Prosumer

Normally doing audio/video over a network is a matter of downloading a file.
As Ethernet is a packed switched network time of delivery is not guaranteed.
This is solved by buffering, just wait until a big buffer is filled and start playback.

 

This won’t work in a recording studio. You have multiple audio streams e.g. 10 mics and all these streams must be in sync. Likewise if you feedback the monitor of the musicians, you can’t have a high latency because they will mistime.
You need real-time streaming with a very low latency.

This requires dedicated protocols like AVB, Cobranet, Dante, Ethersound, Ravenna.

 

It is very attractive to use IP technology in a studio. If you can use of the shelf IT-products like switches and CAT5 cables you can cut cost substantially.

This add by Cirrus Logic says it all. Cost reduction and flexibility.

Consumer

At the home, we in general do not have tons of gear, bundles of cables, do not record and are not in need of very low latency.

There are cases where low latency and synchronization are of use.

Length: protocols like USB, Toslink, SPDIF put constrains on the length of the cable.
Of course this applies to Ethernet as well but a 100 m is covered without a problem by a single wire.

An option is to use on of these protocols to connect a PC to a DAC like we do with USB but this time over the network. This is a more flexible solution than USB simply because we are not tied to the 5m USB limit.

 

The problem is the gear.

Some of these protocols allow you to install software on your PC that routes the audio to the network port of the PC.

DACs or speakers supporting this protocol do exist but you won't find them in the HiFi shops.

 

Focusrite RedNet 1 - 8 channel AD-DA converter with Dante