With audio-over-IP technologies and protocols maturing and manufacturers starting to expand their product portfolios, the challenge remaining lies largely on leveraging IT-specific tasks, and achieving the correct - and practical - integration level in actual applications. Integrators and commercial installation companies are getting ready to explore the best options available but they still find significant challenges when it comes to combining the different pieces of the AoIP puzzle, even when "glued" together with new interoperability standards such as AES67.
Founded in 2005 by eleven engineers, Attero Tech has grown into a global provider of innovative audio networking I/O endpoints and AV connectivity solutions that solve those unique real-world problems. Working in straight cooperation with technology providers and industry consortiums, companies like Attero Tech combine a unique set of skills to support both manufacturers and integrators, creating newly needed implementations, and a valuable catalogue of problem-solving products for very specific applications.
This is exactly what the company is able to show at trade-shows such as InfoComm or Integrated Systems Europe, where practical demonstrations and insightful one-to-one conversations with the company's experts allow understanding the challenges and the benefits of the specific products and solutions. Conveying the same message elsewhere, requires a completely different approach, and that's precisely what Attero Tech has been trying to tackle with its new website, now online.
As Mike Sims, Attero Tech's Director of Marketing & Sales - and renowned tech guru - explains, "We've been working hard on a brand new Attero Tech website, and now it's live. The new website is mobile friendly, easier to navigate, and more solutions focused. Please check it out, and if there are improvements we can make, please let us know. We want it to be a resource that's helpful and easy to use."
The new products
At InfoComm 2017, the brilliant engineering minds at Attero Tech, introduced five native AES67 endpoints (four wall plates and a flange mount), plus a corresponding set of Q-SYS plugins for native interoperability with the popular software-based integrated audio, video and control platform from QSC. Attero Tech has developed its own AES67 stack on a XMOS core, making it possible to have endpoints with up to 16x16 channels that are cheap enough but also scalable.
In direct response to the growing popularity of QSC's Q-SYS Platform, a software-based solution built on an open IT-friendly ecosystem that leverages Intel processing, realtime Linux operating system, and Q-LAN networking technology, Attero Tech designed an important piece of the puzzle by providing a set of plug-ins that make it easy for integrators to build complete end-to-end AV solutions with AES67 audio.
With the release of Q-SYS Designer Version 5.3, all QSC Core DSPs now natively support the AES67 network audio protocol. As Attero Tech explains, although most of the Core DSPs have a Dante option, this of course comes at an extra cost. Most importantly, the Core 110f, QSC’s 1RU, feature-rich, and highly cost-competitive DSP only supports AES67 for interoperability with 3rd party audio network devices. With the new plug-ins, Attero Tech's new AES67 endpoint products now allow the lowest cost system solution with all QSC DSPs. These endpoints are, for now, the only 3rd party networked audio endpoints that are natively interoperable and designed for integration with the QSC Core 110f.
In addition to basic networked audio interoperability, all Attero Tech AES67 endpoints have native integration into Q-SYS Designer using QSC-approved plug-ins, developed and supported by Attero Tech. These plug-ins allow Attero Tech AES67 products to be placed in Q-SYS designs, have audio routing setup, and all the parameters of the Attero Tech products – controlling parameters like gain, phantom power, etc. – to be setup and monitored completely in Q-SYS Designer.
Going further, real-time control of Attero Tech product parameters can be easily added to QSC’s touch pads and other user control interfaces - eliminating requirements for 3rd party control systems, hours of programming and careful coordination of control integration into AV systems - allowing efficient system design and commissioning.
At InfoComm 2017, Attero Tech demonstrated the new series of native AES67 endpoints, including the unAX2IO+ (4x2 Wall Plate), unAX4I (4x2 Wall Plate), unA6IO (4x2 Wall Plate), unA6IO-BT (4x2 Wall Plate w/Bluetooth), and unAIO2X2+ (2x2 Flange Mount). The new products offer all of the functionality of their existing Dante counterparts but now speak AES67. The wall-plates and the flange-mount are all PoE powered devices, with full network control, and combine balanced inputs and outputs, with Hi Mic, Lo Mic, and Line Gains, +48V Phantom Power, and output volume control, with specific models combining a stereo Bluetooth input, as well as RCA and 3.5mm stereo inputs.
The unAIO2x2+ flange-mount I/O interface is a 2in/2out, cost-effective way to add up to two channels (in and out) of analog audio to any AES67-based networked audio system. The unAIO2x2+’s small form factor and PoE power capability make it easy to put AES67 connectivity near the audio source or sink, eliminating costly and interference prone analog wiring. The unAIO2x2+ includes several features such as true +48V phantom power, maximum input and output levels of +20dBu, several input gain settings, and full output level control.
The new Q-SYS Designer plug-ins allow direct discovery and configuration of the new Attero Tech AES67 products. Within the Q-SYS Designer, the integrator will be able to put together the design for a system, and setup the network audio routing from/to the AES67 receiver/transmitter blocks. The Attero Tech devices show up in the list of available streams based on their default unique name given by the integrator, indicate status and show the audio levels. With the Attero Tech wall plates setup to send audio into the Core DSP, the integrator is able to create AES67 transmitters with channels mixed uniquely for each zone feed.
Directly using the Attero Tech Q-SYS wall plate plug-in controls, the integrator is able to select the desired stream by name from the drop down list, configure the mic preamp defaults and save the configuration to the AT device’s persistent, power-on preset, ensuring the system will always restore the channel/stream mappings for each network audio device.
This process is then deployed to the Q-SYS Core, allowing integrated control over the entire audio system with QSC's touchscreen controller solutions. There are no modules to integrate or lines of code to write for a control system if the Q-SYS touch panels and Attero Tech plugins are used. The Attero Tech device plugins can be remotely deployed, customized and configured exactly for the level of control needed for the end users and administrators of the system.
Synapse Dante/AES67 Audio Interfaces
Creating an entire new high channel count category for Attero Tech, the new Synapse high channel density Dante/AES67 audio interfaces provide analog to Dante conversion on DB-25 or Terminal block connectors to facilitate ease of use in live and touring sound, as well as fixed install commercial applications. An integrated front panel offers an headphone amp and a high contrast OLED display allows quick and detailed feedback for audio confidence monitoring and diagnostics.
The Synapse interfaces are supported in unIFY Control Panel v2.3 and greater for PC based remote setup and level monitoring, and use the standard Dante Controller software from Audinate for routing. The unIFY software allows configuring the units for professional (+4dBu) or consumer (-10dBV) input levels for each 16 channel input bank.
The Dante w/AES67 interfaces support 24-bit signals up to 96kHz sample rates, allowing cost optimized Dante A/D conversion for fixed install audio distribution, integration with wireless microphone receivers to a Dante network, integration of a networked AV decoder or AV matrix switcher audio to a Dante network, retrofitting analog mixing consoles to Dante networks, or connecting electronic musical instruments to Dante networks, as application examples. The Synapse units also provide the benefit of supporting long haul audio distribution systems with no external hardware, leveraging the integrated SFP ports for connectivity to fiber modules.
The Synapse D32i - the first unit in the series - is a 1RU fully redundant high-density Dante break-in interface, featuring 32 line level balanced inputs, allowing redundant SFP expansion. The SFP ports enable fiber connectivity for long range signal extension in physically large venues such as stadiums, arenas, large corporate buildings and convention centers, while an external 24 V DC input provides optional power redundancy to the integrated power supply. Attero Tech already confirmed that more Synapse I/O configurations will be introduced in the near future.