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8. Operational quality issues

8.3 Redundancy

Audio systems using analogue cables to connect the system’s devices are insensitive to cable failures: if one single audio cable breaks, all other audio cables still work. Troubleshooting analogue cabling systems is relatively easy - as all cables can be visually inspected to run from the transmitting device to the receiving device.

With the introduction of multichannel digital audio formats, and later the introduction of networked audio protocols, high amounts of audio channels flow through only one network cable. If such a cable breaks, then all connections are lost - affecting a significant portion of the system. Troubleshooting is not as easy as with analogue cabling because it requires the use of computer software - and a member of staff who knows how to operate the software. This is why networked audio systems - and networks in general - have a redundancy protocol built in that automatically re-routes the connections to a spare cable if any cable in the system fails. All audio network protocols used in a ring or star topology offer proprietary redundancy protocols. For Ethernet compliant protocols, Ethernet itself can offer additional redundancy protocols such as link aggregation and spanning tree(*8G)

It is important for system designers and sound engineers to thoroughly know the redundancy protocols offered by the audio network protocols they are using, and to apply them when they are required. Especially for large scale live events such as corporate events, theatre productions, live concerts and broadcasting, redundancy is a key quality issue for the customer - often of equal importance to audio quality and sound quality.

>>8.4 Switches and cables

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