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NSCA: Sounds Like Streaming

"One of the limitations of the digital snakes on the market is the need to send sound in bundles of eight channels," said the A/V consultant. "My ideal system would have redundancy at each 2-4 channel box with a latency as low as the market leading system's latency for its 8-channel boxes."

This is done to keep latency or delay down so that the IP audio can be routed from the appropriate encoder to the appropriate decoder. Some systems are capable of sending small bundles of two channels, but the daisy-chaining of several of these two-channel encoders together increases a chance of a failure along the daisy chain, while at the same time increasing the latency of the overall signal path.

The long-term goal of several IP-based digital snake manufacturers is to be able to plug one or both of the Cat5 cables directly into the mixing console, thereby eliminating half of the hardware costs associated with digital snakes.

IP-based speakers
Several companies, including industry giant JBL, have shown IP-based speakers over the last two years. The benefit of an IP-based speaker two-fold: first, the ability to route audio around a conference room, ballroom, or large venue without signal degradation. Second, the ability to place amplifiers closer to or, in some cases, directly within the speaker enclosure, yielding extremely short speaker leads and lower power amplifiers.

This year was no different, with Atlas showing off an IP speaker that is primarily geared toward paging and public address. While this might not seem like a very impressive use of streaming audio, the IP speaker solves a problem that has plagued the pro audio integration market for years: how to use one speaker to perform different functions. Atlas’ I8S speakers are powered either from standalone power inserters or from Cisco IEEE 802.3AF-compliant POE switches.

Under the name of InformaCast, using software created by a partner company called Berbee, Atlas is marketing these speakers as a way to save the cost of multiple speaker systems--one each for paging, public address, and music playback--while at the same time increasing flexibility in delivery options: a joint effort by Cisco, Berbee, and Atlas provides the capability to send a multicast audio stream and corresponding text message to any combination of Atlas IP speakers, Cisco IP phones, and desktop PCs.

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