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At the rate the radio industry is going, within 10 years the most common connection on the back of a piece of audio equipment won't be an analog or digital XLR but an Ethernet RJ-45.
Besides the need to invest in a better crimp tool for the radio station, this begs the question, “How do we keep track of all of this stuff?” Thankfully, the IT world has already created a tool called Multicast DHCP, and just as IT has simplified the process of sharing printers and peripherals, radio engineers can use the same tool to share audio over an Ethernet network.
Think back to the first IP data networks put into radio stations in the early 1990s. Without enough money for a server (after all, this is radio we're talking about), PCs were connected peer-to-peer, and the engineer served as the naming authority: every time you installed a computer, you'd make up an address and write it down in a notebook so you wouldn't duplicate numbers. If you ever lost the notebook, you'd spend the afternoon walking around the office compiling the list again so you could add another piece of equipment without duplicating addresses.
Early audio-over-IP (AoIP) systems aren't much different from the network that kept the business office and traffic department talking to each other in the early Nineties. The engineer is the naming authority, and everything is fine until you lose the magic notebook.
As time and technology march on, networking gets easier. Today, you can buy a router as small as a deck of playing cards that performs the same function you used to ask of a file server: Find an available IP address and set it up automatically when a new piece of equipment enters the network. This is DHCP, the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol.
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