Option to connect two surfaces to one mix rack…

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This topic contains 25 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of benmannell benmannell 8 years ago.

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  • #23567
    Profile photo of clarocque
    clarocque
    Participant

    I have read in multiple threads people talking about the option to connect two different hardware surfaces to one mix rack. I know this is not really an option now (while having true individual, reliable control).

    I do have 2 mix racks, but I do have a use for both my T112 and my R72 as a sidecar while using just one mix rack.

    So, I am curious:

    A: Would this even be technically possible (for T series) with only a firmware upgrade?

    B: Who has a need for this besides me?

    T112, R72, iDR48 w/M-DANTE (2), PL10, MixPad, Editor
    MacBook Pro, Mac Mini
    Lion/Logic Pro/PT10
    All latest versions/firmware

    #32901
    Profile photo of millst
    millst
    Participant

    i imagine it would be insanely technicaly complex to implement.
    the problem would be physical audio routing to the surfaces. it would get pretty messy.

    i personally can’t see the value.
    there are plenty of control options and there are plenty of audio IO options.

    #32907
    Profile photo of Mr-B
    Mr-B
    Participant

    I believe it has been said before that it is not possible and for technical reasons it will not be possible in the future.
    I could see you needing two surfaces one for FOH and one for monitors but you need two racks for that due to processing requirements, If I remember correctly and my maths does not fail me you can get get 224 strips on a 112 surface for use in dual rack mode with the use of 2 soft keys (though I don’t think I have used more than about 180 strips in total that way) I guess in theory like that you could have 1,112 strips but I am sure the practicalities of that are beyond sense.
    How many strips do you need presumably 112+72=184?

    #32910
    Profile photo of john@eartsinc
    john@eartsinc
    Participant

    It is not possible to accomplish this, unfortunately. A good option though (instead of buying an iDR16-iDR64. Buy an iDR0 drop in a Dante card on each rack and you have 64 ch. of DSP for that other surface. At least that a less expensive option if you use the other many benefits of Dante. Just a suggestion.

    John
    System Integrator
    Entertainment Arts Inc.

    #32914
    Profile photo of jeffs7
    jeffs7
    Participant

    With all due respect, I do not see why it is not possible, at least in hardware.

    From a networking standpoint, A&H says that ACE is layer 2 Ethernet compliant. This means that frames with layer 2 MAC addresses are sent across that link, which may or may not encapsulate higher layer data (such as IP addresses, port numbers, etc.). From my own investigations with the editor, it would seem that control data, metering data, and other information is transmitted over layer 3 IP packets, which are encapsulated into layer 2 frames and sent over the link. Audio data (I am not positive on this yet, but if you give me a few days to run a test, I can verify) is sent via layer 2 directly.

    Frames are identified by their MAC address; at this layer, IP addresses are irrelevant. Network switches make forwarding decisions based on MAC address alone*. This means that any network switch can be inserted into the ACE link and correctly switch frames, so long as every surface has a unique MAC address. Therefore, it would be up to a software implementation to make use of those packets frames. At least in theory.

    ~Jeff
    Cisco CCNA

    *Note that layer 3 switches might include features such as static routing and IGMP snooping which also incorporate some IP address-based logic.

    #32915
    Profile photo of tk2k
    tk2k
    Participant

    quote:


    Originally posted by jeffs7

    With all due respect, I do not see why it is not possible, at least in hardware.

    From a networking standpoint, A&H says that ACE is layer 2 Ethernet compliant. This means that frames with layer 2 MAC addresses are sent across that link, which may or may not encapsulate higher layer data (such as IP addresses, port numbers, etc.). From my own investigations with the editor, it would seem that control data, metering data, and other information is transmitted over layer 3 IP packets, which are encapsulated into layer 2 frames and sent over the link. Audio data (I am not positive on this yet, but if you give me a few days to run a test, I can verify) is sent via layer 2 directly.

    Frames are identified by their MAC address; at this layer, IP addresses are irrelevant. Network switches make forwarding decisions based on MAC address alone*. This means that any network switch can be inserted into the ACE link and correctly switch frames, so long as every surface has a unique MAC address. Therefore, it would be up to a software implementation to make use of those packets frames. At least in theory.

    ~Jeff
    Cisco CCNA

    *Note that layer 3 switches might include features such as static routing and IGMP snooping which also incorporate some IP address-based logic.


    What you’re forgetting are Talkback, PAFL, and those one-only features. Yes, there could be an option to drop a certain number of channels, but there’s pragmatic issues as well.

    For example, two grabbing the same thing at the same time, the monitor engineer trying to EQ the snare, while the FOH engineer tries to as well…. its just crazy. You need a split, and iLive can’t magically double the number of channels.

