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Digigram announced at the AES trade show in San Francisco that its EtherSound audio bridges ES8in, ES8out, ES220, and ES220-L will be updated before the end of 2004 with the capability for bi-directional audio distribution. The extended technology specification, which enables bi-directional EtherSound, had been released beginning of September 2004.

Customers who have purchased Digigram's EtherSound products in the past can upgrade their devices in the field by installing a new firmware.

Digigram points out that all EtherSound licensees, which include NetCIRA by Fostex, Nexo, Bouyer, InnovaSON, AuviTran, and Lab X Technologies, will determine their own product plan to incorporate bi-directionality.

More about bi-directionality

Before the technology update, Digigram's EtherSound protocol offered uni-directional audio distribution. In uni-directional EtherSound all devices located "downstream" from a source may play back audio from that source. Bi-directional EtherSound now allows the creation of a virtual bus between daisy-chained devices where a maximum of 64 channels of 24-bit/48 kHz audio is available for inputs and outputs of all connected devices, be they "upstream" or "downstream" from the source. In both versions, control and monitoring data are bi-directional and use the same cable as the audio.

Bi-directional EtherSound maintains the technology's very low and predictable latency (125 microseconds), which is suitable even for the most demanding applications such as live sound or broadcast.

New generation EtherSound networks are able to combine uni and bi-directional sub-networks and new generation EtherSound devices will be able to operate in both uni and bi-directional mode. The firmware of many EtherSound devices currently sold can be upgraded to bi-directional EtherSound.

About EtherSound

EtherSound enhances established technologies to easily and economically create real-time audio networks using standard Ethernet cabling and components. Up to 64 channels of 24-bit digital audio at 48 kHz, plus bi-directional control information, may be transported to more than 60,000 networked audio devices. Higher sampling frequencies with a reduced channel count are also possible, i.e. 32 channels at 96 kHz. EtherSound networks can use daisy-chain and star architectures, or a combination of both. In a bi-directional daisy-chain all channels are independently available to all connected devices.

Minimal latency was one of Digigram's key design requirements for EtherSound. The point-to-point transmission time between an audio input and an audio output in an EtherSound network is six samples (125 s at 48 kHz). Latency is independent of the number of channels transmitted. EtherSound is deterministic, making it possible to calculate the delay between any two devices in an EtherSound network.

EtherSound is also available for licensing to OEMs for enabling their self-branded products with the technology. Current EtherSound licensees include NetCIRA by Fostex, Nexo, Bouyer, InnovaSON, Auvitran, and Lab X Technologies.

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