Any drawbacks to Dante DT168 expander?

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Zach Zach 1 month, 1 week ago.

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  • #120040
    Profile photo of Zach
    Zach
    Participant

    We’re planning to purchase an SQ and are trying to decide between Dante DT168 and non-Dante expanders (DX168, GX4816, etc). We do NOT expect to utilize the benefits of Dante’s flexibility right away. We would have a short, point-to-point connection between our SQ surface and the expander, so non-Dante expanders would meet our immediate needs.

    Perhaps in a few years we might send audio over our existing IP network and start utilizing Dante’s flexibility, but we don’t have definite plans to do that yet. The only reason we’d go with Dante expanders now is for future-proofing, and since we don’t have definite plans, we’re leaning toward a regular DX168 setup.

    What drawbacks are there if we go with a Dante expander and never utilize the Dante mapping features, and just use it like a regular expander? Obviously Dante is more expensive. What else? More latency? Extra complexity? (I’m assuming no extra complexity — I’m assuming the Dante expanders work out of the box and don’t require Dante Controller mapping unless you want to remap inputs, but I could be wrong.)

    #120051
    Profile photo of SteffenR
    SteffenR
    Participant

    As far as I know, you need the Dante Controller for the initial setup. After that, it should be plug and play.

    #120052
    Profile photo of Nicola A&H
    Nicola A&H
    Keymaster

    Steffen is correct, you will need Dante Controller for initial set up of routing and Dante clock settings. Yes latency is slightly higher (default 1ms, min 250us, while DX is under 100us). Perhaps obvious but you will need a Dante card in the SQ to connect to a DT168.

    #120055
    Profile photo of Zach
    Zach
    Participant

    Good to know about the need for Dante Controller. Would it be as simple as installing Dante Controller and sticking with the default 1:1 Dante mapping if that’s all we need? Or is there no default mapping and we’d need to configure the initial 1:1 mapping ourselves? (which I know should be mostly straightforward even if we have to do that — just trying to understand how “plug-in-play” it is compared to a DX expander)

    #120059
    Profile photo of Hugh
    Hugh
    Participant

    I respect questions pursuant to evaluating the existing options in audio gear: better to get clarification of limitations and advantages before your actual purchase.

    1) With that said the primary question you need to resolve is whether or not a 48 channel input limit will meet your present, and likely future, needs.
    2) If so the SQs are absolutely your best option. The next decision is how many faders do you really need to manage up to 48 inputs? Given the fact that grouping and DCAs are available with the layers why would anyone really need more than the SQ5s 16 faders?
    3) Will sound reinforcement be your main activity or is providing the front end for project studio work a definite possibility.

    For studio work either a Waves card or a Dante card will be needed to conduct detailed studio work. (There are a significant number of ancillary devices that need to be acquired to properly implement either option) If IEM monitoring options for live performance will be needed the GX4816 will be your best bet to work with a SQ5 when either a Waves or Dante card is deployed in it’s single port.
    I have a waves card in my SQ5 and deploy a DX32 with 8 Prime I/Os and two banks of M-AIN D-Live pres. However I cannot facilitate the ME protocol for IEM monitoring. This is the gear that best suits my work flow however your needs will dictate the gear you actually need.
    Hugh

    #120063
    Profile photo of tourtelot
    tourtelot
    Participant

    Zach- Once you have set up the routing in your Dante network, you can disconnect the computer/Dante Controller and the devices will remember the settings. I would advise keeping a copy of Dante Controller in the vicinity, just in case, but you could run an SQ with a Dante card and a, let’s say, DT168 simply connected with one piece of Cat cable easily.

    D.

    #120070
    Profile photo of Brian
    Brian
    Participant

    Here is my 2 cents on the question. These are just my personal opinions.

    The connection between the console and the stage I/O is the most critical connection in the entire system IMHO. It will stop the show 100% of the time if it fails. Therefore I would never use a DT box when I could get the same results from a DX box. The DX box is more reliable, easier to diagnose if something does go wrong, and has a lower latency times. Combined with the fact that by simply installing a Dante card in the console I could route any of the DX I/O through a Dante network, I see very few reasons to choose DT over DX/GX.

