SVG Sit-Down: Clear-Com’s Vinnie Macri Discusses Intercoms and IP/2110/AES67

Wireless in-venue comms rely on interoperability standards being developed

Sport venues are getting larger, and the productions within them are becoming more complex. That will create a greater demand for more intra-venue communications, says Vinnie Macri, outreach manager, Clear-Com, with a greater emphasis on wireless intercoms.

Clear-Com’s Vinnie Macri predicts that, with NMOS, “intercoms will be able to become far larger networks themselves but still remain manageable.”

“What will be different going forward is that more and more of the installs will need to be over IP, on networks within the venues,” he says.

That, in turn, will require greater reliance on new standards around interoperability, particularly SMPTE’s ST 2110 group of standards, which is still under development but is having its path paved by uptake of the AES67 standard, which is being incorporated into intercom-system designs.

“The first IP iteration of our FreeSpeak wireless platform can now be deployed over AES67 using our native AES67 IP matrix circuit card Macri says, noting that national broadcast standards are already incorporating ASE67. “We have user key panels that connect via ASE67 to our matrix, as well as antennas that can sit on the network, and beltpacks that are registered to the antennas. We can do this in any venue now.”

SMPTE ST 2110-21 — titled “Professional Media Over Managed IP Networks, PCM Digital Audio” — is closely related to and heavily based on AES67, the Audio Engineering Society’s standard for audio applications of networks — specifically, per the standard’s documentation, “High-Performance Streaming Audio-Over-IP Interoperability.”

AES67, the audio standard adopted under ST 2110, specifies how to carry uncompressed 48-kHz PCM audio. Up to eight channels can be bundled in one stream, and both 16- and 24-bit depth is supported. In addition, the ST 2110-31 standard specifies how to transport compressed AES3 (AES/EBU) audio over IP. Both standards focus on the transmission of raw, uncompressed digital audio signals using an IP network.

However, a key aspect of networked operation remains to be settled: device discovery. That is the function of metadata, and, for ST 2110, that task will be handled by NMOS (Networked Media Open Specifications), a set of industry-standard specifications available to both suppliers and end users, at no cost, to support development of products and services that work within an open industry framework. NMOS describes how devices can register with a shared registry and how they can query the registry for information about other devices. It supports both central registries and peer-to-peer discovery, allowing smaller setups. And it will be critical as intercom systems and the networks they ride on grow larger and more complex.

“Imagine 56 cameras on an intercom network and you need to find Camera 14: how do you do it?” Macri says. “NMOS is the way. Every manufacturer has to develop a registry and integrate it into their products, so that systems from other manufacturers can find them on a network. However, the protocols for this haven’t been written yet. But when they are, intercoms will be able to become far larger networks themselves but still remain manageable. It’ll have implications for sports and other event productions.”

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