Audio over Ethernet
In audio and broadcast engineering, Audio over Ethernet (sometimes AoE—not to be confused with ATA over Ethernet) is the use of an Ethernet-based network to distribute real-time digital audio. AoE replaces bulky snake cables or audio-specific installed low-voltage wiring with standard network structured cabling in a facility. AoE provides a reliable backbone for any audio application, such as for large-scale sound reinforcement in stadiums, airports and convention centers, multiple studios or stages.
While AoE bears a resemblance to voice over IP (VoIP) and audio over IP (AoIP), AoE is intended for high-fidelity, low-latency professional audio. Because of the fidelity and latency constraints, AoE systems generally do not utilize audio data compression. AoE systems use a much higher bit rate (typically 1 Mbit/s per channel) and much lower latency (typically less than 10 milliseconds) than VoIP. AoE requires a high-performance network. Performance requirements may be met through use of a dedicated local area network (LAN) or virtual LAN (VLAN), overprovisioning or quality of service features.
Some AoE systems use proprietary protocols (at the higher OSI layers) which create Ethernet frames that are transmitted directly onto the Ethernet (layer 2) for efficiency and reduced overhead. The word clock may be provided by broadcast packets.
There are several different and incompatible protocols for audio over Ethernet. For example, using category 5 cable and 100BASE-TX signaling at 100 Mbits/second, each link can generally transmit between 32 and 64 channels at a 48 kHz sampling rate. Some can handle other rates and audio bit depths, with a corresponding reduction in number of channels.
Layer 1 protocolsEdit
Layer 1 protocols use Ethernet wiring and signaling components but do not use the Ethernet frame structure. Layer 1 protocols often use their own media access control (MAC) rather than the one native to Ethernet, which generally creates compatibility issues and thus requires a dedicated network for the protocol.
- SuperMAC, an implementation of AES50
- HyperMAC, a gigabit Ethernet variant of SuperMAC
- A-Net by Aviom
- ULTRANET By Behringer 
Layer 2 protocolsEdit
Layer 2 protocols encapsulate audio data in standard Ethernet packets. Most can make use of standard Ethernet hubs and switches though some require that the network (or at least a VLAN) be dedicated to the audio distribution application.
- AES51, A method of passing ATM services over Ethernet that allows AES3 audio to be carried in a similar way to AES47
- Audio Video Bridging (AVB), when used with the IEEE 1722 profile (which transports IEEE 1394/IEC 61883 over Ethernet frames, using IEEE 802.1AS for timing)
- EtherSound by Digigram
- NetCIRA, a rebranded EtherSound by Fostex
- REAC and RSS digital snale technology by Roland
- SoundGrid by Waves Audio
- dSNAKE by Allen & Heath
Layer 3 protocolsEdit
Layer 3 audio over Ethernet protocols encapsulate audio data in OSI model layer 3 (network layer) packets. By definition it does not limit the choice of protocol to be the most popular layer 3 protocol, the Internet Protocol (IP). In some implementations, the layer 3 audio data packets are further packaged inside OSI model layer 4 (transport layer) packets, most commonly User Datagram Protocol (UDP) or Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP). Use of UDP or RTP to carry audio data enables them to be distributed through standard computer routers, thus a large distribution audio network can be built economically using commercial off-the-shelf equipment.
Although IP packets can traverse the Internet, most layer 3 audio over Ethernet protocols cannot provide reliable transmission over the Internet due to the limited bandwidth, significant End-to-end delay and packet loss that can be encountered by data flow over the Internet. For similar reasons, transmission of layer 3 audio over wireless LAN are also not supported by most implementations.
- Audio Contribution over IP standardized by the European Broadcasting Union
- Audio Video Bridging (AVB), when used with IEEE 1733 or AES67 (which uses standard RTP over UDP/IP, with extensions for linking IEEE 802.1AS timing information to payload data)
- NetJack, a network backend for the JACK Audio Connection Kit
- Zita-njbridge, a set of clients for the JACK Audio Connection Kit
- RAVENNA by ALC NetworX
MADI or uses 75-ohm coaxial cable with BNC connectors or optical fibre to carry up to 64 channels of digital audio in a point-to-point connection. It is most similar in design to AES3, which can carry only two channels.
AES47 provides audio networking by passing AES3 audio transport over an ATM network using structured network cabling (both copper and fibre). This was used extensively by contractors supplying the BBC's wide area real-time audio connectivity around the UK.
Audio over IP differs in that it works at a higher layer, encapsulated within Internet Protocol. Some of these systems are usable on the Internet, but may not be as instantaneous, and are only as reliable as the network route — such as the path from a remote broadcast back to the main studio, or the studio/transmitter link (STL), the most critical part of the airchain. This is similar to VoIP, however AoIP is comparable to AoE for a small number of channels, which are usually also data-compressed. Reliability for permanent STL uses comes from the use of a virtual circuit, usually on a leased line such as T1/E1, or at minimum ISDN or DSL.
In broadcasting and to some extent in studio and even live production, many manufacturers equip their own audio engines to be tied together with Ethernet. This may also be done with gigabit Ethernet and optical fibre rather than wire. This allows each studio to have its own engine, or for auxiliary studios to share an engine. By connecting them together, different sources can be shared among them. Logitek Audio is one such company using this approach.
- "Can I transport CobraNet audio over a wireless network?". Cirrus Logic. Retrieved 2019-01-09.
- "This Is MaGIC". Archived from the original on 2010-01-16. Retrieved 2010-06-23.
- "Klark Teknik Announces Several AES50 Protocol Developments". Archived from the original on 5 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-23.
- "Digital Audio Interconnections". Klark Teknik. Archived from the original on 2014-11-14. Retrieved 2014-09-15.
- "About A-Net". Archived from the original on 2008-10-11. Retrieved 2010-06-23.
- "AudioRail Technologies". Audiorail.com. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- "packet - How do I work out the Ultranet protocol?". Reverse Engineering Stack Exchange. Retrieved 2019-02-06.
- "RAVE Systems". Archived from the original on 23 May 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
- "Technology: Overview". Retrieved 2010-06-23.
- "What is REAC?". Roland Corporation. Archived from the original on 2015-01-18. Retrieved 2014-09-15.
- "Digital Snales". Retrieved 2018-07-26.
- AES67-2013: AES standard for audio applications of networks - High-performance streaming audio-over-IP interoperability, Audio Engineering Society, 2013-09-11
- "A user guide to using JACK over a network". Archived from the original on 2012-09-02. Retrieved 2012-08-19.
- "WheatNet-IP Intelligent Network Media Page". Retrieved 2011-03-06.
- "RockNet". Riedel Communications. Retrieved 2016-12-27.
- "Network Wednesdays: Hydra2". 2013-04-13. Archived from the original on 2013-06-28. Retrieved 2013-05-04.
- "Hydra2". Calrec. Retrieved 2016-12-27.