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John Loufik, Technical Services Manager of Community, speaks during an educational session at InfoComm in Orlando on Tuesday.

Audio, Networking Sessions Stand Out at InfoComm

For attendees at InfoComm, before the exhibit floor was set to open Wednesday, various educational sessions were available at the Orange County Convention Center Tuesday.

ORLANDO, Fla. – For InfoComm 2019, with the show having begun on Saturday, June 8 with educational sessions, the exhibit floor is set to open to open Wednesday.

Before hitting the exhibit floor, though, time was spent taking in a few educational sessions on Tuesday morning and afternoon.

The first workshop that I attended looked over the various networking options available for consideration, from AV Over IP to HDBaseT and others. With each of the solutions discussed, the various pros and cons were laid out.

Among the most notable positive aspects for AV Over IP, for example, included it being infinitely expandable, very scalable, along with the ability of having all its devices being powered via PoE (Power over Ethernet). In addition, when it comes time to replace a unit running AV Over IP, thanks to it being a well-supported platform, adds up to where ordering and finding the needed parts or pieces is less than complicated.

Despite the numerous pros associated with AV Over IP, a number of issues were outlined as well, beginning with one needing knowledge of network setups and how to troubleshoot to correctly configure such a network. If the system is implemented into an existing network, it could leave the setup out of an integrator’s hands, making it that much tougher to solve any issues that crop up in the future on the network. Something as simple as a scheduled update can break an otherwise fine working setup, so from an integrator’s perspective, it usually will be much more ideal to implement using a desired setup not using the original network from the outset.

Diving deeper, the discussion also looked at the comparison between the consideration of 1 Gbps AV over IP, or up to 10 Gbps. With the higher capabilities had the notable benefits such as higher latency, limited to no compression, or the ability toward future upgradability toward 8k video, if desired. As expected, the first negative noted toward going with the higher capability: a higher initial investment.

Following that session was a workshop that did an extensive overview of the various IP standards for audio and video, ranging from those currently implemented, those on the verge of implementation, as well as those in the discussion stage, with that overview laid out by four speakers.

Beginning the discussion was Richard Zwiebel, Vice President for Systems Strategy at QSC. Explaining the need for “interoperability,” upon the various solutions installed into the systems, came the logical need for those pieces of equipment to be able to communicate with each other. At first, such interoperability was sought within audio gear, he noted, but it would take a few years for video gear to work with IP-based solutions.

Further into the IP standards discussion, there was a look back at some of the original standards, along with what has since followed, paired with the standards that are in the pipeline and being currently worked on.

For instance, with the benefit of a number of companies’ engineers getting together and forming the Audio Engineering Society, or AES.

From that, they created a technical standard for Audio over IP and Audio over Ethernet interoperability.

Admitting that engineers are typically not good marketers, another group was formed, the Media Networking Alliance, or MNA, following the creation of the standard in 2013.

From there, Andrew Starks, director of product management at Macnica discussed the SMPTE ST 2110 suite of standards. Talking of how it had become a strong standard for broadcast, with its benefits associated with interoperability, timing in terms of flexibility for constrained/shared networks, security with stream encryption tools as well for audio and video compression, offers a good prospect as a standard to be covered across the scope in many areas within the industry.

When Scott Barella, chief technology officer at Pesa and deputy chairman of AIMS ProAV Working Group continued the discussion about various standards, he broke the news that one particular standard within the SMPTE suite, specifically 2110-22, targeted for compressed video, had been ratified by the Alliance for IP Solutions, or AIMS, earlier that day. Among the video formats covered in 2110-22 included JPEG 2000 TR-01, JPEG XS, and MPEG types, along with VC-2, which set the “template.”

Last from the panel was Karl Paulsen, chief technology officer for Diversified, who looked to the future how the changes in the industry will continue to force those working in it, to continually adjust on the fly. When it came to gear, he talked how in the past, systems often revolved around units, such as routing switchers, using XLRs, and by moving to network-based switchers, tomorrow’s A/V and broadcast techs will soon find themselves to “be less dependent on purpose-built-boxes, that serve one set of functions.”

The last session attended Tuesday was coordinated by Community, “Which Loudspeakers, How Many, Where to Point Them.”

The discussion, was led by Paul Peace, the senior director, engineering, for Community. Previous to working with Community, Peace noted having worked with Renkus-Heinz and JBL, mostly in the area of loudspeaker design. In addition to Peace, John Loufik, technical services manager for Community, also spoke.

One of the more interesting aspects of the discussion was the viewpoint that those who are looking to have a speaker system designed, often are “designing backwards.” Among the elements that are looked at first too often, Peace explained, are how many inputs will one need, followed by the mixing parameters, then DSP and loudspeaker needs, and lastly, the particulars about the venue where the system will be located.

Peace completely flipped that mindset on its head, explaining that one should begin with seeing what the venue’s needs are first, to determine the right system fit.

“If we start to understand the place where we are looking to project sound, what kind of loudspeaker are we looking to use,” noted Peace.

In doing a site survey, there are a number of aspects that need to be identified first before moving beyond the questions associated with the venue. Among them are figuring out the site’s dimensions and shape, the surface materials in that space relating to absorption and diffusion. In addition, the space should have an RT60 measurement made, to determine how long it takes a sound to decay at 60dB in the space, along with doing an IR filtered graph measurement, which is primarily aimed at examining decay behavior across various frequency bands.

By determining the appropriate architectural “container,” one can then look to do an analysis about the expectations associated with the audience or congregation experience, what then would be the most ideal candidates for a loudspeaker choice in the space/venue, followed by needs associated with matching amplifiers to the rest of the gear, along with associated DSP, sources and mixer needs.

In addition, in looking at positioning of speakers, as much as one would hope to be able to have adequate coverage in a large space with a left-right configuration, it was noted that for distributed coverage, auxiliary speakers “are a necessary evil, because (the primary speakers) are rarely able to cover 100 percent of the space.” Typically, the primary or main speakers can cover about 80 percent of the needed area, but to create “just as good an experience as everyone else” for everyone in the room, that is where auxiliary speakers come into play, to arrive at reaching 100 percent coverage.

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