AES Pacific Northwest Section Meeting Report - May 28, 1997
The IEEE 1394 "Firewire" Multimedia Serial Bus
Images from the meeting - 6 ea. 24KB GIFs.
On May 28, Bob Moses and the staff of PAVO, Inc. spoke to a standing-room only audience at the Jack Straw Productions Studios in Seattle on audio implementations of IEEE 1394 (Firewire).
Attendees heard an overview of 1394 technology and the benefits it offers the A/V world, including: one cable for all connections and signals, plug & play simplicity, isochronous data transfer offering guaranteed delivery and synchronization of audio and video streams, and cross-industry compatibility. As an example of 1394's bandwidth, Moses described an A/V scenario of one cable simultaneously carrying 32 channels of 48K/24-bit audio and 8 channels of MPEG-2 video.
IEEE 1394 is not vaporware, as it has been adopted by over 100 consumer electronics and computer companies, with products shipping in volume today from Sony, Matsushita, Adaptec, and others. Yamaha in particular has announced a system called "Music LAN" (mLAN) based on 1394 for carrying audio and MIDI between consumer electronics and professional audio equipment. Microsoft is developing driver support for the upcoming Memphis operating system.
Moses demonstrated PAVO's Papaya IEEE 1394 Audio Adapter, the first commercial 1394 audio product and the hardware reference chosen by Microsoft for Windows driver development. Dolby Surround encoded .wav files and CD's were played from a personal computer and transmitted to the Papaya over a 200Mbps 1394 link. The Papaya converted the 1394 data stream into SPDIF signal which was fed to a 5.1 channel audio system. A Sony 1394 teleconferencing camera was then hot-plugged into one of the Papaya's 1394 ports and the digital video signal was displayed on a PC monitor. Though the demo was run from a notebook computer with an Advanced PCI 1394 host adapter card, Moses was quick to note that Papaya and other 1394-enabled devices are not necessarily dependent on the presence of a PC. Papaya is the third 1394 audio device developed by PAVO. The company's first device was demonstrated by Bill Gates in his keynote address at the 1996 Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, and the second device was demonstrated at the 101st Audio Engineering Society Convention in Los Angeles.
Moses discussed the activities of the 1394 Trade Association, the MIDI Manufacturers Association, and the Audio Engineering Society Standards Committee to create audio protocols for 1394. The technology is still young, and much work remains to create an industry standard protocol for streaming audio and controlling audio equipment over the 1394 bus.
The evening finished with a Q and A discussion and light refreshments.
Report by Paul McClellan