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Dante Q&A
Here you will find many of the common questions about Dante answered. For more information, be sure to read over our  White Papers.

What is Dante?

 

What is Dante?

Audinate's Dante™ is a modern high performance digital media transport system that runs over standard IP networks. Dante exceeds all other systems in speed, channel count, ease of use, flexibility and scalability.

Dante™ offers a no hassle, self-configuring, true plug and play digital audio networking experience. It is a total solution for transporting low latency uncompressed audio over standard IP Ethernet networks with sample accurate synchronization, automatic device and channel discovery, and easy to use signal routing.

Dante incorporates a full feature set and development environment, enabling manufacturers to deliver hardware and software products today that meet the needs and expectations of tomorrow’s users.

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What does Dante-enabled mean?

If a piece of audio equipment is Dante-enabled, this means that it is capable of transmitting and/or receiving audio channels to/from other Dante-enabled equipment over a standard local area network running Internet Protocols (TCP/IP, UDP/IP etc).

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What are the benefits of Dante?

Dante is a powerful technology that allows many channels of audio to be transmitted and received over a single Ethernet cable without the complexities and limitations of earlier solutions. Dante’s low latency and tight play-out synchronization meets the most demanding of professional audio and installed sound requirements using off-the-shelf IT equipment. It is easy to set-up configure and manage because Dante-enabled devices discover one another over the network and learn each other’s capabilities (number of input and output channels, sample rates and bit depths supported etc.) Dante devices and channels can be given “friendly” names meaning audio can be routed without having to use or remember magic numbers.

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What is the Dante Controller?

Dante Controller is an application from Audinate that runs on a PC or Mac. It provides an intuitive Graphical User Interface allowing you to see the Dante devices on your network and allows you to setup audio routing and monitor device status.

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What is the Dante Virtual Soundcard?

The Dante Virtual Soundcard is software that turns your Windows or Mac OSX computer into a Dante-enabled device, allowing you to record, playout and process audio to and from a network with other Dante devices. Dante Virtual Soundcard uses the standard Ethernet port on the computer and so no special hardware is required. Dante Virtual Soundcard behaves exactly like a physical soundcard with an ASIO (Windows), WDM (Windows) or Core Audio (Mac OSX) interface, and so it can be used with virtually any popular Digital Audio Workstation products. Other Dante-enabled devices on the network see the Dante Virtual Soundcard as another Dante peer.

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How many audio channels does Dante support?

Gigabit: 512 x 512 48kHz/24bit audio channels can be sent over a single link, giving a total of 1024 bi-directional channels. For 96kHz 24bit audio the channel capacity is halved.

100Mbps (Fast Ethernet): 48 x 48 48kHz/24bit audio channels can be sent over a single link, giving a total of 96 bi-directional channels. For 96kHz/24bit audio the channel capacity is halved.

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Is the audio channel capacity of a network of Dante-enabled devices limited to the capacity of any single link?

No. Dante utilizes standard IP based networking over Ethernet, and makes full use of bidirectional Ethernet switches. This means that there is no artificial limitation to the total number of audio channels, and no reason why networks with arbitrarily large numbers of audio channels cannot be constructed.

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What is the lowest latency that can be achieved between two network audio nodes?

In principle the lowest latency between two nodes connected directly using Gigabit Ethernet is achieved if a single audio sample is collected and then transmitted in its own IP packet. Dante latency has been measured as low as 83.3µs for a gigabit implementation. The Dante-MY16-AUD card supports 150µs latency.

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What is the audio latency used between audio devices? How is it determined?

Dante latency is deterministic. A Dante receiver introduces an additional latency before playing out audio to account for delay variation in the network or end device. The user sets this latency with Dante Controller and the value selected should be based upon the size of the network.

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How much latency is acceptable in a live sound situation?

Latency should always be as low as possible. In a live sound system, latency less than 1msec is expected. In order to bring latency down to the lowest possible values, a gigabit network should be used. This allows greater freedom to build a high performance, flexible network that maintains fantastic latency performance. Dante offers sub-millisecond latency for all products. For example, the lowest latency the Dante-MY16-AUD card can achieve is 150µs when used in a single switch application. The lowest the Lab.gruppen PLM can achieve is 800µs (as it is a 100Mbit/s product).

