Networked audio has matured into robust and capable systems poised to rapidly eclipse what came before. Now is a good time to re-examine the audio-over-IP solutions.

Television is on the cusp of major changes that will give viewers the ability to personalize their audio experience and ultimately even immerse themselves in sound as new standards for television become a reality. The professional audio industry is on the precipice of change.Two of the most prolific recent advances in professional audio technology, at least from a hardware point of view, are noise-cancellation and wireless connectivity. These technologies have become commonplace over the past five years or so in the way people listen to music or use audio devices to communicate.

Over the past years, a number of technologies have risen up, with the idea of putting traditional audio transport on the network. Today’s broadcasters are seeing a steady increase in the number of audio and video channels in use. Controlling and routing all of these signals using legacy non-network transports can be a daunting task, involving expensive specialized routers and complex workflows that vary from one manufacturer to another. Adding and incorporating new equipment can mean upgrading and replacing many other pieces of gear to maintain compatibility and provide bandwidth.While the transition from analog to digital is almost complete in all the realms of professional audio, using computer networking as a cost-effective way to connect, route and mange AV systems today is the way forward.

Market ScenarioThe pro-audio industry is broadly categorized into four segments – studio, live sound, installed sound, and broadcast audio.

Audio equipment for studio segment is now being sold through musical instruments (MI) stores. The global MI market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 2.24 percent from 2015 to 2019 to reach USD 17.63 billion by 2019. Key market drivers include increase in the number of concerts and live performances; rise in disposable income; increased demand from emerging countries; and growing interest in music education.

However, a decline in the traditional equipment market, high manufacturing costs, a long replacement cycle, and the growing appeal of electronic gadgets are also listed as potential challenges for the industry over the coming years. The vision of a wireless transmission system between two connectors and transmitting audio signals in studio-quality has led to the development of innovative technologies. In professional audio environments, wireless connectivity is beneficial any time an ad hoc connection is required, or anywhere signals are coming and going and equipment is constantly shifting. Wireless technology is a pathway to convenience, not necessarily performance, although future developments might flip that proposition.

The growth of wireless audio market is mainly driven by smartphones and rise in the adoption of portable devices, and is expected to reach USD 54.07 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 23.2 percent between 2016 and 2022. There is an increasing demand for wireless audio products including wireless headsets, headphones, speakers, and sound bars owing to the growth of the market for smartphones, which are used as a source of entertainment, rise in the adoption of portable devices, high expenditure on R&D for wireless audio technology by OEMs, advancements in technologies, and growing demand for infotainment services.

Audio-over-IPAs the economics of commercial IT infrastructure for television gets better every year, broadcasters are eager to access the benefits of IP technology. The question is not if, or even when – but how. Specifically, how do broadcasters transform their installations to achieve the benefits of IP with as little risk and disruption as possible?

The broadcast industry has been using IP for several years in its workflow for storage and post-production and is now recognizing the benefits of IP distribution for the audio for production. Audio-over-IP can greatly enhance levels of productivity and cost effectiveness as they provide more flexibility and are just as reliable as older technologies. IP-based solutions can handle many hundreds or thousands of channels of audio, connecting dozens of devices using inexpensive Cat5E cabling and a few inexpensive gigabit network switches. There are no specialized routers needed to provide conversion and distribution; all changes are made quickly and easily in software running on ordinary computers, with no disruption of production activities.

The growth of IP systems for audio has resulted in the rapid deployment of hundreds of new products in all key audio categories.

Critical to the future of the media industry is the widespread adoption of industry standards to provide a swift and streamlined transition to a more versatile and flexible environment. An IP technology infrastructure based on open standards provides broadcasters with the agility to adjust business models, essentially on the fly, capitalize on new revenue opportunities and add new capabilities and services without having to constantly rebuild their workflows.

The product landscape has changed dramatically in the last couple of years, as there are several IP networked audio products available in the market, with Dante audio networking incorporated in more than 60 percent of audio equipment. Complete end-to-end systems from microphones to loudspeakers may be specified across different brands with Dante, and new products are constantly being released.

Manufacturers have risen to the challenge of integrating Dante with existing systems so that older equipment can remain a vital part of modern broadcast facilities. Many mixers, routers, intercom systems, and amplifiers support multiple interface cards, allowing them to bridge older digital protocols such as MADI or CobraNet to a Dante network, and dedicated converters are available for nearly any format. It permits audio flows to remain entirely in the digital domain, avoiding signal degradation from intermediate A/D and D/A conversions.

Dante has been adopted by majority of pro-audio equipment manufacturers including Bosch, RTS or Delec, Calrec, Studer, Yamaha, Solid State Logic, Salzbrenner, Roland, Dan Dugan, Allen & Heath, DiGiCo, and AEQ, MADI I/O convertors from Focusrite, Stagetec, SSL, NTP Technology, Digital Audio Denmark, Ghielmetti, Evertz, Jünger Audio, Sennheiser, Shure, AKG, Sound Devices, Aaton Digital, NewTek, Studio Technologies, and Glensound, among others.

