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Author Topic: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live  (Read 1039 times)

Mark Scrivener

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Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« on: April 03, 2023, 01:17:15 AM »

OK, this is really living on the edge, but entertain me for a moment.

If one were to use one or more Dante stage boxes (Yamaha Tio1608-D, Allen & Heath DT168, etc) and connect it directly to a laptop running Dante Virtual sound card and the DAW of your choice (say Reaper with only native plugs), would this work? And what type of end to end latency do you think this would provide?

I realize the potential for a crash, but several of the consoles out there are really Linux boxes inside, and one could build a Linux machine for this (Intel NUC, or even a laptop, touch screen, etc). While I wouldn't show up to a big dollar gig with a system like this, it could be just the ticket for some install setups or even a band that wanted to emulate the sound of their recording sessions live. I've read about people doing live shows with DAWs before, but didn't really think about using Dante stage boxes with such a setup until now.

I'm sure this will be a controversial topic, but I'm really curious, would this work? Are people doing it? I guess you could call it a roll your own Waves LV1 setup.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2023, 03:44:08 AM by Mark Scrivener »
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Helge A Bentsen

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2023, 06:40:14 AM »

No reason it shouldn't work on the Dante side, your main challenge would be preamp gain.
There is a rather large music show on tv over here that's mixed in Pro Tools in the OB truck.
They have plenty of rehearsals of course, but the show is live on tape mixed in a DAW.
OB truck also feeds backstage/wardrobe monitoring and stem mixes orchestra parts(if any) and tracks (lots) for the PA mixer.
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Mark Scrivener

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2023, 02:31:45 PM »

No reason it shouldn't work on the Dante side, your main challenge would be preamp gain.

Yep, I figured that part might be a bit klugey since you would have to open a separate program to set preamp gains. Then again, it might be possible from a plugin within the DAW

Quote
There is a rather large music show on tv over here that's mixed in Pro Tools in the OB truck.
They have plenty of rehearsals of course, but the show is live on tape mixed in a DAW.
OB truck also feeds backstage/wardrobe monitoring and stem mixes orchestra parts(if any) and tracks (lots) for the PA mixer.

Funny you should mention broadcast. Someone told me Dante Virtual Soundcard (in their experience) requires large buffers and thus introduces too much latency, so they were only using it for broadcast/streaming.

Matthew Knischewsky

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2023, 03:09:41 PM »

Yep, I figured that part might be a bit klugey since you would have to open a separate program to set preamp gains. Then again, it might be possible from a plugin within the DAW

Funny you should mention broadcast. Someone told me Dante Virtual Soundcard (in their experience) requires large buffers and thus introduces too much latency, so they were only using it for broadcast/streaming.

For Yamaha TIO/RIO the program to control the preamps is R Remote.

Lowest latency supported on DVS is 4ms. Likely not a problem for live FOH but it WOULD be a problem for IEMs. Wedges... maybe. Then there's the latency that the DAW would introduce.

https://dev.audinate.com/GA/dvs/userguide/webhelp/content/dante_latency.htm

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Tim Weaver

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2023, 05:31:16 PM »

Tio/Rio boxes can be used like any other interface on a computer. I wouldn't even call it that flakey since its running over TCP-IP and that is pretty reliable.

The round trip latency over dante is small, except when you introduce a computer running DVS, then it can be up to 10ms. In use it's usually much lower than that, but still not usable for iems. I would fine mixing FOH on it though as long as the DAW latency is managed well.

Using Reaper with built in plugs is also a good idea. Low demand, low latency, high reliability. And the stock rea-plugs are good.
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Mark Scrivener

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2023, 06:52:21 PM »

Thanks Matthew and Tim. So it sounds like DVS is the main latency contributor. Any good, low latency Dante to say USB boxes that might solve this problem?

Tim McCulloch

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2023, 07:54:47 PM »

Thanks Matthew and Tim. So it sounds like DVS is the main latency contributor. Any good, low latency Dante to say USB boxes that might solve this problem?

