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Season 2, Episode 10 – Video Is the New Audio
For ten years, RH Consulting has produced the “Networked Audio Products Report” which is used by folks across the AV industry to understand the progress towards interoperable audio over IP. As the years have passed, audio over IP has matured, and Dante has come out a far-and-away leader in the field, being included in over 75% of all networked audio products today. For 2022, the report has started to track the progress of competing video over IP standards. Our guest Roland Hemming authors the report, and he sees interesting parallels between where video over IP sits today, and where audio over IP was positioned 10 years ago. In this episode, we’ll discuss the report, and learn what the history of networked audio can teach us about the future for networked video. And by the way—guess which video over IP ecosystem came out on top?
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Roland Hemming, Audio Consultant at RH Consulting
Justin Kennington: 00:06
Hello, everybody. Hello again at SDVoE LIVE. I’m your host, Justin Kennington and this is TV for ProAV. Boys and girls, I am excited about today’s show our, our guest is Roland Hemming. I’m going to check my memory banks, I think he’s the first proper audio guy that we’ve had on the show, right SDVoE? We’re all about video and all that sort of thing and meanwhile, we’ve been talking about personal topics and industry topics this year, but we’re going to have a real audio guy on the show and we’re going to make him talk about video. Roland is with RH Consulting and for the past 10 years, he and his colleagues have put out a report called the Networked Audio Report. It is one of the simplest ideas that you can think of, but really very interesting and here’s the idea, very simple.
10 years ago, Roland said, “Why don’t we count every networked audio product out there that uses some sort of interoperable standard?” And I think back then there was AVB, there was CobraNet, there was the early days of Dante, Ravenna, a few others, and he would just count them. And say, “Look, this year there are 12 AVB products and 52 Dante products.” And so on. But he’s been doing this for 10 years and so now there’s all sorts of rich data as you see how the different standards maneuvered and succeeded and failed against one another.
Anyway, it’s going to be fascinating to talk to him because, and here’s the reason we’ve invited him on, for the 10th year of that report, he has decided that we should count video products too. So, this year’s report, which by the way, you can access by looking in the links down below on this page, you can access the report there and you can read about how many video products adhere to various standards, how many audio products adhere to various standards. You will see, as you can probably imagine, Dante has really taken over the networked audio world and that’s reflected in the data. I should have memorized these stats before we started the show, however, over 80% of the products on the network side are Dante.
So, I’m going to say, let’s take it over to the hotline central. It’s perfect. Matt, are you with me? Things are blowing up in the studio, that is how exciting this episode is going to be. Did I tell you, or did I tell you?
Matt Dodd: 02:58
Yeah, we love keeping you on your toes. Don’t we? Hi everybody. It’s me, your favorite English chap. Well, might be the second favorite English chap after today. How are you?
Justin Kennington: 03:08
I’m doing great. I’m excited to talk to Roland, really. I’ve been reading this report for the last 10 years and using it. So, to finally get to meet face to face and talk to him is going to be exciting for me.
Matt Dodd: 03:18
Wow, JK’s hero. Well, we have, as you can probably hear, a team of moderators ready as we always do. Roland is here with Justin to talk audio and video and how the two things, this is going to be a force of nature, these two colliding. Fantastic. So, get your comments and your questions in, really important, firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the chat window, get stuck in.
The moderators are here to respond, to thank you, to send those questions and comments to us and we can deal with them here live. And it really is live, you saw that when JK freaked out a second ago, but he was fine, it was just a joke we played with him, is that right? A little joke. Give your feedback on the show as well, please, because we need to know, tell us what you think, tell us what you want to see, we’re here, we want to hear from you. JK, we have, as always, had a question already. Charles McIntosh of Indiana, what’s the hardest part of counting all the gear in your networked audio report. You should have that question in front of you as well because you might not remember that.
Justin Kennington: 04:23
We’ll check in with Roland on that. Meanwhile, why don’t you come on into the studio with me. Let’s do the news.
Matt Dodd: 04:31
It’s a real job having to run down all those stairs to come down here, real job. You don’t know how hard I work?
