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Why Dante?


Jeff Wexler
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I'm starting a new topic, an off shoot of the thread started by Richard Lightstone: "Future-Proofing Deva to Dante Network" because I think the topic brought up a lot of related issues and was somewhat disingenuous with its faux concern for the future of Zaxcom and the Deva.

 

There is a rather extensive discussion on this topic over on the jwsound on facebook group and my conclusion after reading all of that regarding Dante support is this: for the sound mixers who are using the Yamaha and needing to utilize all 16 (main) inputs and output busses to feed the recorder (any recorder) digitally, Dante would simplify the cabling and be a more elegant and straightforward method at this time. The only viable recorder at this time that supports Dante and 16+ tracks is the SD PIX-260. The only digital mixing console (external) that provides functional control (mixing and routing) for 16+ inputs and digital output is the Yamaha. It is a fact that track counts are going up on many jobs, routing flexibility and mixing capabilities are being pushed to the extreme on many jobs, but it would be a mistake to assume that the Yamaha > Dante > SD PIX-260 will be the only way to service the ever increasing demands being placed on the Production Sound Mixer.

 

I agree with the handful of sound mixers out there (maybe it is 15 or more) who would like to be able to connect their Yamaha to some recorder differently than the way they are doing now, and Dante is a way to do it --- but only if you use a Yamaha external mixer and buy a PIX-260. There is no recorder on the market now from any of our usual suspects that can be retrofitted to provide Dante support. Except for the Yamaha, there are few, if any, external standalone digital mixing consoles that support Dante.

 

Although track counts are going up, most jobs are still being handled quite nicely with less than 16 tracks. The vast majority of sound mixers working today do not have a mixing console with 16 inputs and many are still using analog mixers. Dante does nothing for these mixers and isn't needed. As someone pointed out, working as a production sound mixer if you are up at 16 inputs or more, what are you mixing? You are pretty much just tracking at this point and someone else down the line is going to be mixing your tracks.

 

I have read several articles about Dante, specifically in comparison to other data and network protocols like AES, MADI, etc., but I am not well versed enough in these things to really have a truly educated opinion. I do know that AES is well proven and MADI is in widescale use in hundreds of devices and fixed installations. Dante has not proven itself and I would be wary of trusting the sole interconnect between my mixing console and the recorder to Dante.

 

Dante has a cool name (or should I say a hot name) but I just don't understand what the real benefit is beyond simplifying the connection for those using the Yamaha and whatever recorder they are using. Will the next Deva have Dante support? Probably, but it also most probably will not be needed. Simply stated, if the next Deva has 16 AES connections, all those sound mixers using the Yamaha and ditching their Devas would be able to connect the recorder to the Yamaha with the proven stability and reliability of AES. Will the Fostex 824 have Dante support? Will the Cantar, the SD 788T, the Roland R88?

 

 

 

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On the music/live sound side, I hear some about Dante but I hear a whole lot more about MADI.  For instance, RME is way into MADI, JoeCo has both MADI and Dante models.   Is it thought that the 01v96 is a future-proof rig?  It is near the bottom of the Yamaha digital mixer line, is kind of long in the tooth, and sales to movie mixers must only account for a small fraction of Yamaha mixer sales.   Will it have a successor, in that cartable form factor, with ext. clock, with Dante or MADI?  Would Yamaha instead make a new small board more like it's bigger iron (and its competitors), with internal recording and/or a USB interface to a software recording app, and with far fewer analog outputs?   (But maybe with a Dante card slot?)   

 

philp

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" Future-Proofing Deva to... "

too late!

" The only viable... "

should note that these are about the only recorders and mixers currently available suitable for our typical workflows.

remember the Yamaha 01v96 was not designed specifically for movie production sound, but many have adopted it...

(another example might be the Lectrosonics Venue)

the trend of us adopting (and somewhat adapting more mainstream technologies will continue to grow)

 

DANTE is not aimed at our niche, but like many other technologies, is probably going to become a part of it...

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Dante is an interconnection, plain and simple. A wireless system is an interconnection, a replacement for a perfectly good cable. In some cases wireless is an absolute requirement, in others it isn't.

The discussion of the number of tracks required on a production is very different than the equipment interconnection required.

Again, Dante is an interconnection. Unlike MADI, AES, analog, and others, it is a layer 3 interconnect. MADI is well-accepted in broadcast because it is routable through a switcher, similar to how AES and analog are patched. Layer 3 protocols takes advantage of Ethernet topology. Dante has a secondary, redundant connection as part of its specification. It is solidly proven in systems and markets outside of production. Dante, and other layer 3 type protocols (Ravenna, AVB) are unquestionably becoming more significant, especially as channel density goes up. It makes interconnection more flexible. Audio-over-Ethernet has been around since well-before file-based audio recording in the field.

