Bridging Audio Worlds

December 23 2013, 13:01

In the last three months, the audioXpress team attended several audio shows, including the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; the Expomusic show in São Paulo, Brazil; the CEDIA EXPO 2013 in Denver, CO; the PLASA London show in London, England; the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver, CO; and the 135th International Audio Engineering Society (AES) Convention in New York, NY.

At the AES convention, we had the opportunity to publicly showcase our redesigned and expanded magazine and the feedback was extremely positive. We would like to thank all our authors, contributors, and members who offered very encouraging messages and positive suggestions.

In the midst of one of the most vibrant and well-attended AES conferences, we engaged in interesting discussions with manufacturers, students, and colleagues about the audio industry’s challenges and perspectives. Overall, we returned from New York with the sentiment that we are on the right track. More than ever, we feel there is a greater need for reliable, trustworthy, and relevant sources of technical information, which only an independent and highly focused publication can provide.

Based on the main product demonstrations and many of the excellent workshop sessions at AES, clearly there are exciting trends in all application fields. From the analog vs. digital signal debate, it seems we are transitioning to a clear acceptance of the fundamental values of good-quality analog in direct connection with digital systems and networking. That is, the audio industry is in a better position to leverage the benefits of the best analog audio electronics with the flexibility of the highest-quality digital hardware and software. And the implications are important.

The main implication is the typical “interconnect” and point-to-point signal transmission is “blurring” into the—as yet unknown to many—concept of network architectures. As witnessed at the 2013 AES convention, the pro audio industry is embracing Audinate’s Dante technology. And, the interoperability with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.1-AVB systems and the Ravenna technologies could benefit from the new Networked Audio-Over-IP (AoIP) Interoperability Standard: AES67-2013.

Still, independent of the network signals, we will certainly see more evolution in the next few years. As Michael Johas Teener, IEEE 802.1 Time Sensitive Networking Task Group Chairman, recently stated in a video testimony shared by the IEEE Standards Association, “Networks shouldn’t just be created for devices that are far apart; short ranges should be considered too. And once again, with its ability to replace many cables such as USB and HDMI, Ethernet could be the solution. Eliminating the RJ45 connector—or making it smaller and easier to use—is one good place to start.”

We think one of key factors in the adoption of technologies (e.g., HDBase-T) is the ability to transition from commercial installations into consumer electronics. Everyone concurs that hybrid A/D audio systems depend on too many connectivity issues. It is likely the audio network architectures will also have to evolve into simpler interfaces, the most popular of which—at least in the consumer space—will probably not even use cables. It will be wireless.

João Martins

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