AVB On the Verge?

Update June 25 2018: Latest thoughts here

Update June 25, 2016: I have yet another followup here.

UPDATE November 19, 2013: I have a major followup to this blog posting here.

For years, I've been following the development of Audio Video Bridging (AVB): an open standard way to transport audio and video over a Local Area Network (LAN).But I hadn't seen AVB in action until a friend told me to check out the AVB pavilion at the 2009 Infocomm show in Orlando; I wrote up my thoughts at that time. But as work on the standard dragged on, I started to think that AVB might end up going the way of so many other far-reaching standards with broad application, like AES-24, ACN, etc: These standards all were completed and well designed by very smart people, but never gained traction in the market (my thoughts on that whole situation here). 

While there was lots of talk about AVB over the years, Meyer Sound was the only major player in our live sound market that I had seen really embrace AVB, and I grew even more pessimistic about AVB's future when, at Infocomm 2012, Yamaha demonstrated its adoption of Audinate’s proprietary, Ethernet-based Dante sound networking system as its backbone of its CL product line. I think Dante is a great system for transporting audio over Ethernet, and I use it. But it’s a proprietary system, and if you have any problems (I've experienced weird clicks, loss of sync, connectivity etc) you’re pretty much on your own--there's really no easy way to look under the hood.  

With Dante's increasingly broad market share, I was starting to wonder if it was really would be in Audinate's interest to support something like AVB, which could obviate the need for their bread and butter, proprietary product.  Well, at Infocomm 2013, there was a very encouraging AVB sign in the AVNU pavillion:


Yep, down below those XLR’s is a Dante Ethernet jack, which the Yamaha rep said was running beta Audinate firmware, sending AVB out to the system. With Audinate's substantial market penetration, this could be a game changer. Audinate's role in AVB might be to offer manufacturers AVB on a chip (they already do this with their Dante network) with some layer 3 management tools (AVB operates only at Layer 2).  If Audinate really can and will do a firmware-only update to allow them to switch over AVB (I was a bit dubious that this would work) then this could, possibly, maybe start a chain of system upgrades that could really give AVB very quick acceptance into our market. 

And the great thing is that AVB, as an open standard, is not limited to Audinate, or any other manufacturer, and Yamaha wasn’t the only  company in our market demonstrating working product at Infocomm 2013.  Avid had a mixer also putting out AVB:


Riedel was there using AVB on their intercom system:


And Barco was there showing video over AVB:


Is this a tipping point?  Will 2014 be the year of AVB, Dante, or AVB/Dante?  With more and more major players in our market showing working AVB prototypes, it's sure getting interesting!

More photos here