Jake’s Take on Codec Audio Distribution Options
Broadcasters worldwide are looking for ways to streamline their content delivery and distribution across their entire network. Some are looking to upgrade older equipment that accomplished the same job, but perhaps over a different transmission method. Still others want to start self-syndicating their own content to gain more control and reduce costs from using a 3rd party service. In this month’s Jake Take, I want to explore some of the key areas of audio distribution with Tieline products. We will discuss some of the pros and cons to each method, and give you some key questions to ask yourself to help determine which method best suits your needs. Let’s first discuss the two main codec audio distribution options to syndicate audio to multiple destinations.
Peer-to-Peer versus Multi-Unicast Audio Distribution
The first method is to perform what is called a “Peer-to-Peer” audio stream with a high-density codec like the Gateway. “Peer-to-Peer” mode will add a bunch of benefits but is limited in some ways. For example, a Peer-to-Peer connection will support not just audio distribution but also have a return audio channel for confidence monitoring.
On the other hand, the second option is to perform what is called a “Multi-Unicast” connection. This method will also have pros and cons. One of the “cons” is that this type of connection will only support a bi-direction audio feed for the very first destination that connects. Having a basic understanding of these two types of connections will help guide you towards your audio syndication goal.
So let’s examine the “Peer-to-Peer” audio connection method in more detail. When streaming with “Peer-to-Peer” style connections, you not only get bi-directional audio, but there are also some additional benefits to consider. First thing to note, is that with a bi-directional audio stream, you can not only send contact closures through our General-Purpose Relays, but also receive closures from your destinations.
You can also achieve real-time redundancy with these links using Tieline’s SmartStream PLUS. This means that you can stream the same data over multiple networks, and have the decoder insert replacement packets at the remote end if any are lost or arrive late.
Something else to consider with this method is the audio I/O when wiring up the hardware. As each Peer-to-Peer audio stream uses unique audio inputs and outputs, you will need to either invest in an internal audio distribution system to feed each peer-to-peer codec, or you will want to invest in a codec that offers an internal Audio Matrix that can handle distribution of a single audio source internally, like the Gateway.
Before choosing to use a “Peer-to-Peer” connection style, it’s important to examine all of the options such as the “Multi-Unicast” style connection, which is designed to distribute audio to multiple locations across the globe. This method works slightly different than a traditional “Peer-to-Peer” connection. A “Multi-Unicast” will duplicate the packeted audio feed internally prior to sending the data to the remote units. Also, as the connection is NOT bi-directional for a majority of the endpoints, you won’t have to worry about a symmetric internet link as you do with a “Peer-to-Peer” audio link. This means that the encoder unit will need a larger upload stream of internet bandwidth compared to a “Peer-to-Peer” connection.
As you can see, with IP Audio codecs, it is certainly possible to syndicate audio and more broadcasters around the world are adopting Tieline products as they switch to self-syndication style networks with IP codecs. Understanding the limits of an IP audio codec can provide you with a better understanding of what AoIP codecs can accomplish. And finally, just because you may have streamed your show over satellite for 20+ years, it doesn’t mean that you have to continue paying those outrageous services fees! In fact, we can show you how switching from satellite transmissions over to IP can in many cases pay for the cost of new IP codecs in just months.
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(Understanding Audio Distribution Options, first published May 2021)