A European Perspective on AoIP
This story is part of Radio World’s supplement “IP4: The Evolution of Audio & Data Transport.”
The European broadcast community shares many goals in various
languages. Its professed needs and requirements cannot be met by proprietary
frameworks, at least according to two manufacturers.
They say they need extensible AoIP solutions that can scale
to enormous complexity, yet remain manageable. They want a common AoIP
framework that will work with all devices, free of royalties and freely
adaptable for future implementations. If the framework Ravenna achieves
acceptance and can be corralled into an interoperability standard as proposed
by the AES X192, these manufacturers feel they could play a more visible role in
The Lawo company of Rastatt, Germany, makes broadcast and
mixing consoles and routers that implement the MADI (AES10) standard to gather
and distribute audio. Recently, Lawo announced an investment in Ravenna
development and plans to integrate its broadcast console line and router
products into the framework.
Axel Kern, senior product manager for radio on-air, said
AoIP has evolved sufficiently.
“Over the years,
AoIP has evolved from a technological trend into a serious alternative for
audio distribution. There are many mature solutions out there which proved an IT
infrastructure is capable of handling ultra-low latency, high-quality
multichannel audio, and at the same time, most of the mission-critical issues
of network-based audio distribution are widely known.” He said Lawo is enabling
several products with AoIP functionality.
In Kern’s view, there will be continued customer interest in
the company’s MADI implementation, and AoIP will be a fundamental element of
future products. “Since our products are based on settled and well-accepted
technological platforms using traditional audio distribution, we are focusing
on applicational enhancements to our products using AoIP. Our activities are
looking into using IP for both audio and control.”
Manufacturer AEQ, based in Madrid, Spain, announced its
intent to implement the Ravenna IP framework in its console, router and
professional broadcast product line, but the company’s goal is beyond the Ravenna
framework. In an English translation of a position paper titled “Toward AES
X192 With Ravenna,” AEQ’s Director of R&D Miguel Sancho Carreres makes an
impassioned plea for AoIP interoperability through the AES X192 task group.
headache if an AEQ console should not be able to connect in multichannel mode
with a Studer router/switching matrix? Fortunately we are all adopting AES10
(MADI) … These are the sort of reasons why in the professional audio industry
we have organizations like AES and EBU that are advocating the interoperability
among manufacturers — to the benefit of broadcasters. Just like us, there are
dozens of manufacturers anxious to avoid the tower of Babel while others invent
languages, some very well structured, but yes, all incompatible.”
Peter Howarth, AEQ director of sales, special markets, says
the company adopted the EBU Network/Audio Contribution over IP standard
(N/ACIP) years ago, realizing compatibility between ISDN/IP audio codecs
benefits customers and made sense.
“We have also adopted AoIP and VoIP protocols for our New
Commentary systems used in large sport events, where we’re operating a
‘monster’ router of 5,000x5,000 circuits spread over 40-plus venues and with
physical distances that in some cases are over 400 kilometers [about 250 miles].
These IP solutions are implemented in our audio routing systems and are used
for, among other services, intercom and monitoring. Taking into account that
right now these implementations are in ‘controlled’ environments and the
implementations are ‘low level’ standards, it will be a relatively simple task
to move on to Ravenna-X.192 when it becomes a standard.”