Mixed Signals, What is the AV Future – Part II

July 15, 2013 in Tech Talk by Sam Davisson

confusionTo start, I don’t know what this picture had to do with confusion but I liked it so lets just say it represents total confusion because that seems to be the state of the industry when it comes to the convergence of AV and IT.

The question arose again on one of the tech boards I hang out on. The question was posed this way: “Everyone with their eyes open can see the convergence of AV and IT. What are you doing to keep pace and change with the industry? Or is this not a big deal, and just business as usual?”

I guess the first thing I have to question is where. My eyes are open, where is the convergence. That is unless your talking about AV control and then I would still bet that over 75% of that is done via a serial connection and not a network connection but I will concede that more and more control is being extended to devices.

But is that it? Is this great convergence we’ve all been waiting for nothing more than device control?

The majority of audio and video still have point to point connections and require dedicated hardware. The only thing they have in common with IT is the cable being used. The digital transport for audio, video and control currently being widely accepted and adopted by the industry is a point to point technology (HDBaseT) that is not IT network friendly

AVB *audio video bridge) is the IEEE attempt at AV/IT convergence that will really reside in an IT environment. That is as long as your IT switches support AVB. But at least you do have an IT topology. Of course, it’s not really made any headway and I don’t think there are many, if any, video equipment manufactures who support it natively. Some audio manufactures have jumped into the fray but since they also support Cobranet and DANTE it probably isn’t much of a jump and it’s mostly just a digital audio snake.

Since I mentioned it, DANTE is also a competing networked media technology. It also has made strides in audio and unlike AVB seems to work without specialized network equipment. But there is no real media other than audio so it’s not going anywhere fast.

Which leaves us with HDBaseT. It is not networkable but it is the technology that is being accepted by the equipment manufactures. It is expanding from just being a digital signal expansion technology and becoming a digital signal distribution technology The commercial AV industry may not need to put up with HDMI cables much longer

But I don’t care how much people want to talk about the industry and it’s convergence with IT, the industry doesn’t appear to be really doing anything more than paying that convergence lip service and patting itself on the back because device control is finally moving away from IR or RS232 and using a network transport. The change for the AV technician is he sets up IP addresses instead of baud rates.

Mixed Signals, What is the AV Future – Part I

July 6, 2013 in Tech Talk by Sam Davisson

Unclear future in avAbout every three months the question of the state of the AV – IT convergence pops up in places we AV types hang out. Invariably, you have those that think it is progressing smoothly, those that think it will never really happen and those, which is where I fit in, that while more and more AV will be traveling through products that were traditionally developed for the IT world, that a complete AV – IT convergence is still a very long way away.

It’s equally confusing if you try to find the answer on the internet. Some seem to believe that it really isn’t a convergence of technology but a convergence of responsibility. While that trend is certainly happening it is having the affect of “dumbing down” the AV art. It’s extremely difficult to be an expert in two complex fields simultaneously.

Rooms are being built with little to no consideration for sound or acoustics. People don’t fully understand the relationship between speaker and amplifier or really what the purpose of an audio
DSP really is.

While the quality of audio suffers the most, video is suffering as well. It’s a lot less noticeable because digital video simply looks good. But few really understand the relationship between the video and the viewer. The best example I can think of is the clamor of 3D and not the technology is considered almost dead.

3D is definitely cool But in order to rach that coolness factor it needs to be contained in an immersive environment. How many of you think the TV in your living room fits that. #D is cool in a theater not with dorky glasses in your living room.

Some feel it was the glasses that killed 3D. I don’t really think so. I think the problem is it needs to fill your field of view.

I’m sure everyone has heard the new buzz, 4k or UHD if you prefer. Sad part is it appears the industry hasn’t learned anything from the failure of 3D. 4K is also really cool. It should provide an enhanced experience if used properly. More resolution should mean bigger screens. Unless you watch your TV with your nose just inches away from the screen your not going to notice a difference between current HD and the improved UHD on a screen with a 55″ diagonal. A larger screen, say 80″ diagonal” you should be able to notice a difference and over 100″ you’ll wonder how you could have ever thought plain HD was good.

But I’ve traveled far down the path of being off track. Much of this has nothing to do with convergence… or does it. Probably not.

In part II, I promise the conversation will turn back to the question at hand, AV – IT convergence and how the industry can’t seem to decide on which direction it really wants to go.