    Basically, if you need a 2nd console, you have the budget for a second iLive T. I see no reason why A&H would do this.

    Could they? Probably, or something like it. would it be hard? yes. very.

    iDR-48, T-112, Mixpad
    College

    #32918
    Profile photo of jeffs7
    jeffs7
    Participant

    quote:


    Originally posted by tk2k
    What you’re forgetting are Talkback, PAFL, and those one-only features. Yes, there could be an option to drop a certain number of channels, but there’s pragmatic issues as well.

    For example, two grabbing the same thing at the same time, the monitor engineer trying to EQ the snare, while the FOH engineer tries to as well…. its just crazy. You need a split, and iLive can’t magically double the number of channels.

    Basically, if you need a 2nd console, you have the budget for a second iLive T. I see no reason why A&H would do this.

    Could they? Probably, or something like it. would it be hard? yes. very.

    iDR-48, T-112, Mixpad
    College


    Yes, but that is really more of a reason why it should not be done, rather than why it could not be done. The OP asked if it was even possible in hardware, which I think it might be.

    Obviously, you would have to have some major software re-writes to support two independent surfaces or you would have to deal with sharing the same PAFL and talkback bus. The EQ example is already an issue with any kind of concurrent control (Surface, Editor, Mixpad, Onemix, Tweak). For some people, myself included, I would not mind having a second surface, such as an R72, as a small sidecar.

    For most people, a second Mixrack with a digital split would still be the way to go.

    ~Jeff

    #32920
    Profile photo of tk2k
    tk2k
    Participant

    quote:


    Originally posted by jeffs7
    For most people, a second Mixrack with a digital split would still be the way to go.

    ~Jeff


    Yes, and remember, you can always run the LR bus of a 2nd console into the main bus of the 1st.

    iDR-48, T-112, Mixpad
    College

    #32922
    Profile photo of mervaka
    mervaka
    Participant

    I too can’t see the hardware limitation at to why this isn’t possible, with exceptions to talkback, PAFL and channel count of course. If the network socket was used instead of the ACE socket, it wouldn’t be too dissimilar to running Editor in principle. Editor has a lot in common with the SBC software, after all!

    #32924
    Profile photo of antonyja
    antonyja
    Participant

    Hi All,

    Firstly – you are all correct. The control of the stage box(es) are done over TCP/IP (either thru an ACE tunnel, or directly via Ethernet, etc.). So the networking of control messages is not a problem – and not too dissimilar to using Editor or MixPad. The problems come with the surface audio, obviously there is only 1 PAFL bus, so that would need to be shared (without doing major changes to the architecture), and similarly with talkback. It would be reasonably OK to say the 2nd surface has no talkback and shares the PAFL, but there are other audio issues. One of the major problems is that the Surface PreAmp type (analogue / digital / dual analogue) depends upon what surface is connected and what card(s) are fitted to them, in the case of modular iLive, this information is Tx’d to the stage box on connection. To simplify things you could designate a “Primary” and secondary surface, with only the primary surface being able to supply audio inputs to the rack, but this starts to get complex as the non-primary surface may be switched on first and if this is because the primary is about to be switched on, then fine, but if we now intend it to be used as a single surface, this would need a clear message to the user so as not to confuse (think hire stock here). This connection order problems become vast when you have dual stage boxes as well! Due to these complexities, and the relatively small number of requests for this functionality we decided not to add the feature. I may be worth noting that V1.9 did add some of the work that would be necessary for dual surface. If you point 2 surfaces at a single stage box then you now get individual control of processing (i.e. the sel buttons work independently), which they didn’t in V1.8.

    Antony Jackson
    Software Manager
    Allen & Heath Limited

    #32926
    Profile photo of tk2k
    tk2k
    Participant

    quote:


    Originally posted by antonyja

    Hi All,

    Firstly – you are all correct. The control of the stage box(es) are done over TCP/IP (either thru an ACE tunnel, or directly via Ethernet, etc.). So the networking of control messages is not a problem – and not too dissimilar to using Editor or MixPad. The problems come with the surface audio, obviously there is only 1 PAFL bus, so that would need to be shared (without doing major changes to the architecture), and similarly with talkback. It would be reasonably OK to say the 2nd surface has no talkback and shares the PAFL, but there are other audio issues. One of the major problems is that the Surface PreAmp type (analogue / digital / dual analogue) depends upon what surface is connected and what card(s) are fitted to them, in the case of modular iLive, this information is Tx’d to the stage box on connection. To simplify things you could designate a “Primary” and secondary surface, with only the primary surface being able to supply audio inputs to the rack, but this starts to get complex as the non-primary surface may be switched on first and if this is because the primary is about to be switched on, then fine, but if we now intend it to be used as a single surface, this would need a clear message to the user so as not to confuse (think hire stock here). This connection order problems become vast when you have dual stage boxes as well! Due to these complexities, and the relatively small number of requests for this functionality we decided not to add the feature. I may be worth noting that V1.9 did add some of the work that would be necessary for dual surface. If you point 2 surfaces at a single stage box then you now get individual control of processing (i.e. the sel buttons work independently), which they didn’t in V1.8.

