There’s been a shift in the landscape of AV/IT convergence, as more corporations discover a need for AV to function not only as part of the IT infrastructure but also to be built using the same techniques, standards and protocols with which IT directors are familiar. They are searching for software-based platforms that can easily connect into their existing systems. Luckily for enterprises everywhere, the QSC Q-SYS Platform is just what they are looking for – a simple and flexible audio, video and control (AV&C) solution built on IT standards.
With Q-SYS, IT departments won’t have to manage disparate components from different manufactures. They can easily take advantage of a single platform that also offers them the flexibility to serve all AV&C requirements for meetings rooms, conference rooms, presentation areas and lobby spaces.
As we look to our new IT directors and customers, here’s why and how a software-based platform like Q-SYS fits the bill for a true end-to-end AV&C solution.
1.) Built on IT Directors’ Standards
The Q-SYS Platform has never been “just an audio processor.” Martin Barbour, QSC’s product manager for installed systems, says “it was conceived from the beginning as a fully integrated audio, video and control platform.” The key to the success of the platform is largely attributed to QSC’s decision to base it on standard IT technology. It uniquely leverages the power of Intel processing, the robustness and mission critical reliability of a Linux operating system, and the interoperability of IEEE networking standards, all of which enables development and delivery of new technology, far faster and more efficiently than ordinary, DSP chip-based solutions.
Q-SYS utilizes Intel technology as its base hardware platform with all processing happening inside the Intel chipsets. On top of that, QSC uses Linux with some real-time extensions to provide a high-performance, open-standard operating system.
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Barbour says the company has developed custom network drivers that talk to the network ports on the processors and has written its own custom drivers to provide real-time performance to get that really high count audio at very low latency to the network ports.
“With this kind of IT-director-centric layered approach, the Q-SYS Platform can easily evolve into other Intel platforms as they introduce updated, faster chipsets, and to other off-the-shelf hardware,” he says. “Additionally, Q-SYS Platform’s usage of IT standard protocols makes it highly extensible for future IT directors’ functions and platforms.”
2.) Adaptable Design/Flexibility
Q-SYS is a software-based platform and meets the demand for scalable, future-proof solutions. As an operating system, it has the flexibility to easily deliver new features to the platform with a simple software upgrade. A worthy analogy is thinking of Q-SYS like a smartphone, open to an unlimited amount of apps. Anytime a new feature is added to the platform it can be added easily with a simple download. This eliminates the need for purpose-built hardware to deliver the same capabilities to a system. Barbour cites an example when QSC added acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) to the platform, users simply downloaded a firmware update to take advantage. Even legacy Q-SYS Cores processors already deployed in the field were able to easily add the feature.
3.) I/O Agnostic Audio
When examining its audio component, Q-SYS offers an I/O agnostic platform. It can bring in audio from all the major types that are prevalent in the industry today, whether that be analog inputs and outputs, AES/EBU, networked audio in the form of Q-LAN or AES67, and through specialized input/output cards. It offers integration points for Dante, CobraNet, and AVB and is really the only platform in the industry that offers this level of diverse integration options for audio.
4.) Video — AV-to-USB Bridging
For its first foray into the video market, QSC specifically chose to offer a more flexible solution inside the meeting room to make soft codec integration even easier and more accessible.
In the Q-SYS Platform paradigm, AV-to-USB Bridging leverages the strengths of the network. It involves transporting audio and video streams over the network and presents it to any PC via USB for integration with any soft conferencing application on any host operating system. In other words, if a computer has a USB port available, Q-SYS can serve up driverless plug-and-play audio and video for software-based conferencing applications.
The networked nature of the solution allows users to integrate as many Q-SYS cameras that are needed in a room. No more point-to-point limitations of USB cameras. No more expensive and unreliable USB and HDMI extenders. Q-SYS solves the problem of geography by using the network for the long runs and USB for connectivity at the end points (computer).
Another problem Q-SYS is solving is now all cameras, control, power and video stream are coming over a single POE cable. In the Q-SYS Platform paradigm, for people who already have a Q-SYS Core processor in their room, it’s as easy as plugging in a camera and adding a bridge onto the network.
Now, end users can preview, switch and control Q-SYS PTZ-IP video streams using QSC touch screen controllers, PCs and iOS devices. Better yet, designers create the user control interface using the same simple drag’n’drop software they used to design the system.
5.) Third-Party Integration/Control
Q-SYS can be a complete control system and offers an architecture where integrators can build plug-ins offering easier integration of third-party devices into Q-SYS Designer Software.
Since the control engine runs on the Intel platform, the amount of control processing power available in Q-SYS products far outweighs anything you’ll see in a combination of multiple Crestron processors, which is why more integrators are making the switch from a Crestron or AMX solution.
Q-SYS has the ability to be a complete control system and offer an architecture where integrators can build plug-ins offering easier integration of third-party devices into Q-SYS Designer Software.
“From a control perspective, Q-SYS offers everything from basic binary control and presets,” Barbour says, “right through to our robust Lua scripting engine, which allows anybody who understands code to write very advanced scripts to both control internal devices or control external devices.”
The Attero Tech plug-in is a great example of the platform’s flexibility. The company recently developed its own plug-ins for its Dante and AES67-based solutions, and through Q-SYS, integrators and end users will now have the ability to remotely control and monitor the Attero Tech devices allowing for tight integration with remote source and output devices.
“Because of Q-SYS’s open architecture and unique ability to accept custom scripting, anything with an IP port or RS-232 port can be controlled using our platform,” Barbour says. “This growing library of very commonly used third-party devices for the conference room is proof.” The company already has control plug-ins and scripts for manufacturers like Logitech, Lutron, Atlona, Alcorn McBride, Attero Tech and Wyrestorm.
“You can’t beat it from a price point perspective,” Barbour says. “A Core processor is relative to any audio DSP processor; however you’re also getting a full-on control processor as well. The benefits our platform offers are unlike anything currently on the market.”