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AES Develops Interoperability Standard

Boulder, CO--An AES standards task group chaired by Kevin Gross is developing an interoperability standard for audio networking. The project is called “X192”.

Addressing the need for interoperability between products of many different manufacturers, X192, once implemented, will provide manufacturers with the means to remain with the network technology they are invested in, while also seamlessly interfacing with products that support other networks.

There are currently a number of existing and work-in-progress protocols, each with a distinct heritage. These include the IEEE 1733 variant of AVB, Dante, Livewire, Q-LAN and RAVENNA. With an “interoperability mode” built from existing protocols and compatible with existing network equipment, system integrators and end-users will be able to select and interface the products that best meet their design goals with confidence that the X192-enabled devices work and play well together. And by “interoperability” Gross means the ability for devices operating under various proprietary Layer-3 protocols to easily exchange audio data.

Alternately, manufacturers may find that X192, once fully developed, will meet all their criteria and may decide to implement it as their only networking protocol. QSC Audio Products, LLC and Telos Systems’ Axia Audio division have become sponsoring members supporting Gross’s work.

Manufacturers and users of networked audio products are recognizing the benefits of using Layer 3 network technology and applying existing IP protocols such as IEEE 1588, RTP and DiffServ to the challenge of distributing high channel-count, low-latency, uncompressed digital audio. The benefits of such an approach include compatibility with off-the-shelf network hardware, scalability, manageability and acceptance by IT professionals.

Gross describes the genesis of the effort: “When you’re working in the IP environment, there are a limited number of ways to mix and match existing pieces to implement an audio network. So it’s inevitable that IP-based solutions will have similarities. As I surveyed various implementations it became apparent that these similarities provided an opportunity for interoperability.”

The task group membership is comprised of representatives from prominent audio manufacturers, including ALC NetworX and members of the RAVENNA consortium, network equipment and component manufacturers and key end users.

“We strongly support Kevin’s efforts,” said QSC vice president of marketing, Gerry Tschetter. “Two years of field experience with the Q-LAN protocol used by Q-Sys networked audio products have proven to us that an IP based approach to networked audio is the right solution. We are looking forward to working with Kevin on an interoperability definition that expands options for the industry.”

Clark Novak, marketing manager for Telos Systems and Axia Audio, said: “Telos and Axia have advocated standards-based audio networking since we pioneered Livewire in 2003. The development of a networking standard whose benefits all broadcasters can enjoy is the logical next step for the industry. We’re delighted to be a charter member of the X192 group.”