Over the years, TV technology has continually progressed and so has the way in which audio is distributed within the television broadcast facility. Analog gave way to AES which in turn was replaced by embedded SDI. No transition came without its challenge but the most recent evolution to Audio over IP is one that actually makes things easier for broadcasters.
AoIP has already been widely embraced and implemented by radio broadcasters and its use is rapidly growing in television production and distribution. Let’s look at why this revolution took place in radio and why it is trending so strongly now in television.
The first Audio over IP solution appeared in 2003 when Telos introduced Livewire® as a method of routing and distributing broadcast-quality audio within radio stations. Radio broadcasters quickly saw the advantages of this new approach and understood that using IP for the transport mechanism would improve flexibility while also reducing the amount of wiring needed. It also got the attention of other manufacturers who saw an opportunity to leverage the many benefits of AoIP in their own equipment.
The rapid adoption of AoIP and the proliferation of compatible equipment quickly raised the need for a set of standards so that equipment from different manufacturers could be connected and work together. Telos, having invented AoIP for broadcast, was a charter member of the AES X.192 Working Group and took a leadership role to work with other manufacturers to define the AES67 AoIP transport standard. This standard now forms the basis for interoperability between professional audio equipment makers.
It is also important to remember that while AES67 ensures that broadcast-quality audio can be passed between devices, it is not a complete audio system and does not provide for other networking tasks such as routing, monitoring, and system control, all of which are necessary in a broadcast facility. Livewire was the first complete system and in 2013 was updated after the publication of AES67. It is now available as Livewire+ AES67 and freely shared with audio hardware and software partners, with over 100 vendors taking advantage of the benefits offered by these open standards.
As television has many of the same audio challenges as radio, including managing audio in live events, routing it throughout production and transmission facilities, and sharing it both locally and between distant locations, it is poised to benefit from the same revolution that swept through the radio industry.
Upcoming changes in television technology and delivery come with the promise of some exciting opportunities for viewers and broadcasters alike, and the trend toward AoIP will be among the most beneficial.