Is Dante relevant for six inputs? Maybe not, but maybe. Is it early days for Dante or other layer 3 protocols in production? Maybe, maybe not.

First, decide how to approach a production, then figure out how to interconnect.

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My point and thoughts:

 

1. Dante it is nothing to do for more request about channels. Dante they do not created to increase the channel for the job. Created to transfer channels with the simplicity of cables and reduce the cost for cables. It's different to have 8 or 16 XLR's from a single Cat 5e cable. Also the Cat 5e they don't have a problem with interferences.

 

2. From rackmount receiver to mixer via Dante, from mixer to recorder via Dante, from recorder to laptop or whatever via Dante. 3 simple cables. But. The mixer or recorder or rackmount receiver to have the XLR connectors if someone need for different connection chain.

 

Dante it's important. Analog it's important. But with analog you can't do more complex routing. Unpatch to patch cables. With Cat 5e just one-two click.

 

Dante it's not going to increase the channels (or request for more channels) for one job. It's going to be more simple cable chain WITH lots of different routing into the mixers, recorders, DAWs etc.

 

My thoughts. Now I'm close my mouth.

 

:)

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Philip, the Dante card is / can be used in almost any Yamaha console, I'm sure you know ... I set up a system  to record 32 channels of audio, using 2 cards in an M7CL to protools on a 13" MacBook Pro. Originally it was a pain to set up for me. Impressive on the stability running that high of track count for an hour long worship service.

+1 Jon.

 

mike

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Dante is an interconnection, plain and simple. A wireless system is an interconnection, a replacement for a perfectly good cable. In some cases wireless is an absolute requirement, in others it isn't.

The discussion of the number of tracks required on a production is very different than the equipment interconnection required.

Again, Dante is an interconnection. Unlike MADI, AES, analog, and others, it is a layer 3 interconnect. MADI is well-accepted in broadcast because it is routable through a switcher, similar to how AES and analog are patched. Layer 3 protocols takes advantage of Ethernet topology. Dante has a secondary, redundant connection as part of its specification. It is solidly proven in systems and markets outside of production. Dante, and other layer 3 type protocols (Ravenna, AVB) are unquestionably becoming more significant, especially as channel density goes up. It makes interconnection more flexible. Audio-over-Ethernet has been around since well-before file-based audio recording in the field.

 

Thanks, Jon, for helping me with my limited knowledge of Dante. It seems that using Dante to connect the Yamaha to a PIX-260 is a really good way to go (and its robustness and suitability in our world will be revealed through use and hopefully without any dramas). I have multiple reasons for starting this particular thread and your clarification of what Dante is, plain and simple, is appreciated.

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Philip, the Dante card is / can be used in almost any Yamaha console, I'm sure you know ... I set up a system  to record 32 channels of audio, using 2 cards in an M7CL to protools on a 13" MacBook Pro. Originally it was a pain to set up for me. Impressive on the stability running that high of track count for an hour long worship service.

+1 Jon.

 

mike

Yes it can, but only one of those Yamaha consoles has proven to be suitable for production sound in most cases (size/weight etc).  I agree that Dante is just a cool interconnect protocol, I think the point is whether or not it will be implemented in equipment targeted at location soundies, or equipment made for other markets that is adaptable to our needs.  (Pix 260 for instance.)  Maybe the big question is the consoles, and a bigger question might be if we will even have consoles (as opposed to fader surfaces for internal mixers in recorders )in the future.

 

philp

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Jeff:

Great thread starter. While I only have limited experience with Dante (I've spent much more time with MADI), I'm curious to hear from other users about their experiences. It certainly has some interesting possibilities, especially in high track count situations.

 

Here is a pretty good link for those who want to explore further: http://www.audinate.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=99

 

 

--S

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 I have multiple reasons for starting this particular thread

 

Jeff, regardless of your motives for this thread, you--as a pioneer in file-based audio recording in the field--know first-hand that the pace of change continues to accelerate. How production was done in the past will evolve in the future. That means new techniques, new ideas, new tools.

 

There may be a handful of mixers using Yamaha specifically, but there are a whole lot of productions who can benefit from a robust, controllable, high-density device-to-device interconnection.

