When designing your studios, or considering an upgrade, is it worth the extra cost to go digital?
AoIP is an acronym for Audio-Over-IP, which is just a generic term for making audio connections between devices using a computer network instead of traditional analogue cables such as XLR, jack or phono. In order for devices connected to this network to understand how to send and receive audio, they all need to agree on how they're going to do it. Enter the AES67 protocol.
The AES67 protocol is a broad specification for transporting multicast audio over a local area network. It outlines what formats the audio should be in, and how to package it up and send it as network data.
Livewire is a proprietary protocol designed by Telos Alliance. Livewire+ replaced the original Livewire and is now compliant with AES67 standards.
In fact, there are various protocols designed by different companies such as Dante ... some of which comply with AES67 to allow communication between equipment using different protocols. Most also extend the AES67 specification with additional features.
While both of these technologies have their own unique advantages and disadvantages, they are often used in different situations depending on the specific requirements of the application. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at both AES67 and analogue, comparing their features and capabilities to help you understand when and why you might use one technology over the other.
AES67 is a digital audio-over-IP (AoIP) standard that was developed by the Audio Engineering Society (AES) in 2013. It is designed to allow different IP-based audio systems to interoperate seamlessly, and it is based on the standard Internet Protocol (IP) and the User Datagram Protocol (UDP). AES67 specifies a set of parameters for audio streams, including sample rate, bit depth, and channel count, as well as methods for synchronizing audio streams and transporting them over IP networks. This allows for the transmission of audio signals over long distances with minimal loss of quality.
Analogue audio, on the other hand, is a technology that has been around for much longer. It uses electrical signals to represent audio information and is typically transmitted via cables. Analogue audio is often associated with older technologies such as cassette tapes and vinyl records, but it is still widely used in professional audio applications today.
One of the main advantages of AES67 is its ability to transmit audio signals over long distances with minimal loss of quality. This makes it ideal for broadcasting and live sound reinforcement applications where the audio signal needs to be transmitted over a long distance, such as from a remote location to a studio or from a stage to a mixing console. AES67 also allows for multiple audio streams to be transmitted over a single IP network, which can save on costs and simplify the setup of audio systems.
The initial investment in equipment and training can be daunting, but is usually worth the effort for any non-trivial setup.
Analogue audio, on the other hand, is sometimes said to be preferred for its warmth and natural sound and considered to have a more "organic" sound compared to digital audio. There's no real technical reason why this should be the case and most engineers agree that this is a myth. Depending on the AoIP setup, analogue can have a lower latency (delay) than digital audio which is important in some professional audio applications, such as live sound reinforcement.
The primary reason to choose analogue these days is simplicity and cost. If you're wiring a single studio, it's probably far more cost effective to use analogue cabling and equipment, and you can still easily control the signal quality. Once you move on to multi-studio, multi-channel facilities, or anything that involves moving audio to a different location, digital is almost always worth the investment.
In conclusion, AES67 and analogue audio are both widely used in professional audio applications, but they have different strengths and weaknesses. AES67 is ideal for long-distance audio transmission and for applications that require multiple audio streams to be transmitted over a single IP network. Analogue audio is preferred for simple applications where cost is important. Ultimately, the choice between AES67 and analogue will depend on the specific requirements of the application and the preferences of the audio professional.