When looking at AV systems that encompass multiple sources and destinations, routers and switchers often serve as the heart of the network. With that in mind, working with the right technology provider to identify what your system really needs can make or break your network installation.
“There is more to it than just selecting the correct format and number of input and output connectors. Aspects like switching time, scaling, resolution, latency, EDID-HDCP management, edge device control, and flexibility can mean the difference between something that might barely work and something that truly fits the application,” said Chris Kopin, executive vice president of technology, Kramer.
When working with technology providers to select the right product for your AV system, it is important that they understand your expectations and how you plan to use the system. “Whether you’re in charge of AV for a small church or school, or a large sports stadium or concert venue, you can tailor a solution to fit your needs accordingly. There’s no need for a small customer just starting out or run by volunteers to invest in something that goes beyond their means and abilities, and there’s no need for a larger customer to force their workflow to fit a certain switcher or router,” said Bob Caniglia, director of sales operations for the Americas, Blackmagic Design.
The speed of the switcher or router, the number of ports, ease of management, and the potential upgrade path are just some of the things to keep in mind when selecting a product. These factors will help determine the right product for the application. It’s easier than ever to customize a system based on the intended use and ensure users have the features they require no matter the budget or size of the installation.
“The great thing about the market right now is that there are numerous options out there, so users can create professional, customized workflows more easily than ever before. Gone are the days when the largest, most feature-rich switchers cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Today, there are powerful, multipurpose, and future-proof options for every budget. You don’t need the largest budget to achieve a high-quality and versatile workflow,” said Caniglia.
End users are looking for products that can grow with their network and capabilities. There are plenty of products on the market that can deliver SD, HD, and Ultra HD through a single unit. Caniglia continued, “Users can work in lower resolutions now while they prepare, and then flip the switch to 4K when they are ready. The ability to handle 8K, which is only used in a limited capacity right now, will also become more important as time goes on and technologies become more advanced.”
Live streaming is also an important capability, with many end users looking for products that can help them streamline the process by removing the need for an encoder or the need to connect to a network.
[The Technology Manager's Guide to Videoconferencing and Streaming (opens in new tab)]
The process can be overwhelming for an end user, so integrators should ensure they are available to help them find the optimal solution. Many manufacturers and providers offer a variety of channels to help guide the decision-making process and offer tech support to ensure the solution continues to fit your client’s needs.
Routing and Switching Solutions for AV Professionals
Integration firms should consider these products—a list compiled by our panel of experts—when looking for AV systems solutions for clients.
Aurora Multimedia IP-24PoE+
With a 24-port PoE+/PoH+ injector to deliver power on a 10 Gb connection, Aurora’s IP-24PoE+ (opens in new tab)is a good option for any standard 1 Gb or 10 Gb network switch and provides 30 watts of power per port. The IP-24PoE+ complements Aurora’s IPX Series SDVoE AV over IP product line since it is currently the only 10 Gb AV over IP product with PoE. Featuring 750 watts total power, it can also supply power to HDBaseT PoH products and can provide increased power to underpowered PoE network switches.
Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Series
Looking for something that makes it easy to livestream multicamera productions online? The ATEM Mini (opens in new tab) switcher offers four high-quality HDMI inputs and can be used for live switching cameras, computers, and game consoles. It features a USB output that operates similar to a webcam, allowing users to connect to any video software. The ATEM Mini Pro expands on the ATEM Mini’s capabilities by providing new hardware that allows direct streaming via its Ethernet connection to platforms like YouTube Live, Facebook, and Twitch. Users can also record the stream directly to USB Flash disks, and continuous recording capabilities are available. If your client is looking to take it one step further, ATEM Mini PRO ISO provides a five-stream recording engine that records video inputs to allow the live production to be edited following the event.
Hall Research Versa-4K
If you’re looking for simplicity, Hall Research’s Versa-4K (opens in new tab) might be an ideal solution. With the ability to be managed through any device with a browser, Hall Research’s Versa-4K empowers users to extend and switch multiple HDMI video and USB data streams to an unlimited number of receivers.
Josh Petru, the company’s Central U.S. business development manager, said, “With the Hall Research Versa-4K Video over IP system, the switch is the center aggregated distribution point for the Versa transmitters and receivers. Based on the project, the Versa-4K system gives you the versatility of working on the recommended closed AV network or within the customer’s existing network. This allows the platform to operate in a wide range of new or existing networks to distribute video around the room or around the world with ease.”
No external network equipment is needed, and advanced features include low-latency video and audio, a video wall processor to expand and split 4K video onto multiple screens, video rotation and flipping (horizontal and vertical), automatic KVM switching, and PoE (Power over Ethernet) support.
KanexPro 4K Quad Multiview 4x1 KVM Switch
With the ability to connect up to four sources, including servers, DVRs, computers, and media players, the 4K Quad Multiview 4x1 KVM Switch (opens in new tab) offers multiview functionality that tiles four 1080p hosts onto a single 4K display. Allowing each quadrant to be displayed in its native resolution, the multi-window processor supports 1080p or 4K resolutions through a single HDMI output to a single display. Real-time control allows for the four connected devices to be controlled by a simple mouse keyboard combo.
Is being ready for 8K important to you and your clients? If so, Kramer offers the VS-34FD (opens in new tab), a 34-port modular 8K multiformat digital matrix switcher. Featuring interchangeable inputs and outputs, the VS-34FD supports HDMI, HDBaseT, DGKat, fiber optic, DVI, VGA HD-SDI, and analog and digital audio. With the addition of an adapter, the unit is compatible with all existing cards and is ready for 8K when your client’s AV system is, future-proofing with an 8K-ready chassis.