Dante Protocol Networked Audio

Starting a new thread here for this discussion because this really interests me especially the Focusrite Rednet series and the quality it seems to put out. seablad already explained lots here:

https://community.ardour.org/node/8833#comment-42629

Anymore info on this protocol and the possibilities that can be had on Linux please let us know. If there’s progress being made other than that mentioned by seablade for Linux keep us posted if possible.

@dsreyes1014

As Mike and I mentioned in that thread, it is proprietary so without Audinate’s support bringing it to Linux is unlikely. Sadly when I contacted Audinate in the past they expressed that they had no desire to bring Dante Virtual Soundcard, the software used to interface with the Dante network over an ethernet port, to Linux. I have also followed up with Focusrite as well, but do not expect much change.

There is at least one manufacturer I could order an ethernet card from with Linux drivers for Dante, but the price of importing it to this side of the states would be prohibitive, when I could purchase an audio console with a Dante card and a USB port for 32x32 translation between the two fairly cheaply.

    Seablade

@seablade

So if I was to purchase a Dante card for the X32 I’d still need a Mac or Windows PC to talk to it through this protocol?

@dsreyes1014

Pretty much.

As Dante -> AES67 interoperability comes through on the various card firmwares (It will be up to the manfacturer of the card when to deploy the firmware, it is already released by Audinate) there may be some ability to talk to it thorugh AVB or Ravenna or similar, which may open up new possibilities, but as of right now there are very few options for talking to a Dante network on Linux, and all of them very expensive and you have to know who to ask I think.

I think I mentioned in the other thread, I am considering getting a console with a decent USB (32x32 or larger) class compliant interface built in to toss a Dante card in, as that seems to be the most cost effective (Not necessarily the cheapest, but not off by much) way to record my Dante feeds on my Linux box, but that is a workaround at best. It is a shame that Audinate doesn’t seem to be willing to allow it to live on Linux, though things like Ravenna and AVB seem more likely in the near future, just means one more reason to go with something else in my personal setups. Professionally though Dante has the crown for right now, until someone unseats it.

     Seablade

@Seablade: I think you mentioned in the other thread that someone had started working on Ravenna or AES67 support on linux. Any reference to that work? I have not seen any mention of that. Some of the device vendors look like they are using linux in their audio devices, but probably all the protocol specific pieces are in user space.

Copied over here, lets keep the conversation over here on audio over IP networks I think…

@ccaudle

Take with a grain of salt until proof is shown, however when Dante first started picking up, one of the selling points WAS interoperability with AVB…

While Lectrosonics is hosting it, the document appears to be written by Audinate based on the branding on it, and matches my memory as well.

I am not really diving into technical details here, just giving broad strokes. Yes you are correct in that there is a revision of AVB that runs on IP, I have no idea who is using it or not, because frankly I rarely run into AVB at all at this point, as I said Dante has the crown for the time being in the live sound world.

In as far as Ravenna on Linux, can’t find any reference to it at the moment, thought I had heard about work actually looking hopeful in that direction at one point but can’t find it now, other than conversations like this…

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/crc-mmbtools/uQ9s70yNr58

Which suggest it may not be all that difficult to get them running, and AES67 being a more open standard from what I have been told, it could work towards that favor. I do not know of anyone working towards that currently. Funnily enough there was some work by Intel on AVB on Linux IIRC though.

Seablade

I have contacted Audinate a while ago and I can confirm the have no interest in Dante Virtual Soundcard for the linux platform.

This is the response i got:
“there are currently no plans to include Linux support for Dante Virtual Soundcard. Is there a specific use case for this, as I am always happy to hear feedback on this kind of question”

/Anders

“when Dante first started picking up, one of the selling points WAS interoperability with AVB…”

Figure 5 on page 16 of that white paper seems to be saying to me that Dante can be extended in the future to use additional protocols. That is Dante currently is not interoperable with AVB, but that it can be made interoperable with AVB by future extensions to the protocol. Probably not really a concern right now, I think the only production gear I have seen using AVB is the new Mark of the Unicorn network gear (which uses AVB to connect between units, but until recently only connected to the computer with USB or Thunderbolt. A news release on the MOTU web page says that Ethernet connectivity between a Mac and those units is now supported with the latest firmware).

