Focusrite Red & RedNet Power ‘The Ball’ At South China University Of Technology

South China University of Technology (SCUT) is a well-known acoustic research institution in Guangzhou, China. Recently, they have built a multi-channel experimental audio system that will be used for research in architectural acoustics.

Known as The Ball, the new system comprises 200 Genelec 8010A active monitor speakers, which are evenly distributed in a spherical bracket according to a specific ratio. The system requires each loudspeaker to have an independently supplied signal, and the whole system needs to have the ability to be quickly disassembled and dismantled, so an easy to connect signal-transmission system capable of supporting a large number of channels was essential. The team who built The Ball, led by Prefessor Zhao and Chuanxin Technology, chose a Dante Audio-over-IP system using Focusrite RedNet and Red interfaces, due to its exceptional sound quality and the wide choice of audio inputs and output options, including MADI, AES3 and analogue I/O.

In The Ball, RedNet D64R 64x64 MADI I/O interfaces were selected for the signal format conversion interface. The RedNet D64R supports the conversion between MADI signals and Dante signals, and supports 64 channels of audio at 48kHz, or 32 channels at 96kHz. What's more, it is compatible with signals transmitted over both BNC and fiber, and it has redundant network and power connections, making it a reliable choice. In addition, the system at SCUT uses a Focusrite Red 16Line as the analogue signal conversion interface. With 16 analogue line inputs, 16 analogue line outputs and two microphone inputs, it provides plenty of connections for input sources. The SCUT team found the headphone output on the front panel useful for monitoring local signals. In addition to supporting Dante, the Red 16Line can also interface with Thunderbolt 3 devices and Pro Tools | HD equipment, via the DigiLink connector, which is included as standard on all units in the Red interface range.

In addition to the main architecture for the multi-channel audio system, the team at The Ball purchased several RedNet AM2 stereo headphone and line output interfaces. Powered by PoE, these can be connected to the network to provide a monitoring point, wherever additional outputs are needed. What's more, multiple AM2s can be daisy-chained through the network port — a feature the SCUT team found very convenient.

Control for the system is handled by Dante Controller and RedNet Control v2 software. Using both these free applications, the team can set the routing of inputs to outputs, monitor I/O signal levels on the virtual faceplates, and configure the units remotely. Thanks to the Focusrite RedNet system, the entire system undergoes only one D-A conversion process, simplifying the audio signal path, and minimising interference and distortion. At the same time, the difficulty and workload of wiring was greatly simplified.