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Is the latency the same between all devices for the whole system?

Latency can be configured to be different between different devices in the same network, and does not have to be the same for all connections on the network. Dante allows you to configure low latency connections for critical audio paths, while at the same time running higher latency connections for a broadcast or recording feed where latency is less critical.

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Does the latency change when a new device is added, and does the latency depend on the number of channels used?

Adding new devices to a network does not affect the latency of devices already in the network. The latency of hardware devices does not depend on the number of audio channels routed, however some devices (e.g. the Dante Virtual Soundcard) may need to use higher latency to reliably process high channel counts. Routing additional audio channels does not change the latency of audio already passing through the network.

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What performance is provided for live applications, in terms of latency guarantee?

Latency in a Dante system is deterministic and guaranteed. Receivers that are listening to the same audio transmitter using the same latency value are guaranteed to be sample aligned.

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Does Dante require any special network infrastructure?

No, special network infrastructure is not required. Dante-enabled devices can be connected using inexpensive off-the-shelf Ethernet switches and cabling. A PC or Mac running Dante Controller is connected to this network and used to monitor the network and set up audio routes.

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Does Dante require a dedicated network infrastructure?

No, a dedicated network infrastructure is not required. Dante-enabled devices can happily coexist with other equipment making use of the network, such as general purpose PCs sending and receiving email and other data.

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Can control and audio be mixed on the same network?

Yes, the audio can be sent over the same network as control information, and even unrelated data traffic.

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How is audio transmitted over the network?

Audio is transmitted over the network in UDP/IP Packets. A single IP packet may contain audio samples from several audio channels, and may contain multiple audio samples for each channel.

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Are Dante audio packets transmitted using unicast (point-to-point) or multicast (one-to-many)?

The audio packets can be transmitted using either unicast or multicast addressing. By default they are sent using unicast, but the user can change this to multicast using the Dante Controller. Multicast and unicast can be used at the same time on a Dante device. Channels are individually selectable for multicast transmission.

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How does Dante manage QoS on switches?

Dante uses standard Voice over IP (VoIP) Quality of Service (QoS) switch features, to prioritize clock sync and audio traffic over other network traffic. QoS is available in many inexpensive and enterprise Ethernet switches. Any switch that supports Diffserv (DSCP) QoS with strict priority and 4 queues, and has Gigabit ports for inter-switch connections should be appropriate for use with Dante.

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Can Dante operate over a Wi-Fi network?

No. While possible in principle, the practical limitations of current wireless technology (802.11a/b/g/n) render reliable performance unachievable. For this reason Dante software such as Virtual Soundcard will not recognize wireless connections for audio data.

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Is there a trade-off between latency and channel capacity?

Yes, from a perspective of network efficiency. When more audio samples from a single channel are put into an IP audio packet, the bandwidth of the network is used more efficiently. However, the time taken to gather multiple samples increases the latency or delay between capture and playout.

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What is the minimum packet size?

The minimum size of an Ethernet packet is 64 bytes. Allowing for packet headers such a packet can contain 3 24 bit audio samples. Note: such small packets would not use bandwidth very efficiently.

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Can users directly configure how many samples are sent per packet?

No. The Dante Controller may be used to set the desired latency for Dante receivers. An appropriate number of samples per packet will be automatically used in order to achieve the desired latency target.

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I have heard about AVB recently. How does this relate to Dante?

AVB is a group within the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) that is working to provide standards for the transport of audio and video over Ethernet. These emerging standards are well aligned with existing Dante technology. Audinate has announced that Dante will be AVB compliant as these standards are ratified, and is a Promoter Member of AVnu, an industry group that seeks to promote these new standards.

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How does Dante compare to EtherSound in terms of performance?

Dante exceeds Ethersound performance without the topology restrictions and setup complexity. Dante offers similar low latency with a great deal more flexibility and a lot less hassle. Dante also offers glitch free redundancy – a very important feature for live events.

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How does Dante compare to CobraNet in terms of performance?

Dante exceeds CobraNet performance without being restricted to low capacity 100Mbit/s operation and without the difficult setup required by CobraNet. Dante offers substantially lower latency with a great deal more flexibility and a lot less hassle. Dante also offers glitch free redundancy – a very important feature for live events.

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