Digital audio networking is an established technology for connecting professional audio equipment using standard networking technology.


The technology has been around for nearly 20 years and has been used on tens of thousands of projects worldwide. There are a number of audio networking protocols that manufacturers can adopt into their products.


Audio networking is an important technology that has a number of benefits:

  • Flexible routing of audio signals around a building
  • Virtually unlimited number of audio channels
  • Uses, low cost CAT-5/6 cabling that can be installed by any contractor
  • Uses industry standard network gear

However, whilst audio networking is an incredibly beneficial technology, the vast majority of audio networks don’t use the building’s corporate IT network.


With the overall transition away from analogue audio, its becoming increasingly common for the cat-5 or fibre for the audio system to be installed separately or for the audio system to use shared dark fibres, alongside the ones used for all other IT systems.


However, the lack of integration with the corporate IT network is holding back adoption of audio networking.


Why is networked audio not integrated?


It’s a good question, you would think that any IP based technology can co-exist on a network but its not always as easy as that.


Putting audio across an IP network can be a difficult thing to do. Some audio networking protocols have been made easy so that sound engineers can use them, but then they lack the power and flexibility to work in a mixed IT network.


They may offer plug and play but you have little ability to control the behavior of the audio networking protocol to match the capabilities of the corporate network.


RAVENNA - professional audio for integrated networks


RAVENNA is the only audio networking protocol that provides seamless co-existence with other network traffic. Built from its pedigree of being used for critical broadcast events, RAVENNA has a number of specific advantages over all other networked audio protocols.


RAVENNA AV advantages


  • Uses Existing network infrastructure
  • Shared traffic
  • Scalability –  capable of supporting several hundred or even thousands of streams concurrently
  • Low Latency
  • Can run simultaneous audio streams at variable sample rates and data formats
  • High availability / redundancy - seamless fail-over
  • Native PC and Mac support
  • WAN / routing capabilities
  • Non-proprietary technology - manufacturer solutions from several suppliers
  • Based on standards
  • AES67 compliant as standard

If you have a large corporate IT network, RAVENNA audio can operate seamlessly in that environment giving first class reliable audio for any size project.




Large corporate audio network


RAVENNA - why a broadcast protocol is great for AV


RAVENNA is a professional audio networking protocol that was originally designed for complex broadcast requirements.


In a typical broadcast complex we route hundreds of channels of audio to and from dozens or even hundreds of locations. Live broadcasts don’t tolerate failure so they demanded a protocol that would be robust. This routing can even take place across a broadcaster’s WAN.


These networking capabilities had to be able to sit along-side the many other IT requirements and so it had to be flexible in order to cope with other traffic needs that might conflict with it.


After several years of delivering networked audio we found that corporate IT networks have near identical audio challenges to those of broadcast.


Modern office buildings are very similar to broadcast complexes. They have many rooms and areas with their own audio requirements that ideally would sit on the overall building IT infrastructure.


Unfortunately in offices the audio is often separate, either kept analogue or it uses a separate network because other audio networking technologies cannot be made to operate within a building IT network.


RAVENNA is powerful and adaptable. Whilst it is sometimes more difficult to set up for the average audio engineer, it offers the real flexibility that IT professionals need. RAVENNA will work seamlessly in a large corporate IT environment alongside your other services, providing the IT manager control over your all your systems, including, for the first time, audio.


Selected Protocol Features


Notes for IT managers - Why IP-based Networking?

  • General advantages of networking: Reliability, flexibility, versatility, accessibility, scalability, cost advantage, maintenance efficiency, …
  • Availability: IP-capable network equipment and infrastructure readily available and widely deployed
  • Based on standards: IP standard protocols (the “internet protocols”) are widely supported (e.g. RTP/RTCP, RTSP, IGMP, SDP, DHCP, DNS etc.)
  • Routing capability: content can be routed across campus networks and WAN connections without technology change
  • Convergence: PCs can participate on the network without dedicated hardware
  • Future-proof: IP-based services will grow into all areas of communication   
  • RAVENNA – Technological Key Features:
  • A layer 3 (IP) solution
  • Can operate on most existing network infrastructures
  • Allows phase-accurate distribution of media clocks
  • Supports concurrent operation of multiple media clocks and formats
  • Full bit transparency with all media formats
  • Allows low latency for real-time critical applications
  • Supports QoS for reliable data transfer
  • Capacity scales with underlying network infrastructure
  • Supports distribution and synchronization across network segments
  • Full network redundancy support   



What is AES67?


Audio networking has been around for about 20 years and several methods of connecting audio systems together have come and gone.


All audio networks work in the same way - they allow you to send and receive many channels of digital audio along one network cable.


The problem has always been that each of these methods audio networking are different. So if you want to connect two pieces of equipment together then they have to use the same protocol.


If you try and connect equipment using two different protocols it simply won’t work.


Its been like this for years. Different protocols have different advantages and disadvantages. There are some widely used industry standard protocols but there are also some proprietary ones where a manufacturer wants to connect only their gear together so they have complete control over the user experience.




Mixed protocol network using AES67

Corporate environment with RAVENNA backbone but some individual rooms with other networks

Similarities between AES67 & RAVENNA


AES67 allows individual items to be connected to a network that primarily uses one protocol. AES67 could even allow a system to be made up of items all using different protocols.


ALC NetworX and many other RAVENNA partners are members of the Media Networking Alliance, promoting the adoption of AES67.


RAVENNA allows professional audio networking to work on large corporate networks.