Update June 25 2018: Latest thoughts here
Update June 25, 2016: I have a followup here.
One of the things I like most about the Infocomm show is that I always unexpectedly run into friends, and also invariably see something new. In 2009, that something new was Audio-Video Bridging (AVB), an IEEE open standard for transmitting time-synchronized audio and video over Ethernet, using special network switches. I've long been a supporter of open standards, and I was a big supporter of AVB. But after the 2013 AES convention, four years after that very public roll out, it seemed to me that AVB had been too slow out of the gate, and that Audinate's proprietary Dante audio networking technology had already won dominance in the live sound market (and I wrote about all that in a blog entry, which, amazingly to me, has had nearly 5,000 views). Everything I saw at this year's Infocomm further supports that conclusion.
These pictures (sorry for the cameraphone quality, I wasn't lugging my heavy DSLR around the show) sum up the situation for me. Here's the display by the AVNU Alliance (the AVB Trade association--I wrote a lot about them here after a visit to their testing lab last summer):
There's actually less on display this year than last year. There was the (very nice) AVB-based Avid S3L console, some interfaces, and switches from Extreme Networks, who, as of now, are the only company to get AVNU-certified switches onto the market. The Extreme switches seem very nice, but when I priced them recently I was surprised to learn that the AVB option costs over $300+ extra per switch. With so little AVB product available for our industry, what does that $300 get me? (BTW, recently there was a very cool "Brick and Bullet" AVB I/O Kickstarter that unfortunately did not reach its funding goal--they are vowing to go forward anyway).
Contrast that to the demo area at Audinate's A/V Networking World (AVNW) the day before Infocomm:
Here, there was lots of stuff from popular pro audio manufacturers that you can buy today, all connected together using standard switches and patched with a consistent interface. And in this all-day Dante love fest, they showed real world, completed installations, and lots of new, working stuff. My friend Jamie Anderson from Rational Acoustics presented on a recent SMAART class he taught where he replaced his old analog signal distribution system with Dante, saying it saved him several hours on the class because it "just worked":'
Another old friend, Michael Cusick from SAVI, explained the massive Dante network his company recently installed in a big renovation at the Planet Hollywood showroom in Vegas.
I had to miss the afternoon presentations. But Dante had a booth on the floor showing many of their OEM partners:
The booth also featured Audio Technica's ATND971, "the first wired microphone that transmits audio and control data together over the Dante network protocol":
So, it seems the prediction I made after peering into my crystal ball back in November still holds up: "... Audinate's Dante has won the race, while AVB is still being tweaked by the mechanics over in the pit lane."
Update June 24, 1pm: Here's a video from Audinate from Infocomm explaining the above and some things I missed at the show: