TCP/IP and Whole-House Audio
Goddard says IP-based A/V systems will sharply reduce labor costs and man-hours for dealers and installers. He says many industries have made the move to IP, and that " it's really starting to permeate our own."
DigiLinX, says Goddard, will use Universal Plug and Play to recognize devices on the network, and that such IP-based networks will be virtually infinitely scalable expandable (it worked for the Internet, didn't it?). He also calls on manufacturers to build in more intelligence to their products to lessen the programming load for installers even further.
Goddard says "many dealers have no idea about this," but anyone familiar with TCP/IP and Ethernet knows that packet collisions and network congestion can lead to poor network performance. Traffic management is key to a smooth-running network, and with audio distribution, such quality-of-service considerations are particularly essential. "There can never be any hiccups, buffering or stuttering. There's a horrible connotation to 'streaming,' even though that's what we do.
"Typically when you're streaming, it's stupid streaming. It floods the whole network. Not only does the audio suffer, but suddenly the broadband Internet connection is as slow as dialup and you can't do print jobs." DigiLinX, which distributes uncompressed, 1.4 Mbps PCM audio, will not engage in such disruptive bottlenecking, Goddard says, due to a segmentation strategy based around a Layer 3 IGMP non-blocking switch. As a result, "instead of being like a shotgun blasting out all over the place, the stream will be like a laser. We'll only send audio to the segment of the network that requested it." DigiLinX enables installers to establish as many "zones" for uncompressed audio streams as they deem fit. And, like the Internet, dumb keypads can be eschewed for informative LCD screens, as user- and installer-friendly intelligence can reside throughout the network—in the user interface, in speakers, in amplifiers, and so on.