The release of the Yamaha TF series of mixers seemed to be another land mark in the rise of Dante as the networked audio protocol of choice in pro audio and a step forward for me in making up my mind how to spend my money. Surely this is what I should be investing my money in. You see, I quite fancied a Yamaha DM 1000 – smallish footprint, great facilities, industry standard, 96Khz, but networked audio solutions for the DM are a bit tricky. Ethersound stage boxes that are quite rare and expensive. The LS9 a bit last decade and doesn’t do 96Khz. The Roland Reac snake is nice but it’s all proprietary to Roland. Allen Heath Qu with ACE – tempting, but not 96Khz and again proprietary.
Same with Behringer X32 and their cheaper AES 50 solution. Soundcraft – I like the Vi (or indeed a Pro 1) but can’t afford it – and they use Madi (AES 50 for the Pro1) for stage boxes.
Choosing a format for stuffing your multi-channel audio down a Cat5 is like engaging in the hokey cokey. You put Layer 1 in, Layer 2 out, in out, in out, shake it all about. You do the hokey cokey, and try Layer 3, and that’s what it’s all about. Oh Ravenna, Cobranet. Oh Ravenna, Cobranet – Madi, AES 50, ACE, dSnake, AVB, Dante. Not to mention Brik Worm.
At first all I was interested in was not so much networked audio as a digital snake – I just wanted to replace the big heavy copper cable with some cheap and cheerful Cat5, and then mix and record the result. So I started thinking about the new kids on the block (well new in terms of Madi, not new as in terms of mobile phone handset world) – AVB and Dante.
I had a long conversation with one of the world’s leading converter makers who was bemoaning the slow pace of AVB take up. It seemed to be a great solution but without the AVB switches to glue it all together it was very slow going.
I read this interesting article http://controlgeek.net/blog/2014/6/24/avb-and-audinate-dante-an-update-after-infocomm which seemed to chart the decline of AVB and the rise of Dante and then then the arrival of the Yamaha TF series with Dante capability seemed to provide the guidance I was looking for. Buy Dante! Especially as Dante are promising some form of AVB compatibility.
But then I was browsing the latest crop of remote controllable mixers and I noticed PreSonus’s RM series. Now I love a remote control mixer but I don’t want to mix on an iPad – in the same way I don’t want to mix using my toaster or microwave oven or even my mixer – my Kenwood mixer. No not even with the dough hook.
Sorry, I just want real faders. It strikes me that a lot of these mixers are for bands who want to mix themselves. In fact designed to get rid of mixing as was. And then I noticed that PreSonus had taken pity on me and released a controller for their rack mount mixers – with real faders. Real, motorised moving faders which for PreSonus is a big deal, which is why in every PreSonus video those faders are moving like a Kenwood on setting 9.
Now we’re cooking with gas I thought. I get to lose the copper snake, I get mic amps on stage, I get a relatively cheap mixer that can be controlled by a toaster (or indeed an iPad) if I want. And I get some real faders, this is cool. I wonder what protocol PreSonus are using? Dante, no AVB. Ah, but that’s only PreSonus right?
No, MOTU have released seven, no eight AVB interfaces and are piling into AVB faster than PreSonus can move their faders. That’s right MOTU have bet the farm on AVB and they have broken the AVB log jam by releasing an AVB switch for a very reasonable price.
Now the AVB cat is among the digital networking pigeons. On top of that, Apple have included AVB in Yosemite, so you can plug your MOTU interface into the ethernet port on your Mac and hey presto, much networked audio goodness.
Of course Apple doesn’t believe in ethernet ports anymore, my Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter is ‘out for delivery’ even as we speak. Windows is a bit off the pace here, Echo have an AVB nic with drivers, a snip at only $800 – surely that level of pricing cannot last. Have I given up on a Yamaha TF console? Well yes and no.
Yes they look great and the TF 1 is compact enough to be exactly what I need, I get sixteen mic inputs at the surface and industry standard etc. But no – looking again at the spec I think they are still only 48Khz and the Dante stage boxes won’t be here for a while yet. I feel with MOTU and PreSonus giving AVB a big leg up in 2015, we might be set for a significant change in the balance of power and I think PreSonus are scratching where people itch. Yes I want the option to mix with a wireless device but I don’t want that to be the only option. I wonder if MOTU are working on a surface?