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Dante Networking At The Heart Of Audio Approach Of Radio Station Group In Portugal

Replacement of traditional approach to a standardized network infrastructure means less cables, more connections, and better insight into what’s on the network.
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One of the many studios of the Grupo Renascença Multimedia radio group on the Audinate Dante network.

Grupo Renascença Multimedia. among the largest players in Portuguese radio in operating three stations in the nation (Rádio Renascença – known colloquially as ‘RR’ – Mega Hits, and RFM), incorporates Audinate Dante ntworking as a staple of its audio workflow.

Across its portfolio, Grupo Renascença Multimedia provides news, sports, music and other entertainment as well as religious programming because the primary owner of the group is the Catholic Church.

“We actually have a chapel in the building,” says José Loureiro, Assistant Manager at the Radio Innovation & Technical Unit for the stations. “And even the chapel is connected to our audio system, because once in a while, we do use it for broadcasting religious events. But really, as unique as that is, it’s not that crazy or difficult to include it in the audio workflow because we’re using Dante. It gives us confidence and agility. And it makes life a lot easier.”

In 2016, RR moved into a new headquarters in Lisbon. The previous office location – which they had occupied for nearly 80 years – was in the city center and snaked across multiple floors within a historic building. The facility was, according to Loureiro, a case study in how challenging traditional cabling becomes over time.

“There were cables in there that had been sitting in the same place for a long time,” he says. “You didn’t want to touch them because you really didn’t know what they did. Maybe nothing. Maybe something really important. So, people just left them alone. Over time, that becomes a bigger and bigger problem.”

This challenge was discussed when Grupo Renascença Multimedia began looking at a new facility. Manufacturer AEQ, whose technology is heavily utilized in the new system, recommended moving to a Dante-backed system that would largely eliminate traditional cabling. Instead, signals would flow over standardized network infrastructure for less cables, more connections, and better insight into what’s on the network.

“We knew we could go beyond just solving the problem of cables lying around,” Loureiro explains. “We knew we could gain the ability to know what, exactly, each signal we were using was. And if we could do that, we could run a more agile business. So, we went with Dante.”

He adds that Dante provides the audio-over-IP capabilities it’s looking for, as well as interoperability. Because Dante is used in more than 2,800 products by more than 500 manufacturers, RR likely wouldn’t be confined to one single type of product or manufacturer.

“For example, if a mixing console goes down, I don’t worry anymore,” Loureiro says. “Because I know Dante isn’t down. I can just plug in a new console and we’re back up and running. The ability to replace something that easily without a hassle and without cabling it really does give you confidence.”

RR has 11 studios and four “phone booths” – or mini-studios – it supports with Dante networking. The studios utilize AEQ Netbox 32 interfaces, which turn all the audio from the studio – microphones, CD Players, TVs, DJ Sets, and more – into Dante signals. AEQ Capitol IQ mixing consoles are also used in the studios – these are also fully Dante capable, allowing for mixed signals to exist immediately on the network.

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Behringer X32 mixing consoles, which are native Dante, are also used in a few locations. Two RDL RU-LB4 line-level bi-directional network interfaces and an AEQ 4MH interface are also used. In total, the system makes use of more than 50 Dante-capable pieces of equipment and manages around 1,000 signals – mono and stereo – each day.

“I think we currently have zero audio cables running from one room to another room,” Loureiro notes. “We’re at the point where I can’t even think about doing it the old way anymore. Going back to traditional audio connections would be very difficult for all of us here because of how much it has improved operations.”

A day-to-day, quality of life improvement Loureiro gives as an example: sometimes a reporter or producer will want to play out something from YouTube or bring a Skype channel into a production. Because Dante is integrated into computers on site, the addition is as easy as a few clicks of the mouse. Further, he says he’s looking forward to adding additional locations to the workflow, such as meeting rooms and a small auditorium – with Dante-capable microphones.

“It seems simple, but the big advantage we have now is flexibility,” Loureiro concludes. “We’re in a world where we just need to connect devices to the network with a single cable and we can change our production. It used to be a pain to make changes. And now, it is very easy.”

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