From There to Hear: Audio Over IP

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The Z/IP One has many interesting and useful features. In its role connecting point A to point B, the user can configure it to use linear PCM or any of the following codecs: AAC-ELD; AAC-HE; AAC-LD; MPEG layer 2; MPEG 4 AAC LC; MPEG 2 AAC LC; and finally G.711 or G.722. It conforms to N/ACIP standards including SIP 2.0; it has a 'push' mode for one-way connectivity, and it will even talk with a Zephyr Xstream.

The Z/IP One comes with a Wi-fi stick and thus allows connectivity via Wi-fi, EVDO, and UMTS. Two Ethernet ports are standard, allowing control and streaming to be done via separate physical networks. Remote control and configuring are done via its embedded Web server. It includes RS-232, for passage of serial control or metadata; an 8-port GPIO is included as well, for purposes of end-to-end signaling.

When I write about Comrex typically it's about the Access -- but this time it's all about the BRIC-Link. BRIC (Broadcast Reliable Internet Codec) is proprietary Comrex technology, which (according to the company) "allows the system to perform well on the public Internet (using AAC compression modes)."

Comrex BRIC-Link

Comrex BRIC-Link

BRIC-Link is a small desktop package -- two go side-by-side in a 1RU package. It's a full-duplex codec, primarily meant to handle nailed-up connections over IP, whether transported over your LAN, a WAN, or the public Internet. BRIC incorporates a dynamic jitter buffer, increasing or decreasing its depth based upon the network performance. For QoS networks the buffer depth can be fixed.

BRIC-Link comes with professional level analog I/O on 1/4" TRS connectors, which can be switched to AES. The network connection is via a 10/100base-T Ethernet connector. Four GPIO connections, along with an RS-232 link, are provided via mini-DIN connectors. Audio levels are provided on the front panel via tri-color LEDs; these LEDs may be configured to show either the send or return levels. Another front-panel LED displays the Ethernet status.

BRIC-Link has its own built-in Web server, used to read connection status, to configure profiles for various connections, as well as for opening and closing said connections. Network diagnostics are available, as are audio level meters. Initial configuration is done via a windows-based setup utility run on the same network as the BRIC-Link; this same utility is used for applying software updates.

For audio transmission, BRIC-Link offers a stereo or mono linear mode, in addition to FLAC compression, as well as HE-AAC and HE-AACv2. When using AAC modes, BRIC-Link is capable of sending multiple one-way streams to other BRIC-Links, Comrex Access, or via IP-multicast (assuming network compatibility).

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