    Antony Jackson
    Software Manager
    Allen & Heath Limited


    Antony,

    Thank you very much for that detailed reply. Much appreciated :)

    iDR-48, T-112, Mixpad
    College

    #32928
    Profile photo of clarocque
    clarocque
    Participant

    Anthony, thank you…

    For “my” needs, I do not need any of the audio on the second console (PAFL whould be handy)… so I will explore how it works.

    T112, R72, iDR48 w/M-DANTE (2), PL10, MixPad, Editor
    MacBook Pro, Mac Mini
    Lion/Logic Pro/PT10
    All latest versions/firmware

    #32929
    Profile photo of Stix
    Stix
    Participant

    @clarocque – question B:Yes I do also! I would like to see a “controller only” boot mode so that a second surface could connect to a single mixrack with surface to provide more real faders/controls – that is the reason I went and developed my Mackie control (Logic)envirionment and also I suspect why many users have midi based controllers such as the BCF2000. On larger events/shows with high channel counts having extra control on independant surface layers becomes more important. The down side of these MIDI based setups is the need for a computer/Editor, midi interface, limited midi controller functions and the inability to access many mixer features, such as routing,channel processing control etc. While the MIDI parameters available for control in iLive and Editor have been expanded with past firmware version upgrades they would still have a long way to go to get anywhere near what a “Controller Only” surface mode could achieve. I would not be overly concerned if the Talkback and local I/O audio on the second surface wasn’t available (or had shared outputs), and a shared PAFL buss. The R72 for example would make an excellent sidecar controller – think 12 extra independent strips x 6 banks, 8 extra softkeys?, extra monitor/touch control, scene control… etc. Think of it as Editor but with real controls.

    @ MrB – it’s not the number of possible strips available, but the number available on one layer that is more an issue when programming scenes on a Theatre style show. Take 30 or so radio mic systems + Orchestra and stage mic’s etc on a T112 where you want to program levels, DCA/Group assignments, monitor & FX levels then you end up needing to flip banks non stop and thats even if you use the soft keys to access aux’s/fx mix’s etc. Editor is a big help here to check things visually but I find it slower and less accurate to use with a mouse (oldish dude here!) Remember with a surface you can push up a bunch of channel faders at once using both hands, quickly get them very close to the correct levels, and store the scene. If on the other hand Editor was setup with a decent multitouch remodel then I’d be all over it on a large touchscreen! Might be a better option all round – A&H???

    Cheers

    Richard Howey
    Audio Dynamite Ltd
    IDR48/IDR16/T112/R72/Mixpad,Tweak,
    Dual M-Dante/DVS, 17″MBP/Logic 9/Custom Mackie Control

    #32932
    Profile photo of ceejay
    ceejay
    Participant

    quote:


    Originally posted by Stix

    If on the other hand Editor was setup with a decent multitouch remodel then I’d be all over it on a large touchscreen! Might be a better option all round – A&H???


    +1.
    That is a game changer, and a great option.

    CRJ
    Oswego, IL

    T112 & iDR48
    Sony F 1.73GHZ I7 8 Core
    Win 7 Pro 500GB HD 8G RAM
    TP-Link WR1043ND & Airport Express

    #32934
    Profile photo of woutert
    woutert
    Participant

    quote:


    Originally posted by antonyja

    …It may be worth noting that V1.9 did add some of the work that would be necessary for dual surface…


    Hi Anthony,

    Thanks for this info. It’s a relief to read your comments on this subject. Good to know that some developments in this direction were done already.

    I personally would be very interested in the ‘control only’ option for a FOH-MON split where a user limits himself to 32 channel use.
    Not only a poor man’s solution, but less gear, less cabling, which sometimes is just what we are looking for :-)
    I’d honestly consider buying a second surface only for that reason. Happy to share PAFL, TB I’ll use a normal input channel for that. Completely no audio to the MON desk would even be ok as my MON guy would be sitting next to the MixRack.

    Multitouch editor would also be a game changer, but hey, you don’t earn anything with that at the moment. Personally I wouldn’t be offended if you’d add multitouch capability as a paid option to editor. Especially if the license model were linked to a single MixRack (with as many editors as needed) rather than a single copy of editor.

    By the way, I had a nice talk to Allen&Heath people during ISE. (@Martijn)

    Wouter
    IDR32, R72, Dante, Mixpad
    laptop, TP-Link TL-WR1043ND

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