Justin Kennington: 05:10
And why should I? Did we tell the folks? I meant to, I didn’t, in my flusteredness, email us at email@example.com and in the after show, we will bring your question two Roland, our guest. So, if you think of something, just shoot it to that email address and it’ll get right to us. Matt let’s look at some.
Matt Dodd: 05:29
Let’s do some news.
Justin Kennington: 05:31
Matt Dodd: 05:36
That’s my line, you can’t take my lines off me.
Justin Kennington: 05:39
I didn’t take it, I thought about taking it, but I didn’t take it. You see that?
Matt Dodd: 05:42
Very good. First up, we have an article about Game Creek Video who have entrusted company TSL with Dante products remote audio stream support. And this talks through a number of really interesting things about helping production teams to remotely access onboard trucks at live events and broadcast to produce and control all those live events remotely in light of recent things. So, hybrid work conditions, if you will, for live broadcast teams, so a very interest in article. Imagine controlling the Super Bowl from your bed, that’d be cool wouldn’t it? Well, I did, but then I’m a bit strange. It describes how Dante technology is being used to offer more remote functionality. You can even monitor up to 128 audio channels at once, it’s amazing. It’s a very clear example of true AV and IT convergence, in my opinion. What were your takeaways?
Justin Kennington: 06:42
Well, yeah, but not only AV and IT convergence, also sort of ProAV and broadcast convergence, which is what caught my eye about this piece. You had just put together a new course in the academy on using SDVoE in sort of the peripheries of a broadcast environment. And to me, what I saw here was exactly an example of that using Dante, not SDVoE, Dante for audio, but to do some sort of, as I understood it, look, I’m not a broadcast engineer. I don’t know what goes on in these trucks exactly, but it seemed like they just wanted some sort of external monitoring of all audio systems, this wasn’t in the center of the production. And that’s just what you talked about in that course, was finding ways for SDVoE to allow people around a broadcast facility to monitor the events going on. I thought it was perfect parallel to that course.
Matt Dodd: 07:32
Yeah. My thoughts went out to the onboard truck drivers because they might start feeling him really lonely, right? Where’s all my pals? They’re not here. What are they going to do?
Justin Kennington: 07:47
I think they’re being replaced by robots, is that not the case?
Matt Dodd: 07:52
Self-driving trucks, my goodness. Where will it go next? No, it was good. And Game Creek Video, in the article, also predicted that remote broadcast solutions like this will continue to be utilized for future sports, broadcast events, and production. So, it’s growing and it’s not going to grow any much quicker than that kind of outside broadcast. So very, very interesting article and a nice segue into the second piece, which is about the accelerating merge of ProAV and IP. Take it away.
Justin Kennington: 08:28
Yeah. I don’t think we need to belabor the point that ProAV and IP IT networks are merging. This specifically is about the fact that we seem to have hit, recently, an inflection point, and that merge is, well just like it says right here on the screen, accelerating. I think a lot of that is driven by some of the work from home trends over the last couple of years, but one of the things I saw in the article that caught my eye was the idea of systems combining lecture capture, video conferencing, and even broadcast production techniques.
I mean, hello, does that sound familiar to anybody here? Anyway, but combining those things demands a move away from that five-year-ago model of segregating AV on its own network into a world where you have to integrate AV onto a single main network because it is so tied in with these other IT services now that you simply have to move them together. And I think that’s fundamentally what’s driving this acceleration, it’s demand. Now there are use cases that say you have to do this, and that’s ultimately what drives any technology.
Matt Dodd: 09:41
Yes. And Chris Pennell from Future Source does a great job of succinctly explaining this and we’ve been saying this for quite some time as well, right? We’ve got lots of content on the academy that really help you to fully understand how to design it properly, AV over IP. Making sure that you are thinking about the AV infrastructure and the IP infrastructure, the data infrastructure going together correctly, you should check those out. Don’t just go sticking video across a network because there’s some stuff in there that will tell you why that’s not the case. Interesting to hear Chris’s comments as well on cloud-based solutions, that they’re on the rise. Are we expecting SDVoE over cloud at some point, JK?
Justin Kennington: 10:27
Well, in fact, if you watch our membership list, one of our newest members is a company called Xyte and this is what they do, is connect audio, video devices into a cloud for monitoring and for control and management. So certainly, you can watch to see SDVoE become more and more integrated with that platform, allowing us to do great things on the local network, but also to do things in the cloud. Sure.
