Analog audio needs a separate physical circuit for each channel. Each microphone in a studio or on a stage, for example, must have its own circuit back to the mixer. Routing of the signals is inflexible. Digital audio is frequently wired in a similar way to analog. Although several channels can share a single physical circuit (e.g., up to 64 with AES10), thus reducing the number of cores needed in a cable. Routing of signals is still inflexible and any change to the equipment in a location is liable to require new cabling.
Networks allow much more flexibility. Any piece of equipment plugged into the network is able to communicate with any other. However, installers of audio networks need to be aware of a number of issues that affect audio signals but are not important for data networks and are not addressed by current IT networking technologies such as IP. This white paper examines these issues and provides guidance to installers and users that can help them build successful networked systems.