The Codec that syncs Dante, and the AD/DA conversion has a minimum overhead of 4ms.  You ain't breaking' the laws of physics, Mr. Scott.

If you need less, go analog.
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Mark Scrivener

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2023, 08:24:54 PM »

The Codec that syncs Dante, and the AD/DA conversion has a minimum overhead of 4ms.  You ain't breaking' the laws of physics, Mr. Scott.

If you need less, go analog.

I would think sync would be the main contributor. AD/DA could be as fast as a single sample time. Note that several modern digital desks claim <1ms analog to analog. Not that we really need that fast, a few msec should be fine (total latency). So is the 4ms minimum one way or round trip? If it is round trip then it should be ok. If that is one way, coupled with some possible latency from the computer/DAW and you are around 10ms total.....enough to drive someone with IEM's nuts.

Tim Weaver

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2023, 08:41:21 PM »

4ms round trip for DVS as far as I can tell.

It's because you are doing the in/out (it's not AD/DA at this point) via software emulation using the built in ethernet NIC and not with dedicated hardware.

I have a PC with the Focusrite Rednet PCIeR card in it and it has extremely low round trip latency. I use it for plugins on my desk. Of course this is a 900 dollar dedicated soundcard. It better have low latency.
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Matthew Knischewsky

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2023, 09:54:33 AM »

Any good, low latency Dante to say USB boxes that might solve this problem?

If there were a device that did this I would imagine this would be past the point of diminishing returns of using Dante for this. Dante is great for a lot of things but low latency straight into a DAW is a limitation. Some associates who are building a studio chose to use Merging Horus interfaces/MADI in their set-up over anything Dante due to latency concerns. I'm not privy to every factor that went into decision this but it's safe to say that being economical was not on their list of considerations. If you're set on using a DAW with low(er) latency it looks like Dante is not the way to go.
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Tim Weaver

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2023, 11:11:01 AM »

If there were a device that did this I would imagine this would be past the point of diminishing returns of using Dante for this. Dante is great for a lot of things but low latency straight into a DAW is a limitation. Some associates who are building a studio chose to use Merging Horus interfaces/MADI in their set-up over anything Dante due to latency concerns. I'm not privy to every factor that went into decision this but it's safe to say that being economical was not on their list of considerations. If you're set on using a DAW with low(er) latency it looks like Dante is not the way to go.


ou can get low latency in and out of a computer. You just have to use the proper hardware. I paid 900 for this card two years ago. Now it's a bit more than that it seems.

This makes your computer as fast as any other dante device but you still have the latency that the DAW itself will add to the system.
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Russell Ault

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2023, 03:25:46 PM »

The Codec that syncs Dante, and the AD/DA conversion has a minimum overhead of 4ms. {...}

Sorry Tim, what? The 4 ms minimum latency only applies to VSC (or 10 ms for Via), which helps to compensate for the fact that VSC (and Via) are running on user-provided network interfaces. Latency on actual Dante hardware defaults to 1 ms, and the minimum setting for more powerful Dante chips is 150 Ķs.

ou can get low latency in and out of a computer. You just have to use the proper hardware. I paid 900 for this card two years ago. Now it's a bit more than that it seems.
{...}

Huh, I had ASSumed that all PCIe Dante cards would go away when Audinate discontinued their reference card; glad to see that someone is still making them (although it's too bad they're being sold for "proper RedNet" prices now).

{...} Any good, low latency Dante to say USB boxes that might solve this problem?

In addition to Tim W's suggestion, RME (who are known for their high-stability, low-latency drivers) make a Dante USB3 interface called the Digiface Dante, although it's even more expensive than the Focusrite PCIe card and it only supports half the number of Dante channels.