Matt Dodd: 10:52
Brilliant. Well, that was the news. Wow, we got him. JK, we did it, we beat him.
Justin Kennington: 11:01
– supposed to sting him out of it? Are you?
Matt Dodd: 11:03
Well no I know, but I just thought I’d tried on, there it is. Right, anyway, you have an interview to do and we’re all excited. So, I’m not going to keep you any longer, leave you with it and have fun. Enjoy
Justin Kennington: 11:15
Our guest today, I sort of told you all about the report and how much I enjoyed reading it, Roland has been an independent consultant for very large audio systems based in the UK and around the world, the systems. So why don’t we just bring him in? Roland, come on.
Roland Hemming: 11:33
Hello. And thank you very much for inviting me on, it’s great to be here.
Justin Kennington: 11:37
Well, good afternoon, good evening. I’m. I’m glad you’ve come. So, I mean, let’s start with the obvious question, what in the world made you decide, some 10 years ago, “You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to make a spreadsheet and I’m going to count every networked audio product I can find and make a list.”? Why did you do that?
Roland Hemming: 11:57
What it was is it was discussions about AVB because there was a huge amount of publicity about it from about 2009. Major companies were involved, everybody was talking about it, but they just didn’t seem to be any reality. So, you’d have all these discussions about it being the next big thing and then we just thought, “Well, let’s find out.” And it was weird when we did our first research, well, there were 50 companies apparently supporting it, but then we found only 21 products. And then you sort of realized that the difference between the hype and the reality was different. Especially when, at the time, there were over 200 CobraNet and getting on for 200 Dante products around. So, it was just a way of framing the debate and giving people a feeling of reality of what actually was out there. And all our research has always been on what is available to use, what can I get as a specifier? That’s what it’s always been.
Justin Kennington: 12:58
I mean, I said I’ve used the report. When I started reading it. I was working at Crestron, I was running their digital media product line and thinking about, I’m not going to say too much about their internal stuff, but what was our future roadmap for getting to moving video over a network? And of course, the question in my mind is, “AVB, it’s hot, it’s everywhere, right? Is that what we should use?” And then I would read your report and it says it’s not there. I don’t want to make this a let’s just throw shade at AVB conversation, but I remember saying to people, “AVB seems to have the highest of hype to adoption that I’ve ever seen.” And so, it was great to have that data. So, first of all, thanks for that, or I guess second of all. In 10 years now, looking back on the audio side, what have you learned? What are the trends? What came out of this?
Roland Hemming: 13:57
First of all, just massive adoption. I mean, hundreds of manufacturers, literally now thousands of products and what we’ve also seen is real integration into products. It was something that we commented on that in the early days, the majority of products were just getting audio on and off the network. They were converters.
Justin Kennington: 14:20
Roland Hemming: 14:20
And then they converted normally to analog at each end and that’s changed significantly. Those products, there’s still plenty of them, but they’re not in the majority by any stretch now. And the stuff is built directly into the back of my microphones, mixers, amplifiers, loudspeakers. And that’s been a huge change because once you get rid of all of that analog. Well, then really interesting things happen because you can start to change the form factor of products, that was never able to be done before with POE now, it’s just one cable for lots of things. So, I think that’s the trend, is true integration into products.
Justin Kennington: 15:10
Yeah. Okay. That sort of inspires me to a question that… I’m not an audio guy, right? I’ve spent my time in Pro AV as a video guy who tries to respect and remember that audio exists so that I don’t make video products that ignore it. How much analog connectivity is left in just the real world of systems?
Roland Hemming: 15:33
Well, this has been another point we’ve tried to make, because even though we’ve sort of had fun trying to show this as a sort of competition between Dante and Ravenna and others. We’ve actually always considered that the real competitor is analog. And even now we still think that the vast majority of audio systems out there are analog, we think maybe 10% of the entire professional audio market is networked. Now the higher value stuff is all networked, and okay, where do we get that figure from because that’s not based research? So, you walk through any town or city, maybe except Vegas, but walk through any other normal town or city and just count the bar, the local theater, the local music venue, things like that and the majority of those systems will be analog. The stadium will be networked, and some very nice conference center might be, but still the vast majority of those systems are still analog.
