Your Computer Network is Now Your Live Audio System.
When setting up a multi-room audio system for home, a music recording studio or even a live performance sound stage, you either spend a lot of money on analog audio equipment and cables or a lot more money on digital audio equipment and cables. Going digital gives you the flexibility to use more advanced live mixing and control features, but it's a huge upfront cost just to get started. The Brick and the Bullet enable high-end pro digital audio on a consumer-level budget by leveraging Ethernet AVB, a new Ethernet network standard that makes this possible and cost effective.
How is it Better than Analog Wiring?
No need for heavy, expensive copper analog cable
Allows separation of logical and physical connections
Any number of I/Os can connect to the network w/o bulky cables
Actual connections can be managed by software
Large number of channels over a single cable
Reliable audio quality; no hum, ground loops, audio quality degradation with long cable runs
Integration of media and control; Control signals run over the same network; no additional cabling
Take advantage of IT industry developments in functionality, reliability, availability and cost savings.
Up to now use of consumer Ethernet networks has been limited to audio streaming using methods like AirPlay, but AirPlay is not useful for live performance audio as it has too much delay (1-2 seconds). Even one second would drive any live music performer crazy. Ethernet AVB has no detectable delay, and with the Brick and the Bullet you can move over forty channels of high quality (24/96) uncompressed audio around your recording studio or sound stage (or home). This frees you from the burden of heavy and expensive analog mixers and control boards. You can do all your mixing and control in software on a laptop or large flatscreen monitor.
The Brick is a low-cost Ethernet switch with pro audio features. Using an AVB adapter like the Bullet, you can connect all your instruments, amps, speakers, mixer, and controller into the Brick and manage it all in software on a laptop. Basic AVB control software is built-into the Mac's latest version of the OS X operating system. More advanced and feature-rich software is available from AVID and other pro audio vendors.
The Bullet is a small (less than 2in diameter) adapter that has an Ethernet jack on one side and audio input/output on the other side. You simply connect your instrument to the audio input, and then connect the Ethernet side to the Brick and you're hooked up. Use another Bullet to hook up an amp and you're ready to play live music across a large stage, even a large stadium. You can chain Bricks together to go even further if needed. All your analog equipment can each connect to the Brick using a single Bullet.
Here you can see an AVB network setup for a live performance with live mixing and recording. Bricks are used to link everything together. Bullets are used to hook up instruments and amps. Each network connection could stretch as long as 300 feet. The mixing board and the MacBook Pros have native AVB support, so no Bullet is needed to hook up those devices. As all channels are digitized and accessible to any device on the network, you can use the laptop as a mixer on a tight budget.
Digital snakes are an expensive way to connect several audio channels from one location to another, but this is no longer needed with AVB. You can avoid digital snakes with the Brick as each Ethernet cable can run over 40 digital audio channels. You just need to put one Brick at either location and join them with one Ethernet cable. Done.
Who are We?
AVB.io's founder, John Gildred, is a veteran consumer electronics and network engineering manager and product manager with a passion for well-designed, revolutionary products. Built upon IEEE 802.1 standards, the Brick is a beautifully designed and simply elegant piece of networking hardware.
Works With a Mac
Mac OS X Mavericks has built-in support for AVB. When you connect any current model iMac, MacBook Pro/Air, Mac Mini or Mac Pro to the Brick you can use your Mac as an AVB live audio talker or listener. There's even a network browser in the Audio MIDI Setup app on OS X which can discover audio endpoints such as the Bullet and act a basic AVB control point.
You can use the some of the best apps in pro audio like Logic Pro X and GarageBand to control and mix your instruments. No need for expensive rigs and mixing boards unless that's what you're looking for.
Plays Well with Others
There is a growing list of AVB compatible products available today from pro audio, broadcasting and enterprise companies like Apple, Extreme Networks, Avid, Meyer Sound, and Axon. By providing a consumer-level AVB switch, we hope to encourage more consumer home entertainment AVB products to join us in building the future of AV networking.
Pro Multi-room Audio at Home
Even if you're not a big musician, you can enjoy the benefit of AVB in your home using the Brick and Bullet to pipe 24/96 super high quality audio to each room that needs it. Many homes have Ethernet wired up already, making installation of the Brick and Bullet very easy.
What about Wireless?
AVB can work over Wi-Fi, but we are not including wireless support in the Brick or Bullet at this time. We plan to work on this as a next project if this first project is funded.
