In all our discussions in the past on audio over IP we have identified the need for some simple units that just had a mic preamp and a headphones amp. Our friends at Aspen Media pointed out the DELEC NIO-02024 and its little brother the DELEC DIO which we have covered on the site. Since then we have wanted to review both units to see if they would meet the requirements for adding a simple mic preamp and headphone in a voiceover booth with nothing more than an Ethernet connection.
However the review would need a Dante network and also some way to connect the Dante network to my Pro Tools HDX rig. So I reached out to our friends at Focusrite who very kindly lent me a RedNet 5 which is a Dante equipped interface that can be used as a Pro Tools HD interface.
So the review of the DELEC Dante interfaces comes in two parts...
- In part 1 we work through the setting up of the Dante Network covering some of the do's and dont's of audio over IP with Dante.
- In part 2 we get close up and personal in a virtual way with the DELEC NIO0204 and DIO units.
So back to setting up the Dante network. One of the advantages of using a Dante network is that you can use industry standard ethernet technology and it is possible to run Dante over a mixed network. You don't need an exclusive audio over IP network with exclusive network switches etc.
Which Switch To Use For A Dante Network?
That said, Focusrite do recommend using one of a small list of gigabit managed switches. They recommend the following in their RedNet Installation Guide...
The RedNet Dante network requires the use of at least one Gigabit Ethernet switch. In larger
installations multiple switches will be needed. While some networks may function with unmanaged switches, performance varies widely with available switches. It is therefore required that a managed gigabit Ethernet switch is used with any RedNet system in order to guarantee rock-solid audio performance. Here are the requirements of any switch to be used with a RedNet system...
- Gigabit rated (1000 Mbps)
- Non-blocking• Quality of Service (QoS) with four queues
- Diffserv (DSCP) QoS with strict priority
- Switches with a built-in power supply are recommended for optimum audio performance
Unlike other networked audio systems, Dante (and therefore RedNet) works with standard, off-the-shelf Ethernet hardware, which is commonly available and needn’t be expensive. There are many switches available with varying features, number of ports and in various sizes. Although not an exhaustive list, below are some switches that Focusrite has found to be ideal for RedNet:
- Cisco SG200-18
- Cisco SG200-26
- Cisco SG300-10
- Netgear GS724T
- Netgear GS716T
So I went for the Netgear GS724T which I sourced from Amazon and with Amazon Prime was with me the next day. I plugged it all in and it all just worked.
You do need a gigabit managed switch infrastructure to run a Dante Network. You can have some 100 megabit elements on the end apparently but for a reliable network it is best to stick to a gigabit managed switch based network. I did try running it though my existing 100 megabit switched network but it didn't work at all.
Netgear Software Not Mac Compatible
One downside, I didn't discover until later, is the configuration software for the Netgear GS724T is only available for Windows, there isn't a Mac version and because all the IP addresses were self assigned I couldn't find the IP address of the Managed switch to configure it as Focusrite recommend. But it all worked fine with the default settings.
Dante Controller Software
You need to download and install the Dante Controller software which you can get free from Audinate, who are the people behind the Dante Protocol. They also have a lot of resources on setting up the Dante network too.
So hopefully the video review will show that it is very easy to set up and use a Dante network. In part 2 we will take a much closer look at the two DELEC units, both physically and virtually.