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Allen & Heath's Dante Card Provides Audio Flexibility for Florida Church

Like many house-of-worship facilities with a strong media ministry, First Baptist Church, of Altamonte Springs, Florida, was anxious to upgrade its audio system. With an Allen & Heath iLive digital mixing console already in place, the church was interested in expanding the system's extensive capabilities in a way that would simplify training of its volunteer audio staff. John Williams, worship and media director for the church, engaged Entertainment Arts, an Orlando-based design and integration firm, to find and integrate a cost-effective solution.

Allen & Heath now offers the M-DANTE card, a plug-and-play audio networking solution for its popular iLive mixing infrastructure. This solution uses the Dante protocol, an Ethernet-based digital audio networking system by Audinate. In essence, Dante provides full 64-channel bi-directional signal routing between the iLive's MixRack I/O center and an external Ethernet device via a single CAT5 cable. The Dante card streams a full split of the console's inputs between the MixRack and the destination device. For First Baptist Church of Altamonte Springs, that destination was a computer with recording software, enabling discrete 64-by-64 channel recording and playback.

"We love being able to multi-track record our rehearsals and worship services," reports Williams. "With Dante's Virtual Sound Check, we can actually go back and adjust the monitor mix for the praise team members without holding up the rehearsal. It's also great for training our volunteer tech ministry. By playing back the full multi-track recording, our team members can re-produce the entire original performance and learn to operate the iLive console without the pressure of doing it during rehearsals or services. It's a phenomenal tool."

The Dante protocol leverages common Ethernet connectivity over a standard IP computer network to deliver full-bandwidth audio with latency of less than one millisecond, whether using a 100MB or a full Gigabit connection. The key to its flexibility is the inherent bi-directional nature of the connection, which means that a full signal split can be sent out from the iLive console to an external device (in this case, a computer with recording software), while also allowing the full signal path to be returned to the originating iLive system for mixdown or playback.

The Dante card comes complete with a license for Audinate's Virtual Soundcard software, which turn's a computer's Ethernet port into an audio interface with plug-and-play simplicity. The Allen & Heath Dante module enables flexible routing and distribution of audio between devices on an existing computer network while eliminating the technical challenge of IP configuration from the process. The M-DANTE card can be ordered as an option on any new Allen & Heath iLive digital mixing console, or can retrofitted into any Allen & Heath iDR MixRack to significantly expand its functionality.

Williams sums it up this way: "Thanks to Allen & Heath and Audinate, we now have an extreme amount of flexibility in our audio system. And if you're in an A/V ministry, that's what it's all about."


(13 October 2011)

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