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Number of OEMs that have chosen Dante as their digital media network solution

and we always support open standards like AES/EBU or MADI. We believe that open standards are necessary and very useful for the industry,” says Helmle, adding that Optocore currently discerns a “huge revival of MADI as it is simple and commonly used by almost every digital audio equipment manufacturer”. The technology provider stands poised to implement the AVB open standard “as soon as it is approved”. But Helmle adds: “On the other hand we believe that older Ethernet-based networks are not very reliable as Ethernet itself was not developed for the professional audio industry.”

DANTE IN DEMAND While Optocore contemplates the advent of the Audio/Video Bridging era, Dante – a solution for the delivery of uncompressed, multichannel, low-latency digital audio over standard Ethernet networks – is now commonly referred to as a ‘pathway’ towards AVB. Developed by Sydney-based Audinate, Dante counts many of pro-audio’s most influential names – Allen & Heath, DiGiCo, Electro-Voice, Lab.gruppen, Peavey, Turbosound, Yamaha et al – among its licensees. The hire/rental community,

too, abounds with enthusiastic adoptees. Britannia Row, for instance, used Dante-ready Yamaha DME and Lake LM44 processors to manage sound across a 6.5km network of optic


“AVB IS already being used for live events,” confirms Sheldon Radford, vice chair of the marketing work group at AVB- promoting consortium the AVnu Alliance and senior product manager, live systems & consoles at Avid. “Several manufacturers – including Avid, Harman and Meyer Sound – are shipping AVB- capable products, and as more and more products come online later this year the ecosystem will expand and momentum will pick up further. “Live shows are all about simplicity, repeatability and reliability, which is why the certification process endorsed by AVnu Alliance will be key.

fibre during June’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London. Similarly, SSE Audio Group. (using its K1 speaker systems) has been deploying Dante for the past 12 months as its main PA returns system for a variety of high-level tours, including extended road-treks with Arctic Monkeys, The Vaccines, Chase and Status, Example and Blink 182. Specifically, the system comprises Lake LM processors at FOH and stage joined together with Dante over a “relatively low-cost” redundant Cisco fibre-optic network. The primary impetus for selecting Dante, explains SSE technical manager Simon Gladstone, was its existence in the Lake platform, allowing it to be implemented without the need to purchase additional hardware. Ease of set-up was another crucial factor: “For years, SSE has been experimenting with other digital systems – all of which have required some extensive knowledge of the protocols used – whereas Dante allows engineers to focus on the job at hand [with tasks] such as EQ-ing and time-alignment, not network engineering.” The specification of Dante also complements the L-Acoustics LA8 amplifiers, which employ remote control over Ethernet. Gladstone adds: “Control protocols and even FOH-to- monitor chat can be deployed on the same Cisco network. Of course, any professional audio network must be capable of high sample

August 2012 l 47

installationfeature KEY POINTS

Riedel’s MediorNet was at the heart of the Crystal Hall’s networking infrastructure for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Baku

rates and low latency, which goes without saying for Dante too.” But it’s not only SSE’s live

projects that are experiencing the Dante effect – installations are another beneficiary. At the time of Gladstone’s interview with PSNEurope, an SSE team was busy fitting a Yamaha/Dante network at Rock City’s Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, using managed Cisco devices to interoperate with other control systems on the same network. While the aforementioned

PSNLive survey indicates a certain level of prevarication in the wider industry, for SSE the era of comprehensive audio networking is already here – and, what’s more, it resonates pleasingly with a broader shift in favour of technological streamlining. “Audio systems are very much an IT network these days, so engineers are required to adopt new thinking and learn new technologies,” says Gladstone. “Our working practice these days

is focused on making everything work together and sharing kit to reduce the amount of gear required for today’s productions, with truck packs, FOH and stage footprints all getting smaller.”

VISIONS OF THE FUTURE A promoter member of the AVnu Alliance, Meyer Sound was one of the earliest manufacturers to announce plans for AVB-compliant product. Of late, its ambitions in the networking field have also manifested themselves in some landmark live projects, including a “major theatrical spectacle” which began life at New York’s prestigious Radio City Hall before heading out on tour. The unnamed show exemplifies the benefits of networking in both live/touring and install environments. “Part of what makes this project unique is that it’s a massive show that started as a fixed install before relocating several times a year,” says Meyer

l Networking is allowing hire/rental groups to streamline audio infrastructures and reduce footprints for tours and festivals l More than 50 OEMs have now chosen Dante as their digital media network solution. Optocore is among the other solutions to be experiencing a sustained increase in adoption l Manufacturers preparing for AVB include Riedel, which is already providing solutions for integrating its existing technology into AVB networks. “In regards to fixed installation, AVB has a lot of potential for streamlining infrastructures,” says Nils Quak, marketing & communications, Riedel l The present momentum behind AVB was further underlined at InfoComm 2012, where 15 manufacturers participated in a landmark networking project inside the AVnu Alliance pavilion

Sound digital products analyst Ellen Juhlin. “Everything had to be built and designed in a way that would be travel-friendly. The racks and network infrastructure had to be as simple and robust as they could be. Using D-Mitri, the streamlined network infrastructure and its stability was greatly appreciated by the sound designer and touring crew.” The initial project design had incorporated equipment from “manufacturers that were using different audio protocols, adding up to close to 250 inputs in total”. But by using D-Mitri “to distribute all of the audio on one network, the sound designer simplified the system and reduced the cabling required [as well as] the amount of audio conversion between different formats”, notes Juhlin. Simplified workflows and

The AVnu Alliance put on a strong show at this year’s InfoComm

[NB: The University of New Hampshire Interoperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) will serve as the official test house for the certification programme, with the testing of AVB-enabled bridges set to commence this month.] The person charged with making the AV system

work night after night needs to have the confidence that when he connects a device from manufacturer A to manufacturer B, it’s going to work with a minimal amount of set-up and head-scratching. That’s why a certification programme is so important – to

ensure a specific level of functionality and interoperability between devices. Without certification it’s the Wild West and anything goes, and the poor person tasked with connecting the gear and making it all work is going to suffer.”

reduced footprints – these, above all, are the primary pay-offs of the networking revolution. Anecdotal evidence may suggest that some industry practitioners are yet to be converted, but recent developments confirm that the underlying drift for audio connection is in one direction only. n

Photo: Ralph Larmann

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