SoundGrid 201 Part 3: Networking and Latency in a SoundGrid System

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Networking in a SoundGrid System

We have already discussed the importance of a compatible switch for use on a SoundGrid network, now let’s talk about cables, distances, and connections.

SoundGrid uses standard Ethernet cables to connect devices.

CAT5E cables or higher are suggested. CAT5 cables are not supported.

As when selecting a main 1Gb switch for your SoundGrid setup, it is equally important to pay heed to the maximum cable distance chart on Waves.com when planning out a SoundGrid network.

If you refer to the table on Waves.com, you’ll see that there is a great difference between distances allowed between your main SoundGrid-compatible switch and your I/Os, to that of the distance allowed between a SoundGrid DSP server and the main SoundGrid-compatible switch.

Your SoundGrid DSP Server enables low-latency recording and monitoring. Moving the server further away from the main switch than the distance recommended will potentially cause audio drop outs, and errors.

Distances between the main 1Gb switch and I/O devices are flexible. Waves allows 328 feet (100 meters) between the main SoundGrid-compatible switch and an I/O device. That distance can be extended by adding a maximum of 3 extra switches consecutively.

For distances greater than that, it’s advised to use fiber optic SoundGrid interfaces, such as the DiGiGrid MGO Optical MADI to SoundGrid interface.

All devices should have a direct connection to a switch. Daisy chaining devices is not recommended or advised.

Latency in a SoundGrid System

SoundGrid provides super-low-latency audio turnaround. Audio passes in and out of the network as quickly as 0.8 ms (roundtrip, from in to out).

Since SoundGrid is a digital audio platform, we can think of the audio data going through the network in terms of “frames.” Each discrete audio-sample constitutes a frame. SoundGrid has a system in which it logs all the frames it generates on the network. It also creates a time stamp for each frame.

When an I/O device creates a frame, it marks it with a time stamp and sends it to the SoundGrid server.

The server then processes the data and sends it back to the I/O. By doing so, the SoundGrid network can trace all frames on the network and monitor any audio drops or sync problems. This also allows the network to directly measure latency.

SoundGrid is sample-accurate, so if any dropouts are detected, or if anything falls out of sync – the system notifies the user.

Total Latency

Total latency in a SoundGrid network is influenced by plugins used in the processing chain. Adding more plugins to the chain can further increase the total latency. Many SoundGrid-compatible plugins have ‘Live’ versions which do not introduce extra latency and are best used for time-critical settings such as live shows.

Note that the human ear only detects latencies of 5 ms or higher.

MultiRack and eMotion LV1 both report the individual latency introduced by each plugin as well as the total latency of the processing chain (for each rack in MultiRack and each channel in eMotion LV1).

You can find information on the latency of individual plugins on each plugin’s product page, under the tech-specs tab, or on the Plugin Latency chart on Waves.com

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