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RH Consulting begins rolling AES67 plug fest

To see how the interoperablity standard works in practice, RH Consulting will be testing different manufacturers' AES67-compatible equipment over the coming weeks – and Installation will be bringing you the reports.

Independent consultancy RH Consulting is embarking on a rolling plug fest for AES67 – testing different manufacturers’ AES67-compatible equipment over the coming weeks to see how the interoperability standard works in practice. Installation has teamed up with RH Consulting to bring your their reports: here’s the first one. 

We’ve heard so much in the industry press about AES67. It seems to be the next big thing. There is even a trade association dedicated to it – the Media Networking Alliance.

RAVENNA already offer AES67 compliance and Dante have released AES67 source code to manufacturers leaving it up to them whether to implement the capability into their products.

Recently at the AES show in New York there was another plug fest, but this was a manufacturer only affair.

What we want to know is what is AES67 like in the real world? How will real engineers use it? If you are given some AES67 compatible equipment to use, what would you actually do?

Over the next few weeks we intend to find out. We are going to embark on a journey into the world of interoperability.

Before we do, let’s do the one-minute background primer.

For years there have been different methods of putting audio across IP networks – all of them incompatible with each other. Then Kevin Gross, an audio networking legend, came up with the realisation that many of these networking protocols were actually pretty similar.

If he could get them to agree to some minor changes and play by the same set of rules then it would be possible to get protocols to pass audio to each other. Now each protocol has specific features and advantages that might be lost in this transfer, so there are many reasons to keep to a system that uses just one protocol, but at least we would have compatibility between a multitude of different devices.

We imagined a RAVENNA equipped broadcast truck turning up to a concert and plugging into the rental sound system using Dante.

If you want to know more about AES67 a good place to start is the RAVENNA website. Why is that? Well when it was being developed, AES67 was actually drawn from the same technology as RAVENNA.

When connecting audio networks there is sometimes so much mist you have to peer through, latency, sample rate, switch hops – it can feel intimidating to those unfamiliar with this. However we have always thought that audio engineers actually make good networking people – the similarities with traditional audio techniques are clear.

There has also been recent discussion about ‘discovery’, we wanted to get to the bottom of this. What discovery method should we use? Does discovery matter anyway?

A number of manufacturers have sent us equipment and we intend to connect together to create some sample set ups. We’ll be getting more gear soon. We love playing with lots of toys.

To start on this AES67 project we have looked at RAVENNA first because of the closeness of the relationship with AES67.

We’ll report on our first set up (pictured) next week – stay tuned.

RH Consulting