What about Video?
Although the Brick could work with an AVB video adapter to handle live video, there is no consumer adapter for video yet. We do plan to work on a 10 gigabit version the Brick and an HDMI version of the Bullet as some point in the future, but no schedule for this has been committed.
AVB is Different
The above animation shows how AVB streams (in blue) flow in time-deterministic cycles, where the rest of the network (in green) flows as best-effort. There is a great white paper which breaks down in detail the power of AVB switching here.
Multi-room for Audiophiles
If you have high quality recordings in FLAC or PCM. Using the Brick and a few Bullets you can stream your music in it's full uncompressed glory throughout your home. Don't worry about the size of your high quality streams over your home network; AVB will make sure it never buffers and never skips. When you play recorded music over your home network, you can see the difference between AVB and more common methods like AirPlay.
During our early development, we put together a simple demo to show how AVB doesn't suffer from the lag of AirPlay.
The preceding video is a comparison between the audio playback user experience on AirPlay and AVB using XMOS development boards available from DigiKey. You can hear the approximately two-second delay in start/stop of AirPlay, where AVB has no delay. This is not a live audio scenario, but even in this case you can see the benefit of AVB for realtime control of an audio stream.
The above video shows how you can control AVB streams, turning stream reservations on and off from your laptop. This demonstration used a browser-based controller UI from UMAN, two XMOS-based audio endpoint devices with a Marvell-powered AVB switch development board.
AVB doesn't stop at live audio. Imagine multi-stream HD video recording and high-speed trick-play with no delay over the network, even multi-stream live video flowing through your home or performance venue with not even a frame dropped or a millisecond of delay.
The Brick is the first in a series of AVB-enabled products which we hope will redefine home networking for audio and video.
The Brick design is complete including the software, electronics, mechanical and industrial design. The Bullet is 70% complete, and we expect the remaining development and testing will take approximately four months.
The Brick is Ready
We have completed the development of the Brick, and we will be preparing for limited production upon the conclusion of the campaign. Below are some images illustrating our progress.
What We Need And What You Get
We need $35,000 to refine our production process and complete the Bullet development.
As a reward for contributing to the AVB.io project, we will send you one of the following depending on your level of contribution: stickers!, a logo T-shirt, a Brick unit, and a combination Brick and Bullet set.
Your contribution will help make this project possible. Since 2004 I have dreamed of this product and how it could change the face of home networking. Seven years later the necessary standards were approved by the IEEE, but so far only pro audio developers have taken products to market. Today consumer A/V networking is still such a poor experience. Gigabit switches barely carry 100Mb/s reliably and simply playing HD video from your desktop to your laptop or TV is still an error-prone, painful experience. We want to change that expectation. The product possibilities are so great with AVB; this is just the beginning.
Take AVB to to the consumer. Pro audio developers have enjoyed breakthrough products using AVB, why not consumers? Get the first affordable AVB switch into the hands of AV enthusiasts who have been waiting for this.
The founders of the AVB.io project have built and shipped high-quality A/V products for years, but this project is different. This is something that we've always wanted to do, and it's just the beginning. Our next project will be to make 50 lower cost units once we learned from the pre-beta testing. We also planning project called the Bullet which will provide easy audio connectivity to existing non-AVB audio devices in your home. It all starts with this project. Lets' get started!
Other Ways You Can Help
We are also looking for help from passionate designers, developers and marketers. If you have skills and would like to change the world of home networking, contact us at email@example.com.
Risks and challenges
The Brick design is complete. The electronics are complete, and the assembly for limited production has been prepared. There is very little risk that we won't be able to ship the Brick on time.
The Bullet design prototype is complete. The electronics are 70% complete, and the assembly for limited production will begin within a month. There is low risk that the Bullet will not ship by end of this year. We have built enough buffer into the schedule to allow for reasonable setbacks such as minor parts replacement, and minor design changes.
The Bullet is an audio adapter that supports Audio Video Bridging (AVB). It can input mono or stereo analog audio, encode it into 24/96 PCM digital audio and transmit it over Ethernet using AVB. The Bullet can also receive live digital audio streams via Ethernet using AVB, decode and output it as analog mono or stereo. Live audio streaming is possible only when connected through an AVB-capable switch like the Brick. The audio input and output functions can operate simultaneously.