Update June 30, 2019: Latest thoughts here.
Update June 25 2018: Latest thoughts here
It's become an annual tradition-since 2009 I've been writing about audio networking from a live sound perspective after recovering from Infocomm. You can see last year's entry here.
This year, it seems, there's not a whole lot to write, since there was more of the same, with some exciting directions for the future which I'll get to in a bit. It was interesting that the AVNU Alliance didn't have a booth as they did in previous years. From what I can see, as I've been detailing here over the years, AVB/TSN has been accepted by some manufacturers in the live sound industry (Meyer, Avid, etc), and it's holding strong there. But the number of Dante products seems to keep expanding, both in the live sound and install markets. Here's the Audinate display on the Infocomm floor:
Audinate kicked off the week with their AV Networking World, which as always features some interesting Dante-based products. Here's a couple favorites, based on Power over Ethernet (my fave). PoE speakers from SoundTube:
Dante PoE headphone amp from RDL:
They are also soon introducing Dante Domain Manager, which looks pretty cool for very large systems.
At the training as part of the event, Audinate rolled out Level 3 of their training program. Level 3 isn't really necessary for most users of Dante systems; it's really aimed at geeks working on large systems. It covers a lot of foundation networking technology, and some very esoteric issues you might encounter in complex systems.
I think it's very smart of Audinate to put forward this training; Levels 1 and 2 (and some new tools available in Dante controller) really changed the way I look at these systems, and increased my confidence when working with Dante networks, where so much of the underlying functionality is invisible.
There were of course some AVB products on the show, but in my world of live sound, I didn't see a whole lot of new development. There was talk of new AVB capable switches, but as of this writing there's still only one that's been certified (Extreme), even though Cisco had an AVB switch on display last year. Looking on that certification list, I do see L'Acoustics has added a couple new AVB-connected amplifier products to their line; unfortunately I missed their booth at the show.
I am excited to see that Meyer is now shipping their Galaxy (Galileo replacement) system (I love the Galileos and use them a lot), which interconnects via AVB:
A friend from Meyer assured me that there would be some solution to get audio in/out from their products to Dante; my uninformed guess is that it will be AES67.
As I wrote back in 2013, AES67, an open standard audio exchange method, may be the key to the success of audio networking for the future and there was a lot of buzz about it at the show. With AES67 in the picture, manufacturers can choose the networking system of their choice, and then just include AES67 interfacing to get audio out (if not control functionality) for other systems. Even with AES67, though, there is still a very important place for Dante, AVB, Ravenna, etc.-all of these systems offer important functions to manufacturers, and in the case of Dante it offers an interface for the users through Dante controller. I still view this unified interface as a key part of the system; it's literally all that most users see of the system.
And as of late last year AES67 is available in Yamaha products, and since we own a lot of Yamaha stuff at the school, I would love to get my hands on some AES67 compatible gear, and see what the process of patching and so on is like. If you have access to some shipping AES67 gear (something like a stage box would be perfect) please get in touch!