Open Control Architecture Alliance Makes Progress at AES

November 6 2014, 06:00
With the emphasis on networked technologies at this year’s 137th AES Convention in Los Angeles, the OCA Alliance made considerable progress in promoting the benefits of its proposed Open Control Architecture (OCA) - both in committee and on the floor of the exhibition. OCA is a standards-based control and monitoring architecture for networked audio devices employing any media transport protocol.

AES project “AESX210” is currently working to render OCA into a ratified AES standard. Audio Engineering Society Standards Committee Chair, Bruce C. Olson, stated: “In the AES we are very aware of the importance of networked technologies for the future of professional audio. Any wide-scale audio implementation will require network technologies from different vendors to work together, and that means standards. Transporting audio streams is not enough; it will be necessary to monitor and control audio devices from many vendors across the network, and the AESX210 standards project, based on existing work of Open Control Architecture (OCA), is intended to achieve just that. Public drafts of the standard will all be available early in the New Year.”

In addition, OCA representative Ethan Wetzell presented the Networked Audio: N11 panel discussion, “How Standardization has Benefited Our Industry and How a Command and Control Standard Can Generate Growth and Innovation.” Meanwhile the alliance showed the benefits of the standards-based Open Control Architecture on its exhibition booth with a live demonstration of control and monitoring across networked audio devices from different manufacturers, interconnected by a common Ethernet and under common control and monitoring by the OCA protocol.

A Focusrite RedNet 4 with Ethernet networked studio interface, a Bosch Audio Processing Switch (APS) and a d&b audiotechnik D80 amplifier, were controlled by a proof-of-concept OCA software application, developed by alliance members and displayed at the OCA Alliance booth.

Commenting for the OCA Alliance, Ethan Wetzell (pictured) from Bosch Communications Systems said, “Our experience at AES this year was an excellent one. The core tenet of the presentation was that standardization can drive innovation. I was delighted that attendees were not only able to see the unique benefits that OCA can bring to media networks but were able to envision the future applications that this will enable. Being able to see equipment interoperating really got ‘the gears turning’ in a lot of peoples’ minds as to what opportunities and applications technology like this will enable. 

“The OCA Alliance is grateful to the AES for their ongoing support in media networking standards and we share a common vision for the bright future for our industry that these standards will help create.”

About OCA
OCA (Open Control Architecture) is an open control and monitoring standard for professional audio and AV media network devices. From a single device and controller to networks with almost any number of devices and multiple controllers, OCA provides for powerful, high speed, low cost, robust system control and monitoring of devices from different manufacturers. 

OCA can be used in conjunction with any available transport protocol (Dante, AVB, AES67, Cobranet, etc.). Offering interoperability across different media transports and manufacturers’ devices, it enables whole new levels of complex system integration and options as to how and where network devices can be deployed. The architecture operates on commodity Ethernet networking hardware or via standard 802.11 Wi-Fi. 

Control functionality allows system professionals to change and monitor all operating parameters of a network device, including the creation and deletion of signal paths, parameter adjustments for signal processing objects, network device firmware updates and management of access control. Control can also be limited to provide simpler ‘operator’ functionality; for instance, providing just level, mute, power on/off and fault indication. 

OCA is not itself a media transport, or a means of programming a network device or system control, or generating a user interface. OCA is available free of charge to manufactures, system integrators and designers, to implement with their own and third party network devices, as they require. 

The OCA Alliance is a non-profit corporation formed to secure the standardization of the Open Control Architecture (OCA) as a media networking system control standard for professional applications. Current members of the alliance are Attero Tech, Audinate, Bittner Audio, Bosch Communications Systems, d&b audiotechnik, Focusrite, Harman Professional Group, LOUD Technologies, PreSonus, RCF, Salzbrenner Stagetec Mediagroup, TC Group and Yamaha Commercial Audio.
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