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Author Topic: Show wide networking help  (Read 7541 times)

Steven Barnes

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Show wide networking help
« on: January 17, 2011, 11:54:38 am »

With the industry moving to everything networkable I am looking for some information how to setup a robust yet flexible network for an audio rig on shows.

A typical show setup would include something like
-2 or more consoles (let figure 1- FOH and 1- MON for this experiment)
-6 L-Acoustics LA8 Amp Racks each rack has 3- Networked LA8's that will link through the amps(4-FOH and 2 MON)
-Processing rack at FOH system processor is networkable and will show up on any network it is attached to
- FOH Computer Rack to monitor amps and consoles and such.

Now comes the fun part this rig is needs to be flexible, as it will grow and shrink with the size of the show.

My thought it to have one main router with a hugh gain antenna in FOH computer rack that connects via ethernet to system processing, FOH console, and anything else at FOH. THe part I am wondering about is amp racks and monitor world stuff. I would prefer not to run cat5e to everything if possible. Is there some type of wireless unit that i can put in all of the amp racks and monitor console that will connect to the wireless network already established?

I know this is probably pretty vague, and I might just be looking for a good how to set of a robust network type article or website, but i think as the industry starts going this way networking is getting more and more important on shows.

Moderator feel free to move this if necessary.
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Tom Reid

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Re: Show wide networking help
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2011, 12:42:38 pm »

With the industry moving to everything networkable I am looking for some information how to setup a robust yet flexible network for an audio rig on shows.

A typical show setup would include something like
-2 or more consoles (let figure 1- FOH and 1- MON for this experiment)
-6 L-Acoustics LA8 Amp Racks each rack has 3- Networked LA8's that will link through the amps(4-FOH and 2 MON)
-Processing rack at FOH system processor is networkable and will show up on any network it is attached to
- FOH Computer Rack to monitor amps and consoles and such.

Now comes the fun part this rig is needs to be flexible, as it will grow and shrink with the size of the show.

My thought it to have one main router with a hugh gain antenna in FOH computer rack that connects via ethernet to system processing, FOH console, and anything else at FOH. THe part I am wondering about is amp racks and monitor world stuff. I would prefer not to run cat5e to everything if possible. Is there some type of wireless unit that i can put in all of the amp racks and monitor console that will connect to the wireless network already established?

I know this is probably pretty vague, and I might just be looking for a good how to set of a robust network type article or website, but i think as the industry starts going this way networking is getting more and more important on shows.

Moderator feel free to move this if necessary.

In the near future (depending on your pocket book) not only will you be using the network for control signals, but Ethernet (or some other protocol) will send your audio signals across the crowd via a fiber optic cable or Cat5.

I run a small club system, but the networking priciples are the same.
In the amp rack I have a USB to Ethernet converter, and a wireless ethernet router.
A laptop w/wireless (802.1G) at FOH is all I need
My control is limited to processing for 5 amps.
Everthing home runs to the router, and the router communicates with the laptop.
In your situation, you would have a router or a switch at each equipment blob, and the switches would talk to one router.

The hardware is the easy part.
Making sure each device is on the same network is the chore.
After that, securing the devices would be recommended.

Off the top of my head I don't know of a single book that would get these principle down in one reading.
Most networking books are designed for a single purpose or written by a Ph.D and not very cognative.
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Mac Kerr

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Re: Show wide networking help
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2011, 01:10:20 pm »

In the near future (depending on your pocket book) not only will you be using the network for control signals, but Ethernet (or some other protocol) will send your audio signals across the crowd via a fiber optic cable or Cat5.

I agree with Tom. I have been using audio routed via network for at least 3 years, and I think it is the way of the future. I think technologies like Dante and AES50 will lead the way, although there are few products out there yet that meet my needs. I have been using a Telos Axia system that has reasonably priced nodes which each have 16 inputs and 16 outputs. Everything is at line level, but they do have mic pre modes. All audio, and data is available anywhere on the network. When reasonably price products like the Axia nodes are available for Dante, AES50, or some other network, I think you will see the category take off.

Rocknet is an available network technology that lets you freely route audio, and tunnel a 10BT ethernet network to all nodes for data. Rocknet has the advantage of supporting gain sharing with up to 8 consoles from several console manufacturers, including Yamaha and Soundcraft.

Rocknet is a loop technology only, you cannot use regular network switches with it, and technologies like Telos Axia require robust commercial managed switches. Telos recommends Cisco Catalyst switches. A WAP to use with a tablet or pad running control software shouldn't have to be anymore exotic that it would be on a non-audio network. A WAP that lets you use an external antenna will be a big advantage as you can get an antenna with gain, and locate it in a good position.

