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An AV Guy’s Guide To “Talking IT”

Time to brush up on the lingo -- much of the future will involve IT and devices that communicate over IP...
This article is provided by Commercial Integrator

If you work in the AV industry, then you’ve seen the transition coming. Much of our future will involve IT and devices that communicate over IP.

For those still early in this transition, this means that you might already be behind and need to start educating yourself on some of the basics.

While an AV integrator might not be expected to be able to fully configure a network in most instances, we in AV will need to be able to speak the IT language in order to guarantee a smooth transition from traditional systems to AV over IP devices with the network administrator.

Some of the key terms that will be good for you to know:

Streams. A signal transmission path.

Bandwidth. Each stream requires a certain amount of data, this is how much data is in each stream.

Encoder. A device that transmits an AV signal and converts it to data packets on the network.

Decoder. A device that receives data packets on the network and outputs AV signals.

IP Address. Each device with a network connection has a digital address on the network. (Ex: is one of the most common starting IP address for network devices.)

MAC Address. A unique hexadecimal number given to each network device. These are used to identify an adapter on the Local Area Network (LAN). While an IP address can be changed, the MAC address is fixed.

VPN. A Virtual Private Network is a network that has been partitioned from a public network.

VLAN. A Virtual Local Area Network, a type of VPN, is a network of devices that operate as though they are on the same LAN, even if they are physically located on different segments.

Codecs. Devices that are capable of encoding or decoding a digital data stream or signal. In order to transport the signal it must go through compression. The most common compression format used in AV currently is H.264/MPEG-4 AVC. However, we are also beginning to hear about the next advancement, H.265 or High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC).

Other terms that are useful to know are broadcast options multicast and unicast, DHCP, managed and unmanaged switches, 100Mb Ethernet, and Gigabit networks.

Josh Srago, CTS, is an audo-video professional and founder of

Go to Commercial Integrator for more content on A/V, installed and commercial systems.

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