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A new standard for audio networking

The audio industry has united to create a new standard for sending high quality audio across computer networks. Networked audio is a growing business: many organisations routinely send audio across networks, including broadcasters, studios and public venue owners.

The market is highly fragmented, with a plethora of competing network systems, technologies and protocols. The result is that it can often be difficult to mix and match audio products from different manufacturers – but all that is about to change.

AES67 doesn’t sound that exciting, but it’s no exaggeration to say that a lot of people in the audio industry are excited about it. It’s the name of a new interoperability standard for sending audio across Ethernet networks (also known as audio-over-Ethernet or audio-over-IP).

Yesterday, the Media Networking Alliance (MNA) − an association of companies promoting AES67 (including Walt Disney and the BBC) − hosted an open-panel discussion at ISE 2016 on AES67’s impact on the industry. The panel included members from Shure, Archwave, QSC, Yamaha, Bosch, Genelec and Merging Technologies.

Moderating the discussion was Rich Zwiebel, MNA chairman. “I think AES67 will have a significant impact on the industry,” he said. “People often say to me, ‘what network are you using?’ and I say, ‘Don’t think about the networks, but the product and what you want to achieve.’ AES67 makes this much easier to do.”

Aki Mäkivirta of Genelec said end users will reap many benefits from the new standard: “It’s going to add flexibility for clients. They will have a better selection of competing products to deliver the services they want. It will also bring better security for their investment.”

Bob Abraham of Shure said: “It’s going to greatly reduce the cables you need and the amount of copper that you have to run to connect these systems.” Ethan Wetzell from Bosch Communications Systems added: “AES67 offers the possibility to sell a product on its technical merits and features, rather than the language it speaks. AES67 is unifying technology that gives users freedom of choice and doesn’t lock them into systems.”

“We’ve got companies of all sizes and from many different sectors coming together for AES67, because they care about this market and want it to work,” said Zwiebel.

Stand: 7-X230