We asked our experts to gaze into their crystal mics and predict 2018’s biggest trends for the audio industry. Reliable picks included networked audio over IP, an even bigger push on 3D sound than we’ve seen in 2017 and Ambisonics quietly cornering the market for virtual reality content…
Networked audio over IP: Dante, Ravenna, BLU Link, Q-LAN and AES67
We’ve been talking to everyone who’ll listen about Focusrite’s Dante products for years now (and, to a lesser but no less enthusiastic extent, about gear that uses Ravenna, BLU Link and Q-LAN). While all these formats are excellent in their own ways and most studios we kit out will include equipment from multiple vendors, they weren’t always cross-compatible.
The AES67 standard was designed to fix this, among other things, and allows interoperability between Dante, Ravenna and other such networks as if they were one and the same. While AES67 has been around since 2014, it’s only recently it’s really gained traction, with newer Dante and Ravenna solutions being AES67-compatible straight out of the gate. Our hope is that in 2018 working across standards becomes even easier, with the rise of the AES70 management standard allowing us to control routing between between Dante, Ravenna and BLU Link without any compatibility issues or loss of signal quality.
We’re also interested in seeing what Q-SYS, JBL and BSS have up their sleeve this year for audio system control, and advise anyone who works with audio and video to keep an eye on SMPTE 2110, which allows you to transport audio and video synchronously in separate streams, in native AES67 rather than multiplexed with the video, as in SMPTE 2022. SSL in particular have been developing solutions that incorporate this standard, including their more recent Dante-based interfaces.
Want to know more about this? Head to our Soho centre at 9am on 31st January for a special Tech Breakfast with our senior audio engineer, Matt Ward, who’ll be briefing people on AES67 and its related standards over coffee and a danish. Sign up here.
Ambisonics overtake immersive audio and virtual reality
One of the things we’re most excited about at the moment is the resurgence of interest in Ambisonics, driven by the latest developments in immersive audio and VR. Originally developed in the 1970s by Michael Gerzon, Ambisonics was integrated into Pro Tools in v12.8.2, and we expect to see more third party tools appearing as VR and immersive home and cinema formats become ubiquitous.
If you’re experimenting with Ambisonics (particularly capturing sound fields), we’d recommend keeping a close eye on developments in high order ambisonic microphone arrays over the next year as the ability to store and process a greater number of channels becomes available. These arrays produce phase-coherent immersive audio signals that give your virtual environment natural acoustics, and working in higher order allows for more spatial accuracy.
In other immersive news, 2018 could be the year that SMPTE release an open standard for immersive audio, and it’ll be interesting to see whether the latest evolutions of DTS:X and Multi-Dimensional Audio can challenge Dolby Atmos – follow us on Twitter to keep up with developments.
Refining the cloud
Putting immersive audio aside for a minute, the other toolkit we’d like to see Avid expand in 2018 is Pro Tools’ suite of cloud collaboration tools. Rumours suggest we’ll see their online collaboration services refined, giving audio customers a more streamlined, integrated solution that will lure end users away from slightly less secure methods of sharing (they’re also overhauling the Media Composer Cloud-connected application, so it will interesting to see how these two sync up).
Perfecting shared storage for audio with DDP
Collaborating also means managing content and storage efficiently, and investing in a flexible and reliable storage and management data solution is undoubtedly the way forward if you want to streamline and optimise your workflow. Not many tools can deliver on all fronts but, having tested a lot of options, we’re big fans of Dynamic Drive Pool, a solution which has been designed specifically to work with this type of media.
DDP is essentially a pool of drives from which virtual or logical volumes can be created and accessed via Ethernet. This is a SAN (Storage Area Network) system, which allows data to be read and written in blocks very quickly, allowing network volumes to appear and behave like local storage. This is the perfect companion for audio systems like Pro Tools, Fairlight and Nuendo.
Got a prediction for 2018? Let us know in the comments. To find out more about any of the above, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email audio@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter, or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.