Touring – Dante or Slink?

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This topic contains 13 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of nottooloud nottooloud 2 months, 1 week ago.

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
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  • #119186
    Profile photo of tablatom
    tablatom
    Participant

    Hi there,
    going to be touring with a band soon in some halls holding around 2500, but also some outdoor events for the same size audience.
    I will use probably 2 SQ’s, but maybe 2 Avantis’s or 2 Dlives.

    The mixers at this stage will be hired, but eventually we may buy them.

    Wondering if its best to get the mixers with Dante option card or a Slink/giga-ace option card? When we play at theatres with a house PA system, i guess Dante is very flexible and i can patch into it and use the FOH house mixer via the A&H mixer and also the stage boxes if they too are Dante.

    I haven’t toured at such big venues before so i don’t know how many will have Ethernet connections at FOH mix position and the stage to plug our mixers into if we can’t run our own ethernet cables for Slink or Giga-Ace.

    When we do our own events outside then we will be making the whole PA system, so then A&H Slink or Giga-Ace would be preferable, though we could still use Dante.

    What do you do with this situation?
    Many thanks Tom.

    #119188
    Profile photo of Adethefade
    Adethefade
    Participant

    I’d say that Dante’s more flexible for sure. Having migrated to Dante (SQ) around 6 months ago it was definitely the right move, but there’s quite a learning curve involved, a few technical ‘trip-wires’ to watch out for, and you may well find yourself racking up network switches. I don’t regret it for a second but it wasn’t a pain-free transition.

    #119194
    Profile photo of Brian
    Brian
    Participant

    SLink/GigaAce will be more reliably and faster (less latency) than Dante. Personally I would want to tie all my devices together using that protocol when possible. If I also wanted to add Dante to have additional expansion possibilities, then I would add a Dante card. But relying on Dante for my stage box and inter-console connections wouldn’t be my first choice unless I was forced to use it (ie connecting to devices from other brands, etc).

    I would expect that most facilities are set up for analog and AES inputs to their system processors. I would be shocked if any facility only offered a Dante interface. AES would be the preferred method IMHO – even over Dante.

    PS – obviously someone should be advancing the tour with each venue and these types of questions should be asked/answered long before you arrive. That being said, I would never want to rely on the facility’s ethernet cable to connect my gear. You should be completely self sufficient when it comes to that kind of stuff IMHO.

    #119196
    Profile photo of Mike C
    Mike C
    Participant

    Like Brian was getting at, if your are going from venue to venue you want a plug a play option.
    I’m going to say 80% of the time they will be looking for analog outputs from your system.

    It sounds like you want to carry an on stage monitor mix and FOH mix, if that’s the case
    I would carry the complete system with stage box or boxes as a pre configured package and not depend on the venues stage boxes or even the cabling between the stage and FOH position.
    If your carrying a pre packaged system know how to trouble shoot and fix everything in that system.

    #119197
    Profile photo of tourtelot
    tourtelot
    Participant

    I have only used Dante and not on tour so my thoughts may not be apropos. But even if you are carrying a completely pre-packaged rig, why couldn’t Dante be the choice. Latency? I believe that Dante handles latency in a remarkable manner and that, I believe, would cause zero problems.

    So Dante panels, Dante stage boxes, a couple of Cisco SG300 switches and a couple of 100m reels of Cat cable? Cool thing about Dante (not including the fact that some venues, and more every day, are Dante enabled) is that as your rig grows, adding new devices to the Dante AoIP is super easy. As Adethefade says, there is a pretty steep learning curve for Dante, but since (I believe) Dante will be the standard AoIP in the future, you will not have wasted your time learning it, inside and out.

    D.

    #119200
    Profile photo of Brian
    Brian
    Participant

    But even if you are carrying a completely pre-packaged rig, why couldn’t Dante be the choice.

    For me it comes down to reliability and ease of use. The proprietary protocols are simply more stable than Dante – partly because they are “direct connections” meaning the only things that can go bad are the device’s ports themselves (which is extremely rare) and the ethernet cable (which is quick and easy to troubleshoot). Dante works great when it is working, but it requires more “things” to make it work and it’s complex enough that troubleshooting issues that do pop up can be a real hassle (is it the cable, or a setting in the switch, or the switch itself, or a setting in the Dante device, or a setting in Dante Controller, etc, etc,). Plus changing routing with Dante takes more steps and provides more opportunities to “get it wrong”. You don’t want an issue with the connections between your stage boxes and other consoles because that would literally be a show stopper. Therefore I am going to choose the most stable/least complicated option available for those types of connections. I’m not opposed to using Dante when I need to, but given a choice I am going to use the A&H protocols as much as I can and then only use Dante when I don’t have another choice.

    I’ll give you an example….. we use GigaAce to connect our stage boxes. Honestly I would never consider using Dante boxes for our use case. However I have previously used a monitor console that wasn’t A&H and we connected it via Dante. Once it was set up and working, we never had a problem with the reliability of the Dante connection and it wasn’t something that I worried about. However a major downside to using Dante in that role is that it was a real pain to change routing with it because you had to change it in three places (both consoles and the Dante Controller). Complicating the process was that some outputs were on the A&H gear and some outputs where on the second console. It could get really confusing, really fast! In fact, it was so easy to mess up that we eventually moved monitors back to our FOH console. Not because Dante was unreliable, but because it was a real pain to make changes quickly and accurately when needed. We didn’t have to make those changed very often, which probably added to the confusion. If it was something you were changing all the time, it would be easy to remember all the steps. When you only needed to make a change once every couple of months, it was easy to forget something.

    As far as latency, the proprietary A&H protocols are extremely fast (like 200μs or faster fast). That is definitely an important consideration as well.

    #119201
    Profile photo of Tobi
    Tobi
    Participant

    I Go with brian. SQ on Stage with Seconds slink Card, SQ on foh with Dante Card ONLY for virtual Soundcheck.

    #119202
    Profile photo of Brian
    Brian
    Participant

    PS – I greatly over estimated the latency of a GigaAce connection. It is only 5 samples which is 52μs (0.052ms).

    #119204
    Profile photo of tablatom
    tablatom
    Participant

    Thank you everyone for your replies.

    I am used to running a show from 1 desk. My desk is usually not very far from the stage. And i use an iPAD a lot, often mixing standing up in front of the musicians, or sitting down at the front of the audience if its a sitdown mellow gig.

    But these gigs i am asking about here are at much bigger venues, and so it seems the best option is that i must be at the traditional mix position far from the musicians, and so a monitor mixer is required.

    My initial thoughts were like what Mike C and Brian are suggesting, an all A&H system. My only concern is if some venues (very posh big theatres) don’t want a cable running from FOH mix position to the stage.
    If a venue has a quality ethernet cable (CAT6?) installed from stage to FOH mix position, maybe thats no more unreliable than an analogue snake?

    As i haven’t used Dante before i would also prefer not to have to learn it, but its very flexible, thanks for your input on Dante tourtelot and adethefade.

    TOBI, why use Dante for virtual sound check? If am going for an all A&H
    system won’t that do the job?

    #119205
    Profile photo of tourtelot
    tourtelot
    Participant

    “However a major downside to using Dante in that role is that it was a real pain to change routing with it because you had to change it in three places (both consoles and the Dante Controller). Complicating the process was that some outputs were on the A&H gear and some outputs were on the second console. It could get really confusing, really fast! In fact, it was so easy to mess up that we eventually moved monitors back to our FOH console. Not because Dante was unreliable, but because it was a real pain to make changes quickly and accurately when needed.”

    This is VERY true. So part of the reason that I recommend a Dante network is that I am extremely comfortable with Dante. I can certainly understand how daunting it might seem to implement Dante for someone starting out, and yes, probably not the best idea to try and squeeze the learning curve in before you start a tour. You do you!

    D.

    #119210
    Profile photo of tablatom
    tablatom
    Participant

    Yes indeed tourtelot, i do me :). Though i will have a couple of months before the tour, and i have a local guy i work for who is very well versed in Dante, so if i do go for it i’ll only do it if i have practised it a lot.
    But really, i’d prefer all A&H.

    #119223
    Profile photo of airickess
    airickess
    Participant

    I would also go with the SLink protocol. In the touring package I would include at least 4 ethernet to fiber converters and at least two fiber reels. SLink is limited in its effective working distance (100m, I think) over Cat5e. Using the fiber converters and fiber cable will give you plenty of length to handle SLink over great distances so you won’t have to worry about cable run length in any venue.
    I’ve used SLink over both Single Mode and Multi Mode fiber for a couple of years now (even going through fiberoptic patch bays) and it’s been 100% solid. Allen & Heath does have a fiber ACE expansion card for Avantis and DLive so the fiber can go directly into the console. You will have to use a converter at the other end as I don’t see any stage boxes with optional card slots.

    Choosing a console is important. The SQ series is limited to 48 input processing channels, so if you think you will have need of more processing input channels choose an Avantis (64 processing channels). The Avantis also has Shure and Sennheiser RF integration – SQ does not.

    #119227
    Profile photo of Tobi
    Tobi
    Participant

    > TOBI, why use Dante for virtual sound check? If am going for an
    > all A&H system won’t that do the job?

    With Giga-Ace Virtual Soundcheck is not possible as it cannot be conntected to PC. With SQ you can do virtual soundcheck with “on-board-stuff” up to 32 channels (SSD directly connected or USB-Interface to PC). Above that you need Dante or Waves.

    Avantis and D-Live do not have the USB-Option, so for virtual soundcheck you would need Dante or Waves at any point.

    Best Regards,
    Tobi

    #119287
    Profile photo of nottooloud
    nottooloud
    Participant

    With Giga-Ace Virtual Soundcheck is not possible as it cannot be conntected to PC.

    USB works just dandy for Virtual Soundcheck.

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