IP-Optimised Codecs

  • With David Kirk

IP-Optimised Codecs

Contributing Editor David Kirk reports on the latest developments in the field of codecs...

IP connectivity has become a commonplace element of the video and audio production workflow, including point-to-point streaming links and one-to-many transmission.

This short overview looks at recent developments from some of the leading players in the codecs field.

AEQ’s Phoenix Venus 4 and 4+ audio codecs each support dual simultaneous bidirectional stereo transmissions in different formats. Features include remote control (SIP protocol and EBU N/ACIP standard). The 4+ version includes local front-end control. Both versions incorporate storable presets to allow quick partial or complete reconfiguration. They come with a triple network port, dual RS232 data link. Options include main and auxiliary AC plus dual 48 volt DC supplies and Dante/AES67 IP inputs and outputs.

Audinate’s Dante Studio software tools bring Dante AV video directly into a PC without requiring additional hardware.

Dante Studio is compatible with Dante AV Ultra and Dante AV-H hardware devices from multiple manufacturers and uses Dante Controller for video signal routing. Dante Video Viewer is a standalone application that allows a Dante video stream to be monitored from any Dante AV enabled device or computer sharing its screen with Dante Video TX on the Dante network in real time.

2wcom’s IP-8i audio interface can be used to convert audio in AES/EBU (eight stereo channels) or analogue (four stereo channels) format to AES67. Eight RS232 inputs can be used for transport of UECP/RDS/PAD data. If audio silence is detected, the IP-8i can automatically switch to an optional Icecast or Shoutcast stream, or play files from internal memory. The IP-8i supports a wide range of protocols for streaming, control and monitoring. These include Ravenna, Livewire, Dante PTPv2, SAP, Discovery, Bonjour, SNMP, HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, FTPS and Ember+. The exchange of additional information like GPIO and ancillary data between the audio networks is possible. Dual streaming and Pro-MPEG FEC (forward error-correction) are employed. Remote control can be performed via HTTP, FTP, NMS or SNMP. 

intoPIX has added new HFR capabilities to its TicoXS JPEG-XS-capable encoders and decoders. The new capabilities allow using a lightweight TicoXS IP core for high-speed encoding and decoding. Depending on the selected IP core, 4K can go up to 480 fps or HD up to 1920 fps, in monochrome or 422 colour and with a single encoder. The IP-cores are also not limited to usual broadcast formats for the encoding and can be used for other aspect ratios such as 9:16. 

Prodys’ Quantum2 W is designed to function as an all-in-one remote-commentary unit. It is equipped with three mic/line inputs and can also source from USB Audio, AES/EBU or AoIP/AES67 (optionally Dante or Ravenna).

Three headphone outputs are also provided. The unit can be used to link two bidirectional audio streams with four independent voices, sounds or mixed audios to a studio or host broadcast centre. Transmission can be achieved via diversity or bonded streams over grouped network interfaces (2x Ethernet, 2x LTE and wifi). Additionally, a video downlink stream can be decoded internally and shown on a built-in display screen. Video uplink is also possible for the transmission of images from the commentators to the studio. The Quantum2 W also allows audio to be embedded into the received video and forwarded as a combined stream to the studio.

RME’s Fireface UFX III accommodates up to 94 audio channels. Features include SteadyClock FS, MADI I/O (64 channels), USB 3.0 (full 94 channel I/O Class Compliant ready), TotalMix FX and Direct USB Recording, and support for the Advanced Remote Control USB (available separately). Designed for multitrack recording, mixing and mastering, the unit comes with a TotalMix FX DSP mixer offering routing and monitoring options, as well as an analyzer allowing to check the digital data feed in both directions. TotalMix FX is designed to replace an external mixer, enabling the creation of multiple latency-free monitor mixes with EQ, dynamics, reverb and delay for any outputs.

Tieline’s new MPX I and MPX II codecs are designed for applications such as real-time network distribution of FM-MPX signals to transmitter sites. The MPX I is intended for transmitting a composite STL signal from a single station with return monitoring. The Tieline MPX II can transport two discrete composite FM-MPX STL feeds plus return monitoring. Both units support analog MPX on BNC, MPX over AES192, and multipoint signal distribution. An optional satellite tuner card with MPEG-TS and MPE support can receive DVB-S or DVB-S2 signals.

“Tieline is unveiling two new MPX codecs which leverage our longstanding expertise in audio encoding to flexibly and reliably distribute composite signals to transmitter sites,” comments Charlie Gawley, VP Sales APAC & EMEA. “By supporting both analog and digital composite MPX signals, broadcasters can transition from analog to digital exciters over time and maximize the value of their MPX investment. Sending transmission-ready FM composite signals from the studio allows broadcasters to maintain audio processing and RDS data insertion at the studio. This significantly reduces capital and operational costs by eliminating processing equipment from transmitter sites, which reduces on-site power consumption, wiring, and site visits for service and support. Composite MPX over IP signals can be easily replicated and distributed using multicast and multi-unicast technologies and take advantage of features like redundant streaming, RIST, FEC, and automated SD card file failover.”

Worldcast’s Systems’ APT IP codec is now available as server-based software. Using AES67, the Virtual APT IP codec can be integrated into virtual studios. Technologies such as APTmpX and SureStream are supported. The Virtual APT IP codec can also be combined with Kybio for end to end monitoring, control, and automation.

“This launch faithfully reflects the high standards of APT for reliability, latency, scalability, and feature-density; all at a competitive cost,” says Hartmut Foerster, APT Product Manager at WorldCast Systems. “The virtualization of APT codecs is a great opportunity for radios channels to simplify and improve their programme delivery while reducing their costs,” adds Product Marketing Director Greg Mercier.