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OPINION: Broadcasters go all-in with AoIP

Audio over IP connectivity and signal transport in radio is commonplace, but TV broadcasters have been slow to catch up – until now, says Martin Dyster, VP, business development/TV, Linear Acoustic, part of Telos Alliance

Anybody involved in broadcast technology will have noticed the subject of media-over-IP emerge as the ‘next big thing’. IBC2015 looks set to be dominated by IP and while the video side of the business wrestles with formats and protocols, standards based audio-over-IP is already here. Mature, proven and in the case of radio, AoIP has been around since the early 00’s.

Linear Acoustic is a company that many readers will recognise as having set the ‘gold standard’ for loudness control and measurement, upmix/downmix processing, metadata transport and signal transcoding. What you might not know is that Linear Acoustic is part of Telos Alliance, a strategic merger of five co-operating technology companies whose membership includes Omnia, Telos and Axia, who between them, invented AoIP back in 2002 with the Livewire protocol.

These companies have subsequently gone on to dominate the American radio market with audio and voice IP products. With the broadcast television industry starting to sit up and take notice of both video and audio over IP, the TV arm of Telos Alliance, Linear Acoustic, is ideally placed to bring the mature technology already established in radio to television markets. Together with an unparalleled depth of group-wide broadcast experience, aiding the customers’ transition to IP is built on support and mutual co-operation rather than strong-arm selling.

Making good on that promise, IBC2015 marks the European debut of the next generation of ‘On Air’ audio signal processors. Combining the market leading and Emmy award winning processing engines of the Linear Acoustic AERO rackmount products with Livewire+/AES67 standards based connectivity, AERO.soft is the first processor in its class to be offered as an application rather than a traditional rackmount or cardframe-based solution.

Running on a dedicated server as part of an IP Enterprise Network, AERO.soft offers up to eight simultaneous multi-program audio processing streams capable of delivering loudness compliant sound, complete with Upmix/Downmix transitions and Dolby transcoding in realtime for live transmissions. As a standalone processor, AERO.soft fits seamlessly into a wider IP-based system.

However, by using the Linear Acoustic SDI xNode, an AES67 compliant SDI to AoIP mux/demux hardware product, AERO.soft integrates into a ‘traditional’ baseband environment as an IP island or as the first step towards an IP future.

Many TV broadcasters have stated their intent to move towards all-IP workflows during their next technology refresh, however others are sceptical of current solutions and simply not ready to change. Linear Acoustic and Telos Alliance systems are designed to make the transition to IP painless.

Whether a complete station rebuild or a partial upgrade, the proven technology, demonstrable savings in ownership and installation costs, plus improved ROI combined with the benefit of an infinitely scalable platform (unrestricted by a maximum port or DSP count), all mean that the argument for standards-based AoIP is too compelling to ignore for much longer.