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Focusrite’s RedNet Dante network bridge fuelled Steve Vai’s 52-hour charity guitar jam

The charity guitar jam marked the grand opening of the Musicians Institute's live music venue in Hollywood, created by Michael Warren and MW Audio Visual Inc., and installed with Focusrite’s RedNet Dante-networked audio converter and interfaces

To herald the opening of the venue and raise money for charity, Grammy award-winning guitarist Steve Vai jammed on stage for a record-setting 52-hours. The event benefited Extraordinary Families, a leading nonprofit foster family and adoption agency in the Los Angeles area.

The jam was recorded start to finish using two Focusrite RedNet HD32R 32-channel HD Dante network bridge units, allowing Dante Ethernet-based audio to interface seamlessly with Avid’s Pro Tools, HD and Pro Tools and HDX systems. Two RedNet HD32R units were connected via Cat-6 cables to Yamaha consoles at front of house and monitors from a 64-input stage box, enabling a 96-kHz signal to go from the stage to the consoles and the Pro Tools system, which was used to record the session. A RedNet PCIeR Card, located in a small Thunderbolt expansion chassis, provided the connection for the computer.

The event included musicians Dave Navarro, Moby, Dweezil Zappa, Al Di Meola, Steve Morse, Lee Ritenour, Andy Vargas, Souleros and many others, and began at noon on Friday, September 28, continuing non-stop until about 5:45 p.m. on Sunday, September 30.

“My mandate to Michael Warren was that this space had to be state-of-the-art and future-proof, as we were teaching the next generation of audio/video professionals,” stated Jonathan Newkirk, dean of entertainment industry studies at the Musicians Institute. 

“It also needed to be set up for teaching during the day, yet be a world-class performance space at night that would be attractive to top performers from all genres of the entertainment world. Michael nailed it, and our star-studded grand opening event was the ultimate proof of the concept.”

The AV systems for the venue, which feature live production systems and broadcast television studios, do not include analog wiring.

Warren commented: “It’s all 600-MHz Cat-6 cabling, and that’s why the RedNet was a perfect fit: it’s ready for Dante, which has become the standard for audio now. The RedNet stuff is rock solid, the signal quality is perfect, and the clock is impeccable. RedNet is a solid performer, and that’s what you need for a critical facility. Plus, I really like the sound of the Focusrite converters.”

The day before the show, Warren tested out the system: “We never had a sound check until the day before the event – we never even fired up the system until then. However, I was fully confident that everything would be fine, as I spent a lot of time engineering out all the bugs and whistles.”

“This event set all kinds of records,” said Greg Wurth, Steve Vai’s longtime engineer. “We went well over 52 hours never missing a note, and I have to credit the RedNet HD32R for much of that.”

Wurth had questioned the recording platforms ability to run uninterrupted for hours at a time, stating: “Pro Tools isn’t designed for something like this, but what is? The stability of the signal was the big concern. I’d never worked with RedNet before, though a number of friends and colleagues had brought it up to me. It was my first time, the first time this venue did a show, and it was going to be a marathon longer than anyone had ever done before, running at 96k — I was a little nervous about it going in.”

“The next time I have to build a new rig, RedNet is going to be at the top of that equipment list,” Wurth concluded. “It really proved itself under the most extreme circumstances here.”