Post subject: A case for open distribution of LiveWire
Joined: 16 Oct 2007
My name is Matt, and I am the Technical Director for WSUM Student Radio, a student run FM station at the University of Wisconsin. WSUM is currently wrapping up the install of our new facility on the UW campus where we have implemented seven separate studios of varying capabilities and purpose. Now that I have experience with the capabilities of LiveWire and what it has meant to the design of this facility, I would like to put forth some thoughts onwhere this technology could go, and how it could apply to a larger market.
LiveWire is a technology which is used for the transfer of live audio and general purpose input/output over IP networks via the RTP protocol. While there are other solutions available to end users for audio transport, I am of the opinion that LiveWire takes this idea in a direction which could have a much wider application than it currently targets. I believe this enough that I could see a case being made to make the technology "open source." While this idea may not fit the goals and business model of the creators of LiveWire, I do believe a change could be made which could result in a larger market for LiveWire: Free and open distribution of the LiveWire Audio IP driver.
The LiveWire Audio IP driver is a piece of software which installs on computer making it capable of transporting a stereo pair of live audio channels to and from the computer on which the driver is installed. The act of allowing anybody to download and use a LiveWire driver for free would be an absolute dream to the computer or audio hobbyist. If the drivers were to be distributed openly and with the proper seeding and marketing, I believe it could serve to make LiveWire synonymous with getting "the mix" from here to there.
If the LiveWire Audio IP driver were to gain open release, one of the first things I would do at WSUM is to distribute the driver to all of the students who choose to use their own laptops for their shows. The current options for doing this at WSUM are;
1. Using a matching transformer to route from the 1/8" headphone connector to the board (the most common method)
2. Using a USB matchbox to pull audio off of a laptop via USB.
If I was able to provide a network driver to our users, not only would the audio quality be improved greatly over the headphone jack solution, but it would also allow for multiple users to contribute audio to the program simultaneously, something we can not currently do with ease.
We have a sports team which broadcasts from Camp Randall stadium on the UW campus for football games. They do have a booth feed (via balanced XLR) of the referee audio and crowd audio. While this is nice for sports at the stadium, it does not apply to locations beyond the stadium. Now imagine if the folks in the stadium or at other sports venues had one Axia Audio node. They would be able to offer up to 8 pairs of audio of varying content to all users in the facility without any other investment IF the end users had access to the LiveWire Audio IP driver without cost.
For the sake of comparison, I would like to point out another critical technology where an IP solution is being used to replace signal transport traditionally carried on an XLR connector. Architecture for Controls Networks or ACN is an IP technology being used to replace DMX lighting control. ETC, a lighting manufacturer here in Madison, WI is using it's clout in the lighting world to help design ACN for review and acceptance as an ANSI standard to replace DMX for lighting control. It is clear that the choice to make this particular technology an open standard will benefit all who work with stage lights.
When a technology of superior quality is opened up for use by all, overwhelmingly, that action ends up enhancing the technology. With LiveWire being a technology to serve a core purpose, in this case transporting audio, end users naturally turn to hardware products based on that technology as their needs grow beyond what the free tools can accomplish. As a tinkerer and hobbyist, there have been many occasions where I could have used a pair of LiveWire drivers as a brilliant solution to moving and/or distributing audio over IP. If LiveWire is offered to the world, then the whole world starts applying the tech in ways that the creators never could have anticipated.
LiveWire is the best. Now, let's make it the the biggest.
Joined: 08 Mar 2009
Location: Medford, MA
Are you or anyone at WSMU still interested in pursuing this project? We're considering attempting our own implementation of the Livewire IP driver and would welcome any talent you guys might have. We'll be shooting for a Linux implementation initially.
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