Plugfest Shows AES67 Is “Not Vaporware”

media-alliance-1214We know what you’re thinking: What’s AES67? AES67, a standard for audio over IP, promises interoperability between previously competing audio-over-IP systems and could solve network interoperation between systems.

AES67 is a “Switzerland” of standards so the different IP based audio networking products currently fighting it out in the market, such as Dante, Livewire, Q-LAN and RAVENNA, can actually co-exist and cooperate on a standard network.

Consider it a Rosetta Stone for audio on IP networks, operating over standard Layer 3 Ethernet. If you are running AES67, you can put a variety of audio devices onto a participating network.

The AES, working with the European Broadcast Union (EBU), recently held a ‘Plugfest’ at the Institut für Rundfunktechnik (IRT) in Munich with equipment from 10 manufacturers, to demonstrate functional compatibility — or interoperability — between a number of different implementations of the AES67-2013 standard.

The participating makers were ALC NetworX GmbH, Archwave AG, Axia Audio, Digigram SA, DirectOut GmbH, Georg Neumann GmbH, Lawo AG, Merging Technologies S.A., SOUND4 and Telos Systems Inc. Technical personnel from IRT, Swedish Radio and the BBC assisted in the tests and observed the outcomes on behalf of the EBU.

All products tested are currently available networked-audio products with AES67-specific extensions. Implementations varied from software implementations on a PC to hardware-based FPGA solutions. Tests were chosen to demonstrate audio streaming interoperability (linear PCM coding, 24 bits per sample, 48 kHz sampling frequency, two channels) between each device as a transmitter, and all other units as receivers. All devices were used to test synchronization and primary interoperability. A number of smaller groups were then formed to test specific optional details.

The recently-formed Media Network Alliance (MNA) promotes the adoption of (and the support of early adopters) of this newly ratified standard.

Stefan Ledergerber, director of R&D for the Lawo Group and member of the MNA steering committee, says: “The Plugfest proved that AES67 is not vaporware, it works. It is the ideal form of making the various existing technologies talk to each other and giving the users the possibility to interconnect a huge variety of equipment, based on open standards. There is still enough room for differentiation between the various technologies out there, allowing for healthy competition between them, and continuing to drive industry innovation forward. The fact that we are all based on IP layer 3 ensures full scalability of installations and maximum leverage of IT industry advancements.”

Here are the details.