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Design and Implementation of a Commodity Audio System

This paper introduces a Ph.D. thesis that has been recently presented at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (http://www.ife.ee.ethz.ch/~men/phd.shtml). The thesis envisions a distributed audio system based on commodity computer components. It examines to what extent the "real-time" attributes of mainstream operating systems lead to audio dropouts and therefore to quality loss. It studies extrapolation methods to prevent loss of quality and shows that quality improvement to a non-annoying level is possible. A synchronization mechanism is implemented on application layer in order to facilitate the use of Ethernet as the only communication network. Thereby the thesis shows that a synchronization accuracy of 11us between separated loudspeakers is feasible. Furthermore the thesis proposes a novel software framework, which makes the development of distributed audio services easier.

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