Our business has gone through a change, which accelerated drastically around 2010. We are starting to see system designs that place all devices on networks for control, media transport, and media routing. I used to think that the heart of every AV system was the matrix switcher, the audio processor, or the control system, but these days, it seems like the heart of every AV system we are designing is the network switch. If that is truly the case, regardless of the debate as to who is providing said switch, we all need to accept the fact that our systems are now just networks.
The network switch is the new heart of our systems, and we need to learn how to use them to their fullest extent; truth be told, they really are great at what they do when they are properly configured. They can route audio or video, they can power devices, they can control devices, they can help troubleshoot devices, and they are relatively cheap compared to traditional matrix switching technology in almost every comparison I’ve tried to do over the years. There is a catch though: to use them properly, you need to know how to configure, troubleshoot, and properly configure them for other devices that may also be on the same network, or same network switch. This is why we are all transitioning to network specialists faster than most of us know. We must though, because once you start linking a bunch of AV devices together on a network, sometimes they don’t play nicely with each other. We are almost always tasked with finding out why, and either figuring out which setting is wrong or relying on a manufacturer to update firmware.
|The Grand Hall within the Lee Shau Kee Lecture Centre at the University of Hong Kong is an AVB installation featuring the Meyer Sound CAL column array loudspeaker and Biamp Tesira system.|
The good news is that once you get
everything on a network to play nicely with each
other, well-designed networks are very stable
and reliable. Think about it, some financial
institutions rely on networking systems to
handle billions of dollars of transactions per
second. That being said, we should be able to
rely on them to get your end user’s PowerPoint
presentation up on a flat screen display.
Not only are networks reliable, stable, and
cost effective, they can provide integrators
and administrators with vast amounts of
information that can troubleshoot just about
any problem we might have. Think about it:
* We can “ping” individual devices to see if they are alive.
* We can log into each individual device to see how it is doing.
* We can log into each individual device to adjust what it is doing.
* We can cycle the power on each individual device if it seems to be acting erratically.
* We can write standards-based software to communicate and issue commands to each individual device.
* We can track when an event occurred that led to a problem.
* We can track who last made adjustments to a system.
* We can track what devices get used the most, or if at all.
* We can cycle the power to individual power outlets that power the network itself.
|The future is here. Crestron processors running more than 100 rooms on a major project designed by Joey D’Angelo for Charles M. Salter Associates. One power cord, one network cord. That’s it.|
Networking in general presents a variety of opportunities for the AV industry and the time is now to absorb expertise into our industry so that we can continue to grow, prosper, provide increased value, enhance the quality of our work, and profit.
Joey D'Angelo (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a vice president at Charles M. Salter Associates. He has worked at Salter for 16 years, since the day he graduated from Cal Poly SLO and has since completed over 405 projects. He likes to be challenged professionally, listens to punk rock, and plays many instruments.