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Livewire and RAVENNA link up at NAB

Protocol developers hail a “significant change” for the broadcast industry following collaboration announcement in Las Vegas, writes Dave Robinson.

ALC NetworX and the Telos Alliance, developer of Livewire, have announced a new partnership to extend the reach of ALC’s two-year-old RAVENNA IP-based media networking technology. The news broke at a press conference on the eve of the NAB show in Las Vegas on Sunday 15 April.

“If we invented Livewire today, it would look a lot like RAVENNA,” said Telos president Mike Dosch at the press call (pictured, right, with ALC NetworX CEO Philpp Lawo, left, and Telos CEO Frank Foti). “We both pretty much have the same philosophy [Livewire and RAVENNA]; low latency, routability and reliability – and a desire to use a standards-based approach.”

Axia (part of the Telos Alliance alongside Omnia, Linear Acoustic and Telos) introduced its Livewire broadcast IP-audio networking in 2004 launch, and currently there are reported to be more than 25,000 Livewire devices in over 3,000 installations. Combining this experience with RAVENNA’s open technology approach will advance RAVENNA to the forefront of IP-based professional broadcast applications, claim the two parties.

Axia’s new xNode IP-Audio Interfaces support all fundamental operation principles of RAVENNA, and thus they are capable of interacting with RAVENNA-enabled devices. In turn, by implementing the newly defined RAVENNA Interoperability Profile, RAVENNA nodes can interchange streams with Livewire legacy nodes, based on their current capabilities. As a result, new RAVENNA-enabled products can be added to a large number of existing Livewire installations. These installations can continue to operate in Livewire legacy mode, but also connect with fully operational RAVENNA equipment. This offers a smooth migration path from existing legacy Livewire installations to full-blown RAVENNA set-ups.

With 34 Livewire partners plus 14 RAVENNA partners already onboard, broadcasters will benefit immediately from an expanded universe of nearly 70 networked interoperable pro-audio products.

On choosing ALC as a partner, Dosch noted: “There are some competing ideas out there. Some have gravity, I would say. We did look at them – but what was needed was routability, a packet-based system that could be transferred over IP just like anything else. It needed to have the right kind of reliability for broadcasters.

“This really is a protocol that we think will be a de facto standard for the industry. We see this as a very significant change.

“After nearly a year of Axia and RAVENNA developers working together, the broadcast world is now one giant step closer to [our] vision when every piece of broadcast equipment is connected to the network.”

Philipp Lawo, CEO of ALC NetworX, added: “This is not a claim of something that’s to come: this is happening now.”

(Additional reporting: Fergal Ringrose)

+ In other Livewire news at NAB, Harman’s Studer is showing its commitment to integration of the Livewire AoIP standard at the event with the first showing of the D21m interface card that may be used on Vista and OnAir console systems.

“We decided to adopt the Livewire standard from Axia following consultation with many customers on our new product strategy,” said Andy Trott, Harman’s VP and GM of mixers, microphones and headphones (Soundcraft, Studer and AKG). “Studer is embracing a very ‘open standards’ philosophy as we launch more and more broadcast systems and this is the first of many new partnership initiatives that we will be announcing over the next 18 months to provide our customers with increasing flexibility.