Mac
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John Heinz

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Re: Show wide networking help
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2011, 01:15:29 pm »

If you want to go wireless between FOH and rack world, you need to setup a network bridge. I've been using 2 units from EnGenius, EOC1650, about $55.00 each online. These have a lot more power, that is fully adjustable, than a typical home unit and allow the use of an external TCN antenna if necessary. At the FOH position you could use a typical homestyle wireless router to make the hop to your laptop, FOH processing and manage DHCP. While this arraingement has worked very well for me, there are occasions where overcrowding of other wireless networks can affect speed or cause System Archetect to lock up or do a data drop. Now that Whirlwind has a snake cable with bundled CAT5, I think were going to explore that route. WiFi is like wireless mics, not enough bandwith and too unpredictable.
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Tom Reid

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Re: Show wide networking help
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2011, 01:39:55 pm »

If you want to go wireless between FOH and rack world, you need to setup a network bridge. I've been using 2 units from EnGenius, EOC1650, about $55.00 each online. These have a lot more power, that is fully adjustable, than a typical home unit and allow the use of an external TCN antenna if necessary. At the FOH position you could use a typical homestyle wireless router to make the hop to your laptop, FOH processing and manage DHCP. While this arraingement has worked very well for me, there are occasions where overcrowding of other wireless networks can affect speed or cause System Archetect to lock up or do a data drop. Now that Whirlwind has a snake cable with bundled CAT5, I think were going to explore that route. WiFi is like wireless mics, not enough bandwith and too unpredictable.

Just to be sure we're all on the same page, a network bridge is a "translational bridge" converting one protocol into another protocol, for instance, XTI's use USB ports, Itechs use Ethernet.  To put both on the same network one must use a USB to Ethernet bridge.

A switch is a device which takes one throughput and switches it to multiple throughputs.
A router is a device which takes a signal and delivers it to the appropriate device(s).
 
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Steven Barnes

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Re: Show wide networking help
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2011, 10:20:14 am »

Thanks for the response from everyone, it looks like the easiest thing to do will be a switch in each of the racks all connected via ethernet to a central router. It will definitely take some time to get everything working and happy, but I think it will be the most robust way of doing this.



Also I definitely see the future of digital transmission of audio signal, but for the purpose of this thread I am going to focus on networking all the devices. At this point in time the only digital transmission we are using are the proprietary digital snakes that come with whatever system we are using (Digidesign, Digico, etc).
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Ken Ferrel

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Re: Show wide networking help
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2011, 04:21:59 pm »

Just to be sure we're all on the same page, a network bridge is a "translational bridge" converting one protocol into another protocol, for instance, XTI's use USB ports, Itechs use Ethernet.  To put both on the same network one must use a USB to Ethernet bridge.

A switch is a device which takes one throughput and switches it to multiple throughputs.
A router is a device which takes a signal and delivers it to the appropriate device(s).
 

From a networking standpoint, a bridge is used to connect devices on a local area network (a switch is just a multi-port bridge).  It does not know/care where the final destination of a packet is, it just knows that it needs to go in a certain direction.  A wireless bridge is used to connect two physically separated networks to each other via a wireless link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_bridge).  The type of device you are talking about is known as a terminal server in that it relays the serial commands (USB) over a ethernet network.

A router is one step up from a switch in that it can take the data and send it onto another type of network (cable modem, DSL, etc...) using the Layer 3 (TCP/IP) Network information.  Routers are usually only necessary for Wide Area Networks and Internet connections.

Back to the OP, my concept for this exact same thing is as follows:

FOH:
Switch located in rack for connection to local devices that supports Spanning Tree (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanning_tree_protocol)
Wired ethernet connection to stage - primary (100m over Cat5 max)
Wireless bridge connection to stage - backup (or primary when wired is impractical)
Wireless Access Point for connection around FOH (optional as necessary for coverage)

Stage:
Stage Rack with Switch similar to FOH in that it supports Spanning Tree
Wireless bridge connection to FOH
Wireless Access Point for connection around Stage (optional as necessary for coverage)

Amp/Auxiliary Rack: Basic switch with enough ports for local connections inside rack and 2 connections outside (in/through).

The Wireless Access Points would be configured with the same SSID so that roaming from one AP to the other would be relatively seamless.

Another thing to consider with technology going toward audio over Ethernet (not just Cat5/6) would be to purchase switches that support Virtual LANs (VLAN).  This allows you to configure different ports that are logically isolated from each other as if they are on different physical networks.  (Audio, Control, and if you are nice... ARTNET DMX).

Some background info on me, prior to going into this industry, I worked as a network engineer consulting with Health Care, Government, and Corporate clients.  I had networking certifications from the major players at the time (Cisco, Nortel, etc...) and I was one of the first people in Florida certified to design VoIP systems using Cisco equipment.  So you could say I was doing this audio over Ethernet thing way before the pro audio world even knew about it.
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Tom Reid

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Re: Show wide networking help
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2011, 10:44:45 am »

From a networking standpoint, a bridge is used to connect devices on a local area network (a switch is just a multi-port bridge).  It does not know/care where the final destination of a packet is, it just knows that it needs to go in a certain direction.  A wireless bridge is used to connect two physically separated networks to each other via a wireless link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_bridge).  The type of device you are talking about is known as a terminal server in that it relays the serial commands (USB) over a ethernet network.

