The advantages of AoIP for audio distribution are becoming better and better understood but a point which is often made is the frustration people feel with the compulsion to “make a choice” to plant a flag in one or other of the largely incompatible network technologies available and with that choice to some extent to close the door on the other systems.
AES67 went a long way towards providing a solution to this issue and while AES67 has been a success in terms of compatibility and uptake amongst layer 3 AoIP solutions, there remain some areas of the networked audio world to which AES67 isn’t a solution.
Most of the current AoIP alternatives perform the basic task of transporting uncompressed multichannel audio streams at low latencies extremely well but there is a fundamental difference between Soundgrid and the alternatives which means that to see Soundgrid as directly comparable to these alternatives would be to miss the point to some extent. Soundgrid offers audio processing and Waves plug-ins in as close to a DSP format as they are available since the introduction of AAX as well as audio transport and routing and for this reason there is more reason why a user of a non Soundgrid network might wish to incorporate elements of Soundgrid onto another system. How easy is this to do?
Several manufacturers of digital consoles feature Soundgrid cards. Bigger consoles can accommodate two cards and if, for example a Dante and a Soundgrid card are available then by installing both you have a very flexible console bridge. That being said, this is a very expensive way of getting a network bridge unless you already have need for a big digital console.
Soundgrid - Dante Bridge
Hear Technologies recently announced the WSG Bridge for Dante. This dedicated 1U box allows bridging of up to 64 channels between Soundgrid and Dante networks at sample rates up to 96kHz clickable from either the Soundgrid or Dante networks and with a one way latency of between approximately 0.5 and 0.8ms.
Setups like these allow the sharing of Soundgrid hardware with a Dante network and allow the sharing of server-based Soundgrid audio processing beyond the Soundgrid network. Using hardware like the DiGiGrid iOS it is possible to incorporate Soundgrid plug-ins from Waves and third parties like Plugin Alliance, Sonnox and Flux into systems which use Dante.
Options Beyond Dante
There is always the option of bridging the gap using analogue, multichannel connections can, of course, be made using analogue but this is far from convenient and isn’t really in keeping with the idea of convenient networkable routing. However, the possibility of using some “old fashioned” point to point synchronous interconnection to bridge between incompatible networks is very much a viable proposition using MADI. DiGiGrid have made MADI to Soundgrid interfaces for years and their MGB and MGO interfaces allow interconnection and incorporating them a system with for example a Focusrite Rednet 6 for Dante or a Direct Out Monotone.42 for a RAVENNA to MADI bridge