Skip to main content

What Advantages Does AV Over IP Offer?

What is AV over IP bringing to the AV industry?

AV over IP is nothing new for many integrators supporting enterprise applications, but it remains a major focus of the industry. For many years, AV systems operated in their own silo, away from the company’s larger network. This approach is dying out quickly, replaced by AV solutions that co-opt existing IP networks to offer better performance. Now, most reputable integrators are prepared to merge IP and AV, and there are several AV technologies that take full advantage of this emerging approach. Why have so many integrators moved on from proprietary AV networks? AV over IP offers several advantages and few, if any, shortcomings. Here are the major points:
  1. Switching – In a traditional AV format, the switcher has long been the bottleneck. When systems need to be expanded and scaled up, it was usually the switch that would throw a wrench into the works. That’s no longer a concern with IP switching because when there are no more ports available on the IP switch, additional switches can be tied to the initial switch to scale up. No longer does the video matrix switch need to be replaced when it’s time to expand.
  2. Flexibility and affordability – Traditional AV networks faced a wiring challenge. Wiring AV boxes together is expensive and gets more expensive the further those boxes are from each other. Even two boxes in the same building could cost a considerable amount to wire them together. There are obvious limitations to putting in new wiring every time equipment is added to an existing system. For example, it may not even be possible to connect equipment wired this way to another facility. With AV over IP, though, audio and video data can be sent over efficient, inexpensive copper and fiber optic cables. As these cables are already in place throughout the world, it makes more sense to route audio and video data using this approach.
  3. Adherence to data transmission standards – A large number of AV technologies transmit data using packets, which has long been the standard for IP networks. Packetization is efficient and reliable, both traits that AV integrators look for when utilizing AV over IP compatible equipment. Because packet-based data transmission is a set-in-stone standard, it is likely to be improved upon with time. Standards-based protocols are standards because many people have invested heavily in them. Those people have incentive to continue improving IP networks, and AV over IP technology as a result.
Those aren’t the only advantages, but they are the most compelling.

What are some examples of AV over IP equipment?

Most of the top AV equipment manufacturers have embraced AV over IP fully – again, there’s nothing new or revolutionary about the concept. Innovation on this front will come from these manufacturers, who are largely focused on adapting an increasing number of AV solutions for the IP network. Here are some of the standout technologies offered by AV equipment manufacturers, optimized for the AV over IP environment:

1. Crestron’s DM NVX Series – Crestron has a strong case for offering the most advanced switches in the AV industry, led by its impressive DigitalMedia, or DM, line. Now, DM is available in an AV over IP format with the NVX Series. The DM NVX Series takes what was great about DM and tweaks it for IP, so if additional sources need to be added to the system, there’s no need to buy a larger matrix switch.

The DM NVX Series is compatible with 1GB Ethernet, which is more flexible and cost effective than using CAT-6 or CAT-7 wiring. With 1GB Ethernet, the DM NVX Series is easy to expand and can be expanded to an impressive degree. There’s also the uncompromising standards that integrators expect from Crestron. That includes pinpoint web-based management and control capabilities, incredible image quality (specifically, the DM NVX Series can deliver 4K60, HDR and 4:4:4 video), minimal latency due to Crestron’s simultaneous encoding/decoding abilities and top flight network security.

2. AMX’s SVSI product family – AMX is another heavy hitter in switches, and its SVSI product family includes several models designed for AV over IP use. This means video encoders and decoders, network video recorders, audio transceivers, IP windowing and wall processors, video management systems and VoIP solutions.

The newest member of the SVSI family is the N2300 Series, which can push 4K UHD video over standard 1GB Ethernet. AMX also advertises its ability to do this with minimal, practically invisible latency. AMX products are lauded for their ease of installation and setup, and the SVSI family is no different. Also, SVSI products support distributed matrix switching and point-to-multipoint streaming, so they are flexible enough to fit into any AV over IP solution.

3. Liberty’s DigitaLinx – Liberty may not have the brand power of Crestron, but its DigitaLinx products are fully capable AV over IP switches. The DigitaLinx is available in the 2000 Series and 5000 Series.

The 2000 Series can distribute 1080P video over standard 1GB Ethernet, and can manage hundreds of displays and sources. Further, the 2000 Series can support up to a 16x16 video wall and is compatible with third party control systems while remaining affordable and offering low latency.

The 5000 Series steps everything up, and can push over 4K video with HDR, over that same 1GB network. The 5000 Series also support 7.1 audio for residential installations, USB 2.0 networking for KVM applications and can also support a 16x16 video wall with little latency and with third party control system compatibility.

4. Extron’s video streaming products – Extron is yet another player in the AV networking space and has several video streaming products designed for AV over IP applications. Although it offers H.264, VN-Matrix and JPEG 2000 HD products, its NAV Series may be the most impressive.

The NAV Series is billed as the professional AV over IP alternative, with extremely low latency and excellent video quality as the starting points. The NAV E 501, for example, can handle HDMI 2.0 input with resolutions up to 4K60 at 4:4:4. It comes with Extron’s PURE3 codec for maximum quality and minimal delays. Further, because the NAV E 501 is compatible with Extron’s NAV 10GB endpoints, it can be scaled up with almost no limit.

AV over IP has brought a wave of improvements to enterprise settings, allowing companies to optimize their AV applications both now, and for the future.