A Brief Conversation With Dante

At the recent AES Show in Los Angeles, Audinate CEO Lee Ellison talks with CI about Dante’s remarkable progress.

Dan Daley

Italy’s medieval poet laureate Dante is regarded as “the father of the Italian language.” Audinate‘s Dante has gone a long way to becoming, if not the progenitor of digital audio networking, then certainly its leading provider.

The company has recently gone north of 160 licensees, including many of not most of the major exhibitors at the AES Show that took place in Los Angeles in mid October, including Sennheiser, Solid State Logic and Shure.

There, Audinate CEO Lee Ellison, the product’s tireless evangelist, talked about Dante’s remarkable progress.

CI: What are the most active verticals in pro audio for Dante?

Lee Ellison: We began in live sound, but the growth in the past two years has really been in the commercial-install market. It’s by far the largest market and it tends to lend itself to digital audio networking by virtue of the fact that it usually has a substantial IT network already in place.

Commercial installation is about eight times the size of the sound reinforcement market and with respect to things like wiring, the benefit you get are very immediate. Everyone has wired Ethernet in their facilities and Dante is a natural extension of that and can leverage existing infrastructure.

CI: What are they using it for that surprises you?

LE: There really isn’t any vertical that surprises me now, but Dante is being used very extensively in live sound and touring as well as post production and music recording, as well as commercial installation, we previously mentioned, and it’s getting a lot of traction in broadcast now, too.

At the network audio forum at the AES show we [spoke] about how Dante was integrated into a rail transportation announcement system. The applications for networking are becoming more creative all the time. For instance, Dante is being used by Microsoft’s production studio to send Skype feeds throughout the facility.

CI: Is Dante going to incorporate video?

LE: We’ve done video streaming [as proof of concept] but as an application it’s in the future.

CI: Where is future growth coming from?

LE: It’s interesting. The companies that deployed their first [Dante] products are now offering more products that incorporate Dante.

That’s especially true of the [conglomerate] brands; for instance, Harman‘s first product was a Dante card for its Soundcraft audio console division, but then came Dante-enabled products for Harman’s BSS processing and Studer console brands.

The same was true for Yamaha, with a Dante card for its CL consoles and then for its amplifiers. The same with Shure and other brands: more products of different types within the same brand. When you understand that the typical product-development cycle is 12 to 18 months, there are Dante-enabled products that are not even to market yet. We think we’re looking at a tsunami of them in the near future.

CI: What are you expecting to accomplish at AES?

LE: A lot of it is about education. We [presented] three panels on networked audio, and one message is that once you understand the terminology it’s not hard to understand networking.

We also [had] our end users talk about how Dante is being deployed from small installations like houses of worship to big post production studios and broadcast facilities. We [met] with customers at the show, certainly, but ultimately going forward it’s really all about education.

More: What is Dante and Why is it So Popular?