Dante has become the de facto standard in IP audio networking, with the greatest adoption rate and highest end-user satisfaction. Dante also supports the AES67 interoperability standard, allowing diverse IP networking solutions to establish audio connections with one another in mixed protocol environments.

Standards defining audio-over-IP. AES67 is the recent standard that seeks to accomplish this task. The AES67 standard is a networked audio interoperability specification developed by the Audio Engineering Society. It describes techniques for exchanging digital audio on a TCP/IP networking using real-time transport protocol. Additionally, AES67 specifies particular implementation constraints to facilitate interoperability between implementations.

AES67 promises basic interconnectivity at its core and has fairly modest and achievable goals. Primarily focused on the audio networking transport element, AES67 does not specifically address system control, signal routing, or channel labeling. For audio quality, it requires 48 kHz, 24-bit stream with 1 ms latency as the lowest common denominator. AES67 allows for, but does not require, support for higher sample rates and different bit depths, which means that supported audio formats may vary between devices in the ecosystem.

While audio-over-IP is well established, market needs differ. The type of control functions needed in a large setup to support audio, PA, background music, and emergency communication are far different from that required for broadcast and production audio. In addition, the broadcast and production market already has multiple IP audio networking options. Audio networking brings various benefits and lays the groundwork for the future by leveraging IP technology. As media continues to advance, customers expect their AV systems to be capable of delivering refined and flexible experiences. Unlike analog and legacy digital installations, an audio-over-IP network will be relevant and easily upgradable for years to come.

Vipin Pungalia - Sennheiser IndiaModern day needs call for technological advancements that directly impact our lives – whether personal or professional. One of the most important parts of the audio industry revolution has been the advancing microphone technology. Microphones are the heart of communications whether it is boardrooms, conferences, auditoriums, recordings, or live performances, and Sennheiser has changed the way this industry has been shaping up. Sennheiser offers both wired and wireless microphones that not just enhance the personality of your voice but also stay true to it. It provides the power to reach, as well as the subtlety to touch, the audience. And while it picks up every emotional nuance the performer wants to convey, it also stubbornly ignores disturbing noises that might interfere with the sung or spoken word, features that are integral to every vocal microphone by Sennheiser, making all the difference between volume and intensity.

The Sennheiser range of wired microphones is designed to give you an experience that you can never forget. Designed in a way that produces a solid sound and projects well, it also cuts through high volumes on stage. Vocals become more alive and sound wider and more open – even at different speaking proximities. Portability on the go is the it thing these days that is driving brands to come up with new wireless microphone technologies to cater to professional as well as entertainment requirements and Sennheiser is leading it. Sennheiser wireless microphones give you the freedom you deserve. Wireless Sennheiser series is for all who want it all from equipment – powerful, arresting sound, absolute ruggedness and reliability, a comprehensive feature list – without being put on a leash.

Vinoy Prem.C - Audio-TechnicaThe concept of digitization seems to be taking the Indian pro-audio market by storm, with technology driving the market trend in terms of audio-over-IP. Key industry players are increasing their foothold while emerging players are striving to develop their market share in this steadily maturing market of professional audio. Initially, the equipment and solutions for studio segment were sold through channel partners, but now they are sold through MI stores. As the Indian market matures, there is a need to invest in the right technology to compete on international level. India is now considered a world-class post-production destination, which is creating high demand for premium products.

India is definitely a key focus market for Audio Technica. Innovation in product line and features is again an important factor for manufacturers and distributors of professional audio industry in India.

Audio-Technica manufactures products that set quality, durability, and price/performance standards for live sound tours, broadcast and recording studios, corporate and government facilities, house-of-worship venues, and more. Audio-Technica microphones are chosen for critical government installations. The ATUC-50 system is designed for intuitive operation and plug-and-play functionality. The system provides 24-bit/48-kHz uncompressed digital audio for clear and intelligible communication that significantly increases meeting efficiency and effectiveness. While available at a cost-effective price point, the system offers superb power and flexibility, including multi-mode operation, 12-band feedback suppressor, and ability to record a meeting directly to a mass storage device on the front of the control unit and interpretation channels.

Hemant Gaba - Sun InfotechOur marketing plans comprise of regular workshops/seminars and participations in exhibitions, social media campaigns, and one-on-one meetings with customers/end-users.

Our customers are now more focused on getting better after-sales support, latest technology and regular up-dates. We are providing all services to customer, which in-turn creates faith in customers. Going forward in 2016-17, we plan to include more seminars/workshops to educate people about new technology, features, and latest updates, participations in future exhibitions to showcase new products/new launches along with established products.

We have launched several products recently including Motive Series from Shure, dLive, QU and GLD Chrome series mixers from Allen & Heath, MX series weatherproof speakers from Quest Engineering.We will also be launching Microflex Advance Ceiling & Table Array Microphones for AV Conferencing Microphones from Shure and ID Series speakers from Nexo France at Infocomm-2016.

System integrators, end-users, and government and corporate sector are the key market drivers for the pro-audio industry. Since new players are joining the pro-audio industry, so customers want user-friendly, compact, and affordable solutions. Though market is growing, but there is strong competition in terms of price and technology.