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GRAMMY Award-Winning Engineer Retools Nashville Studio With Audinate Dante

Rob Burrell modifies workflow with Dante networking to foster remote collaboration and the ability to more quickly mobilize his core gear for off-site recording.
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Mix engineer Rob Burrell at work in his Dante-equipped studio in Nashville.

GRAMMY Award-winning mix engineer Rob Burrell recently modified the workflow at his Nashville recording facility – emotionmix Studios – utilizing Audinate Dante networking to foster remote collaboration as well as the ability to more quickly mobilize his core gear for off-site recording.

“This far into my career I want to ensure I’m making music I love,” Burrell says. “I’m not just a gospel guy and I’m not just a country guy and I’m not just a hip-hop guy. I can work on all of it in any given week. And I make sure I’m doing different types of projects too. I’ve worked to expand into films, and this year I did everything from new songs for Josh Groban to the score for the Marvel’s Avengers video game. I try and keep my music vocabulary very wide.”

Burrell says that flexibility was critical not just through his career arc, but in particularly in 2020 as he found new ways to work with artists and creators during the coronavirus pandemic. “I don’t get excited about a lot of things in technology,” he notes. “But when I rebuilt my setup using Dante I got really excited. It offers some incredible flexibility and, at the same time, just melts away into the background to allow for creativity to take place. I switched over to Dante in the spring of 2019 and the timing has been perfect. Everything I use is Dante now, and over the past year that has been incredibly important.”

He adds that he’s largely moved to Focusrite tools in his permanent recording space, with Focusrite Red 16Line 64-in/64-out Pro Tools HD and Thunderbolt 3 audio interface with dual-port Dante connectivity at the core of the setup. “I also use everything from Focusrite’s headphone boxes to mic preamps with Dante cards installed,” he adds. “I have six channels of AVIO devices converting to AES3 for things like my surround meter and spectrum analyzer. Everything in here is Dante thanks to those devices.”

Available for analog input or output, for AES3 and USB conversion, Dante AVIO Adapters allow users to connect their favorite audio gear with any Dante-connected system. Burrell also uses Dante Via software that isolates and routes audio to and from any number of Mac and PC applications, up to 16 bidirectional channels each. Via is designed to eliminate unwanted system audio sounds by allowing users to choose only the applications they wish to connect to the Dante network and send their audio anywhere they need it.

“We use Via if I’m working on a long-distance mix with someone,” Burrell says. “Using Via you can set up a way to both send the high quality mix and provide talkback for real-time feedback between two people. It’s another great Dante tool that makes remote production much easier.”

He adds that Dante also enabled him to create a functional approach for a mobile studio setup. In 2020 he was asked to record in off-site facilities with social distancing guidelines in effect. To make this happen, he walked into the new studios with two racks of gear and a MacPro in tow, including a Focusrite Red 16Line audio interface, a Focusrite RedNet AM2 stereo headphone and line output, two Focusrite ISA One microphone preamps connected to a Focusrite ISA 428 mkII with a Dante card, a Focusrite RedNet R1 desktop monitor controller, a Cisco networking switch, and Dante AVIO adapters.

Burrell set up the racks and ran a single network cable to the other room: “With Dante you run one cable and power it on. It really does feel like you just hit one switch and you’re up and running anywhere.”

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