So, we think there still needs to be a massive shift for everything in professional audio to be networked, but it is coming. But the other thing that’s changing, it isn’t just the huge number of products. I mean we’ve always said the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stone. What we’ve noticed now is there’s been a number of pivotal products that are networked only, because for many years, a product would have a network connection and an analog connection. And those network connections are starting to disappear for reasons I said earlier, because you can be more interesting with the form factor or the power or something like that.
And well, if you really want to use that product in your project, well then, your force down the network because it means the second product in your signal chain is going to be networked as well. So, we’ve noticed there’s been a few of, as I said, these pivotal products that are sort of forcing people down that route. And then of course, once they do it once, they realize it’s not quite so scary and they do it again and again. So yeah.
Justin Kennington: 17:53
Roland Hemming: 17:53
That’s what we see.
Justin Kennington: 17:55
Interesting. And lessons for me there as I try to drive more video onto the network. What do you think that the ProAV industry can learn from your data that we might have missed had someone not done this?
Roland Hemming: 18:10
I think seeing the fact that it has become truly integrated, I think that’s been the real understanding that you have products that are, people call them Dante products or Ravenna product or AVB products, it’s just part of how they are and how they operate. And the fact that it’s become how you think about systems and I don’t think as many people because we know a lot of people read our report and we know product management teams look at it to decide what they’re going to adopt. And I think people wouldn’t have just understood just how much was being actually genuinely put into products had we not been saying, “Right, there’s this number of mixing consoles, this number of amplifiers.” And such like. So, I think that’s been a good lesson for the industry.
Justin Kennington: 19:12
Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. So here we are 10 years in, and you decided in the 2022 report let’s count networked video products too. What drove that thinking?
Roland Hemming: 19:26
Well, without wanting to patronize the audience, it was because we felt video was finally growing up and we’ve also felt, and I’ve said and I believe independently you’ve said it, that networked video has been like the Wild West. And we observed a growth in SDVoE, and the emergence of some other protocols used by other manufacturers and so it just seemed the right time. There was this happy coincidence that when we did the addition, the number of video products we get now is almost identical to the number of audio products we counted 10 years ago. So, some people are saying, “Well, video is about 10 years behind.” I think it’s probably more like where the audio industry was 15, 16 years ago.
If we’re looking at sort of 2006, something like that, CobraNet was starting to die because people decided not to use it, EtherSound was sort of on the way out. There was no cost compatibility, Dante had just been invented and so it’ll be interesting to see where it goes, but I think it has been this, from a network point of view less mature technology. And as I said, there’s still no defacto standard like there is with Dante, for example, and there’s still no sort of interoperable standard like we have with AES67. And so that’s what really brought it out, we could see these technologies emerging and there’s so many products that combine audio and video, we didn’t really feel we could carry on just doing audio. And indeed, we’ve also started looking at control protocols as well and lumping that into it as well, because we’re very well transporting this stuff all around, but you’ve got to be able to control it as well. So yeah, that was included for the first time this year as well.
Justin Kennington: 21:38
Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. So, you touched on it a little bit, the parallels between where video and audio are. What do you think that we can predict for the next five or 10 years of the networked video market that maybe we learned from the last 10 or 15 years of the networked audio market?
Roland Hemming: 22:08
It’s really tricky because the things that are holding back video aren’t the same things that are holding back audio. I mean, when we talk about networked audio, we basically now say we have unlimited channels. A one gigabit network, we can get hundreds of channels in, what most audio professionals would call, perfect quality. So, the bandwidth issue is just not there, it’s not particularly expensive to implement into products. Whereas video still hasn’t reached, for want of a better word, perfect quality, where are we going to stop and say, Yeah, okay. That’s enough.”? 8K, 16K? So, we’re still pushing bandwidth and so I’m not sure, as I said, there’s a direct parallel between what’s holding it back because you haven’t, because it’s a more bandwidth heavy technology, been in the position that you can just pick up a Cat 5 and drive 100 channels of 8K video through it anywhere. Whereas with audio, we can do the equivalent of that now.
