to the larger Dante world (either a Dante interface or AES-67 open standards). Audinate has included AES-67 support in their products for a while, it has been tested but there are still some complications in it (lack of discovery mechanism).
So is AVB dead? Absolutely not. Dante is dominating the live sound market, but AVB/TSN is a well engineered solution that has found a home in portions of the live sound market (most notably Meyer Sound, Avid, Pivitech and MOTU). AVB/TSN is finding acceptance in the automotive and industrial markets, and one of the big developments on the AVB front at Infocomm is that Cisco now (finally) has AVB support in some of its higher end switches (some time ago Extreme networks switch with $400 AVB option only AVNU certified switch).
There are also other systems. For example Ravenna is gaining wider use in the broadcast world, but hasn’t crossed over much into the live sound arena. Ravenna is a technology for real-time transport of audio and other media data in IP-based network environments. All protocols and mechanisms used within Ravenna are based on widely deployed and established standards. It has contributed to AES67 standard (compatible with AES67).
And audio will still be audio, so as long as we have something like AES-67, we’ll be good. With AES67 we now have an open-standard, Layer 3, modern way of getting high quailty audio between networks. AES67 is an interoperability standard which defines guidelines based on which devices belonging to different network technologies or solutions can exchange audio streams with each other. ES67 is very similar to Livewire and Ravenna, it’s just that AES67 doesn’t specify a discovery mechanism. It is multicast with PCM in RTP frames according to the existing RFC, and it seems that VLC can already play AES67 streams (official support is in development wish list).
AES standard of AES-70 standard was mentioned in AVB and Audinate’s Dante: An Audio Networking Update After Infocomm 2016: industrial control manufacturer Beckhoff has gear for it. Open Control Architecture (OCA) by the Audio Engineering Society was ratified the AES70 standard. OCA (Open Control Architecture) is an open control and monitoring standard for professional audio and AV media network devices. From a single device and controller to networks with almost any number of devices and multiple controllers, OCA provides for powerful, high speed, low cost, robust system control and monitoring of devices from different manufacturers. OCA can be used in conjunction with any available transport protocol (Dante, AVB, AES67, Cobranet, etc.).