{...} I realize the potential for a crash, but several of the consoles out there are really Linux boxes inside, {...}

Just to clarify something, while many current consoles are running some flavour of either Linux (or Windows), the vast majority are not doing any actual audio processing within the operating system environment. Instead, the audio processing is done using dedicated hardware (typically some flavour of DSP, although a couple manufacturers extol the virtues of using FPGAs instead), with Linux (etc.) only being used for the UI. The only current exceptions to this I can think of off the top of my head are Waves SoundGrid servers (which run on a highly-optimized Linux installation) and Avid S6Ls (which run on a highly-optimized third-party re-working of Windows called RTX); almost as important as the high-customized operating system is that both platforms only run on very specific hardware.

In a nutshell, the problem with mixing live audio "in-the-box" is that the latency budget is so short (even for FOH) that there isn't enough margin-for-error for a general-purpose operating system running on a general purpose computer (with all the attendant background tasks and interrupts) to be able to reliably guarantee that "the next sample" will always be ready for delivery to output device. This is where the value of real-time operating systems really starts to show, but real-time operating systems have their own limitations (hardware in particular), and you don't have to go very far down that road before you quickly lose sight of "easy and cheap".

Of course, you can mix a band live on a laptop using a DAW and a low-latency audio interface, and with a little bit of tweaking (at a minimum, turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) such a setup can probably achieve "good enough" most of the time. Just always be prepared for it to fail unexpectedly between soundcheck and the show.

-Russ
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Matthew Knischewsky

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2023, 04:03:50 PM »


ou can get low latency in and out of a computer. You just have to use the proper hardware. I paid 900 for this card two years ago. Now it's a bit more than that it seems.

This makes your computer as fast as any other dante device but you still have the latency that the DAW itself will add to the system.

Is there a way to get this to work with a laptop as the OP requested? Not trying to be smart, I would honestly like to know. I moved away from PCI cards years ago when MOTU stopped supporting Audiowire and went Firewire... that's how long it's been.

For the cost of a TIO and a RedNet card plus the laptop we are firmly in small console territory.
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Russell Ault

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2023, 04:38:58 PM »

Is there a way to get this to work with a laptop as the OP requested? Not trying to be smart, I would honestly like to know. I moved away from PCI cards years ago when MOTU stopped supporting Audiowire and went Firewire... that's how long it's been.

For the cost of a TIO and a RedNet card plus the laptop we are firmly in small console territory.

The RME Digiface Dante unit I mentioned is a USB3 interface and would work just fine with a laptop (I've also heard of people with laptops using the PCIe card in a Thunderbolt enclosure). But, as you say, by the time you've bought the Tio and the Dante interface (let alone the pretty beefy laptop), you're well into SQ5 money (i.e. something that will be lower latency, more reliable, and has actual faders).

It think the only real cost advantage to be realized using such a system is to skip network audio entirely and just use a "plain old" USB audio interface (ideally something you already have lying around).

-Russ
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Tim Weaver

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2023, 06:01:39 PM »

Is there a way to get this to work with a laptop as the OP requested? Not trying to be smart, I would honestly like to know. I moved away from PCI cards years ago when MOTU stopped supporting Audiowire and went Firewire... that's how long it's been.

For the cost of a TIO and a RedNet card plus the laptop we are firmly in small console territory.

Iím no computer expert, but I do know there are outboard pci cages that can be used over usb or sata. Iíve never used one though.
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Mark Scrivener

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2023, 02:05:02 AM »

The RME Digiface Dante unit I mentioned is a USB3 interface and would work just fine with a laptop (I've also heard of people with laptops using the PCIe card in a Thunderbolt enclosure). But, as you say, by the time you've bought the Tio and the Dante interface (let alone the pretty beefy laptop), you're well into SQ5 money (i.e. something that will be lower latency, more reliable, and has actual faders).

It think the only real cost advantage to be realized using such a system is to skip network audio entirely and just use a "plain old" USB audio interface (ideally something you already have lying around).

-Russ

For a "stage box" I guess one could use a USB interface of choice plus laptop, then remote control the DAW on that laptop.

