It was easier with analogue - the trouble with interoperability in digital audio

With the current proliferation of digital transport protocols and standards, interoperability seems to have made its way back onto the agenda. Chris Fitzsimmons asks if this time around the manufacturing community is finally ready to play nice.

If the space-time continuum ran in accordance with IEEE 802.1AS then the audio fraternity probably wouldn’t be experiencing the sense of deja vu that it currently is. However because the laws of physics committee hasn’t ratified the standard yet, history appears to be repeating itself. When Peak Audio cooked up CobraNet, Rich Zwiebel drew an awful lot of strange looks from audio companies when he came to them with the idea of sending audio signals down an Ethernet connection.

“Why would you want to do that?” they asked him. Fifteen years later it’s looking like less of a dumb idea, but unfortunately since then, we’ve invented about as many other ways of achieving the same thing. A bit of reading and research reveals a bewildering array of methods of moving audio from A to B using digital signals. The problem is of course getting them to talk to each other, and as Zwiebel himself remarked during a panel discussion at the recent InfoComm Future trends summit at ISE 2012: “It was a heck of a lot easier with analog [sic].”

To find out if digital is ever going get easier, read the full article in our March active magazine via the link below.

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