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Three Tips for Setting Up and Managing a Standard and AES67 Network

Three Tips for Setting Up and Managing a Standard and AES67 Network

Three Tips for Setting Up and Managing a Standard and AES67 Network

Contribution – Infrastructure – Studio

A lthough large radio stations and groups typically have the resources to develop dedicated networks for AES67 (IP audio) and for corporate traffic, small and mid-sized stations often need to pursue a less-expensive approach. Here we provide three recommendations that help smaller radio broadcasters ensure the peaceful coexistence of AES67 audio-over-IP (AoIP) traffic and standard network traffic on a single network.

Seamless Handling of AoIP and Standard Traffic on One Network

The AES67 standard makes AoIP protocols such as Dante, Livewire and Ravenna interoperable, in turn simplifying connectivity and reducing hardware and overall clutter. To identify the requirements of handling and optimizing AoIP traffic and standard traffic — web, video transfers, and corporate data — on one network, we examined the interoperability of AES67-compatible products from four different manufacturers and then created three recommendations for small and mid-sized radio broadcasters in setting up and managing AES67 (IP audio) on an existing network.

In short, we recommend the use of Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) snooping protocol to distribute predictable bandwidth on a high number of streams; installation of PTP (Precision Time Protocol)-enabled switches; and activation of quality of service (QoS) mechanisms to limit disruption and avoid audio glitches.

Making It Happen: Three Keys to AES67/AoIP on a Standard Network

Recommendation 1: Enable IGMP

First step: Activate the IGMP. By realizing select communications, IGMP enables the management of subscriptions to the multicast addresses. It manages the distribution of network and audio packets, in turn preventing saturation of bandwidth and reducing clutter on the network.

Recommendation 2: Consider PTP

The switch used to support this single-network model can be PTP-enabled or not. If it is, it facilitates better synchronization of the network and is less sensitive to the disruptive effects that can be generated by the corporate network. Although a PTP-enabled switch is more expensive than the alternative, its benefits often are worth the extra cost. When the switch is not PTP-enabled, synchronization or jitter problems may occur during heavy use of the network. (One way to avoid this issue is to configure the QoS present on the switches.) Without PTP support, clock jitter on AES67 traffic becomes quite high above 100 audio channels.

Recommendation 3: Configure Packet Priority via QoS

QoS is used to manage the priority of packets over the network, and it improves the network capabilities of a switch that does not contain PTP. The AES67 standard imposes rules on manufacturers regarding QoS eligibility. It integrates the management of the priorities of the IP packets and to which class of service they are associated. The equipment and the network must follow the AES67 recommendations to ensure a uniform understanding of priorities.

Optimizing the Single-Network Model

Enabling the IGMP is the most important step radio broadcasters can take to avoid saturation of the audio network, regardless of whether or not they are using a PTP-enabled switch. That said, the bottom line is that the combination of PTP and Qos makes it possible to increase the quality and quantity of available audio streams. Through our tests, we determined that the combination of a non-PTP-enabled switch with QoS enabled made it possible to exchange 120 full-duplex channels on the network without loss of packets and without any latency problems.

Conclusion: Creating an AES67 Network is an Option for All

Network audio competence is increasingly essential for radio broadcasters, but today’s AES67-compatible IP-based products for AoIP — and a few helpful tips for implementation — can go a long way in enabling small and mid-sized operations to take advantage of IP audio and its many benefits.

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AES67 for TV applications

AES67 for TV applications

AES67 for TV applications

audio essence will no longer “follow” video; it will be produced independently and dynamically assembled with metadata in the delivery of the final content, leading to new productivity schemes

B y its nature, the delivery of audio over IP infrastructure enables a distributed approach to handling audio streams. Without the need to rely on specific pieces of equipment, connected in a point-to-point model, broadcast and A/V facilities can realize much greater flexibility in routing, scheduling and managing audio streams. At the same time, audio-over-IP (AoIP) technologies simplify operations by allowing users to maintain synchronized content within complex multiple-source, multiple-destination workflows, and to manage metadata more effectively in terms of end-to-end content management and overall operations.

