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Network Misconceptions

Jul 11, 2014 3:22 PM, By Kevin Gross

Working with IT on AV networking projects

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A new generation of media network systems is now available. Whereas previous generations used standard network equipment to varying degrees but were otherwise purpose-built for audio networking, the latest generation makes better use of existing open standards to solve the problem. This new generation therefore represents a more IT-friendly approach to media networking. Although this means that these new system tend to operate on the same or similar principles and can coexist on the same network, they are each different enough so as not to interoperate with one another.

The AES67 standard is an attempt to allow this new generation of media networks to interoperate. AES67 is not a new technology. It takes the core ideas from these new systems and is a close cousin to the systems it connects. AES67 may be implemented as an interoperability mode or feature in existing products and systems. It is also comprehensive and capable enough to be used alone.

The project was initiated in late 2010, and the standards were developed between June 2011 and September 2013 with more than 100 materially affected individuals from prominent audio, video, and IT companies participating. Three principles guided the work:

    1. Focus on basic interoperability
    2. Use Layer 3 protocols
    3. Leverage existing standards and IT practices wherever possible.

The result is a standard for professional media networking interoperability,y which is essentially a jacked up VoIP system that provides the quality, low audio latency, capacity, and accuracy required by professional applications. Specifically, AES67 uses:

  • IEEE 1588 for synchronization
  • RTP over IP for media clocking and transport
  • SDP to describe connections
  • SIP to negotiate and make connections
  • IGMP for multicast management
  • DiffServ for QoS

With AES67 implemented in networked audio products, AV pros will have more options for connections; IT pros will have fewer and less quirky systems to learn about and can leverage their existing knowledge of VoIP and IP for successful media networking deployments.

Kevin Gross is an independent network designer and media networking consultant. He conceived and developed Cobranet 20 years ago. As a member of the IEEE 802.1 and 1722 standards committees, he helped develop AVB. In 2006 he was awarded an AES fellowship for his contributions to digital audio networking. Gross recently led the development of the AES67 audio networking interoperability standard. He can be reached by visiting

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