How Blackfire’s Real-Time Packet Management Keeps Your Music Together

How Blackfire’s Real-Time Packet Management Keeps Your Music Together

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Back in November, we took an in-depth look at Traffic Independent Synchronization (TIS), a Blackfire Research technology which allows precise syncing of your wireless speakers. Today, we’re going to look at another Blackfire technology: Real-Time Packet Management (RPM) for streaming music to your speakers without excessive buffering.

We’ve all been there: you finally find that perfect song only to click on it and have the “spinning pinwheel of death” appear. Or worse still, trying to watch TV with wireless speakers that play several seconds out of sync – like a bad art-house dubbed foreign movie. Those are the effects of buffering.

Some wireless audio systems are so susceptible to signal interference that they compensate by pre-loading (or buffering) the signal data before they start to playback. Without buffering on these systems you’d hear sporadic gaps in the audio (called drop outs) due to the lost audio data. So how much data is needed to buffer in order to prevent gaps or drop-outs?

Today’s most popular wireless speakers uses conventional WiFi protocol which has to queue the data. When you select a playlist from your smartphone or tablet, it takes several seconds for the first song to fill the buffer before it begins playing. While that first song is playing, the system is already buffering the next song to minimize gaps between songs. This is fine until, of course, you change the queue (say, by hitting “play next”) before it can re-buffer. In which case, hello spinning pinwheel.  Also, because of this delayed playback, you won’t be able to use these popular wireless speakers as a soundbar with your TV without a wire (i.e. an optical cable connection).

Real-Time Packet Management (RPM) is the Blackfire solution to buffering. RPM uses a special multipoint, real-time feedback signal from each speaker to monitor the effect of noise on the audio data stream. This allows a much shorter queue and requires much less buffering.
Want to hear the difference for yourself? RPM is embedded into all Blackfire enabled products, including The Harman/Kardon Omni Series and Pioneer MRX Series. Next week, we’ll look at Dynamic Stream Balancing (DSB) and how it works with TIS and RPM to create FCP: Firecast Protocol – Blackfire’s solution to conventional wifi protocols.

Technology

Technology

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 Introducing Blackfire RED

  Realtime Entertainment Distribution framework

  Built into products that have the                       Logo

blackfire cio review award

RPM

Real-Time Packet Management

RPM streams up to 4K video and lossless 24-bit/192kHz Studio Quality HD audio to any device, any room - it’s how we make sure that there are no gaps or drop-outs in your music.

Read more

TIS

Traffic Independent Synchronization

No matter how much bandwidth you’re using on your network, TIS makes sure that your speakers stay in sync.

Read more

DSB

Dynamic Stream Balancing

When streaming to multiple devices, DSB keeps it all in balance, ensuring your devices have all the data it needs - exactly at the time it’s needed.

Read more

Blackfire Audio Solutions

The Blackfire RED framework works with any Wi-Fi chipset. So whatever hardware or OS you

have, Blackfire RED delivers a seamless media experience

Wi-Fi products from the following companies are powered by Blackfire

All products with the following marks have the same Blackfire technology built in

Features

Up to 24-bit/192kHz

Multi-Room, Multi-Channel

Multi-Video Sync

1, 2.1, 5.1, 7.1 Home 

Theater (Surround Sound)

Lossy or Lossless operation

BT & Aux Input 

Rebroadcast

Multi-Source Play

Auto discovery, Setup

Grouping, Control

Specifications

802.11n 2.4/5GHz

I2S Audio Input/ Output

Supports GPIO and UART Control

<150usec synchronization accuracy

RPM

Real-Time Packet Management

Some wireless audio systems are so susceptible to signal interference that they compensate by buffering the signal data before they start to playback. Without buffering on these systems you’d hear drop-outs due to the lost audio data. 

Today’s most popular wireless speakers use a conventional WiFi protocol which has to queue the data. When you select a playlist from your smartphone or tablet, it takes several seconds for the first song to fill the buffer before it begins playing. While that first song is playing, the system is already buffering the next song to minimize gaps between songs. This is fine until you add another song before it can re-buffer. Also, because of this delayed playback, you won’t be able to use these popular wireless speakers as a soundbar with your TV without a wire (i.e. an optical cable connection).

Real-Time Packet Management (RPM) is the Blackfire solution to buffering. RPM uses a special multipoint, real-time feedback signal from each speaker to monitor the effect of noise on the audio data stream. This allows a much shorter queue and requires much less buffering. 

TIS

Traffic Independent Synchronization

TIS produces better management and precision operation when it comes to synchronizing any number of wireless speakers and devices - from multi speaker 5.1 audio systems, stereo systems, even your entire home theater.

One problem facing conventional methods of synchronization is that its performance is tied to the performance of the network environment. TIS ensures that the synchronization of any device is not dependent on how well your router works. 

Another problem with conventional synchronization is that the more devices you have on a given network the slower it runs, which could produce an extended lag between multiple speakers and between your TV and the speakers - even total drop-outs. Unlike conventional technology, our patented TIS technology always maintains latency between audio and video pairings and among the speakers themselves. With TIS, the sync of the speakers in your wireless home entertainment system will remain undisturbed by heavy network traffic, so you’ll never miss a single moment of your favorite song or movie again.

DSB

Dynamic Stream Balancing

Dynamic Stream Balancing (DSB) is the way Blackfire makes the best use of the available WiFi bandwidth. If you have a wireless, multi-speaker system that uses conventional WiFi protocols, chances are that some speakers will be more affected than others by interference and heavy network traffic, which causes your music to break up and for speakers to go out of sync.

DSB monitors a special multipoint, real-time feedback signal from each speaker to identify the effect of noise on the audio data stream. By precisely identifying which packets are statistically most likely to be affected, DSB can then use the available WiFi bandwidth to selectively and predictively resend data just to the most vulnerable speaker before interference can cause any audible drop out. 

This is especially helpful when using a wireless surround sound system to watch video. With DSB, your Blackfire wireless system has minimal lag between the video on your screen and audio through your speakers. HD Audio in up to 24-bit/192kHz Studio Quality and even 4K Video can be streamed to any device from any room, losslessly.