From Digital Interface Handbook, Third Edition

4.1 Background to Dedicated Audio Interfaces

When digital audio interfaces were first introduced it was assumed that digital audio signals would need to be carried between devices on connections similar to those used for analog signals. In other words, there would need to be individual point-to-point connections between each device, carrying little other than audio and using standard connectors and cables. The AES3 interface, as described below, is a good example of such an interface. It was intended to be used in as similar a way as possible to the method used for connecting pieces of analog audio equipment together. It used XLR connectors with relatively standard cables so that existing installations could be converted to digital applications. From a practical point of view, the only practical difference was that a single connection carried two channels instead of one. Such dedicated interfaces carry one or more channels of audio data, normally sample-locked to the transmitting device's sampling rate, and operate in a real-time 'streaming' fashion. They generally do not operate using an addressing structure, and so are normally used for connections between a single transmitting device and a single receiving device (hence 'point-to-point'). This method of interconnection is still in wide use today and is likely to continue to be so for some time, but the increasing ubiquity of high-speed data networks and computer-based audio systems is likely to have an increasing effect on the way audio is carried as time goes by (see the next chapter).

Products & Services
Audio and Video Connectors
Audio connectors are used to affix cables to other audio equipment, providing electronic signal transference and grounding protection.
Audio Cables
Audio cables transmit audible signals such as voice and music. They are designed to minimize noise and interference that can impair sound quality.  Audio cables connect an audio source such as a stereo or microphone to an audio receiver or output such as speakers. Most products are shielded to prevent electromagnetic interference (EMI), typically with a foil and/or braided shield.  
Audio Mixers and Consoles
Audio mixers and audio consoles are units that combine signals from microphones and/or line level sources to produce a combined signal or signals.
Voice Loggers and Audio Recorders
Audio recorders / voice loggers are used to locate, retrieve, duplicate and/or distribute audio voice or data information from single system environments to large multi-channel networked systems.
Digital Audio Systems
Digital audio systems electronically record and store audio signals such as voice, music, alarm, and security messaging for broadcast, editing, monitoring, and playback.

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