Analog Sunset in Commercial AV by Christopher Maione

5/5/2010 11:43:38 AM
By PSN Staff

The time has finally arrived; the analog sunset in AV is on the horizon. If we look at the various playback/display signal levels in a typical AV system we find the following:

                                        SVGA                                                 HDMI / DVI
Laptops                                   VGA / SVGA                                     HDMI / DisplayPort
DVD                                        Component                                          HDMI
Document Cameras                Composite, S-Video, VGA                Not Yet                                    
As the analog signals disappear the entire world of AV connectivity, interfacing, matrix switching and distribution changes. Component signals such as Composite, S-Video, Component Video, RGBS will all become obsolete in favor of the new digital formats including DVI, SDI, HDMI, and DisplayPort
The AV industry, including tech managers, end users, manufacturers, consultants, and system integrators, will need to retool their knowledge in all aspects of equipment, systems design, engineering, integration, installation and operation of the next generation of digital AV systems.
Unfortunately the speech audio/audio teleconference chain is still very analog, and there is only a glimmer of a digital future. The typical speech audio chain:
Microphones – Audio (or Video) Conference Unit — Mixers – Amplifiers – Speakers
Let’s examine some of the typical signal levels in the audio chain:
Microphones                                        Still essentially an analog signal
Audio Conference Interface
               Still accepts only analog audio (mic / line level) inputs and provides analog audio outputs (line level audio)
Videoconference CODEC                  Still accepts only analog audio (mic / line level) inputs and provides analog audio outputs (line level audio)
Amplifiers                                            Still accepts only analog audio (line level) inputs and provides analog audio outputs (speaker level audio)
Speakers                                              Still accepts only analog audio (speaker level)
Aside from a few companies providing digital audio interfaces (Biamp, Cobranet, and Aviom), there aren't typical (leading) AV manufacturers with audio products utilizing digital audio inputs and outputs.
When will the commercial audio and professional videoconferencing equipment manufacturer open their eyes and see the sunset? When will we fully move out of the analog world and into the digital domain?
The IEEE is pursuing a new standard, the Audio/Video Bridging 802.1, which is defining a digital audio signal for use over Ethernet (AoE). Hopefully, this “standard” will come into fruition and accepted in the pro-AV world as the going forward digital audio standard.
 Christopher Maione, CTS-D, is president of Christopher Maione Associates, a firm specializing in all aspects of AV business, technologies, and marketing strategy. He also serves as an Infocomm Adjunct Faculty member and frequent speaker at global AV industry events. Reach him at

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