At last week’s CEDIA EXPO in Denver, the AVnu Alliance held an Installer Roundtable Breakfast to discuss the “unique challenges and demands of custom installers that could be solved with AVB.” AVB, if you’re not hip to it, is short for Audio Video Bridging — a set of technical standards developed by the IEEE to allow for better distribution of audio and video over networks. The most important aspect of AVB is time synchronization: ensuring that all devices on the network are set to the exact same clock, in other words, so you don’t run into lip-synch booboos or other timing-related issues.
If I were running a roundtable on AVB, I probably would have picked a title more like, “What the heck is AVB?” since it’s still such an unfamiliar technology to most people. What makes it more confusing in our product-driven industry is that AVB isn’t a proprietary technology, like AirPlay. In fact, it’s wholly compatible with AirPlay. Think of it more like another IEEE standard: Wi-Fi.
Speaking of Wi-Fi, the AVnu Alliance Installer Roundtable Breakfast centered on a discussion of wireless audio distribution, how it can be a major boon in residences or MDUs in which retrofit is necessary (or in which you’re trying to get a distributed music signal from one building to another), and why a unified standard like AVB is needed:
“Wireless bridging solutions would be helpful in the multiple dwelling unit market and right now those solutions use a lot of bandwidth,” said Jeff Mitchell, CEA TechHome member, about wireless audio via AVB. Other installers in the roundtable mentioned the need for wireless when retrofitting a location, wiring between buildings and as a must have for control systems.
Mitchell also mentioned: “Our industry is going more end-to-end but what we still really need are less expensive and more reliable diagnostic tools to accurately identify problems within the installation. Currently there is no easy way for us to know what is working incorrectly.”
Having technology that is certified to work on the IEEE standard network could give installers an industry standard tool to solve that problem. “The Alliance has set up a certification program to ensure that products will work in harmony. That’s going to be a promise of AVB Certification from AVnu Alliance. We guarantee that the device conforms to the specification,” said Alliance member, Denis Labrecque, ProAudio Business Development manager, Analog Devices. “I am an audio guy, and for me AVB is a whole new world. We need to hear from installers working in this industry to help us share and shape the future of residential audio and video installations.”
For more information about the AVB standard and how it could change the way we distributed audio and video in the home, in the car, and in commercial settings, check out the AVnu Alliance website. And if you’re a manufacturer interested in joining or learning more about the AVnu Alliance, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.