What you need to know about Ethersound
Ethersound on Barix products
Since early 2009, most Barix Audio products come with firmware or allow installation of firmware which provides ETHERSOUND functionality. Specifically, all products capable of decoding (Exstreamer and Annuncicom product series) can be used in Ethersound installations.
Supported Ethersound version
Barix implemented Ethersound support in software (compared with most other manufacturers, who use a chip based approach). Most Barix products do not have dual Ethernet functionality. For the ES100 (Ethersound 100) full support, a device needs to be able to be daisy chained AND must insert only minimal delay and latency in the Ethersound device chain.
Barix worked with Digigram to define a relaxed timing/functionality Substandard, which has been named ES100/Spkr. ES100/Spkr devices are fully interoperable with other ES100 devices, fully manageable by Ethersound management software, but only provide output capability and can only be connected "downstream" of the sources, using switches. No daisychain is supported. Typically, ES100/Spkr are ideally suited to distribute Ethersound to larger areas where speakers need to be installed, for example, in churches, concert halls, stadiums etc.
Functionality of the Barix Ethersound firmware
Barix has implemented ES100/Spkr in software, and the firmware module is bundled and loaded in most standard products. On the configuration web page, a button "Ethersound" is available to switch the devices into Ethersound mode. For "stereo" capable devices, two different Ethersound channels can be independently selected for the left and right output. The functionality is, otherwise, rather simple - channels can be dynamically selected/changed while the device operates from a central management software controlling as well the I/O on the device. Obviously, once the device is configured to Ethersound mode, it won't speak IP any more (Ethersound needs a dedicated 100MBit network), but the device can, at any time, be reconfigured for IP use by means of either a factory defaults reset or by starting the device in update mode.
All Barix Exstreamer and Annuncicom devices are fully licensed as ES100/Spkr devices and can be used by the customer without any further cost/license requirement. Note that although the functionality can also be used on all IPAM modules and Barix can provide these with the ES100/Spkr license as well, any OEM who wants to use Ethersound with Barix IPAM devices will need to register his own Vendor ID with Digigram and notify Barix about his intensions so that the Barix can pay the royalties accordingly.
There is a separate wiki page discussing the latency of the Barix ES100/Spkr implementation: Ethersound latency
How to use a device in Ethersound mode
The Ethersound software provided by Barix implements Slave speaker endpoints. For a complete system at least one audio source - Master - is needed. The (primary) Master also serves as an entry point for control commands. Through the Primary Master all Barix devices on the Ethersound network can be accessed using e.g. the ES-Control tool.
Once you enter the Ethersound mode (after loading the proper software and selecting the Ethersound mode on the WEB UI) the device becomes accessible only through the Ethersound network. In Ethersound mode the WEB UI is not accessible and the device does not respond to IP.
To control the channel selection, audio and I/O use the ES-Control software, which is freely downloadable from Digigram homepage. Please use ES-Control version 2.57 or later.
By default the volume is set to -20dB and no channel is selected. Therefore to hear audio the device must be configured at least once using ES-Control. This can be done e.g. by connecting a laptop with ES-Control to the Primary Master, discovering the network and configuring Barix devices. Once you finish the configuration, press "File->Save as power up mapping" to store the settings in the device's EEPROM. After that the managing PC is not needed any more, the configuration persists over reboot.