“Which suggest it may not be all that difficult to get [Ravenna and AES67] running [on linux]”

The transport protocol is actually the easy part, there are several applications which can already play RTP streams, so I don’t think the RTP/RTCP/TCP/IP portions of the stack would be much problem. The biggest thing I’ve been trying to wrap my head around is how to integrate disparate network pieces into the usual audio stack. For example, synchronization is through IEEE 1588 (kind of a high performance network time protocol). That would seem to require that you are running either ptpd or linuxptpd to synchronize time. The network time can either be a separate clock domain, or can be used to discipline the system clock like is usual for ntpd, so potentially configuration options there, or force the users to setup all of the required time synchronization pieces outside of ALSA setup. So now ALSA may have a dependency on the system having ptpd or linuxptpd installed for network audio devices (but obviously not PCI or USB). Or ALSA would have to incorporate the equivalent of ptpd into an ALSA network audio driver, which besides just being a lot of useless duplication of effort might cause conflicts if you were also really running ptpd on that same machine. I suspect that the Windows and Mac virtual soundcard drivers do put the equivalent of ptpd into the audio driver so that the audio clock domain can stand alone and not have to worry about trying to force the system clock to sync to the network clock. I would be interested to know what happens if you try to run the Ravenna virtual soundcard driver on a Mac that is already running ptpd.

And that is just the plumbing, before you even get into questions about how to present devices. Would every device discovered on the network show up as an ALSA device? Would you want to use a configuration utility of some kind to discover devices, and group channels together to be presented as ALSA devices?
Might be easier to try to make a jackd backend first, and after everything is working decide if it should be incorporated into ALSA. Might be analogous to the situation that happened with FFADO, create a stand alone implementation to get everything working, and if it seems solid it can be merged into ALSA later.

Figure 5 on page 16 of that white paper seems to be saying to me that Dante can be extended in the future to use additional protocols. That is Dante currently is not interoperable with AVB, but that it can be made interoperable with AVB by future extensions to the protocol.

Yes that was the intention of the comment, that they sold it in part by saying that they would be interoperable with AVB when it was released (It wasn’t even nearly in as firm a state as it is now at that time).

Probably not really a concern right now, I think the only production gear I have seen using AVB is the new Mark of the Unicorn network gear (which uses AVB to connect between units, but until recently only connected to the computer with USB or Thunderbolt. A news release on the MOTU web page says that Ethernet connectivity between a Mac and those units is now supported with the latest firmware).

BiAmp is one I see often that utilizes AVB. There are a few others, but you are correct in that Motu’s new interfaces have been intriguing to watch and may represent some new life in it.

Might be easier to try to make a jackd backend first, and after everything is working decide if it should be incorporated into ALSA. Might be analogous to the situation that happened with FFADO, create a stand alone implementation to get everything working, and if it seems solid it can be merged into ALSA later.

You hit the nail on the head there, my suspicion is that this is the case.

   Seablade

Well hopefully it won’t be that hard to create the software side to AES67 with Dante hardware on our Linux boxes.

Well hopefully it won't be that hard to create the software side...

After all, it is only software… :slight_smile:

Lol… I didn’t mean it to sound that it would be easy.

Hey guys check this out:

http://www.digigram.com/products/product_infos.php?prod_key=19250

It’s has full AES67 interoperability so I believe it could be used with Dante installed interfaces. Under drivers it says ALSA and under systems it says Linux OSes. This might be an alternative although maybe not a cheap one.

Some more things I found for Linux Audio considering Dante:

http://fouraudio.com/en/products/dante-pcie-card.html

Also found this link:

https://github.com/jackaudio/jack2/issues/40

I’m assuming that with jackd everything on the network would show up in connections manager like Catia or Patchage?

@dsreyes

Yes that is the card and manufacturer I referenced earlier. I looked into the cost to import here and while I had a not insignificant amount of money set aside, I just couldn’t afford it. It would actually almost be cheaper for me to purchase a Dante enabled digital console with USB capabilities. Maybe it has changed since i looked into it. If, as your second link intimates, there is a Dante ALSA driver that can run on top of most PCI-E Dante cards, then I might invest in a rednet card and try it out at some point.

  Seablade

Of course that thread also mentions only the commercial licensed driver from Audinate, which I am not sure on the pricing to license it in that case on top of the price of the card.

  Seablade

How much did the Four Audio PCIe card go for at the time you were looking into it? The FocusRite card is going for $1000.

@dsreyes
I am hesitant to mention dollar amounts as this was some time ago and prices may have changed, so suffice to say it was close to twice that after conversion and import IIRC. I had, at the time, enough set aside to order a Rednet card when I contacted them, I couldn’t stretch that to what I needed to in order to import one of their cards sadly. I will likely eventually just get a Rednet Dante->MADI device and an RME MADI card at some point.

    Seablade

Well in the jack git link I provided one of them stated they were testing a FocusRite Dante PCIe card ($1000) and it was working with Audinate’s licensed driver. But I’m confused, in that same thread it was stated that there is already an ALSA Dante driver.