What is Digital Audio and is it better than older systems?

Offered By Icon Connect

Video over IP has been around for a while and most people now understand this technology with IPTV, YouTube, Netflix and other IP-based media sources. Audio over IP, however, is a lesser-known entity so here are a few soundbites to help your understanding:

  • Audio over IP (AoIP) is the distribution of digital audio across an IP network such as the internet = compressed – Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer etc.
  • Audio over Ethernet (AoE) is the distribution of digital audio over a local wired IT network = uncompressed lossless audio signal transfer
  • AoE is intended for high-fidelity, low-latency professional audio or in simple terms, ensuring you hear the best possible rendition of your music source
  • As any AoE solution requires a processor (computer chip) to manage the transfer, this brings a whole host off added benefits

Digital Signature Processor (DSP)

Routing

A network audio processor can create a virtual matrix to enable switching of ALL audio sources to ALL rooms (or end-points)

  • This is an enormously powerful tool to create functions such as ‘party mode’ or ‘follow me’ where you can start some music in your bedroom and then have it follow you around your yacht or property as you move

Digital Signal Processing (DSP)

Manipulation of the source signal to suit your needs:

  • Downmixing of 5.1 surround to left/right stereo
  • Equalization and Trim on a speaker-by-speaker level to tailor the sound for each room’s acoustics
  • Dynamic allocation of audio channels based on a changing room usage: Surround Sound for movie watching, Multi-Channel Stereo for background or party music, alternate orientation referencing a second screen
  • Input balancing, ensuring that a wide variety of sources are all set at the same level
  • Audio delay correction to avoid echo effect between adjacent audio zones

System Management

  • Remote diagnostic and telemetry tools for system support
  • Real-time monitoring and reporting of audio signals and routing
  • Automatic reporting of any system faults or hardware failures

DSP Software Tools

There are a number of standards and protocols in use such as Q-LAN, AES67 and Dante, amongst others. Some proprietary to a single manufacturer and others open source, but the basic concept is the same.

Network audio eliminates the need for audio-specific cabling and uses the same Ethernet infrastructure to process and transport audio around your yacht, which is a powerful and efficient solution.

One thing is clear; network audio distribution is here to stay and the new ‘norm’ for high-quality multi-zone audio distribution systems.


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