Of CEDIA’s three main pillars, Advocacy, Connection, and Education, Advocacy is the one most often overlooked. While Connection and Education are more forward facing, CEDIA’s Advocacy work, which consists of government affairs, recommended practices, and standards, often happens behind the scenes.
The purpose of standards and recommended practices is one of the most misunderstood endeavors. CEDIA‘s focus is on system performance standards, as opposed to device manufacturing or signal transport standards, and poses a few important questions.
When the components of your system come together, what elements of the experience can be defined and qualified? How should the system perform? CEDIA uses this research to design, install, and verify residential spaces. In the end, we have data-backed definitions for system performance when educating clients on what they can and should expect from custom solutions.
The largest and arguably most impactful of these groups is R10, a joint effort between CEDIA and the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).
R10 Group Focuses on Standards, Best Practices
The R10 group was formed to create standards and recommended practices for the installation and integration of technology into primarily residential environments. CEDIA took over management of the group when it became an ANSI accredited Standards Development Organization (SDO). Today, both associations bring unique perspectives to the discussions.
“R10 is a cross-industry standards group that has no commercial or licensing ties with all participants being volunteers,” explains Peter Aylett, Partner at Officina Acustica and recent CEDIA Fellow inductee.
The R10 group, overseen by CEDIA Sr. Director of Technology & Standards Walt Zerbe, consists of over 130 volunteer members made up of integrators, manufacturers, protocol suppliers, members of other associations like SMPTE, DTS, and Dolby, content creators, and more.
One volunteer called R10 “an amazing group of people with diverse backgrounds all dedicated to creating recommended practices and standards focused on proper installation of technology.”
Recommended Practices (RPs) for Audio Design
Within the R10 group, there are a few current RP (Recommended Practice) sub-groups, RP22, RP23, and RP1. RP22 is nearly finalized, with projected completion estimated for Q1 of 2023. RP22 is the recommended practice for the design of immersive audio within private entertainment spaces. It is a revision of the CTA/CEDIA-CEB22-B Home Theater Recommended Practice: Audio Design.
When CEB22 was created, immersive audio was not fully specified or released, so the focus was on general home theater practices. RP22 is described by Zerbe as “a major three-year revision,” that includes immersive audio, universal speaker layouts for all of the formats (Dolby Atmos, DTS-X, Auto 3D, etc.), a greatly expanded bass management section, coverage, set-to-seat variation, and a never-before-done addition of performance levels. The terms “home theater” and “home cinema” have also been removed from the title to be more inclusive of all immersive audio, including gaming, streaming, music, and more.
The performance levels section of RP22 may be the most disruptive element of a recommended practice in decades. A common problem in our industry, specifically in the entertainment space, is measuring a system’s quality and performance. In the past, most would either quantify it with a monetary amount or describe it is as a “reference system.” Instead, this group posed the questions: reference to what, reference how, and what does that even mean?
RP22 defines performance targets for reference as well as two levels below and one above. There are 21 parameters that are predictable at the design engineering phase of a project and measurable at post commissioning and calibration phases. Level 1 is the minimum that is considered able to convey basic artistic intent, level 2 is increased performance, level 3 is reference, and level 4 exceeds reference.
“For the first time, we will have objective rather than subjective definitions of in-room performance,” says Aylett.
RP22 will help integrators:
- Compete on a level playing field by proposing systems based on performance levels, helping avoid competing situations where someone will say they can do it for less, as now “it” is objectively definable
- Deliver consistent user experiences through the application of engineering
- Separate themselves from the untrained DIY and DIFM markets by bringing engineering integrity to systems
- Deliver systems that are signed off on objective metrics
- Select the correct products through their engineering specification facts
Why We Need RPs
Some might say the industry is doing just fine without these new recommended practices and standards, and that they’re not necessary. To that, Zerbe says “We have a responsibility as an industry to do our work to the best of our ability all of the time, and we need the knowledge to do so.” Not to mention, standards and recommended practices give the smart home industry credibility among other industry associations, adjacent trades, and the design/build community.
“Professional CI is under huge pressure from the mainly consumer Giga-companies who are offering increasingly compelling user experiences through the retail/DIY channel,” adds Aylett. “Standards will help professional integration companies to apply a human-centric engineering-based approach as opposed to a product based one.”
As for what’s ahead, the R10 group plans to finalize RP23 (video design) and RP1 (performance facts) later in 2023. RP1 will be complementary to both RP22 and RP23 as it will ask manufacturers to give the industry real performance data on their products and allow engineers to make informed specification decisions. After that, R10 plans to tackle measurement and verification.
“My journey through the R10 group has been the most enriching of my industry career,” says Aylett. “I have learned a huge amount through collaboration with the finest industry minds that exist. This type of idea sharing, friendly debate, and sense of community is not available anywhere else in the industry. I feel privileged to still be part of it.”
Any CEDIA or CTA members interested in volunteering their time to make a difference in the industry can find out more at cedia.net/volunteer.
|Don’t let “standards speak” keep you from realizing its value…here’s your cheat sheet:
R10: Joint effort between CEDIA and CTA volunteers made up of many elements, including:
RP22: recommended practice on immersive audio performance
RP 23: recommended practice on video performance
R1: defining how to measure performance
Ian Bryant is a senior product manager at SAV Digital Environments and former Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships at CEDIA.
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