Microsoft Production Studios Adds New Focusrite RedNet Interfaces

Microsoft Production Studios, the media hub for Microsoft International Headquarters, is expanding its collection of Focusrite RedNet audio-networking interfaces featuring Audinate’s Dante ‘Audio over IP’protocol.

  • The 65,000-square-foot complex on the software giant's Redmond, Wash., campus comprises four soundstages, sixteen edit bays, and four audio studios using RedNet 4 Mic Pre, RedNet 5 HD Bridge, RedNet 6 MADI units, and RedNet PCIe cards. Microsoft Production Studios has taken delivery of eight RedNet MP8R eight-channel, remote-controlled mic pre interfaces and will soon take delivery of one dozen RedNet D64R MADI Bridge interfaces. These second-generation RedNet units feature dual power supply and network redundancy for fail-safe operation. The new modules were sold through Seattle-based firm Lift AV.

Microsoft Production Studios represents one of the largest RedNet installations, with RedNet units in use at that facility for over a year; it is also one of the first customers to take delivery of the newly introduced MP8R and D64R. With a mandate to act as the media hub for the computer giant, Microsoft Production Studios communicates product launches and corporate presentations to its staff around Washington and the world.

To keep this mission-critical facility at the leading edge, Microsoft moved to a networked-audio signal transport paradigm, utilizing Cisco switches and a fiber backbone. There are now more than 100 Dante-enabled audio units on that network, including – and necessitating – the growing number of Focusrite RedNet modules.

“Eighty of those are on full-time, twenty are in use part-time, and twelve others are used remotely,” said John L. Ball, systems engineer at Microsoft Production Studios. “The MP8Rs are already integrated into the network and are working great, and the D64R MADI units will be put to use as soon as they arrive.”

The MP8R mic preamps create an Ethernet connection for the Dante-enabled Yamaha and Solid State Logic digital mix consoles used at the facility, and the D64R’s will soon act as a MADI bridge directly to the Miranda HD router, which results in 384 channels of digital audio.

“The RedNet units have helped reduce our set-up time for projects, too,” said Ball. “What once took two to three days now takes two to three hours, which really improves overall productivity here.”

In an especially unique application, Microsoft Production Studios embeds audio from RedNet into the studio’s RTS/Bosch intercom system, allowing the integration of IFB into the network and easy programming of mix minuses, as well as hot mics to intercom panels. The RTS OMNEO option allows the audio to be merged into the Dante streams.

“RedNet is helping position us for the future,” said Ball. “Its performance is everything we expected and then some. These new units take RedNet to whole new level.”

Focusrite Novation Inc. president Phil Wagner said, “We are excited that Microsoft has chosen RedNet consistently for their mission-critical facility. Redundancy is essential for Microsoft Production Studios’ operation, and the new RedNet units therefore suit their purposes well. Prominent broadcast production facilities are integrating RedNet with the RTS Omneo option. We are pleased to see Microsoft leading the way.”

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