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Cut the Cable: Choosing the Right IP Media Protocol for Your AV Workflow

Cut the Cable: Choosing the Right IP Media Protocol for Your AV Workflow

The world of professional AV and live streaming is rapidly shifting towards IP-based workflows, ditching the tangle of traditional SDI cables for the flexibility and scalability of networks. We explore NDI, SMPTE 2110, and IPMX – the leading protocols for transmitting video and audio over IP networks. Discover their strengths, weaknesses, and ideal use cases to optimize your AV productions. Which protocol suits your needs?

This article dives into the three leading contenders – NDI, SMPTE 2110, and IPMX – exploring their strengths, weaknesses, and ideal applications to help you navigate the exciting world of IP transmission. We also talk briefly about audio delivery with Dante and AES67.

NDI (Network Device Interface)

Developed by NewTek, NDI is a simple, yet powerful and flexible video protocol for video equipment. In layman’s terms, NDI allows different video devices like cameras, recorders, editing software, and displays to transmit and communicate over a standard ethernet network. It supports high-quality, low-latency video transmission without compression, and without the need for complicated wiring setups. Plus, you can mix products developed by different companies, as long as they support NDI. All these reasons make NDI a superb choice for lower-cost IP video distribution and recording.

NDI explained

Angekis Technology gives you a quick and simple overview of NDI.

Where is NDI used?

NDI excels in certain spheres.

The pros & cons of NDI

Like anything, there are pros and cons to NDI.


  • User Friendly. No need to deal with a bunch of cables.
  • Affordable: Allows easy sharing of video sources in real-time across a network without dedicated hardware. Use your existing network.
  • High Quality/Low Delay: Supports high resolutions up to 4K with low latency, so it’s excellent for live production
  • Flexible: Easily switch between a wide range of NDI-enabled devices from broadcast equipment to software on a laptop.
  • Mobile: Great mobile productions
  • Codec Agnostic: Various codecs are supported, offering compatibility with multiple devices and flexibility.
  • Scalable: Add or remove devices as needed.
  • Widely adopted by many vendors


  • Requires a fast, reliable network. Make sure your network can handle it, especially if you’re dealing with multiple video sources.
  • Relies on NDI-enabled devices or software
  • Audio Latency and Synchronization: If perfect synchronization is critical to your production, you may prefer a dedicated audio-over-IP solution.

NDI Tools

NDI tools include an NDI Bridge that supports alpha channels, metadata, and more. There are plugins for Premiere Pro, After Effects, VLC, and tools for network access, video monitoring, audio, and more.

NDI-enabled tools

Toolfarm sells several NDI-enabled tools. NDI 6 was released in April 2024, but many tools support NDI 5 at this time.

Live Stream Tools

  • NewBlue Captivate. The Captivate family of products delivers cost-effective broadcast-quality graphics, live camera switching, and streaming for television stations, sporting events, businesses, classrooms, event production studios, religious gatherings, town halls, virtual/hybrid meetings, and many more. The Captivate tools support NDI, USB, SDI, HDMI, and Zoom cameras.
  • Source Elements Source-Live. Stream low-latency HD video and audio in perfect sync. Participants, professionals, musicians, and students can view, participate, review, and approve sessions instantly from anywhere using just a web browser. Support for all NDI-enabled NLEs
  • Telestream Wirecast. Telestream Wirecast is the most powerful, customizable live video streaming and production tool for Mac and Windows. With Telestream Wirecast Pro, you can stream like a pro! Capture a variety of IP sources or anything on your computer screen or other computers. Automatically detect NDI sources. A built-in web browser can display live web pages.
  • VisLive Pro offers broadcast-quality live streaming easily without the need for professional broadcasting knowledge or a complicated crew. Support live streaming to 5 platforms at a time, 2 virtual camera outputs, and 1 NDI output to meet the docking between different platforms, making smoother publishing of the live event to a wider audience.

