A new open standard, revealed last week at ISE 2015, looks set to make life easier for manufacturers and integrators in the professional audio market. The Open Control Architecture Alliance (OCA) is a group of 14 companies including, Bosch, Harman, Yamaha, TC Group (which includes Tannoy) and d&b audiotechnik. OCA has developed common remote control, monitoring protocol, and a common remote control language that can be used by all manufacturers.
The driving force behind OCA was an explosion of standards in this field, “Last year, we had 14 competing standards, and the industry said, ‘we have to reduce this number,’” noted Marc Weber, chairman, marketing workgroup, OCA, “today, we have 15.” But in an OCA press conference update, Weber revealed that the new open standard (known as the AES-X210 project) was on track to be ratified by Audio Engineering Society this spring.
Trying to integrate a professional audio system today is very challenging, with equipment from different manufacturers using different languages and protocols. Quite often, complex translators have to be used, so that one piece of equipment can talk to another. The OCA standard will make it easier to control equipment such as microphones, preamps and mixing desks. “The integrator will no longer have to focus on protocols; he can focus on the user requirements,” said Weber.
Terry Holton, general manager Yamaha R&D Centre in London, said: “Audio networking is becoming an increasingly important part of our business, allowing our customers to create integrated solutions, using products from different brands. We think OCA is a great opportunity to establish a standard in the industry.” Michael Munch, vp of business management install and tour at TC Group, said: “We’ve had major projects that involved putting together systems using different products, and it has been a struggle working with the different software. This has been expensive for our clients and us. We see OCA helping to reduce these costs.”
The OCA standard is already being used in the real world. Last year, d&b audiotechnik launched the D80 amplifier with integrated OCA software. The amp has been used in major music events for artists such as Lady Gaga and One Direction, and at the Glastonbury Festival. Feedback from users has been positive. “We want the new standard to do for our industry what MIDI did for electronic musical instruments,” Weber said. “Today, we are focusing on audio, but we also have plans for video later.”