For more than 40 years, Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida, has delivered a comprehensive, real-world entertainment, media, arts, and emerging technologies education like no other. The staff at Full Sail has always embraced the latest in AV technology for student learning, skills building, and supplying cutting-edge, on-campus tools — including a campus-wide Dante audio network, which has become a regularly used platform within the university’s infrastructure.
The university was an early adopter of networked audio in its educational offerings and as part of its studio and live productions. Over the years, as Dante became prominent within the industry, the university ultimately made a substantial investment in Dante-capable Focusrite RedNet equipment, solidifying Dante as the audio networking standard for the campus.
“That was really our first big push into Dante, and from there, the platform has fanned out across our campus. There are very few places here that it doesn't touch," explained Vince Lepore, Director of Event Technical Operations at Full Sail University. "We use it for education and production at almost every level of the campus. Not a day goes by that I don't use Dante in one way or another.”
The Dante platform is a complete AV-over-IP solution that allows audio, video, and control data to be transported over standard 1GB ethernet networks. Supported in more than 3,000 Dante-enabled products from more than 500 manufacturers, Dante replaces point-to-point analog and digital connections with software-based routing, effortlessly sending AV channels anywhere on the network with perfect digital fidelity.
With early roots as a recording studio and as a center for the recording arts, the Full Sail curriculum is delivered via immersive teaching methods in the university's real-world classrooms, production studios, performance spaces, and through a very robust online learning environment. Full Sail's creative approach provides a fast-paced, highly relevant learning experience that mirrors the workflow and collaboration found throughout today’s music, performance, and AV industries.
According to Lepore, the university's Dante network is a constant work in progress. Currently, an effort is underway to outfit classrooms with Dante-enabled equipment. The standard classroom footprint includes Shure MX Series microphones, QSC Q-SYS networked audio processors, and a mix of I/O options, mixers, monitors, and more, depending on the room. Full Sail’s lab spaces are also equipped with a range of Dante-enabled digital audio consoles from manufacturers such as Yamaha, DiGiCo, and Calrec.
“Many of our facilities, whether it's the recording studios, live event production facilities, or our additional classrooms, are all equipped with Dante connectivity,” said Lepore. “The rooms that are being built out now with Dante are Zoom-based, and the audio moving in and out of the Zoom systems is all Dante.”
The university’s flagship performance venue, Full Sail Live, hosts a wide range of events — from concerts and large-scale productions to graduations and new student orientations. It’s a very diverse space with Dante fully integrated in many ways. The university’s esports facility, the Full Sail University Orlando Health Fortress, is a large indoor, multi-use space primarily used to support the university's esports team, Armada. From the microphones to the speakers and everything in between, the audio system in the Fortress is virtually all Dante.
“We opened the Fortress in 2019, and Dante was very mature at that point, so it was obvious that we would incorporate Dante and its industry leading capabilities into the facility,” added Lepore. “From an audio perspective, Dante is integral to the esports operations of the Fortress.”
In addition to the installed Dante infrastructure, students enrolled within Full Sail's Show Production bachelor’s degree program receive a Dante Virtual Soundcard license for use on their laptops. The virtual soundcard turns a computer into a Dante-powered workstation, seamlessly integrating any PC or Mac with Dante audio devices on the network. With Dante Virtual Soundcard, students can instantly connect to a Dante network to record, process, and play out using any audio application and any combination of Dante-enabled devices.
“Along with the campus-wide Dante network, all the virtual soundcard licenses, and Dante Controller for management and configuration, we also use tons of Dante AVIO adaptors,” said Lepore. “AVIO adaptors are everywhere here — they're like little Swiss Army knives; they’re amazing tools.”
Dante AVIO adapters allow users to connect any audio gear or computer to a Dante network — delivering the interoperability, performance, and scalability that only networking brings. Available in a range of USB, XLR, and Bluetooth configurations, Dante AVIO input/output adapters connect audio devices to any Dante network with no software installation needed.
One of the largest but perhaps less visible uses of Dante is with the university’s campus-wide intercom system. Full Sail uses a Dante-based system from RTS. In fact, nearly two-thirds of the devices within Lepore’s setup are RTS Intercom devices.
“Our Dante-based intercom footprint is substantial. We’ve been using RTS for many years, and it’s probably the technology that our team relies on the most,” said Lepore. “I use my intercom key panel multiple times every day, and all of that communication is transported via Dante.”
Lepore explained that with the volume of Dante devices on the university’s network, one of their goals for 2022 is to deploy Dante Domain Manager across the network.
“When we consider remote and on-campus students and staff, we’re providing services for over 20,000 people. There’s a lot of activity on our Dante networks,” said Lepore. “I’m excited about Dante Domain Manager, and I think it will be a great benefit for us.”
Dante Domain Manager is a server-based solution that brings a centralized, complete view of the entire networked audio deployment. This makes it easy to define user access for any area of the system, and the system’s alerts and audit log ensure that any issues are quickly identified and solved.
"Overall, when it comes to Dante, it's all about the flexibility, reliability, and the confidence that we have in the system," said Lepore. "Within our staff, and within our student body, we've built up a great knowledge base about Dante, and its wide use across our campus is evident."