Think about a typical large public university. There are stadiums, arenas, theaters, performance halls, recital halls, lecture halls, video production studios, editing suites, recording studios, music labs, radio stations, HD broadcast facilities, conference rooms and dozens of other spaces that need to pass audio. And there are students who need to learn about the state-of-the-art in production. It’s a perfect match, a test bed for audio-video connectivity.
While a number of audio manufacturers have been involved in audio-over-IP from early on, two companies deserve particular credit for paving the way for Dante integration on college campuses. There are other options for competing network protocols, but Dante has established a dominant foothold in education.
The first was Yamaha, from the live sound/performance side. One of the first audio companies to partner with Audinate, in the early 2010s Yamaha placed CL5 consoles, stage boxes and other products in a number of college programs, and did double-duty in educating customers and educating the market.
The second was Focusrite, coming from the recording studio side. The company had introduced Dante integration into the RedNet line, focusing first on recording studios and post-production facilities. Kurt Howell, whose father was a college president and grew up on campuses, joined the company about four years ago as national sales manager. Within a few months, the primary focus shifted from studios to schools, and the product took off.
“It’s just the perfect solution for these types of institutions,” Howell says. “There are so many needs for audio connectivity on even a small campus, and the infrastructure is already there—Cat 5/6, fiber, Cisco 10-gigabit switches. You plug into the network and it’s all Level 3 security. Dante Domain Manager is just getting started. This is an exciting time if you’re in audio-video presentation.”
Following are examples of new facilities at academic institutions that recently installed a Dante audio network system.
San Jose State University, San Jose, Calif.
The San Jose State University Department of Television, Radio, Film and Theatre (TRFT) has a lot of ground to cover in its theaters, studios and video production facilities across campus and around town. The many and varied campus spaces include an educational TV Studio, the 350-seat University Theater, and the 150-seat Hal Todd Studio Theater, all connected through a Dante audio-over-IP network. Recently, the university installed another Dante network at the Hammer Theatre Center, a public theater it operates in downtown San Jose, Calif. Now they all work together, audio and video.
The Dante audio network was part of a multimillion dollar renovation of SJSU’s campus facilities that included HDTV cameras, a 900-square foot studio with a green screen, an LED lighting grid in the TV studio, and an adjacent control room equipped with professional graphics.
Audio from the Hammer Theatre Center, as well as the University Theater and Hal Todd Studio on campus, is mixed using a Yamaha QL live digital audio mixer and recorded onto a Sound Devices Pix 270i recorder that can record up to 64 channels. Live audio of theatrical performances, including ballet, concerts and plays, can be distributed to mixers and speakers, and recorded onto multitrack recorders using the Dante Virtual Soundcard.
Other Dante-enabled components on the network include the Yamaha R-Series I/O RIO Rack stage box, several Harman BSS Blu-806 digital signal processors, and Rane HAL paging multiprocessors with touchscreen controls.
“From an efficiency point of view, we now have all these different devices that we can access and control just by opening up our Dante Controller software,” says Anthony Sutton, Master Electrician and Sound Tech for TRFT. “This is how we patch audio between Dante-enabled devices, and we only need to run two Cat 6 Ethernet cables instead of 64 strands of analog wire between devices, which saves considerable time and labor.”
Valencia College, Orlando, Fla.
Valencia College can now lay claim to the world’s largest educational installation of Focusrite’s RedNet range of Dante-networked audio converters and interfaces, installed in the college’s new Film Production and Sound Technology building that opened in Fall 2017.
The new facility houses two full tracking suites with control rooms, two mix studios, a mastering studio and a film-sound studio, which is one of three Dolby Atmos-certified mix facilities on campus.
RedNet A16R 16-channel analog I/O interfaces and RedNet D16R 16-channel AES3 I/Os allow digital and analog signals to be networked throughout the facility, and RedNet HD32R 32-channel HD Dante network bridges allow all of the facility’s Pro Tools systems to interface from studio to studio. RedNet AM2 stereo audio monitoring units in every studio allow those in each room to receive their own custom headphone mixes.
