What is AV over IP and is it right for you?
AV over IP can give you more control and flexibility when distributing video around your facilities. It’s a great option for many businesses, though cost and planning issues may limit its appeal for some. Here’s what you need to know.
Understanding AV over IP
Simply put, AV over IP means sending audio and video signals through computer networking cables rather than dedicated audio-visual cabling. It’s a different way of creating and configuring facilities for video conferencing, presentations, and other communication. It can also work well for video displays and digital signage around a building or complex.
An AV over IP system combines a transmitter (which turns audio and video into a network data stream) and a receiver (which turns it back into audio and video signals for a display.) While the technology varies, it’s not that different in concept from the way tools such as Skype turn a voice signal into internet data then back into voice at the other end.
AV over IP isn’t appropriate for every use-case, like when you have a single display or just a few stand alone conference rooms. For larger or more complex set-ups it brings significant benefits.
The biggest advantage is simply the added flexibility. With dedicated AV infrastructures, everything connects through a matrix switch which will have a maximum capacity. Adding new display or input points can require complicated and expensive reconfiguration, expansion, and upgrades. With larger buildings, you may find the cost of redundant dedicated AV hardware becomes a limiting factor.
With AV over IP, the cost and hassle of adding extra connections are not a significant issue. This means you can expand your “broadcast systems” as easily as adding new computers to a network
The other major benefit is that it’s much simpler to monitor displays and cameras through AV over IP. You can centrally check that all devices are operating and receiving a signal as designed rather than have to rely on manual checks or reports. With some system designs, you can even patch or update devices in the same way as a computer network.
One key point to remember with AV over IP is that it pays to plan ahead. While nothing is set in stone, it’s more efficient to carefully plan and design the network, a task that requires specialist technical knowledge and skills. In some situations, creating a dedicated AV network is better rather than expanding an existing computer network, which can increase up-front costs.
You also need to consider the number of devices you need to serve and the resolution of the video. This can dramatically alter the total bandwidth your AV network needs and, in turn, the costs of network equipment. It’s well worth taking the time to think about your future plans as it may be more economical in the long run to go for a higher capacity than you currently need.