More than ever before, our industry has solutions for controlling devices and for moving AV content around networks. Unfortunately, as system designers know, this is only half the battle in delivering a fully functional and flexible system. As content hops between devices, those devices need to actually be told what to do with it- how to route it, how to process it, how to amplify it, and so on. The way this is typically done today is via a combination of manufacturer-specific protocols, dedicated control systems, and even traditional analog GPIO connections.
Control completes a media networking solution
We’ve been sending high quality audio over networks for over 20 years and an increasing amount of video is networked too.
A majority of audio and video systems use IP technology for equipment control and for audio and video content, but they don’t become a complete media networking solution until control and transport technologies are integrated.
Most control solutions provide control over the equipment connected across a network by sending commands to each other. However just as important is the content travelling across the same network.
In many cases media streams are pre-programmed to pass over the network. If you want to change a signal that is going from one item to another, this is handled by some kind of media switcher or processor. The network stream itself doesn’t change, just the content travelling along that stream. This works, but it is very limiting. If you add additional media sources at a later date you have to program the switcher and the control system with the new connection’s details.
A better way to deal with media streams is for the network to act as the means of choosing where streams go. You don’t need any hardware, the receiving devices simply choose the streams they want to receive and they can change them at any time.
In order for this to work, your control system needs to know about both the equipment in the system and also the media streams that they are capable of sending and receiving. Only then do you have a truly integrated, more useful system.
AES70 and OCA provide a more intelligent platform for control and the capability of creating a true media networking solution.
Before AES70 you set up a fixed set of audio streams and then programmed a processor to switch incoming audio signals to their destinations. If you connect more equipment you need to reconfigure the audio patching and re-programme the processor to deal with the additional connections.
AES70 can identify all the equipment on the network and devices can know what signals are available to them. Using the network as a matrix you can switch audio sources to any number of destinations in real time. All of this is dynamic, so it equipment gets added, AES70 knows there are more signals available.