Meeting Report: April 2015 Digital Audio Networking with Dante

On Monday 20th April, 26 AES members and visitors gathered at the SAE Institute Lecture Theatre to hear Audinate founder and Chief Technology Officer Aidan Williams speak to us on the subject of

Digital Audio Networking with Dante.

He explained that the company Audinate is a technology startup spun off from National ICT Australia (NICTA) to commercialize a project which grew into the Dante audio networking solution.
He indicated that the company has offices in Sydney, Portland (USA), and Brighton (UK), with further expansion imminent.

He started his presentation with a comprehensive primer in “Networking 101 for Audio Professionals”

He assured the audience that a deep knowledge of data networking is not required to install and maintain Dante networks, but some understanding is helpful – especially when interacting with IT professionals.

Firstly Aidan described how pervasive the IP world has become with all of us interacting with it via computers, smartphones and other mobile devices. He then enumerated the benefits of transporting audio over digital networks versus analog audio networks – the primary ones being reduction in cabling (one Cat5/6 cable Vs multiple analog audio cables) and the ease of routing using commodity computer network hardware.

He went on to describe the concept of network “layers” using the OSI model  then moved into “acronym soup” territory, briefly discussing MAC Addresses, IP Addresses, TCP/UDP, Multicast, IGMP, and QoS.

Following this data networking primer, Aidan moved onto the specifics of Dante.
He described it as a “Toolbox” customers can license to implement “Audio over IP” connections in professional audio equipment.
He explained that Audinate’s customers are equipment manufacturers who incorporate Dante into their products. He reported that they now have over 200 manufacturers licensing the technology.

He described the various Dante modules they can use, and the Dante Controller software which is available for configuration and control of interconnected systems. Then moving on to the Dante Virtual Soundcard which allows existing audio applications to connect to a Dante network, and the soon-to-be-released Dante Via software which allows the use of computer audio ports with Dante for flexible “inside the PC” routing.

Using equipment from various manufacturers he then demonstrated the configuration and routing capabilities of the Dante Controller software, as well as some of the diagnostics capabilities of this software, followed by a question and answer session.

We thank Aidan for his most interesting and informative presentation, and for travelling to Melbourne to present it.

April2015 1
Graeme Huon (L) and Mark Edwards (R) thank Aidan Williams (Centre) for an interesting talk
April2015 2
Some of the Dante-enabled equipment demonstrated.

Aidan has modestly suggested that the best way to refresh ourselves on the “Audio Networking 101” part of his presentation is to replay this video presentation of the same material – presented recently by Landon Gentry, Director of Global Support Services at Audinate.

An audio recording of Aidan’s complete presentation (including the Networking segment) can be
replayed or downloaded here.

Aidan’s slides on the Dante Toolbox can be viewed here (as a PDF).

Thanks to Graham Haynes and his trusty Tascam for the audio recording.

A special thanks to the SAE Institute for the use of their Lecture Theatre, and to Andrew Broadhead and his staff for facilitating this.