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Programming Simplified?

Dec 1, 2009 12:27 PM, From Harman

The AVB standard enables a new approach to network configuration and control.

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The newly released HiQnet System Architect version 2.0 incorporates an intuitive element into the design process by providing users with intelligent choices based on job function, system application, and system sophistication. Instead of programming the system connections and components individually, as is typical across the industry now, the system designer can now essentially educate HiQnet System Architect 2.0 about how devices are to be used. As the process proceeds, it can then do a lot of that grunt work itself intuitively going forward, based on what it’s learned. For instance, once the user has informed the software about how various individual devices are to be used—all of which are networked using HiQnet control panels that are already embedded in the System Architect 2.0 software—it automatically ties to the correct devices and provides source-selection, level, mute, and metering. These settings are instantly accessible for each user-defined space directly from the main Venue View. The factory-supplied panels can also be edited or completely replaced with fully customized user control panels.

Key to achieving this was to orient the software to the user’s workflow perspective by framing input based not only the technology components to be employed but also on how the system is to be used. “The software works in the same order that the system designer does,” Holladay says. “It starts by understanding the venue the designer is designing for, then learns about the responsibilities and behaviors of the devices so as to automate many of the laborious design stages. Interestingly, in the early stages of this project, we felt this new philosophy was all about working in reverse order. Later, it dawned on us that by starting with the definition of the venue, System Architect 2.0 was working forwards, while traditional system design has always worked backwards, finishing with the bird’s eye view control panel.”

Using the HiQnet System Architect 2.0 interface, the designer uses a simplified set of embedded drawing tools to teach the application about the venue, starting with a traced outline of the venue, then overlaying semi-transparent, editable shapes to more precisely reconstruct the venue. The designer then adds components to the venue based on their physical locations, such as the venue’s designated rack rooms. Next, the designer instructs the software about how the amplifier channels are wired to loudspeakers throughout in the venue by dragging and dropping amplifier channels to the virtual rooms or zones within the design. In essence, System Architect enables grouping of discrete amplifier channels and represents these groups to the user in a clear, visual manner.

System Architect 2.0 has been designed to reduce redundant actions. A key way it has started to do so is to make the 15 discrete functions referred to earlier (i.e. cluster tuning, system navigation and panel launch shortcuts, and system-wide monitoring) available by embedding them as preset panels, and thereby automating the process of custom control panel creation for the most common panel types. As HiQnet System Architect moves forward in its new incarnation, it will begin to provide the designer with more and more of these types of functional panels for each area of the venue automatically, and knowing the signal path for each area it will associate the controls on each panel with the relevant parameters in the devices on the designer’s behalf. Another benefit derived from this approach is the creation of a system-monitoring panel, using the layout of the venue. “If a device physically placed in a room has an error condition, the room will be displayed on the GUI as red or yellow, depending on the level of the error,” Holladay says.

AVB Simplifies Network Architectures

Systems designers and integrators will find a fast-growing array of Ethernet AVB-enabled hardware coming to market. The dbx Professional Products SC 32 and SC 64 digital matrix processors are already shipping with Ethernet AVB card slots, the Crown Audio 2-channel CTs series of amplifiers will see an Ethernet AVB card imminently, and BSS Audio will ship both Decora-compatible architectural wallplate I/O and the world’s first Ethernet AVB network switch manufactured and co-branded by Netgear.

HiQnet System Architect 2.0’s implementation of the new IEEE 802.1 AVB standards adds high-bandwidth networked audio distribution to the picture, significantly increasing the scale of systems designs even as it streamlines the workflow by eliminating redundancy in programming. The flexibility of the Ethernet AVB network enables simple drag-and-drop of audio signals to each area or room within the venue design. Using the network as the matrix, System Architect can automatically and collectively instruct the Ethernet AVB amplifier channels associated with each area to switch to that networked audio signal, dramatically simplifying networked audio routing.

Ethernet AVB is an IEEE standard for simultaneously transferring time-synchronized, low-latency audio and video with excellent quality of service (QoS) over existing Ethernet networks. Ethernet AVB will provide significant enhancements for 802-based local area networks: precise timing to support low-jitter media clocks and accurate synchronization of multiple streams, simple reservation protocol that allows an endpoint device to notify the various network elements in a path so that they can reserve the resources necessary to support a particular stream, and queuing and forwarding rules that ensure that such a stream will pass through the network within the delay specified by the reservation.

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