What Is DANTE? Digital Network Audio Explained

DANTE by Audinate

DANTE – an acronym for Digital Audio Network Through Ethernet  – is an Audio over Ethernet (AoE) system developed in 2006 by Audinate, based in Sydney, Australia. It was designed to build and improve on previous AoE technologies such as CobraNet and EtherSound.

DANTE is mainly used in professional and commercial applications, namely touring and commercial/corporate installations. The uptake in studio recording and music-making hasn’t been as great, but it certainly has its champions given its advantages.

So what are the advantages of DANTE over previous AoE and standard analog audio networking systems?

Economical and Versatile

Standard analog audio networks require a plethora of components and multiple cables. Imagine how many cables you would need to wire up a Myer or David Jones department store. With a DANTE system, one cable allows for the distribution of media and control for an entire system over a single, standard IP network using easily available Cat5e, Cat6, or fibre optic cable.

Ethernet. Not just for LAN or internet connections.
Ethernet. Not just for LAN or internet connections.

What’s more, DANTE systems are easily scalable to your requirements. Need a small system of just a mixing console and a computer? Easy. Need thousands of channels for a large scale installation? Easy. Instead of using physical point-to-point connections such as speaker cables, DANTE uses a logical routes allowing the user to expand and reconfigure the network at any time with a few mouse clicks.

DANTE was designed from the beginning to work on Gigabit Ethernet.  A single 1Gb link can send 512 channels in each direction (uncompressed, 48kHz, 24-bit audio) making it incredibly efficient and versatile. One DANTE link can simultaneously carry audio with different sample rates and bit depths and latencies. In essence, a DANTE system can be configured so that audio can be split into multiple network zones, each with a different latency to match the acoustic needs of your venue.

Outstanding Quality

DANTE by definition transmits digital audio, and so there’s no need to worry about the issues that plague analog audio. Interference from other electronic equipment? Cable crosstalk?

Signal degradation over long cable runs? Not with DANTE.

Ease of Installation

DANTE is designed so that signal routing and system configuration is fast, simple, and flexible.

How fast and simple?

In most cases, setting up a DANTE network involves plugging devices into an Ethernet switch, and connecting a computer to the network. The DANTE controller searches for, discovers, and displays all connected devices.

You can have an audio network live in seconds – literally Plug and Play.

A DANTE expansion card for the Mackie DL32R
A DANTE expansion card for the Mackie DL32R

Easy To Use

Device ID’s or channel numbers are a thing of the past with DANTE. For example, a single audio channel is referred to just like an email address: “LeadVox@StageRight”, “BassGuitar@StageLeft”, “PodiumMic@ConferenceRoomA”.

Much easier. Once the network is configured, the DANTE computer can be disconnected, and be deployed elsewhere. This is possible because signal routing information and system settings are stored in the DANTE devices. If a device has to be power-cycled, all settings are restored to the last saved configuration.

Full Integration with Windows and Mac OS X

Want to use your computer as an audio interface for multitrack recording and media playback? You can, using the DANTE Virtual Soundcard. No additional hardware is required – just an ethernet port on your computer. Your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), software-based media players, Skype, iTunes, and other applications are easily integrated into your network via DANTE Virtual Soundcard.

Watch the video below from Audinate, for an excellent overview of DANTE.