Audio over IP brings flexibility and cost savings to content creators

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The shift to AoIP networking has helped pick up the pace in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, spurring the development of new hardware, software and hybrid solutions as manufacturers respond to the sudden need for remote workflows.

“AoIP is moving at a faster pace than a slow walk these days,” said Phil Owens, senior sales engineer at Wheatstone. “There’s not much you can do beyond the studio walls without an IP, and the IP audio network certainly plays a role in all of these changes that we’re seeing when it comes to remotes and virtual mixers and even emerging developments such as immersive mixing. ”

TRANSPORT PROTOCOLS

Manufacturers support a variety of transport protocols, such as Dante, AES67, SMPTE ST 2110-30, and the all new IPMX. “However, the solutions have to be cost effective,” said Berny Carpenter, audio product manager at TSL Products. “The ability to provide a deployment of 1 Gig / E devices in ST 2110 networks, along with a deep understanding of control protocols and integration, is vital for audio monitors. “

Simon Browne, Vice President of Product Management at Clear-Com, said: “Broadcast facilities find flexibility and cost savings in an all-IP fabric with our V-Series panels and the standard-based FreeSpeak wireless intercom. AES67 with additional third parties. audio, eg cameras, on SMPTE 2110-30 is gaining momentum. There has been some interest in AV taking this approach as well in the hope that compressed video and surround audio will find a place in SMPTE or something similar in IPMX.

Why it matters

The media and entertainment industry’s transition to AoIP workflows was already underway when the coronavirus pandemic arrived. Software platform manufacturers have responded by rolling out new products or expanding existing models to enable the implementation of remote operations and workflows for broadcasters, live events and sports venues.

“While the switch to IP can be expensive initially, it could prove to be more cost effective in the long run and may be the preferred choice for new installations,” said Carpenter of TSL. With 4K UHD streaming, for example, “Upgrading to 12G-SDI enables existing SDI installations to deliver UHD content without requiring a complete refresh of existing infrastructure. “

A few manufacturers have introduced cloud-based audio solutions since the COVID-19 hit. For others, Carpenter noted, the lines are blurring between traditional I / O-based products and software-based solutions.

REMOTE MANAGEMENT

With the increase in remote productions induced by the pandemic, “centralized remote management of audio monitoring platforms and tools is a necessary requirement,” Carpenter said. “Content creators need to be able to easily reconfigure devices for use in events, large studio productions and sports in order to meet a tight production schedule. “

Owens of Wheatstone agrees: “We have virtual mixers that are used as stand-alone consoles in a remote location or as mirrors to the studio’s hardware console; and we now also have a hybrid software / hardware combination of the two. Wheatstone’s new 32-fader Tekton console, a tactile surface with smooth controls, offers the best of both worlds, he added. “You can move cursors and cue events across the surface, while pinching and dragging EQ settings from the touchscreen. “

Browne said Clear-Com is launching its new Arcadia Central Station, a smart box that combines AoIP standards with conventional wired and wireless communications with a comprehensive management system. Many Clear-Com products rely on standard internet or cellular data networks and are also suitable for remote operations, he said. “The new Station-IC for PC and Mac, based on IV Core technology, finds use in this COVID-19 era as an office intercom station for remote workers. “

Wheatstone’s WheatNet-IP has evolved into an AoIP network environment offering audio codecs, processing, mixing, routing, control, operating system, and AES67, NMOS, and ST 2110 support. “This year we have added audio codecs like Opus, MP3 and AAC natively as part of the network for streaming between the station’s studio and home or remote locations, ”Owens said.

As for the future of AoIP, he concluded: “We are not far from cloud-based applications that will give us the ability to connect from cloud coding, IFB, routing , mixing, playback, and even the type of console needed for a given show or operator skill level. © NAB 2021


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