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Jeff, regardless of your motives for this thread, you--as a pioneer in file-based audio recording in the field--know first-hand that the pace of change continues accelerate. How production was done in the past will evolve in the future. That means new techniques, new ideas, new tools.

 

There may be a handful of mixers using Yamaha specifically, but there are a whole lot of productions who can benefit from a robust, controllable, high-density device-to-device interconnection.

Roger this.

 

philp

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Yes Philip I agree .

Some time back , there was interest in the Presonus mixers and their ability to record multichannel to something else?

Sounds to me ( no pun ) that the SD Pix is a slamming solution, but using the 01v only allows one slot one card @ 16 i/o right?.

Jeff, is the track count really exceeding 16 channels?

Looking at the Dante licensees http://www.audinate.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=343 seems there could be a number new possibilities for contenders. I'm honestly not a fan of the yamaha mixers mic pres. Head amps they say.

 

mike

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Jeff, is the track count really exceeding 16 channels?

 

mike

 

Certainly not for me on the jobs I do. I am hearing from my fellow mixers doing episodic TV that they have consistently used up to 12 tracks, sometimes more, needing to record multiple talent wireless isos and various mix tracks. 

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If there is enough demand for DANTE we expect to design it into our products.  DANTE is a very flexible and therefore complicated networking system designed specifically to allow audio data to traverse large existing networks even if there are Ethernet switches in the way. 

 

MADI (essentially a bunch of AES channels jammed on to a single piece of fiber or coax) and AES on the other hand is good old fashioned 1980’s style technology that gets a lot of digital audio from one place to another. 

 

If your DANTE connection does not work one day you may need a networking guy to figure out why.  If your MADI or AES does not work you pretty much have to look for broken cables.

 

We have looked into using DANTE but we dread the day when users call our tech support line asking why their particular mix of DANTE modules refuse to pass audio reliably.

 

Zaxcom has always designed our products in a way that provides the most reliable methods of safe guarding the audio data. In the Deva AES inputs operate without the extra levels of coding and decoding necessary when utilizing a multichannel audio interface like DANTE.

 

Use of AES is for the foreseeable future the preferred method of connecting AES mixers to the Deva due to its simplicity and its reliability.

 

Dante or any multi-channel distribution system does not enhance our ability to offer advanced features while maintaining the level of data integrity we have designed into the system.  

 

With the digital mixer designed into the Deva the need for DANTE or MADI  is in our case not currently necessary.  While we have and will always make sure we interface to other brands of equipment, we will always choose methods that are as trouble free and robust as possible.  If DANTE fits these requirements we will certainly embrace its use.

 

Glenn Sanders

President Zaxcom Inc.

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" We include that I/O too. "

and thus, by having DANTE as well, one could say the manufacturers are attempting to future proof their devices, as well as betting on the DANTE implementation  --which was not necessarily the first appearance of this sort of technology; anyone remember COBRAnet ?

Edited by studiomprd
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AES-X192

 

An AES standards task group called SC-02-12-H has been formed to study audio interoperability over high-performance IP networks. The project has been designated AES-X192. This initiative is partially inspired by a successful EBU initiative called ACIP which published interoperability recommendations for audio over wide-area IP networks. The scope of this AES initiative is on higher performing networks where high bandwidth, quality-of-service capability and accurate synchronization allow high-quality, high-capacity and low-latency digital audio transport.

 

There are a number of systems shipping and under development which offer the targeted capabilities – AVB, Dante, LiveWire, Wheatnet IP, Q-LAN, Ravenna. The aim of this initiative is to identify common approaches and protocols and to suggest and standardize a means for interoperability between the systems.

 

--

 

From RAVENNA

 

In the network domain those binary codes representing digitized waveforms are transported as packets across a network infrastructure. Depending on the chosen underlying technology and network layer, different network infrastructures can be used or are required. Common to most solutions is that different type of signals and sometimes even different services can now share the same infrastructure. In a network, the logical link layer is usually not related to the physical connection layer anymore, thus signals can now be routed and accessed anywhere throughout the network. Additionally, network technology naturally supports point-to-multipoint links, i.e. a signal may be routed to any desired point in the network simultaneously. As in the digital domain, adding logical links is only a matter of available bandwidth, but not just with respect to the related physical link, but with respect to the whole network. Consequently, re-routing of links is now a matter of configuration and software only.

 

Although real-time distribution of professional a/v media data across network platforms does not yet have a significant market penetration, the underlying network technology has a more than proven reputation. Ethernet, invented in the mid 70's of the last century, has taken the lead role as a transport platform for world-wide communication data - including VoIP services. Performance and reliability parameters of Ethernet equipment have reached a level at which its deployment as a basis for professional-grade a/v media distribution is clearly indicated.

