It is now common knowledge that 25 percent of the manufacturers exhibiting at the annual AES Convention are live sound-oriented, but their impact throughout pro audio is even more dramatic. The expanding live sound sector has greatly influenced the technology of the modern recording rig; look no further than networked audio systems and Audinate’s Dante audio over Internet protocol (AoIP), and its growing incorporation into new gear introduced on AES’s exhibit floor.
Boosted by early promotion of near zero latency round trip I/O at high channel counts, large facilities of all types began to consider Dante-enhanced gear. Now in Q4 of 2016, AES underlined a boom in new Dante products, from mainstream manufacturers to boutique builder’s shops.
A notable driver of Dante networking into audio production has been Focusrite’s RedNet Series of Ethernet-networked audio interfaces. The company used its AES presence to showcase its latest high-channel count Red 4 and Red 8 “Air” enabled mic pre-I/O units.
Millennia Media, a builder of analog preamp and signal flow hardware, marked the 141st Convention by unveiling its DA-296 Gōzowta Dante to Analog Converter, connecting any two channels of Dante to analog gear up to 96 kHz, with level-controlled 1/8 and 1/4-inch jacks in tow, marking Millennia’s fourth Dante-oriented product.
Over at Grace Design’s booth, the company showcased its latest multichannel preamp—the m108 eight-channel mic pre/ADC/DAC/Interface, touted as available with its optional Dante interface module. And at Lynx Studio Technology, LT-Dante, the LSlot interface for its Aurora and Hilo converters, was introduced with three LT-Dante ready converters: the Hilo-DT, Aurora 8-DT and Aurora 16-DT models. Notably, any existing Hilo or Aurora owner can add the new LSlot, so original customers can upgrade, too.
Millennia, Grace and even Lynx gear can be found in many “measurement grade” audio for broadcast and audio post racks, yet even brands more associated with boutique, flavorful music production were diving deep into the AoIP pool at the 141st AES. One example was Burl Audio— the “by engineers, for engineers” analog processing design/builder based within Paradise Recording, a commercial studio in Santa Cruz, CA— that now offers Dante compatibility for its flagship offerings called B20 Mothership, B2 Bomber ADC and B2 Bomber DAC.
Dante is hardly the only AoIP studio network protocol in town, however. Pressing the AES’s AoIP interoperability standard, Yamaha Corporation utilized the Convention to announce that its Dante-equipped products will connect with other audio networks—most notably Ravenna— via AES6, another AoIP protocol. Meanwhile Genelec showcased its 8430A AoIP SAM Studio Monitor at AES, making it the first studio monitor available that supports AES67 and Ravenna standards.
Of course, where there is increasingly embraced protocol, there is more connectivity. Riding the AoIP wave is Neutrik, which showcased both an expanded etherCON line via Cat 5e and Cat 6A connectors as well as its burgeoning Xirium Pro line of wireless digital cable “replacements,” the latter of which is a modular system with available I/O modules for analog, AES and Dante formats. Also under the cable tent at AES and worthy of note (though digressing from AoIP growth) were Neutrik’s timbre- PLUG and ultimatePLUG, an industry- unique guitar cable plug with four discrete adjustable steps “from a neutral, clear tonality to warmer characteristics,” and Schurter Electronic Components’ V-Lock locking power connectors and cord sets.
Increased collaboration amongst pro audio firms was very apparent at AES, too. Premium converter manufacturer Digital Audio Denmark (DAD) had a presence at its own booth and also at exhibiting manufacturers, including Avid and Dynaudio; Avid showcased the MTRX Pro Tools HD audio interface developed by DAD for Avid, while Dynaudio’s suite offered listening sessions on its new mastering-grade monitors equipped with DAD converters.
Meanwhile, back at Avid, its umbrella is large and the buzz around the firm’s exhibition floor space illustrated its reach at the show. Many forms of software were released at AES, and much of it is available at Avid Marketplace, which is increasingly starting to look like a centerpoint. Avid’s online retail space gathers together a number of plug-in manufacturers, including AAX-ready Waves, Crane Song, Eventide, iZotope, Sonnox and Nugen, offering their wares as part of its streamlined audition/install/purchase paradigm.
These, however, are only a handful of the dozens of hardware and software releases that debuted at the Convention; more can be found among the new products announced on pages 40-41.
Indeed, the 141st AES exhibition floor was full of the kind of networking and collaboration reports detailed here, but it was much more than that. It is still the annual gathering of America’s audio engineering passionate, a vital group most notable for creating user-serving standards followed by their fellow engineers. As of 2016, it continues to be a strong blend of practical knowledge, education and industry.