But I totally agree, a real console is a much better solution. This was more an academic curiosity as I had heard of people mixing shows on a DAW, the Waves solution is kinda a DAW, and I could see some bands seeing it as a cheap way to replicate their studio sound live.

So while possible (and I'm sure some people do it), it still sounds problematic. But interesting discussion and thanks to everyone who has contributed. I've never had a need for Dante so my knowledge in this area is rather thin.

Iím no computer expert, but I do know there are outboard pci cages that can be used over usb or sata. Iíve never used one though.

Yes, people mainly use them to host GPU cards on laptops.

Helge A Bentsen

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2023, 05:51:06 AM »

One option for a lowish latency system is a Midas DL251 feeding a DN9650 with a USB option card.
You'll have to downgrade firmware on the DL251 and install the old Snake controller software to access preamp gain, but you'll get 48 ins and 16 outs this way.
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Matthew Knischewsky

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2023, 10:10:26 AM »

For a "stage box" I guess one could use a USB interface of choice plus laptop, then remote control the DAW on that laptop.

But I totally agree, a real console is a much better solution. This was more an academic curiosity as I had heard of people mixing shows on a DAW, the Waves solution is kinda a DAW, and I could see some bands seeing it as a cheap way to replicate their studio sound live.

So while possible (and I'm sure some people do it), it still sounds problematic. But interesting discussion and thanks to everyone who has contributed. I've never had a need for Dante so my knowledge in this area is rather thin.

Yes, people mainly use them to host GPU cards on laptops.

Way back when there was a product called "Software Audio console" (looks like it is still available): https://www.rmllabs.com/MainSite/sac.html

When it first appeared it was considerably more powerful than the available digital consoles of the day, and users could choose their own I/O interfaces or use what they already had. There was some discussion about it on these forums at the time, I had briefly considered it but didn't go that route. 
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Tim Weaver

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2023, 10:40:42 AM »

Way back when there was a product called "Software Audio console" (looks like it is still available): https://www.rmllabs.com/MainSite/sac.html

When it first appeared it was considerably more powerful than the available digital consoles of the day, and users could choose their own I/O interfaces or use what they already had. There was some discussion about it on these forums at the time, I had briefly considered it but didn't go that route.


I've often wondered if anyone is still using this. Or if it was updated at all.
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Mark Scrivener

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2023, 03:03:50 PM »

Way back when there was a product called "Software Audio console" (looks like it is still available): https://www.rmllabs.com/MainSite/sac.html

When it first appeared it was considerably more powerful than the available digital consoles of the day, and users could choose their own I/O interfaces or use what they already had. There was some discussion about it on these forums at the time, I had briefly considered it but didn't go that route.


I've often wondered if anyone is still using this. Or if it was updated at all.

Oh wow. I had some vague memory of a program for live mixing but wasn't sure if it was real or if I was imagining it. Thanks. Yes, I wonder if anyone is still using it. From the looks of the website it doesn't appear to have been updated in a long time.

Tim Weaver

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #20 on: April 05, 2023, 03:16:15 PM »

Oh wow. I had some vague memory of a program for live mixing but wasn't sure if it was real or if I was imagining it. Thanks. Yes, I wonder if anyone is still using it. From the looks of the website it doesn't appear to have been updated in a long time.

It's real and quite a few people used it for a while. If I remember correctly Elton John did a long run in Vegas and used a SAC setup. It was a good alternative to a large format digital console before there were a lot of choice in large format digital's out there.
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Russell Ault

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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
« Reply #21 on: April 05, 2023, 04:40:19 PM »

{...} the Waves solution is kinda a DAW {...}

Just a clarification: when using a SoundGrid server, Waves LV1 isn't all that much different from an A&H, DiGiCo, or Soundcraft Vi-seires (etc.), since all of the audio processing takes place on dedicated hardware, and general-purpose computers/OSes are only used for the UI.

-Russ
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Re: Dante Stage boxes and a DAW - Live
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