 

Providing all the benefits from the digital domain, it even increases flexibility and scalability to superior levels. It does not only allow multiple signal types and formats to share one physical connection, but provides the opportunity to share all desired services - even general data communication - on one common network infrastructure.

 

Since network infrastructure components (switches, routers, cables) with a broad range of performance capabilities are widely available as standard equipment in huge production quantities, the costs for providing an adequate and reliable infrastructure are significantly lower compared to the specialized and highly proprietary equipment required for analog or digital signal distribution. As the operational schemes on a network infrastructure are based on world-wide standards, cost-efficiency for planning, configuration and maintenance can also be dramatically increased.

 

--

 

Also I will attach the .pdf from X192 presentation at NAB 2013



:)

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We (Gotham) have jumped into the Dante waters head first. We've grown to like it, but it wasn't always smooth sailing.

 

We (along with Sound Supervisor Martin Kelly) designed and installed a system for the reality show Ink Masters that tied the following audio products together with Dante:

 

Yamaha CL-5, with

Yamaha RIO 3224-D x2

Yamaha RIO 1608

Lectrosonics ASPEN DNT

Lectrosonics DANTE BOB

Sound Devices PIX-260

JoeCo DANTE

Dante Virtual Sound Card

 

It's worth noting that for some of that gear, Dante was the only common interface available, and without it, we would have had to go to multiple A-D-A stages to interface the gear.

 

Once the network was set up, Dante proved to be extremely stable. But the process of setting up the network revealed a few important points about Dante:

 

First: Dante is not audio. Dante is a network protocol designed to transport audio. 

 

That has profound implications when designing and troubleshooting the network. 

 

 

Most importantly, when something goes wrong you can't just unplug the CAT5 cable and plug it into a headphone interface. With analog (of course), AES, ADAT and even MADI, I have a box that will let me listen to the audio with headphones.

 

Dante doesn't work that way. Even if I plug that CAT5 cable into another device, I have to subscribe audio to it before I hear anything.

 

Dante can  optionally communicate on two separate physical networks. Most Dante devices that implement this second physical CAT5 port can have it be configured as "redundant" - where each port is a separate network, or "switched" where each port is part of the primary network only - useful for daisy chaining devices when redundancy is not needed.

 

When the primary and secondary Dante networks are accidentally combined in a redundant network. It wreaks havoc with the audio - causing clicks and pops for all devices as audio packets are flooding the networks. You can do this easier than you think since "switched" is the default mode on some audio devices. 

 

Second: The Dante interface itself is a "black box".

 

Although the Dante protocol is based on open standards, the Dante interface itself is a proprietary daughter card (http://www.audinate.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=276

) that has its own firmware and is even reset and rebooted separately from the host machine. 

 

This became an issue when we updated the firmware of a Yamaha RIO pre-amp before a job, which promptly stopped being recognized by the CL-5 mixer. Resetting the pre-amps or the mixer didn't fix the problem - we had to restore the card in the pre-amp to factory default from the Dante controller.

 

Third: Clocking needs to be carefully planned

 

Sample rate conversion is not a part of the Dante spec, and so from a clocking perspective,  any Dante system effectively has to consider the Dante network itself as a digital audio device. The standard rules of digital audio clocks still apply: There can only be one master. 

 

On Inkmasters, we set up our clock as follows:

 

Master: Rosendahl Nanonsync

Yamaha CL-5 slaved via WordClock to the Nanosync

Yamaha DANTE set to "sync to external word clock" via the Dante Controller

All other devices set to sync to the DANTE card (some devices didn't present a choice).

 

One issue that came up was with the PIX-260 which insisted on defaulting it's Dante interface to "sync to external wordclock" from the Dante controller, even though the PIX-260 itself was set to sync to Dante. The resulting clock loop resulted in no audio from the PIX. This has since been corrected.

 

These and a few other caveats might lead you to believe that we don't favor Dante. Actually, the opposite is the case: We love the flexibility. There is genuine magic in being able to split and distribute audio using (almost) off the shelf network switches, and the Dante Virtual Sound Card works incredibly well - being able to record 64 channels with NO sound card is spectacular. (BTW, Metacorder had an issue with the driver, but Boom Recorder worked well for us).

 

Instead, we're advocating cautiously implementing DANTE audio -  it's a networking protocol first, audio second. As Jon said, "First, decide how to approach a production, then figure out how to interconnect."

 

Peter Schneider

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