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AES67: Are Two Ships Passing In The Night?

“Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness…”
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn

A funny thing happened on the way to IP audio interoperability. The Audio Engineering Society committee that developed the AES67 standard for IP audio couldn’t agree on a discovery mechanism, so it included four optional methods, says Aidan Williams, CTO of Audinate, developer of the Dante networking tech used by more than 200 OEMs in products for the professional audio and broadcast markets.

Just to review, AES67 is supposed to provide a way for audio equipment with an IP connection from one manufacturer to hook up to a piece of IP-enabled audio gear from another and communicate.

At a very basic level, before that sort of IP communications can happen, each device needs to know what it’s connected to — a process known as system discovery.

In a pure sense, AES67 provides for interoperability because all a user or vendor has to know is which system discovery options manufacturers have chosen, write some custom code to translate between the different discovery options in use and voila, the devices can communicate.

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