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  • Matt Hall

A Guide To AV Over IP and What it Means For You

A Guide To AV Over IP and What it Means For You

When you transmit anything—voice or video—using an ethernet connection instead of a video cable, you’re doing so over what’s known as an internet protocol (IP).

Transmitting audio and video over IP (AV over IP) isn’t very common, but that’s changing. Here we’ll discuss what AV over IP is, why it’s different, and why it’s taking off throughout the AV industry.

What is AV over IP?

AV over IP is technology that allows you to transmit audio and video over an ethernet connection. This system uses encoders to transmit video from any number of sources, and decoders to show the video on each display. This happens without use of traditional video cables and switchers.

Take a sports bar for example. There may be 16 televisions in the room, all playing different sports games. To play a different game on each of those screens, that bar would have traditionally needed a switcher with 16 different inputs and outputs (one for each game and TV). They would then connect the video switcher to their cable boxes, using HDMI cables or extenders, and then run 16 additional cables between the switcher and the various televisions throughout the room.

AV over IP allows you to play 16 different games on each of those TV screens with Cat6 cable, and an ethernet switch. Here’s what that looks like on a smaller scale:

AV over IP allows you to play 16 different games on 16 TV screens with Cat6 cable, and an ethernet switch.

Why is AV over IP catching fire now?

Security concerns stopped many organizations from adopting AV over IP as quickly as Voice over IP.

Financial institutions, universities, and healthcare companies in particular are subject to security regulations that early AV over IP technology couldn’t accommodate. Today’s technology is more secure, allowing a broader range of organizations to take advantage of it.

Why is AV over IP so significant?

AV over IP is a significant departure from the traditional way of distributing audio and video, and is valuable in settings where it’s virtually impossible to connect displays and video sources using HDMI cables or extenders due to distance limitations.

AV over IP can also be less expensive than a video switcher and cabling system. Video switchers are sold in pre-set sizes; often 16 x 16 or 32 x 32. A 16 x 16 video switcher, for example, has 16 inputs and 16 outputs, allowing you to distribute video from 16 different sources to 16 different displays.

Here’s what that might look like for a small 4 x 4 video switcher:

AV over IP example - small 4 x 4 video switcher

If you want to add a fifth display to your setting, you’ll need to upgrade your 4 x 4 video switcher for one that has enough inputs and outputs to handle five displays—an 8 x 8.

AV over IP example - 8 x 8 video switcher

This upgrade ultimately shoulders you with the cost of purchasing a system that can handle eight displays, even though you won’t use every input and output.

Finally, AV over IP is much easier to maintain. If your video switcher fails at any point in time, all the video sources and displays connected to that switcher are down. If any encoder or decoder in an AV over IP system fails, only the displays connected to that encoder or decoder will fail.

Should you prepare for a shift to AV over IP?

If you’re designing a brand new AV system, plan to use AV over IP over more traditional solutions.

In spaces where traditional solutions are already in place, it’s not yet necessary to replace your old system if it’s working for you. When and if you do decide to upgrade that system, consider the advantages of AV over IP before deciding on a replacement solution.

Whether you’re building a new AV system from scratch, or upgrading an older system, Aspen Custom Electronics can help. We’re experienced professionals who know the industry inside and out, and put customer service at the forefront of everything we do. Contact us for a free consultation.


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