AV – Sometimes It’s Just Inconsistent Nonsense by Christoper Maione

There are several items, in the AV industry which just don’t make sense. I am going to make an attempt to present them here – and set the record straight for how they “should” be – based solely on my humble 28+ years experience in the AV industry.

First, let’s start with the word Audiovisual. It’s a SINGLE word. It is not “audio visual”.

The same goes for Boardroom. It is not a "Board Room."

InfoComm is properly spelled with a capital C.

Audio - You would think “balanced” would mean two conductors (a nice even number). But no, balanced audio requires three conductors (+ - shield) and unbalanced requires two conductors. Just another one of those things that don’t make sense, get used to it.

Rack Spaces - 1 RU = 1.75 inches. If you are working in metric, you are basically… well… good luck.

You cannot ask a millworker or carpenter in the U.S. to grab his drill and 25mm bit for your microphone holes. The U.S. is still an Imperial measurement nation – for good or bad, so please, it’s an inch – get with the program. ClockAudio – your microphones are either 20mm (.79-inch) or 30mm (1.18-inch) – you’re killing us.

Audio equipment, input and output connectors, is Pin 2 or Pin 3 hot? Frankly, it doesn’t matter to me – but COULD ALL THE MANUFACTUERS OF AUDIO EQUIPMENT PLEASE AGREE ALREADY? (Sheesh.)

Laptops – could the laptop manufacturing world please WAKE UP? I’m tired of wondering whether the output connector is going to be SVGA, DVI-D, DVI-A, DVI-I, DisplayPort and now HDMI. Before this goes too far – could we all agree on HDMI and then settle on one standard size connector?

Control Signals – please reduce the serial clutter – RS-232C, RS-422, RS-485. Pick one! Or better yet, let’s ditch all of these and mandate a WORKABLE, programmer friendly IP control for all AV devices.

Videoconferencing - Just because you can “see” the other person on the screen – doesn’t make it Telepresence. But don’t tell that to Cisco, they are working on a Telepresence wrist watch.

Audio conference is two words and videoconference is one word. This makes NO SENSE but that’s the way it is.

On the biggest loser front – is the USB cable. Now, to be clear – the USB (Universal Serial Bus) is an amazing development in the world of computers and other electronic devices. Finally, a successful attempt to “standardize” a control protocol for all the various devices which need to connect to a computer. USB cleaned up and standardized connectivity for our PC keyboard, mouse, webcam, external drives, thumb drives (what the heck was a floppy disc?) and just about anything else you wanted to connect to your PC. However, why is it that there is only ONE side of a USB cable which is “standard”? (the side which connects to the PC). It seems every manufacturer of just about every device has decided to develop their own “mini USB” to connect to their devices. HELLO world of mobile phones, Blackberry’s, external drives, card scanners, printers etc. etc. etc. – COULD WE PLEASE ALL AGREE ON ONE STANDARD USB MINI CONNECTOR?

Apple Users – I know, most of this doesn’t apply to your world of proprietary Apple cables and connectors.

Next sore spot – AC power adapters. We are FINALLY starting to see AC power adapters be more “universal” and that have a USB connector at the side which connects into the wall outlet. This is a big help. Now if the manufacturers would just all agree on a mini USB (as noted above) we could all clear out our drawers and boxes of all the various interconnecting cables.

Finally, Internet Protocol (IP) – the staple in the confusing technology world - is now changing. We’ve been running IP v4 and the whole world is going to have to change. Seems we ran out of IP addresses in v4 as it only supported 4.3 billion addresses so with the change to v6 we are good for 340 undecillion (3.4 x 1038) discreet IP addresses – and a host of other new security and network capabilities. Lot’s more confusion on its way – stay tuned.

I’d like to give the award for “the most long withstanding connector in our industry” – to the ¼-inch stereo plug. It has been around for decades, is still readily used in many professional and musical industry products – and has provided us an off shoot - another staple in our lives – the stereo mini (the connector used for every set of ear buds you ever owned). Good job!

So this is a call to the industry to get their act together and find ways to make sense where there is chaos, to provide leadership where there is none, and to standardize whenever possible. Particularly with the industry’s push for more compatibility and open platforms, interoperability needs to be so much easier and maybe, just maybe it starts with things as simple as the connections between the devices we use and having consistency wherever possible in the ways we communicate with our equipment and with each other.

Makes sense, right?

Christopher Maione, CTS-D, is president of Christopher Maione Associates, a firm specializing in all aspects of AV business, technologies, emerging trends and marketing strategy. Christopher serves as an InfoComm Adjunct Faculty, Approved CTS RU Provider, and sits on several AV standards committees.

The AVNetwork staff are storytellers focused on the professional audiovisual and technology industry. Their mission is to keep readers up-to-date on the latest AV/IT industry and product news, emerging trends, and inspiring installations.