Commercial Integrator Europe Q&A: Craig Richardson, Vice-President of Global Sales, Symetrix

Richardson spoke to CIE about Symetrix’ support for Dante networking and the continuing debate surrounding AVB and AES67.

David Davies

With a comprehensive range of fixed and open architecture solutions, Symetrix remains a driving force in the development of user-friendly DSPs. Vice-president of global sales at the US-based manufacturer, Craig Richardson PhD, spoke to CIE about Symetrix’ support for Dante networking and the continuing debate surrounding AVB and AES67.

Audinate’s Dante networking technology continues to pick up fresh licensees. Looking back, at what point did you realise this was a technology that was going to define the future of networking, and that it was important to offer support for it in the Symetrix range?

Symetrix determined early in the process, 2010 time-frame, that Audinate’s Dante technology was going to be very important to the industry because it solved a number of issues that are faced daily by our integration partners. At the same time we were also looking to design an easily scaleable solution where multiple devices would be linked together. Knowing the Audinate team and understanding the technology, we realised Dante would not only make it easy to link multiples of our devices together but also offered the potential for extensive third-party integrations if it became broadly adopted. Fortunately, our early investment has been very good for Symetrix.

In contrast to Dante, some might claim that the broader AVB project has lost some momentum, while AES67-compatible technologies like Ravenna (and Dante!) continue to soar in popularity. What is your view on the AVB debate, and what implications does it have for Symetrix?

I think native AVB will be relegated to islands of applications where the transport, cost and custom implementations are well-suited for the constraints of the application whether they are development cost, implementation cost, interoperability requirements, channel counts, etc.

For a number of reasons, I believe Dante has won the war for applications that require efficient communication over IP, including between different manufacturers’ equipment. Audinate’s continued efforts to develop options in various I/O count and cost points will help to drive Dante into many new different applications. Dante is definitely benefiting from the multiplier effect of more partners using networked audio solutions, which in turn drives even more manufacturers to use it.

It’s also interesting that companies which selected AVB early in the process appear to be aligning with Dante to leverage the interoperability.

Out there in the working environment, how do you perceive the general view of the networking revolution? Do people genuinely believe that true and complete interoperability is around the corner… or does there need to be more of an educational drive on that front?

Yes, I do believe people think that true interoperability is around the corner or perhaps around two corners. In the field, our partners are still working to build broader expertise with networking technologies as applications to the problems they solve every day including audio distribution of multichannel audio, easy integration of third-party devices etc. Like any new technology there is an adoption curve and as our partners become more familiar with the technology and have more successful installations we’ll see a much broader use of the technology. More education will help accelerate the process – particularly on best practices and how to troubleshoot complicated systems that use converged networks for Dante and other data traffic.

Please tell us a little bit about the plans for even more interoperable capability in the next version of SymNet Composer…

Symetrix has taken an industry-leading role in making it easier to use Dante-enabled devices by integrating select third-party Dante products directly into our SymNet Composer software. The benefit to our partners is that SymNet Composer is the only software an integrator needs to use to configure these third-party devices for operation over Dante – both from a network discovery aspect as well as some configuration parameters, such as controlling gains and mute status.  We have successfully integrated I/O devices from Attero Tech and Stewart Audio and will be soon releasing a new version of SymNet Composer that also includes support for Audio Technica’s new ATND971 Dante microphone and Shure’s Microflex Dante solution – two great new microphone systems that, once integrated, make it even easier for our integration partners to get up and running.  I like to say that while Dante makes it possible, Symetrix is making it easier every day.

What has been the most significant addition to the Symetrix product range over the last few years – and why? And looking ahead, whilst you might not want to provide too many specific details, in what general ways might the Symetrix range be expanded/enhanced?

In 2012 we expanded the SymNet family of open architecture DSP products to include scalability with Dante. This was a great opportunity for us to expand from our traditional one-device style of installation into larger systems.  Following up on that we introduced Symetrix audio conferencing solutions with acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) and noise reduction to make it easy for our partners to build conferencing solutions.  Symetrix is committed to making life sound better so integrators will continue to see new DSP audio products and accessories introduced – to aid in both conferencing and sound processing.