Audio over Ethernet (AoE) in 2016

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.).

More material:

Roland Hemming’s great talk on the state of the audio networking world

A New Direction for AVB: Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) for Industrial Control

Amphe-Dante Dante Adapters

AVB, Audinate Dante, and AES-67: Peering into My Crystal Ball


ISE 2016: AES70 ratification and Beckhoff OCA implementation major themes for OCA Alliance


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Time-sensitive networking and Industrial IoT

    The future of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is built upon the foundation of time-sensitive networking (TSN). IIoT creates a smart system of systems where smarter, hyper-connected devices and infrastructure of manufacturing machines, transportation systems, and the electrical grid will embed sensing, processing, control, and analysis capabilities. Here’s how TSN will help.

    The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) promises a world of smarter, hyper-connected devices and infrastructure where manufacturing machines, transportation systems, and the electrical grid will be outfitted with embedded sensing, processing, control, and analysis capabilities. Once networked together, they’ll create a smart system of systems that shares data between devices across the enterprise and in the cloud.

    Much of today’s network infrastructure is not equipped to handle such time-sensitive data. Many industrial systems and networks were designed according to the Purdue model for control hierarchy in which multiple, rigid bus layers are created and optimized to meet the requirements for specific tasks. Each layer has varying levels of latency, bandwidth, and quality of service, making interoperability challenging and flexibly changing data connections virtually impossible.

    Today on Ethernet networks, there is a need for functions such as quality of service, which we can think about as paying to get onto a toll road.

    TSN provides not only access to a tollway, or an express lane, but along with providing access, the signals along the way are all very tightly coordinated with time. Not only is there the benefit of a priority through the network, but it can actually guarantee end-to-end scheduling, and every light turns green at the right time.

    Certification helps interoperability

    The AVnu Alliance, an industry consortium driving open, standards-based deterministic networking, in addition to advancements made to TSN, is working with member companies to drive this next-generation standard and create an interoperable ecosystem through certification. Members are working within the Alliance to develop the foundational elements needed for industrial applications based on the common elements of AVB/TSN.

    TSN promises through standard silicon to converge the previously disparate technologies needed for standard Ethernet communication, for deterministic high-speed data transfer, and for high accuracy time synchronization. These developments will create a common foundation that will impact numerous applications and markets ranging from machine control and asset monitoring to test cells and vehicle control.

    The keynote speech by Marek Neumann, “The future of self-driving vehicles and how time-coordinated, networked intelligence will make that future a reality,” offered a compelling view of potential developments involving TSN. There were 27 speakers over the two-day conference across markets and industries.

    “This year’s TSNA Conference was proof that support for TSN is growing at a rapid rate,”

    As IIoT adoption continues, increased amounts of data and widely distributed networks will require new standards for sharing and transferring critical information

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Friday Quiz: Time Sensitive Networks

    TSNs are gaining traction of automotive, industrial IoT, and audio/video applications.

    Time-sensitive networks (TSNs) are moving beyond their legacy pro-audio applications and into applications such as automotive systems, and industrial data-acquisition and control. Additional future applications are sure to follow, such as military and aerospace.

    While many of the TSN standards are already in place, some are still in revision. As reported in Time-Sensitive Networks Find New Applications, the UNH-IOL is adding three TSN testing services (automotive, industrial, and audio/video) to its portfolio.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    AES67, AVB and Audinate’s Dante: An Audio Networking Update After Infocomm 2017

    This year, it seems, there’s not a whole lot to write, since there was more of the same, with some exciting directions for the future which I’ll get to in a bit. It was interesting that the AVNU Alliance didn’t have a booth as they did in previous years. From what I can see, as I’ve been detailing here over the years, AVB/TSN has been accepted by some manufacturers in the live sound industry (Meyer, Avid, etc), and it’s holding strong there. But the number of Dante products seems to keep expanding, both in the live sound and install markets.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Audio/Video Systems and Information Security

    The purpose of this thesis was to investigate presentation technology systems
    and theirpotential security holes. Three different areas in audio/video
    were chosen for this. These were Video Conferencing, Audio over Ethernet and IP announcement systems. This study was carried out for Mission Critical Network team of Pöyry Finland Oy.

    Dante AVB/TSN, Ravenna and various other presentation
    technology systems are covered.
    Lastly, IP announcement systems are explained

    The analysis offered some solutions for Video Conferencing systems regarding how to avoid security breaches, but no obvious fix for all situations was found that would be easy to implement.


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