A router is one step up from a switch in that it can take the data and send it onto another type of network (cable modem, DSL, etc...) using the Layer 3 (TCP/IP) Network information.  Routers are usually only necessary for Wide Area Networks and Internet connections.

Back to the OP, my concept for this exact same thing is as follows:

FOH:
Switch located in rack for connection to local devices that supports Spanning Tree (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanning_tree_protocol)
Wired ethernet connection to stage - primary (100m over Cat5 max)
Wireless bridge connection to stage - backup (or primary when wired is impractical)
Wireless Access Point for connection around FOH (optional as necessary for coverage)

Stage:
Stage Rack with Switch similar to FOH in that it supports Spanning Tree
Wireless bridge connection to FOH
Wireless Access Point for connection around Stage (optional as necessary for coverage)

Amp/Auxiliary Rack: Basic switch with enough ports for local connections inside rack and 2 connections outside (in/through).

The Wireless Access Points would be configured with the same SSID so that roaming from one AP to the other would be relatively seamless.

Another thing to consider with technology going toward audio over Ethernet (not just Cat5/6) would be to purchase switches that support Virtual LANs (VLAN).  This allows you to configure different ports that are logically isolated from each other as if they are on different physical networks.  (Audio, Control, and if you are nice... ARTNET DMX).

Some background info on me, prior to going into this industry, I worked as a network engineer consulting with Health Care, Government, and Corporate clients.  I had networking certifications from the major players at the time (Cisco, Nortel, etc...) and I was one of the first people in Florida certified to design VoIP systems using Cisco equipment.  So you could say I was doing this audio over Ethernet thing way before the pro audio world even knew about it.

Ken, If you read the Wikipedia article you just cited, you would see the following text
"The difference being the bridge mode connects two different protocol types and the repeater modes relays the same protocol type. "
Thus a bridge is a translational device that connects two differing protocols.
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Ken Ferrel

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Re: Show wide networking help
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2011, 12:47:48 pm »

Ken, If you read the Wikipedia article you just cited, you would see the following text
"The difference being the bridge mode connects two different protocol types and the repeater modes relays the same protocol type. "
Thus a bridge is a translational device that connects two differing protocols.

In this case differing protocols are talking about networking protocols as in 802.11B to 802.11N, or 802.3 (Ethernet) to 802.11 (wireless).  I used to have to deal with Token Ring to Ethernet Bridges at one customer site. 

USB is not considered a networking protocol but a "specification to establish communication between devices and a host controller" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Serial_Bus) hence the need for a terminal server (usually shortened to server by most manufacturers). 

The terminology can be misleading at times.  It took me a while to really get the difference of each type of device back when I started on the IT path.  Hopefully we can help keep the networking equivalent of the polarity switch being called a phase switch from happening as we head toward a networked show environment.  8)
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Bob Leonard

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Re: Show wide networking help
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2011, 01:00:38 pm »

Ken, If you read the Wikipedia article you just cited, you would see the following text
"The difference being the bridge mode connects two different protocol types and the repeater modes relays the same protocol type. "
Thus a bridge is a translational device that connects two differing protocols.

 
I agree with you Tom. Mac pushed in the right direction I believe with his statement that "I think technologies like Dante and AES50 will lead the way, although there are few products out there yet that meet my needs."
 
However, the problems encountered with any of these systems will be the ability to function with off the shelf hardware. I saw Cisco mentioned, but I can't help feel that Cisco was mentioned or recommended by the manufacturer simply because Cisco is a leader, or the leader, in connectivity products. So a few BASIC definitions for those still playing along.
 
HUB - A dumb switch used to tie devices utilizing the same protocol together. If you wanted to seperate your hosts from the main house network you might use a........
 
Switch - A smart HUB. Switches can be segmented to create virtual LANs. An example would be 6 ports for the network 192.168.10.x (class C mask), and the next 6 ports for the network 192.168.20.x (class C mask). Neither will talk to the other unless you are routed from one network to the other by an intelligent device called a ...........
 
Router used to tie either local or wide area networks together. Router basics dictate that once your network (192.168.10.x) has been searched and an address on the 192.168.20.x has not been located, the packet will then be routed to and through the gateway specifide by your IP address. Usually .1.
 
Once your packet has found it's way to the network requested it will continue to search until the specific address is found. That address may be on the other side of a.....
 
Bridge. The reason the bridge exists can be for one of two reasons. In the case where extreme fault tolerence is required you might deploy spanning tree protocol using two (2) backbones. Should one backbone fail the bridges will direct, not route, the network traffic through the backup path. Or in the case of a very busy network the bridges may decide to direct traffic through all available paths.
 
A bridge is also quite often used to join dissimilar topologies and translate protocols, I.E. Ethernet to Token Ring.
 
Finally lets not confuse the need to route packets with the need to forward packets. A simple network for an FOH system could consist of little more than up to 382' of CAT6 cable, two (2) hubs, and a WAP (wireless access point).
 
Have great day gentlemen.
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