Warning – this TechBlog post contains images that some readers may find offensive.
How does this photo make you feel?
A little ill? A bit angry? Perhaps quite sad?
Maybe a combination of all three? Here at XTA, seeing that sort of mess makes us want to get out the Velcro cable ties and the labelling machine and sort that sh*t out! Imagine something becoming unplugged in that disaster-in-waiting, and having to try and fault-find. Apart from the confusion, and lack of organisation, imagine the time wasted in trying to get things working again when this inevitably screws up.
It’s the sort of thing that could come back to bite you when the pressure is on to explain why the network has stopped working, or, in our case – what the sound has stopped coming out of the speakers. Now there’s network audio as an element in the equation, this kind scenario is no longer consigned to just IT systems…your audio can be part of the IT system!
Now, just to make you feel better, stare at this photo instead for a few seconds and take some deep breaths as we have some very reassuring news for you.
Feeling calmer? To be fair, extracting something from one of those lovely bundles would be heartbreaking, but let’s focus on that almost “sci-fi robot backbone” look of this lot and stare in awe and wonder.
You just know that whoever has installed this lot has a “belt and braces” approach to their cabling and infrastructure. If something goes wrong here, there’s going to be some sort of failover mechanism that kicks in, ensuring uninterrupted service and subtly alerting you to its intervention to keep things working, and keep you in a job 😉
And that sort of system is now available in our amps. For free.
Failover, Redundancy – aren’t they the same thing?
Yes – in essence they are. They are different names for anything that acts automatically as a backup to ensure the integrity of a system or a signal path is maintained in the case of a failure. This could be PSU redundancy – and catered for by having two independant supplies on different circuits so if either suffers a power cut (perhaps through someone tripping over a cable, or even cutting a cable), the other can just keep things running. It might be a UPS on a computer system where the secondary supply is backup batteries.
In our case, it’s a triple level system that allows you to use all three input sources at the same time on your amplifier to provide three layers of safety for your precious audio signals. The amplifier isn’t just blindly (of “deafly”, if you like) processing incoming audio from your chosen source, with no backup plan.
It’s also aware of how that audio works and what will mean a loss of signal. So, it’s checking your Dante signal not only for it being there (so is there a cable plugged in) but also that there are streams routed to the amplifier. If someone inadvertently unsubscribes any channel than your amp knows and can swap to a different source, be that AES or analogue (or even another Dante stream). The AES signals are also constantly monitored for presence and if they disappear, again, your amp can switch to another source.
What you choose as your primary and secondary sources is fully programmable – if your desk has AES outputs then this would probably be your primary source. Analogue is always seen as your final choice/source as it’s the one that can’t be checked for integrity (and before you all jump on that and mention pilot tones, we are thinking of non-installation scenarios). So what if your primary source is restored – do you want it back, or do you want to assume it’s unreliable for now and try to find out the cause of the failure?
You choose. You decide how long to wait before the arrows swap direction and your amp tries again with the secondary or primary source, or decide not to swap back at all unless you do it manually.
Your amplifier will let you know that the source has changed through use of the Network Audio and AES In LEDs – if they are flashing then you’ve lost a source and are running on a backup. The input sources will also have updated on the screen showing displayed when the IN-A-D bank is selected. You can control all of this from the front panel, or set it all up remotely in AudioCore. It’s also stored as part of a “Source” memory (or of course part of an “Everything” memory).
If you’re going for the full “belt and braces and string” approach, you’ll obviously need to be able to provide your audio in three forms – Network, AES and analogue. There’s nothing to stop you from feeding different signals into the sources and setting the amp up to switch sources when they are present, like a monitor or TV will do with HDMI/VGA and analogue….
Find out more about how this all works in DPA and MC2 Delta DSP amps by downloading the TechNote here!
Now, save yourself from the embarrassment of unexpected silence and run those few extra cables, but do it neatly and use some of these: