ASIO ethernet interfaces - Focusrite / MOTU

I’m looking for a new interface system for Nuendo.

I’d like something modern that can be connected through Ethernet, as i think it is a great feature for interface sharing between DAW workstations.

I will go deeper saying that pro interfaces that do not support Ethernet connection will rapidly loose market share from now. (RME please wake up :slight_smile: )

It seems that there is not yet a deep offering on this hardware stuff now, but i did find two open products :

  • Focusrite Rednet

  • MOTU AVB


    Did someone try those interfaces ? Are they working flawlessly with Nuendo ?

Motu is using AVB protocol (Audio video bridging). This is an IEEE 802.1 standard.

From Wikipedia :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_over_Ethernet#Layer_2_protocols

“Layer 2 protocols encapsulate audio data in standard Ethernet packets. Most can make use of standard Ethernet hubs and switches though some require that the network (or at least a VLAN) be dedicated to the audio distribution application.”

Focusrite is using Dante, a proprietary iso level 3 protocol. So theoretically it can be used through Internet thanks to the IP transport.

From Wikipedia :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_over_Ethernet#Layer_3_protocols

"Layer 3 audio over Ethernet protocols encapsulate audio data in Open Systems Interconnection model (OSI model) Layer 3 (Network Layer) packets. By definition it does not limit the choice of protocol to be the most popular Layer 3 protocol - the Internet Protocol (IP). In some implementations, the Layer 3 audio data packets are further packaged inside OSI model Layer 4 (Transport Layer) packets, which is usually the User Datagram Protocol (UDP). Use of the UDP/IP protocol to carry audio data enables them to be distributed through standard computer routers, thus a large distribution audio network can be built economically using commercial off-the-shelf equipment.

Although by definition, IP packets can traverse the Internet, the Layer 3 audio over Ethernet protocols are not designed to traverse the Internet and provide reliable audio transmission due to the limited bandwidth and significant transmission delay usually encountered by data flow over the Internet. Due to similar reason, transmission of Layer 3 audio over wireless LAN are also not supported by most implementations."


Both protocols can be connected through standard Ethernet switches.

DANTE can theorically be used through Internet, and perhaps AVB too using an Ethernet tunnel. But this use is not recommended because the protocols have not been designed with Internet packet drops and latency in mind.


It is important when choosing such an Ethernet interface that the manufacturer provide reliable drivers for common systems. This give the possibility to use the same interfaces for all connected DAWs in the studio regardless the hardware and software used on those DAWs.


Ideally each daw software should have a driver set for AVB, so that there is no more driver dependency from the interface manufacturer.

Comments are welcome. Thanks for helping.

RME now makes MADI boxes with Ethernet connector.

But beware, it would very much surprise me if any manufacturer comes up with a connection throug standard ethernet. That is asking for -a lot of troubles-. So whatever you choose, DANTE or MADI, be sure that the run on a separate network/cabling.

Fredo

Yes it is important to have at least a separate VLAN with QOS enabled on it so that audio packets do have priority over normal data packets in the switch backplane.

Most mid range Ethernet switches do allow that.

Dante is proprietary. I would prefer an AVB interface.

If you are talking about the RME MADI router, it is MADI over twisted pair (i suppose CAT6 cable).

So it is proprietary level 1 and cannot be switched over Ethernet switches. The only thing that can be used is cat6 cabling, if your studio do have that. But you’ll need to take care that it is straight cabling between MADi routers RJ45 connectors without ethernet switching in the path.

There are two SFP ports that can receive Ethernet copper or fiber transmitters, but they are reserved for “futur use”.

Waves have a new system available now as well - DigiGrid IOS.
http://www.waves.com/hardware/digigrid-ios#introducing-digigrid-ios-iox-ioc

This gives you 4 Ethernet ports so allows connection of up to 4 DAW - one main & 3 additional, 8 in/out analogue, AES, SP-DIF & Co-axial, plus you get the StudioRack plugin that runs on both the on-board i3 CPU or natively, over a mixture of both and best of all it is totally interchangeable with other DAW and platforms, as StudioRack will run as best it can on the system it gets loaded on.
The plugin gets you 8 slots for SoundGrid enabled plugins (currently waves only but may be extended to 3rd party I suspect) and runs in host DAW or the bundled eMotion mixer and patchbay interface that is all in the Sound Grid interface along with details of any/all connected hardware.
Downsides? It’s not cheap ($3800 or £2700), no surround support & no ultra high res (96kHz is the limit) although personally I can generally live without 192kHz, we get supplied transfers from tape at this resolution for Blu-ray usage so when combined with the lack of 5.1, even though I want to love it I am struggling right now and am still on my trusty old RME setup.
That said, it’s a great concept & I like it - Dante cards not needed either, as they are in the Focusrite system.

I agree that this is definitely in the cards at the consumer level for the future (pardon the pun!). For now current AVB solutions are corporate and priced for them (AVB enabled NIC for about $700, IIRC). AVB was apparently a popular subject at NAMM this year. If you look at the Wikipedia page on AVB you’ll see a picture of the kind of rediculous cabling AVB has been developed to solve and it’s a far cry from the piddly connectivity most of us need in our studios. At this point I’d be wary of jumping into any specialized solution; I’m sure more options will be appearing over the next few years.