An Introduction to AV-over-IP

Mike Maniscalco | Jun 11, 2020
Ethernet_Port 450The first in a series of articles on Audio Video-over-Internet Protocol

Today’s audio and video distribution technologies have come a long way since the early days of modulation and simple switching. Distribution between sources and displays have clear benefits for both residential and commercial installations. Newer use cases for AV distribution include distributing 4K video content from a Blu-ray player across multiple screens, sending digital signage content to many displays, and creating video walls. These are but a few of a wide range of technical solutions to satisfy a variety of performance, architecture, and budget options.

One of the maturing distribution options is AV-over-IP. AV-over-IP solutions distribute high-quality audio and video content over an IP network. The system handles the capture, conversion, compression, and transmission of audio and video over the network by leveraging IP and Ethernet technologies. AV-over-IP may sometimes be referred to as media-over-IP (MoIP), HDMI-over-IP, or networked AV.

An AV-over-IP system consists of an encoder and decoder which sends and receives content. The encoders and decoders have AV inputs and outputs, as well as Ethernet connections. The AV content is captured by the encoder, compressed, and the digital signal is then streamed over the IP network. An AV-over-IP decoder can then subscribe to a stream, capture and decompress the digital signal, then transmit the signal back out through an AV medium of choice, such as HDMI. AV-over-IP uses standard layer-3 network switches that support basic protocols for AV distribution. These network switches offer a variety of performance options that are cost-effective, standardized, scalable, flexible, and interchangeable.

The good news is the technology is reliable and feasible when designed, engineered, and configured appropriately.

AV-over-IP takes what was once cutting-edge technology reserved for professional studio and enterprise systems and makes it viable in residential and commercial installations. However, AV-over-IP lacks a leading set of standards and is still facing numerous interoperability challenges. The good news is the technology is reliable and feasible when designed, engineered, and configured appropriately, but it is important to consider the appropriate design and technology when specifying a solution.  

Systems using AV-over-IP technology are becoming more popular because they offer benefits such as flexibility of design, delivery over a wide range of performance requirements, and large- scale expandability. However, most AV distribution experts agree that there is no “one size fits all” or “silver bullet” solution. Therefore, AV-over-IP is just one of the many new distribution options for CEDIA integrators. In future articles on this topic, we will discuss how AV-over-IP works and what to consider when evaluating AV-over-IP technology.

Want to learn more? Check out the AV-over-IP coursework in the new CEDIA Academy:

As technology rapidly evolves, the ability to deliver quality audio and video signals via IP has become more and more reliable, providing better and better experiences for clients. In this AV-over-IP course, you'll learn about the exciting new ways to distribute and deliver content throughout the modern home using these techniques.