The AES67 standard

The AES67 standard for AoIP interoperability has evolved to the point that its performance is roughly comparable to that of MADI (AES10). With the industry increasingly focusing on system approaches, technology suppliers are addressing the “discovery gap” — which was deliberately omitted by the AES67 Working Group — by bridging stream discovery at the system level or in equipment. At the same time, vendors are pushing forward control and monitoring specifications, such as AES70, NMOS, and others, that further enhance system implementation of IP-based applications.

Audio essence will no longer “follow” video

The value of AoIP to mission critical IP-based audio distribution applications has been widely demonstrated, firstly outside the studio with the ACIP standard and now inside with AES67, and video broadcasters now are considering integrating AES67 into video-over-IP environments. In fact, through the Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS), broadcast equipment and solution suppliers have come together to ensure an easier transition to IP by supporting VSF TR-03/-04, SMPTE 2022-6, and AES67 standards. With such an approach, audio essence will no longer “follow” video; it will be produced independently and dynamically assembled with metadata in the delivery of the final content, leading to new productivity schemes.
When broadcasters and A/V facilities take full advantage of IP infrastructure’s potential to increase their workflow productivity and flexibility far beyond simple gains such as reduced installation or transmission costs, they realize the optimal cost-benefit ratio. To do so, they must undertake solid IP infrastructure engineering, taking care to establish the multicast routing and PTP clock synchronization capabilities essential to mission critical broadcast operation.

Because audio also needs to be transmitted between facilities, several audio manufacturers propose “Media Gateway” solutions to bridge the LAN-synchronous and ultra-low latency AES67 to outside WANs, using the ACIP standard (EBU Tech 3326 and EBU Tech 3368). As an example, for countrywide studio-to-studio transport of AES/EBU, bit transparency provides for the highest PCM audio quality, Dolby E® and user bits transport. This application benefits from a dedicated QoS priority to transport PTP (Precision Time Protocol) clock reference at reasonable jitter on a managed WAN to accurately synchronize and phase audio at the sample level.

Another important use case consists of quickly installing a high-performance audio link between an AES67-enabled OB and an AES67-enabled venue, such as a theater or a stadium.

Since AES67 avoids both dedicated audio lines and costly hardware routing, all applications requiring flexibility, high performance (high channel count, precise time-alignment, low latency…) and low capex could benefit from AES67 interoperability.

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IP Brings Flexibility to Outside broadcasting

IP Brings Flexibility to Outside broadcasting

IP Brings Flexibility to Outside broadcasting

the next challenge for IP-based technology is to operate with the ease of use of consumer devices

What are the main advantages to using IP technology for mobile contributions?

Reliability and security are the most important factors to consider when integrating remote newsgathering technology into the overall radio broadcast workflow. For this reason, it is critical to choose an experienced partner that can bring change rather than force it.The main advantage to using IP technology for mobile contribution is the much greater flexibility it enables. IP-based solutions support the creation of content anywhere in the world and distribution of that content to any other point. Taking advantage of mobile devices and networks, IP technology effectively puts a studio — with professional quality — in the user’s pocket, no matter where that person is.

What challenges have you faced when helping stations integrate mobile/IP technology into their daily process?

In integrating mobile/IP technology into daily broadcast operations, the chief challenges are to establish a secure and reliable IP link and to build a strong infrastructure dedicated to this evolution. These steps are critical in securing the trust of equipment users — journalists and technicians — working within the station. A secure, reliable IP link requires two things: highly reliable IP technology, embedded in the codecs, and a strong IP infrastructure that can ensure that the IP stream is delivered uncompromised and on time.
It is important to ensure that each client’s IP infrastructure is secure, efficient, and perfectly tuned to the needs of the operation. Our strategy is to move away from the “box” business and go deeper into a service business. We work with clients as they establish their IP infrastructure, before they make the transition, so that they are positioned to take full advantage of IP-based technology.

How do you see the technology evolving in the future? Globally and locally.

In global terms, the next challenge for IP-based technology is to operate with the ease of use of consumer devices, but with quality of service adapted to broadcasters’ needs. From the local perspective, it is important that technicians inside and outside the studio are able to use cloud-based applications to control and manage the equipment used by journalists in the field. Here too, it is essential that IP technology be simple while supporting professional-quality work.

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