RedNet At Michigan College

Northwestern Michigan College Installs RedNet. 

The first official installation of a RedNet system within the US occurred in January, 2013, at Northwestern Michigan College (NMC), located in Traverse City, Michigan. NMC took delivery of one RedNet 2, two RedNet 4's, and a PCIe card, to be used as part of their Audio Technology program.

With the help of Michael Eads at Sweetwater, Steve Quick, NMC Audio Technology Program Coordinator, pre-ordered the RedNet units back in August, 2012, confident that the new technology and the Focusrite brand, would help lead his program into the next decade. Steve is confident that networked audio is the future, and he feels strongly that any audio technology program should lead by example, and provide students with hands–on access to the cutting-edge technology. Here is what Steve Quick had to say about the installation:

The background

Northwestern Michigan College established a new Associates Degree in Applied Science in Audio Technology in July 2012, starting new classes beginning in August. Some classroom and office space was found for us and we moved in a week before classes began.

Our requirements

We needed to have a high-end audio setup for our studio and control room, which were not in adjacent rooms. Our control room is across the hall from our live studio/classroom. Our room layout made traditional approaches to studio wiring difficult and expensive. I had seen info on the RedNet system online and at Sweetwater's Gearfest in June '12. All of our rooms were converted classroom and office space, so connecting to existing Cat-6 cabling and the Gigabit switcher was a perfect solution.

Installing RedNet

The install was almost too easy. I installed the PCIe card in our Mac Pro tower myself, and it popped right in. Two of the RedNet 4 units and a RedNet 2 are setup in the studio. Once the connections were made, all of the RedNet elements 'saw' each other and the RedNet hardware inputs and outputs were selectable in Logic Pro, Studio One v2, and Pro Tools 10. The RedNet 4 mic inputs are controlled from the control room. The RedNet 2 gives us 16 outputs in the studio for headphones, studio speakers, talkback, re-amping guitar tracks, etc. It all works seamlessly. My MacBook Pro in my office has the RedNet software and the Dante Virtual Sound Card installed, and it shows up in the Dante Control Software as inputs and outputs on the network!

In operation

We installed RedNet the first week of January, and our students began using it on the first day of spring semester classes. I'm a big fan of Focusrite gear and based on my previous experience, I expected high quality sound, but RedNet blew those expectations out of the water! RedNet gives us the flexibility to make any space our studio, and to connect with our control room from anywhere in our facility. As the needs and physical layout of our programs change, RedNet will allow us to change our audio setup without expensive and time-consuming rewiring. Wherever we go, RedNet goes with us."

The installation in more detail

The installation succeeded in connecting a recording space, a large classroom, and a control room, to one central audio network. The students can now record and playback audio, to and from any number of Ethernet-enabled rooms in the facility.

As Steve noted above, the PCIe card was installed in a Mac Pro running Pro Tools, Logic and other DAW's, all of which were easily configured to host the RedNet network, and move audio from room to room. A number of iMac workstations and miscellaneous laptops, located in a classroom setting, are also available to join the audio network, if needed. In addition, every classroom and office associated with the Audio Technology Program, are all connected with Cat-6 Ethernet cable.

It is also interesting to note that the IT Department at Northwestern Michigan College was also very eager to be involved with the installation, and to familiarize themselves with the basic principles of Audio over Ethernet. They easily configured a separate VLAN at their Cisco 2960S Ethernet Switch for the RedNet network. Subsequently, any RedNet device plugged into the VLAN easily became available on the audio network.

The Audio Technology Program at Northwestern Michigan College also plan to purchase more RedNet units to add to their system in the future. Options include the RedNet 5 HD bridge — which will allow them to use a Focusrite front end to their Pro Tools HD systems — and RedNet 6, which will provide the opportunity to connect MADI equipment to their RedNet-enabled setups.