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Audio networking: AES67 and AES70 on the rise

In the first part of this feature, David Davies looked at how the AES67 interoperability standard is gaining in support from audio manufacturers. Here he discusses where the newly established AES70 control standard is likely to make an impact

Although AES67 adoption is set to accelerate during 2016, the focus of the standards discussion is bound to shift towards AES70 – the forthcoming control protocol architecture that went out for public comment in November and became a published standard early in the new year. The extent to which AES70 will complement AES67 has been a matter of some debate, so a concise clarification – from Andreas Hildebrand, senior product manager at Ravenna technology developer ALC NetworX – is very welcome.

“While AES67 covers synchronisation, stream transport and connection management – everything which is essentially required for audio signal exchange – it does not address device control and service discovery,” he says. “AES70 is an independent yet potentially complementary standard covering device configuration and control, stream configuration and routing management, and elementary device and service discovery. The success of AES67 builds on its restriction to absolutely necessary definitions, taking away any implementation complexity, but leaving room for some potentially required administrative intervention. AES70 addresses a much more complex (yet useful) area of operation.”

Taken together, the two standards possess “good potential to team up for an enhanced audio-over-IP experience. However, it remains to be seen to what extent manufacturers of audio networking solutions, which usually already cover enhanced functionality, will adopt and support AES70.”

With the standard now official, many of the industry’s leading developers are mulling its implications with increased interest. Audinate vice president of marketing Joshua Rush remarks: “We support the concept of open control, and feel that it will add value to the AV industry at large. The majority of the Open Control Alliance members who helped to define the AES70 standard are also Dante licensees.”

Director of product management Simon Browne confirms that Clear-Com is also keeping tabs on the progress of AES70. “It is something that we have been aware of [since it started as OCA], and now it is becoming more mature we do think it will be one of the things we look to participate in during 2016,” he says.

While standards are making it easier for vendors to promote the benefits of networked audio as a whole, they don’t guarantee universal popularity in different market segments – or even rule out the possibility of dramatically varying adoption rates. Fortunately, it appears that significant progress is being made in most primary areas of fixed install.

While the broadcast-focused Ravenna technology “naturally sees the largest field of deployment in this area”, Hildebrand also pinpoints “a significant growth in the installed sound and production markets, where specifically Merging Technologies with its Ravenna networked audio converters, Horus and Hapi, has gained significant ground.”

For Riedel, product manager Christian Diehl also mentions broadcast with regard to both OB vans and larger studio applications: “More and more customers are starting to think about audio networking when making plans for these bigger installations.” However, he also suggests that “IP-based [networking] is more common in the install market than in the broadcast industry. We see big and small installations in theatres, stadiums, cruise ships and government buildings where audio networks can live on top of existing IP networks without the need for additional wiring.”

Biamp’s Justin O’Connor also alludes to an “increase of networked audio solutions” going into a variety of applications, among them “courtroom or government locations, higher education (university level), and of course business.”

ALC NetworX
Biamp Systems