Justin Kennington: 23:27
Certainly take a very special cat five
Roland Hemming: 23:30
Indeed. But actually, that’s what we can do with audio. There’s a stadium that I’ve worked with for many years where we’ve completely integrated with the IT and literally any RJ45 socket across the entire site, we can call up 100 channels if we want to and that’s fine. You don’t have that yet with videos, so I think there’s still technical challenges to overcome there that are unique to video and that’s real key difference.
Justin Kennington: 24:05
Yeah, that’s interesting. I’m realizing and I’m just sort of paraphrasing you, but video is still growing in its bandwidth as the network is also growing in its bandwidth, but there’s this who’s ahead curve kind of going up. Whereas, as you say, we’ve sort of achieved perfect audio, that’s not growing, so now just the network bandwidth continues to grow, and audio’s needs don’t go up so now we can just manage the audio instead of also managing the bandwidth. That’s interesting.
Roland Hemming: 24:31
Justin Kennington: 24:32
With about 30 seconds left, before I go onto another segment, I was very proud and happy that SDVoE ended up with the most products on this year’s list. My question to you is what’s your advice to me to make sure that SDVoE stays on top of that list for 10 years?
Roland Hemming: 24:50
I think you need to be open and friendly. SDVoE is a bit like Dante in that it contains some proprietary technology. However, when you look at Audinate and how they’ve behaved, they adopted AES67, which is as an interoperable protocol, they allowed it to operate alongside Ravenna and other things, they didn’t put up a completely walled garden. They said, “No, these things exist. We’re going to work with them.” Theoretically, they’ve had some claims over some other open technologies that they deliberately haven’t pursued because they know, for the greater good, it’s better that these things are kept open. They haven’t even sued people who brought out competitor cards which have the same pin outs, because, again, they know that it’s just better to be open and try to grow adoption.
And they’ve also been very honest about their numbers and I think, the only thing we’ve had in discussion for the future is SDVoE defining what actually is a product and what actually is available on the market and I’m sure we’ll have conversations more about that. But finally, sorry, I know you only gave me 30 seconds, is they’ve really continued to develop the technology, it isn’t something that they invented and that’s it and job done. They’ve poured millions into new hardware and software, and there’s many, many different ways to adopt it and it’s evolved, and these things have to evolve. So, it does mean some of the very, very old stuff is no longer compatible, not much at all, but that will inevitably happen just as it does when you buy new software upgrades, you get so many years. But they’ve kept at it and listened to the market and that’s what I would advise anybody who wants to succeed.
Justin Kennington: 26:41
I like it. Let’s put a pause in it here, we’ll talk to you more in the after show in a couple of minutes. And let me send you guys to a fact check. Matt. You better get out here, Matt. Speak up, talk louder. You got to talk louder, Matt.
Matt Dodd: 27:14
Can you hear me okay?
Justin Kennington: 27:16
Yes. I hear you just fine.
Matt Dodd: 27:17
I love it when you guys ask us Brits for advice, it’s brilliant, it makes me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside. So, keep your questions coming in, we’ve got loads coming in already. Check out, don’t forget, the related courseware and the resource panel below. One describes an interconnect between the most popular video over IP standard and the most popular audio over IP standard. The second one talks about the most popular video over IP standard and how it comes to us from the broadcast world, so check these courses out, they’re really good. I’m going to hand back to Justin now so that he can just round off the show, and don’t forget to see us in the after show. We’ll see you shortly.
Justin Kennington: 27:53
And what an after show it’s going to be. We’ve got questions rolling in like I’ve never seen before. Remember keep them coming, firstname.lastname@example.org. Your questions for Roland Hemming about networked audio, networked video, Dante, AVB, Ravenna, all of it. Anyway, don’t forget to catch us on social media with #SDVoELIVE, we’re on Twitter, we’re on LinkedIn and check out our YouTube channel, youtube.com/sdvoealliance where you can catch the entire archive of SDVoE LIVE!. We will be back in two weeks with a show about SDVoE in the digital operating room. SDVoE has quietly made its way to taking over some of the digital operating room space, and our guest Colin Dobbyne has long existed in that world and he’s going to tell you a lot more about it. So, don’t forget to check us out on YouTube and we will see you in the after show.