“The main focus here is to prepare our students for what the real world is going to be like, and the pro audio industry is transitioning to a fully networked workflow,” says Joe McBride, Teaching Lab supervisor in Valencia College’s Sound & Music Technology program. “RedNet gave us not only an incredibly efficient and effective networking solution, but it also provides the networked infrastructure for them to learn on that will ready them for the jobs they’ll find when they graduate.”
Dante Domain Manager
The release of Dante Domain Manager in early 2018 was a big deal, in the works for a few years and in preview for nearly a year. By May of 2018, more than 400 of the 1,000-plus commercially available Dante-enabled products were DDM-ready. As audio networking technologies continue to evolve and expand into new markets, it has become evident that there is a need for user authentication, role-based security and audit capabilities for Dante networks, while allowing seamless expansion of Dante systems over any network infrastructure.
The network domain concept was initially conceived for the IT sector to differentiate and manage multiple private networks across a single infrastructure. Audinate states that it “is applying this same approach to A/V, customizing the features to the needs of A/V professionals and end users.”
With this merging of tech and AV control, a few key points come to the fore:
Security and Control: Dante Domain Manager incorporates robust user-authentication and role assignment, on a per-zone basis, ensuring that only authorized people can operate or alter the system. While all individual internal systems are concerned with security, this will prove especially popular as Dante dives deeper into post-production, which has suffered before from high-profile security breaches.
Scalability and Flexibility: Integrators can define specific AV device groupings by room, building and site, creating independent Dante Domains. A single Dante Domain can encompass multiple network subnets, deployed across a WAN, with audio routed transparently.
Visibility and Accountability: DDM provides at-a-glance reports, audit trails and SNMP-driven alerts, displaying status instantly on customizable Dashboard.
Related: Audinate Announces Over 400 Products Are Now Dante Domain Manager-Ready, May 16, 2018
Every week, more and more manufacturers, including Yamaha, Allen & Heath, DiGiCo, Harman Brands, Sennheiser, Focusrite, Powersoft, TASCAM and many others, are being added to the list of DDM-capable devices. The audio networking market seems to be maturing at a Silicon Valley pace. Stay tuned for more.
New Products: Dante Connections
Audinate Dante AVIO Adapters
Audinate has announced the availability of a series of network adapters that allow legacy analog and digital audio gear to interface with a Dante network. AVIO adapters are compact audio adapters available in a variety of configurations, including 2-channel analog input (XLR-F), 2-channel analog output (XLR-M), AES3 I/O or USB I/O (Type A), with RJ45 Ethernet. All are designed as an easy way to port existing gear, including mixers, mic preamps and powered speakers, onto a Dante network.
ProCo AoDoM Dante I/O, Drop Boxes, Wall Plates
ProCo’s AoD I/O Modules, known for their high-quality A/D-D-A converters, low-latency and easy installation, has introduced the AoDoM 2-channel interface, featuring one RJ45 Dante input and two Neutrik XLR analog line-level outputs. It is designed with a three-foot analog audio tail with black Neutrik XLR connectors. The AoDiMX4 4-channel interface is equipped with one Neutrik EtherCon Dante output and four Neutrik XLR analog inputs, while the AoDoMX4 4-channel interface has one Neutrik EtherCon Dante input and four Neutrik XLR analog outputs. Each can be configured with Audinate’s free Dante Controller software. Power is supplied through a standard Ethernet cable via a Power over Ethernet (PoE) capable network switch, or from a separate PoE injector circuit.
RDL DD-BN22 Wall-Mounted Bi-Directional Mic/Line Dante Interface 2 x 2
The RDL DD-BN22 is a complete wall-mounted Dante audio network interface featuring two XLR mic or line inputs and two XLR mic or line outputs on the front panels. The two XLR inputs are each converted to a separate Dante network transmit channel. Each XLR input provides three switches that may be set from the front of the unit when the cover plate is off. One switch enables or disables P48 phantom power; the second selects the mic or line gain range; the third sets the gain. Three gain settings are switch-selectable for both the mic and line input ranges to match condenser or dynamic mic levels and standard line levels. Each XLR output is switchable between balanced line level or mic level, providing +4 dBu balanced for a network digital audio level of -20 dBFS. Valid PoE power and synchronization to the Dante network are indicated by green LEDs visible from the front of the unit. The DD-BN22 fits a standard U.S. dual-gang electrical box or an RDL WB-2 back box for installations in thinner walls.