Studio Pro-Audio

Singapore’s Ngee Ann Polytechnic transitions to Dante Audio

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 13:43

Sound studios at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore


Ngee Ann Polytechnic, a higher educational institution in Singapore with nearly 15,000 full-time students, has deployed a Dante Audio over IP network from Audinate to simplify the creation of a self-contained “black box-style” recording space with live performance and audiovisual production capabilities for students.

Conceptualized by Kim Lau, formerly senior manager of AV technology for the Ngee Ann Polytechnic and now an adviser, the transition to Dante from legacy interconnections and EtherSound solved the integration and budgetary challenges of building a second digital studio to complement an existing hybrid recording space running on an Avid system. Instead, Dante helped to expedite the creation of a single production area split into four areas: two isolation booths running digital audio workstations; one live sound area with house mixers for musical workshops and practice; and another area equipped with Mac workstations for recording projects.

Kim’s goal was to establish a larger space for students to record and mix projects in a way that mimics a real-world professional recording studio. He also wanted to design an infrastructure that could easily incorporate video signals and lighting for live production purposes, with a common network to transport audio, video and control signals between locations. In his design, Dante shares a dedicated VLAN with control signals without any disruption to Dante’s reliability or digital audio quality.

“We saved a significant amount of time and money by deploying Dante, which removed any need to pull XLR cables or multicore from booth to booth. The Dante network uses five interconnection points and an off-the-shelf master switch, and that’s it,” stated Mr Lau. “The limitations of EtherSound meant that we relied on the various bridge and interface devices to move signals, with limited capacity,” said Lau. “We transitioned from a daisy chained architecture to true digital audio networking. Dante clearly provided the low latency, flexibility and capacity we needed to achieve our goals. Dante’s Layer 3 backbone also gives us the flexibility to distribute signals outside of the self-contained recording space to performance venues, which is a benefit we expect to take advantage of shortly.”

The recording space, built around an Avid S6 console and ProTools, incorporates a Dante-enabled DAD AX32 I/O interface, with Dante Virtual Soundcard running on all five Macs. The live sound space utilises two Dante-enabled mixers, a DiGiCo S21 and a Yamaha Q1, complemented by a Rio 1608-D stage box to support all I/O connectivity.

“Dante Virtual Soundcard has been very convenient for everyone, as it removes the need to use a dedicated audio interface,” said Mr Lau. “We can route sound from any of the Mac workstations to the house system, all over the Dante network. At the same time, Dante has removed much of the burden traditionally associated with digital monitoring in conventional audio production, where we would have to rely on clocking locked into a specific sample rate. We can now connect to various devices for monitoring with ease over the Dante network, and even support varied sample rates.” The latter is especially useful for students working on individual devices. In most cases, the live sound space runs at 48kHz and recording at 96kHz. This can create a very complex situation as users manage and monitor signals with varied sample rates over a common network.

“Even with everyone working on separate devices, Dante recognises these varying rates and cleanly synchronises all of them on the network,” said Mr Lau. “That is a huge benefit. From start to finish, Dante has made my life a lot easier.”