    As far as reliability, there are really only two ways a DX connection can fail – the network cable itself or a hardware failure in the box or console (which is very unlikely). It is obviously very easy to troubleshoot these scenarios. On the other hand, Dante is much more complex with a lot more points of failures. You have all the potential DX failure points but you also have individual Dante device settings, individual device clock setting, network hardware devices that can fail, network hardware settings, Dante routing settings, and other places where a failure or incorrect setting can cause issues. This can also make diagnosing a Dante problem much harder because there are so many different places an error or failure could be occurring. It makes for a much more frustrating situation, especially because many of these errors only cause an intermittent problem and not a full failure.

    There are some situations where using a DT box might be necessary. First, if I have maxed out the total amount of I/O permitted through DX/GX boxes, you could still add more Dante I/O. (However I would still default to using DX boxes first). Second, if the system was being installed in a large facility with distributed Dante everywhere and a situation where this particular I/O box is going to need to be accessed by other Dante devices across the facility at any given moment, then using a DT box would be more appropriate. Examples might be a large school/university campus, or a large audio studio with multiple control rooms and performance rooms, or a very large church facility with daily audio needs, etc, etc, etc. Keep in mind that a DX/GX box can work just fine in these scenarios as long as someone turns on the console that the DX/GX box is connected to. That may not be convenient on these large campuses and it’s these specific situations where using a DT box over a DX/GX box might make sense.

    The one “benefit” to using a DT box that you will hear is the argument that you can use a DT box to provide I/O to non-A&H systems. This is true (although again you can hook an A&H console into a Dante network and have access to all of it’s I/O). However the big downfall to using a DT box like this is the fact that you are forced to use the A&H Preamp software on a computer connected to the Dante network in order to have control of the preamp settings (gain, phantom power, polarity, etc). It would be extremely annoying to have to use this external software on a different device to control these settings however. So much so that it is probably better to simply sell your A&H gear and switch over to the other manufacturer’s gear if you are switching brands. In other words, buying a DT box “just in case” you decide to switch console brands in the future is not a valid reason to buy DT boxes IMHO. Using a DT box with another console brand is going to be an extremely frustrating experience.

    #120075
    Profile photo of Zach
    Zach
    Participant

    Brian, you bring up an interesting point I didn’t think about:

    Combined with the fact that by simply installing a Dante card in the console I could route any of the DX I/O through a Dante network…

    Are you saying even if we used DX/GX boxes, we could still send bus outputs over a Dante network by adding a Dante card to the SQ? That would probably be our main use of Dante, instead of pulling our inputs in over Dante.

    #120088
    Profile photo of Brian
    Brian
    Participant

    Are you saying even if we used DX/GX boxes, we could still send bus outputs over a Dante network by adding a Dante card to the SQ? That would probably be our main use of Dante, instead of pulling our inputs in over Dante.

    Yes, by adding a Dante card to the console, you can send any of the console’s I/O and busses through the Dante system. The biggest difference between using this method vs a Dante stage box is that the Dante stage box will always appear on the Dante network as long as it is powered on. In order to have access to the console’s connected I/O, the console would obviously have to be powered on. In other words, if you have a DT168 box powered on stage, but the console is off, that I/O will still appear on the Dante network and be available for other Dante devices. If you have a DX168 powered on stage, that I/O won’t appear on the Dante network unless the console is also powered on. For 98% of the use cases, this is perfectly acceptable because the console will always be turned on when that I/O is needed on the Dante network.

    #120089
    Profile photo of Zach
    Zach
    Participant

    Brian, thanks for clarifying and for the detailed info. That would work for our future expansion. So, considering costs and complexity of our options, it sounds like DX boxes would be the way to go, and then purchasing a Dante card for the board if we need to expand to Dante in the future.

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