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Sennheiser unveils prototype AVB microphone

In a first for professional microphones, Sennheiser has introduced a prototype microphone that employs Audio Video Bridging (AVB) technology, which allows time-synchronized low latency streaming services through IEEE 802 networks.

Though still a prototype and not available for sale in its current form, Sennheiser said the AVB model was the successful outcome of a product study. The company said the study proved that a professional microphone can be transmitted into a digital Ethernet network without problems and demonstrates that AVB technology already functions as a network technology.

Audio and video equipment connections historically have been analog one-way, single-purpose and point-to-point. Even digital A/V standards often were point-to-point and one-way such as S/PDIF for audio and the serial digital interface (SDI) for video. This resulted in large confusing masses of cables, especially in professional and high-end consumer applications.

In July 2004, the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) started a resident Ethernet study group for A/V streaming. In November 2005, work shifted to the IEEE 802.1 working group, which was responsible for cross-network bridging standards. A goal of the working group was to have the technology be scalable from inexpensive consumer applications to professional standards.

An AVB network implements a set of protocols developed by the IEEE 802.1 Audio/Video Bridging Task Group. The standard allows precise synchronization, traffic shaping for all media streams, admission controls and identification for non-participating devices

Though devices can co-exist, only AVB devices are able to reserve a portion of network resources through the use of admission control and traffic shaping and send and receive the new timing-based frames.

See a video describing AVB.

Sennheiser is one of the first companies to use this technology in a product, proving that the AVB networking standard is no longer a distant dream.

“We are convinced that AVB will play a major role in the future,” said Sennheiser product manager Kai Tossing.

Sennheiser is a member of the AVnu Alliance, an industry forum dedicated to the advancement of professional-quality audio video. Its key objective is to establish Audio Video Bridging (AVB) as a standard technology for A/V applications such as microphones, loudspeakers, laptops, beamers and many other devices.