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Audio and Video over IP

Back in the day, evey device needed to have its own cable. But times have changed and all these cables are no longer needed with a majority of signals being converted into IP streams using regular Cat 5 and 6 cables. Read the article below to find out more about Audio and video over IP.


It wasn’t all that long ago that we were using specific cables for each type of audio or video signal that we wanted to send and receive. Today, newer technologies have allowed us to do away with a lot of those old cables, making this type of system almost obsolete. In order to get the highest quality audio and video distribution, less bandwidth is now needed, and there are numerous benefits associated with sending signals through an IP network.

Traditional Audio/Video Cabling

Back in the day, every device needed to have its own cable. Speakers needed a twisted pair of wires, mic and line levels needed a twisted pair with a shield, etc. Coaxial cable, RGBHV signals, and HDMI all needed their own wires, and a separate pathway from the point of origin to the actual display. After a while, it seemed like we had more wires than anything else.

One of the biggest issues, besides the clutter, was the cost of all of these cables. Some can be quite expensive, especially when you need a lot of it. Not only is there the monetary expense, there is also the labor involved in pulling and terminating the cabling, not to mention the connectors. This can all get pretty complex, and lead to a pretty costly AV system infrastructure.

But, it no longer has to be that way. Yes, there are a variety of different audio/visual products that need to be connected in different ways (SDI, VGA, DVI, component video, s-video, DisplayPort, HDMI, stereo audio mini-jacks, composite video, etc.). But, you can convert the majority of these into IP streams that use regular Category 5 and 6 cables, routers, etc.

What is Audio & Video over IP, and How does it Work?

If you have heard the phrase “AV over IP”, and have wondered what it means, it isn’t really difficult to understand. Basically, AV over IP means that you would be sending data (audio and video) that is uncompressed, over IP mediums. To put it in different terms, you are encoding sources while streaming content with a bit of compression. What you really need to know is that this is going to let you send video and audio over regular IP.

What Sources can be Used?

When you are using AV over IP, you can use inputs and outputs anywhere, whereas before the signal path was confined. You can use any source, including your desktop PC, video cameras, media players, etc. You can also choose any destination, including receiver boxes that once had to be hooked right up to televisions, PC’s and laptops that decoded and displayed source streams, video wall controllers, software-based decoding, etc. Displaying can be done on any device, including handheld devices.

One of the great things about IP is that there are all kinds of ways that it can be used to reach your goal. This is probably the best way that you can send and receive audio and video signals, and it works for just about everyone, and any business. In its early stages, IP wasn’t able to deliver on all customer needs. Today, the applications you use will make the determination of the amount of image quality, latency, and bandwidth that is allowable. For instance, H.265 is great for low bandwidth, but there is a bit of latency and image quality. When there is more available bandwidth, you can enjoy compressions that lose practically nothing, such as JPEG 2000 and TICO. If there is no problem with bandwidth, and there is no latency and compression, you just need to use a 10G network.

What about CatX?

It is still going to be necessary to be careful with technologies that use CatX cables to send data through proprietary hardware or switching. There are limits when compared to true AV over IP. When we talk about the real deal, it is virtually limitless when it comes to multicasting and sending data over Internet, LAN, Wan, and other networks.

You Still need Some Compression

Even though you can send information quickly and easily when using AV over IP, there are still going to be times when you need to use compression of some type. This is going to ensure that all data networks can be used properly and to their greatest advantage, such as the ability to send AV sources via wireless transmission to devices such as tablets, smartphones, etc.

AV over IP Travels Faster

AV over IP solutions allow you to have “virtual signal paths”, which give you loads of freedom when it comes to bandwidth on a dedicated signal. These solutions take away any limitations due to distance, so you can enjoy complete HD video capabilities, with little to no latency. You can deliver real-time content, which is going to lower your costs and help to increase visitor engagement.

When Audio & Video over IP should be Used

When you use AV over IP depends on a few things, such as whether or not you can handle a bit of compression. You can use infrastructures that are totally video-specific, and they can handle high bandwidths without compressing the video. Another option is to use lower-latency AV over IP, which involves using compression.

If you are using a network environment, a low-bandwidth H.264 stream will work well, and you can have numerous streams in each link. This H.264 compression is usually used by mobile devices and streaming cameras. There is a bit of latency (about a half-second delay in video streaming), making it great for longer applications but not so great for an in-room extension where there can be a lot of keyboard and mouse lag. For in-room applications, it is important to be careful to ensure that the users enjoy a positive experience. You will need a lot more bandwidth, and you will pretty much fill up a 1Gb Ethernet link. This means you will need dedicated network cabling for each run, much like HDMI and HDBaseT. But, the latency is lower, so you get less video delay.

Conclusion

When you want to send out high quality audio and video streams, you need to make sure that you have the technology to deliver what you promise to your viewers. AV over IP will allow you to have the video quality, with less latency and compression than the older systems that required miles and miles of expensive cabling. You save money, and your viewers enjoy their experience a whole lot more.