OSA achieves first real-world test of IEEE 802.1 AVB Bridging

The recent implementation of an AVB system at a sales meeting in Michigan further reinforces the sense of a groundswell around the emerging networking standard in both live performance and fixed install sectors.
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On Stage Audio (OSA) configured and controlled a Crown Audio, dbx and BSS Audio A/V system using Harman HiQnet, and ran audio using Ethernet AVB standards. Led by vice-president Jim Risgin, the OSA team undertook the pioneering test during the Compuware national sales meeting at the Masonic Theater in Detroit, Michigan.

The watershed event constituted the first occasion on which the AVB protocol had been used as the primary audio transport for a major professional system.

Risgin's design was based around 24 Crown CTs 3000 power amplifiers equipped with USP4/AVB cards, four 240port BSS Audio/NETGEAR AVB bridges, and four dbx SX 32 Digital Matrix Processors. The last-named devices were used as the 'on ramps' for conversion of incoming analogue audio to digital AVB streams, 14 of which were then routed via HiQnet System Architect to the Crown CTs, with the USP4 input modules connecting the amplifiers to the Ethernet network. This enabled real-time transport of digital audio via Ethernet AVB, as well as allowing the CTs amplifiers to be remotely controlled and monitored via HiQnet System Architect.

AVB-induced latency is reported to have been less than 500 microseconds for all devices, while the delay from input to output maintained the <2ms specified by the AVB protocol.

"The systems performed flawlessly," said Risgin. "Harman has done a wonderful job of making a complex process far more simple. Everything on the network was completely transparent - troubleshooting was simple because we were able to verify that all the signal paths were correct, and there was instant metering available as soon as an AVB stream was connected to the network. The Crown amplifiers' load-monitoring capability verified that each speaker was working and with the correct loading, and the drag-and-drop audio routing really streamlined our workflow process."

Highlighting the "potential for failure" of more traditional, copper cabling-approaches, and the need for IT expertise required by "other IP solutions". "Ethernet AVB," he added, "has changed everything - for the better."

Adam Holladay, market manager for SDIG - which worked closely with Risgin on the project - remarked: "Where HiQnet simplifies and enables complex programming, monitoring and control, AVB simplifies and enables complex multichannel audio and video transport. The elegance and performance of the HiQnet and System Architect pairing is matched only by the comprehensive integration that is provided by AVB networking. The commitment of the AVnu Alliance to advance AVB as the universal standard for audio and video transport - indicated by the ever-increasing company membership - really shows that we truly can expect significant industry-wide benefits to many members of the professional A/V community in the not-too-distant future."

Along with other industry leaders such as Avid and Meyer Sound, Harman is a member of the AVB-promoting AVnu Alliance, which will celebrate its first birthday later this month at InfoComm 2010 with a dedicated technology and product pavilion, and a panel discussion.

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