For many years now I have been hoping and waiting for a very particular product to be launched. A product that in my opinion would be a very useful tool in AV custom install, from small systems to large scale high end systems. Now another ISE has passed and I still haven’t seen it. Ultimately I’ve decided to put this idea out into the world, and see what comes of it. Hopefully the wait will end soon!

The concept is dead simple, and this diagram should tell most of the story:

So what are we looking at?
Basically a miniature HDMI Audio processor, designed to decode a wide range of audio formats off an HDMI input, and put them on the network as AES67 compatible streams. The HDMI can simply be passed through to the video sink. Power it using PoE and you have a very efficient little box on your hands.

Why would you need this?
Getting multi-channel audio onto your audio distribution/DSP platform with today’s equipment will take 3U to 6U of space in a rack, for your AV processor and analog to digital audio interface. Compare that with a device the size of an HDMI extender. Once on the network, you have full control of the streams, same as you do for any other AoIP signal in your system. Routing, ducking, downmixing, EQing, delaying, etc…all become available to you.

You could think of many other variations on this theme. Give it multiple HDMI inputs, add analog outputs, throw in some on-board DSP capabilities, etc, but the simply version in the diagram above would already cover most use-cases, especially if you have a video distribution system in place.

For smaller systems that make use of AoIP, and there will be more and more of those around, it’s just really convenient not to have to deal with a bulky pre-amp, when all you need is a decoder.

So there it is! I’m sure there’s a market out there for this device, installers just haven’t figured out that they need it yet!

I challenge all AV manufacturers to think about this, and get in touch if you want to take this further.

UPDATE
It seems the feature I’ve described is actually available in a product! Arvus have a very professional device in the H2-UDMA that does most of what I’ve described and more, the main difference being the form factor. Theirs is a full 19″ 1U rack device. Also, it’s not PoE powered. Still glad to see there is actually a similar product out there.

Thank you to various people who have pointed out various other products to me. Unfortunately, although these products do convert HDMI audio to IP, none of them actually decode multi-channel formats. They only deal with LPCM off the HDMI, and typically only handle two channels of audio.

 

Originally published on February 12, 2018by Edwin Edelenbos on LinkedIn.

 

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