Synchronization of streamed audio between multiple playback devices over an unmanaged IP network

University essay from Lunds universitet/Institutionen för elektro- och informationsteknik

Abstract: When designing and implementing a prototype supporting inter-destination media synchronization – synchronized playback between multiple devices receiving the same stream – there are a lot of aspects that need to be considered, especially when working with unmanaged networks. Not only is a proper streaming protocol essential, but also a way to obtain and maintain the synchronization of the clocks of the devices. The thesis had a few constraints, namely that the server producing the stream should be written for the .NET-platform and that the clients receiving it should be using the media framework GStreamer. This framework provides methods for both achieving synchronization as well as resynchronization. As the provided resynchro- nization methods introduced distortions in the audio, an alternative method was implemented. This method focused on minimizing the distortions, thus maintain- ing a smooth playback. After the prototype had been implemented, it was tested to see how well it performed under the influence of packet loss and delay. The accuracy of the synchronization was also tested under optimal conditions using two different time synchronization protocols. What could be concluded from this was that a good synchronization could be maintained on unloaded networks using the proposed method, but when introducing delay the prototype struggled more. This was mainly due to the usage of the Network Time Protocol (NTP), which is known to perform badly on networks with asymmetric paths.

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