September 2012
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AES X192

There is a lot of buzz about converged technologies and what not.  I have always been a wee bit leery of bleeding edge technology, lots of money and time can be wasted there.  Incompatibility between different manufactures equipment and protocols can cause major heartburn in all equipment life stages.  See also: VHS vs Betamax.  Thus, when many disparate standards are homogenized into one acceptable system for everyone, we all benefit and technology moves forward.


Binary Data

Audio over IP (AOIP) is moving into the general acceptance of broadcasters as a reliable system for studio construction.  As with anything, there are pluses and minus to this development:  First of all, packet switched data is more efficient and flexible than circuit switched data.  For the purposes of clarity, an AES3 signal within a broadcast facility going from one piece of equipment to another can be defined as circuit switched data.  Once the data is segmented, packetized and framed, it can be sent anywhere, over any LAN or WAN.  This allows for greater connectivity between facilities and greatly increased delivery methods and redundancy.

The downsides are increased complexity in transmission, greater reliance software and delicate operating systems to process audio into data and deliver it, and Quality of Service (QoS) issues.  Additionally, there are many different AOIP protocols and applications currently in use.  To date, this is the current list AOIP standards that are used by various manufactures:

  • Wheatnet – Wheatstone, inc
  • Livewire – Telos
  • Ravenna – ALC Networkx (Open source)
  • Dante – Audinate
  • CobraNet – Peak Audio
  • EtherSound – Digigram
  • N/ACIP – EBU
  • Q LAN – QSC Audio Products
  • AVB – IEEE, AVnu

Each system has different characteristics.  A Livewire system will not talk with a Wheatnet system and so forth.  This is because of differences in the transport layer encoding schemes.  Some use UDP, some use RTP, some use a propriety transport protocol, and some may even use TCP (remember the 7 layer OSI model).  It would be similar to having an analog Wheatstone console unable to send audio to an analog Optimod which would be unable to modulate a BE transmitter.

AES X192 is an effort by the Audio Engineering Society to set an Audio over IP interoperability standard.  This is the direction that studio audio equipment is moving and indeed, broadcasting in general.

The X192 project endeavors to identify the region of intersection between these technologies and to define an interoperability mode within that region. The initiative will focus on defining how existing protocols may be used to create an interoperable system. No new protocols will be developed to achieve this. Developing interoperability is therefore a relatively small investment with potentially huge return for users, audio equipment manufacturers and network equipment providers.

More here.

Eventually, broadcast audio consoles will plug into a WAN and be able to source audio from all over the place, not just the local physical studio structure.  This lends itself to the evolving wired or wireless IP delivery method in place of the current terrestrial radio broadcasting currently used.  As such, I will be diving into the fascinating world of AOIP more in future posts.

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2 comments to AES X192

  • Good explanation of the dilemma, Paul. I work for Axia, and we’ve been addressing this since 2003. We figured that a network is only valuable if stuff connects to it… radical concept, eh? So we’ve always welcomed partners who wanted to make gear that connects with ours. We really don’t care about selling a lot of interfaces – we think the beauty of studio networks is in the ability of gear to just work when you plug it into the switch.

    Recently, we partnered with RAVENNA, which means that about 70 different Axia Livewire and RAVENNA partner products can interconnect (those are just partner products, not including our own consoles, intercoms, phone systems, processors, et cetera). And we’re also a charter member of the X192 committee, because for AoIP to work in the future, there needs to be a standard. We’re glad to be part of the process and are looking forward to the end results 🙂


    Clark Novak
    Axia Audio

  • Paul Thurst

    Thanks, Clark. I am currently studying for my CCNA/CCNP and I am convinced that AoIP is the future of digitally delivered audio. I have worked with the Axia product in Bridgeport, CT and find it to be reliable and very scalable. I look forward to hearing about the eas-x192 efforts and hope that all parties get on board with one standard.

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