What's All This Dante Stuff About Anyway?
Audio Networking Using Dante
Moderator Name: Dan Mortensen
Speaker Name: Steve Macatee, Consultant & SynAudCon
Meeting Location: Shoreline Community College, Rm 818 (music bldg), Shoreline, WA
The PNW Section held a (rare!) December meeting on Dante audio network technology. PNW Committeeperson Steve Macatee, a former longtime Rane employee and a current SynAudCon instructor, conducted this introduction to Dante. About 25 persons attended (15 AES members) the meeting at Shoreline Community College in Shoreline, WA.
While many audio networking technologies have come and gone, they tend to evolve at the speed of IT technology. Dante (Digital Audio Network Through Ethernet) from Audinate in Australia is currently a big player and has sparked a lot of interest. Their USA office is near Portland, OR. Dante has shown that it can handle uncompressed deterministic (guaranteed packet delivery/timing) digital audio neatly over ordinary Ethernet networks, and has the software tools for easy deployment and simple end user control and management.
Steve Macatee was the Director of Product Development and Training for the past 15 years at Rane Corporation in Mukilteo, WA., and spent 29 years at Rane. In July, 2016 the founders of Rane sold the company in order to retire. For the past 9 years, Steve has been one of three co-instructors for the 3-day SynAudCon Digital seminar offered by Pat Brown's Synergetic Audio Concepts (aka ?prosoundtraining.com??).
Steve started with the basics of what Ethernet is (and isn't), what uncompressed audio as PCM data is, and ways it is synchronized. He described how, as packetized data, audio is transported over Ethernet. Also discussed were important computer network basics that are still needed for audio networking - especially IP addresses and the ways such addresses are obtained by devices. Initializing all IP Addresses is often the only mini speed bump for novices in setting up a Dante network.
A small collection of Dante-equipped gear was on hand to demo the networking concepts, including three Audinate software packages [Dante Controller; Dante Virtual Soundcard (DVS); Dante Via, and a collection of committee members' hardware including a Behringer X32 Producer console (with Dante card), a Sound Devices 970 (64-track Dante recorder), a Cisco SG300-10P (PoE managed Ethernet switch with QoS capability), an unmanaged Netgear Ethernet switch, and on a second computer for the Dante Via demo, QLab, which is cue-based software designed for theatre and live entertainment. Morgan Sound also provided an RDL RU-LB2 bi-directional interface with Dante and a Mackie SRM350 monitor.
The network was configured and operated, and demonstrated the concepts of IP addressing each piece of gear, Dante receivers and transmitters, channel counts/Dante "flows", naming devices and how they can be disconnected/reconnected and automatically reestablished into the network.
After the snack break, door prizes were awarded:
Monster cables (donated by Ed Gruse) - won by Dave Quick
LED flashlight (Dr Mike Matesky) - Dave Tosti Lane
Rane metal bottle (Steve Macatee) - Bill Levey
SynAudCon mug (Steve Macatee) - Nathaniel Edwards
Belden CAT cable prep tools (Steve Lampen/Belden) - Chris Grandy, Michael Goodreau, Rick Smargiassi
Continuing with the presentation, Macatee spoke about the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) Model and how it applies to IP (Internet Protocol) networks & IT folks in corporate and converged networks. He described how Dante is designed to work without hiccups of any kind with other IP traffic. In small and medium-sized dedicated audio-only networks, no QoS (Quality of Service) is generally needed in the network infrastructure devices. But QoS-enabled Ethernet switches are highly recommended and easily configured in very cost-effective managed switches when you have large channel counts, complex audio routing or when sharing audio and network data in the same infrastructure.
He also showed how the AES67 standard for audio-over-IP can enable different manufacturers' audio products to talk to one another over Ethernet. Dante supports AES67 already, although many manufacturers are still in the process of releasing support for AES67 in their Dante devices. AES67 covers only audio packet exchanges (not discovering devices, for example). Four options are listed in the AES67 appendix for Discovery. One is the Internet Engineering Task Force's (IETF) SAP (Session Announcement Protocol) method (RFC2974) which Dante uses.