Audinate’s Dante — the AV-over-IP solution that dominates the world of professional audio — is seeing rapid adoption by manufacturers of residential audio equipment. It was licensed in new products from 18 manufacturers at this past CEDIA Expo, and custom installers are seeing its potential. Here, Audinate’s senior product manager, Brad Price, explains how Dante can help an integrator’s business.
Dante’s entrance into the residential market seems to have happened quickly. What led to the seemingly sudden adoption by residential manufacturers?
We’ve certainly noticed increased interest in this market, and for the most part, it’s been residential manufacturers adopting Dante on their own without input from Audinate. That result speaks to our goals, to make a product good enough that it “sells itself” by virtue of the benefits it delivers. It this case, it appears the use of Dante in other areas of professional audio — live sound, universities, broadcast, etc. — has organically grown so as to affect adjacent areas such as residential systems. As a technology, it makes perfect sense for that market.
What benefits does Dante bring to residential installers?
The first and perhaps largest benefit is that Dante uses standard network gear that is often already part of the specification of newer homes with structured cabling. Networking fundamentally changes the model of audio connectivity by eliminating point-to-point connections between devices and replacing those pathways with logical routes in software. What that means is that cables no longer dictate how signals run — all devices are physically connected via Ethernet to a common network switch, and all changes are made using software. Walls don’t have to be torn out and no one needs to get into the crawl space when a customer wants to change where devices live. Adding more devices is as simple as plugging them into the network, with no special cables, no special connectors, and no question as to whether or not it will work.
Dante brings endless possibilities for high-end audio. A simple Gigabit network switch easily supports hundreds of channels of simultaneous, 100 percent lossless audio with perfect time synchronization between all devices. Sample rates from 44.1 kHz to 192 kHz are supported, and a single network can simultaneously handle multiple sample rates.
Dante is built as a complete, supported system from end-to-end, with intuitive software that works across thousands of available products. That means as adoption continues, installers will be able to choose the products their customers want, knowing that they will “just work” with other Dante-enabled devices.
What should residential integrators understand about Dante before using it?
A basic understanding of computer networking is useful, but in general one needn’t be an IT expert to deploy and use a Dante network, even with hundreds of endpoints. Dante works with off-the-shelf network switches with minimal configuration. In fact, some of the most common issues we see come from inexperienced users who overthink matters and attempt to do too much in the complex management interfaces of modern managed switches. Keeping it simple is the best way to get a Dante network up and running.
We’d certainly recommend that any installer configure and play with some Dante devices by using our free Dante Controller software before attempting an install. We’re certain they will find it easy and straightforward.
What kind of training materials are available to residential integrators?
Audinate offers three levels of training via our Dante Certification Program, from elementary to advanced. Courses and tests are available online, and courses are conducted in person at tradeshows and other events around the world. Participation in the Dante Certification Program is free of charge and highly recommended for installers, integrators, and end users.
What kind of residential installations would Dante be ideal for?
Dante works anywhere, and Dante-enabled products are available for all types of audio gear from tiny to titanic. Networked audio can really outshine its older point-to-point counterparts in circumstances where many endpoints need to be routed and controlled; on a network, any signal can be “split” to reach nearly any number of endpoints with no extra effort or equipment of any kind, and certainly no loss in signal quality.
Because Dante allows devices to play out in precise time alignment, it is ideal for large multichannel installations in which time delays are precisely manipulated to create auditory effects, such as Dolby Atmos content.
As Dante becomes more widely adopted, expect more products to leverage software-level control over signal distribution to achieve end-user goals such as distributing audio around homes or quickly extending the system to use more endpoints for special events, and so on.
Where do you see Dante’s role in the future of residential integration?
We’d love to see Dante become the de facto standard for audio connectivity in residential, much as it has affected other areas of professional audio. It’s easy to deploy and easy to use, and works as a transparent, reliable component of system design to help installers and integrators deliver upon customer wishes.
For an up-to-date listing of products that support Dante, visit www.audinate.com/products/dante-enabled.