VJ Tools

  • Resolume Software. Resolume software is for live VJ events. With NewTek NDI you can send and receive video between computers on the same network. Use any resolution you like, with an alpha channel, in high quality and low latency.
    • Avenue is an instrument for VJs, AV performers, and video artists. Avenue puts all your media and effects right at your fingertips so you can quickly improvise your live visuals.
    • Arena Media Server expands on Avenue with advanced options for projection mapping and blending projectors. Control it from a lighting desk and sync it to the DJ via SMPTE timecode.
  • Imaginando VS Visual Synthesizer makes it easy to express your sound optically, in a highly customizable way. VS easily creates visuals that react to your music and MIDI. Features NDI output.

Color Grading & Monitoring Tools


SMPTE ST 2110, developed by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), delivers high-quality uncompressed video for broadcast. It separates video, audio, and metadata into separate streams for flexibility, control, and precision. SMPTE 2110 requires a robust network, making it a more expensive option. Tools that use SMPTE 2110 include high-end broadcast cameras and recording devices, video switchers, broadcast production and editing tools, and networked media servers.

The Pros & Cons of SMPTE ST 2110


  • Quality: Supports high-quality uncompressed video streams and high-resolution formats like 8K.
  • Control: Reliable, precise timing, and synchronization.
  • Specifications: The standard defines a wider range of technical details than NDI. This ensures compatibility when mixing and matching equipment from different vendor’s equipment.


  • More complex setup: requires specialized equipment and a more robust network with higher bandwidth requirements compared to compressed streams
  • It can be more expensive due to network requirements.

NAB 2024: Blackmagic Design, SMPTE 2110, and Video Over IP

Streaming Media‘s Shawn Lam talks with Blackmagic Design’s Bob Caniglia about SMPTE 2110 and IP video.

IPMX (Internet Protocol Media Experience)

Another contender is IPMX, an open standard developed by the AIMS Alliance for transmitting audio, video, and control data over IP networks in pro AV workflows. It’s based on SMPTE ST 2110.

Pros & Cons of IPMX


  • Visually lossless compression with resolutions from SD, 4K60, to 8K and beyond
  • Supports any bitrate: Allows mixing of compressed and uncompressed video
  • Ultra-low latency: Sub-frame latency and time synchronization
  • Plug & Play: Designed specifically for pro AV application and interoperability
  • Security: Supports HDCP (High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection) content encryption and authentication
  • Automatic Network Discovery & Registration
  • Free to use: No access fee


  • A relatively new standard with limited adoption so far
  • Requires IPMX-enabled devices or software

What is IPMX – AV over IP standard?

Audio over IP

If audio is your expertise, Dante and AES67 are the established standards for professional real-time audio over IP networks.


Dante (Digital Audio Network Through Ethernet) is a popular audio networking technology choice offering high quality, low latency, and tight synchronization. This makes it a great solution for pro-audio applications like live sound reinforcement.


AES67 is another audio-over-IP media protocol gaining traction. It’s based on open standards and interoperable with various Dante, RAVENNA, Livewire, and Q-LAN devices, but with a broader range of implementation options.

Best Audio Networking Protocol? ….Depends.

The Production Academy talks about Dante, AVB, and Madi.

So, which protocol is for you?

The choice between these standards depends on the specific application requirements, such as resolution, latency, interoperability needs, and the existing infrastructure.

NDI: Shines in its simplicity and ability to work with a wide range of devices on existing networks. It’s a great choice for mobile productions or where ease of use is a priority. You get great quality with low latency.

SMPTE 2110: The industry standard for broadcast production. This is the choice of mission-critical applications, offering uncompressed video quality up to 8K and more control than NDI. However, it requires a robust network and specialized expertise.

NDI vs SMPTE ST 2110: Streaming Showdown

AV Network Guy compares NDI and SMPTE ST 2110.

IPMX: Bridges the gap between NDI’s flexibility and SMPTE 2110’s features. It provides a standardized framework for Pro AV environments, ensuring compatibility between different equipment while offering features like HDCP and multichannel audio.

And if you’re an audio professional, check into Dante and AES67.

Additional Sources & Resources

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Posted by Michele

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