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Every Networked Product?

Which products are available using what audio network?

We’ve been trying to do a reality check on what networked audio devices there are on the market. Previously we have looked at the number of licencees of each protocol. This time we decided to research every audio product that has a ‘standard’ audio network connection. The purpose of this was to see what choices we have when we want to buy networked audio equipment.

There appear to be 428 networked audio products currently available on the market that use one of the ‘industry standard’ protocols.

RH Consulting chart of networked devices

230 products support CobraNet
162 products support Dante
51 products support EtherSound
21 products support AVB
10 products support Ravenna

RH Consulting protocol share

The reason why the total of 428 is less than the sum of all the protocols is that some products support more than one protocol.
396 products support only one protocol, 20 support two protocols, 13 support three protocols and one device supports four protocols. No device that supports Ravenna supports another protocol but their products seem to be in a different category to the rest.

Counting networked devices proved not to be as easy as we thought. When is a product a product? When is something a different product? These are the rules we set out:

  • We did not include products that have only proprietary network connections
  • We have investigated products that appear to be shipping. Its sometimes difficult to see if products are discontinued or if they are yet on the market. We have done what we can to verify whether each product is available for purchase
  • It seems unique to AVB that a number of products are pre-announced but then don’t seem to ship. We have found a number of announcements of AVB products over one year and up to four years old that have not yet reached the market
  • We have found many Cobranet products that have been discontinued and few for other protocols. Whether this is because Cobranet is the oldest protocol and the products would have been discontinued anyway, or whether it is because Cobranet use is declining is something we are thinking about
  • We have included every model of a product. If a company sells a 2 x 600W amplifier and a 2 x 1200W amplifier they are counted as two products because they would have a different use
  • Where the same product is available to purchase in a variety of card configurations such as a processor that is 16 in 16 out, 8 in 24 out, 24 in 8 out etc. This is counted as one product as the overall channel count is the same
  • Where a similar product is available in different models 8 in 8 out, 12 in 12 out, 16 in 16 out, or a mixer with different input channel counts then these are counted as separate products as they would have a different use
  • We found eleven AVB compatible Ethernet switches but we have not included these in our totals for equipment as correspondingly there would hundreds of models of Ethernet switch that support the other protocols. Switches themselves are not audio devices
  • We have captured data about three products that use AVB technology but are not AVnu AVB compatible. These products are not included in our totals as they do not provide connectivity to anything other than themselves
  • We have not included hacks, circuit boards, OEM kits or something that it not an actual product sold on its own or, at a user level, allows a product to become networked
  • We have included hardware interface cards that fit into products such as a PCI PC card as this does enable an actual product to become networked. Such a card is counted as one product even though it can support countless models of PC
  • A software driver or program that enables a Mac or PC to support a particular network protocol is counted as one product
  • Where a manufacturer’s network interface card fits into many audio products we have counted each product, because that interface allows the product to become a networked audio device
  • The number of Cobranet loudspeakers is skewed because one manufacturer has this as an option for over 50 of its products. Correspondingly there should be a few Dante loudspeakers because one manufacturer offers an interface to convert Dante to drive groups of its loudspeakers but pedantically, we have listed this box as an interface because it is not for each loudspeaker

RH Consulting networked products per category

We categorised products into the following:

  • Mixing Consoles
  • Digital signal processors
  • Audio transport – including networked drop boxes; these are products that don’t process the audio, just get it on and off the network
  • Interfaces – software and hardware to allow a product to accept a networked audio connection, also includes connections to intercom, stage boxes and snakes
  • Playback and recording devices
  • Amplifiers
  • Loudspeaker Controllers
  • Loudspeakers
  • Microphones, including radio mics

If you remove interfaces and adaptors from the equation and look at the number of ‘useful’ audio products, the gap between Cobranet and Dante narrows, AVB drops by about 5 devices and the others by one or two.

We have taken each brand name to be a separate manufacturer even though they might be owned by conglomerate which owns several audio brands, making 76 manufacturers in total.

We are aware that many companies have signed up as licencees to different protocols but unless they actually ship a product they are excluded from this research.

Roland Hemming, Ryan Penny and Christina Palaiologou

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