The University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland is a public research university with foundational roots leading back to 1796. The school’s mission is to provide a place of “Useful learning for the good of mankind and the improvement of science”. Embracing technology to deliver the best and most relevant learning experience possible fits perfectly with that mission and now includes a campus-wide Dante audio network managed by Dante Domain Manager software, from Audinate (opens in new tab).
Campbell Jamieson, the learning support manager for the university, explained that over the last several years the university has been ambitiously transforming and upgrading its campus. Serious about creating and maintaining a world-class environment, investment for the transformation is set to reach £1 billion by 2025.
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In 2018, Jamieson and his team were looking for a way to bring a unified audio experience to the campus and to make the system easier and faster to set up and use. Luckily for them, a Dante audio network platform was able to bring everything together and as soon as the pandemic hit in 2020, it took on even greater practical importance when the necessity for hybrid and remote learning significantly accelerated the use of their Dante network across the campus.
“Originally, we started migrating to a Dante network to speed up our workflow and make our team more efficient; some of our large lecture theaters had AV systems pre-installed with analog cabling, but they were isolated,” said Jamieson. “And we had smaller lecture spaces that didn’t have installed systems or AV cabling, so we had to spend at least a day setting those systems up and then another day tearing them down—making the spaces unusable during the transitions. Fortunately, all of these spaces have network ports that we can leverage with Dante.”
The Dante platform is a complete AV-over-IP solution that allows audio, video, and control data to be transported over standard 1GB Ethernet networks. Supported in more than 3,000 Dante-enabled products from more than 500 manufacturers, Dante replaces point-to-point analog and digital connections with software-based routing, effortlessly sending AV channels anywhere on the network with perfect digital fidelity.
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"As part of our COVID response, we used our Dante network to link lecture theaters to our remote video communications, and to connect theaters together to help maintain social distancing by spreading students across multiple rooms as overflow spaces, with products like Sennheiser’s ceiling mounted microphones (opens in new tab) to easily capture and reinforce the audio needed in the rooms.” said Jamieson. "And with Dante, the system can scale and devices can be added easily. Our new sports facility, for example, needed some additional audio coverage, and within just minutes, we were able to add some Dante-enabled PoE speakers to cover what was needed. Being able to jump on and off the network and make changes in real-time is a huge benefit for us."
“One of the key trends we have seen in the last few years is more and more universities adopting the use of Dante as an audio transport standard,” said Inesh Patel, business development manager at Sennheiser. “Much of the reason for this is down to the general adoption of Dante throughout the AV industry, the guarantee of interoperability and the incredible variety of Dante products available. Sennheiser’s TeamConnect Ceiling 2 (opens in new tab), with its complete pack of audio features, integrated Dante and support for Dante Domain Manager has helped many universities improve their sound reinforcement and remote/distance learning delivery.”
As the Dante network continued to grow, Strathclyde’s learning support team needed a way to see and monitor the entire system through a single interface. And with more users operating the system, security and global control were also becoming requirements.
"Our AV team wanted a single display to show the state of the Dante installation at a glance without the need to query each device individually to see how things were working—which is what Dante Domain Manager is all about," said Jamieson. "The software also provides benefits with its historical log that tracks issues and its ability to control devices across the entire campus without a team member needing to be there physically. It's really helped streamline our operations."
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Dante Domain Manager is a server-based solution that brings a centralized, complete view of an entire networked Dante deployment. The software allows AV and IT managers to define separate, non-interfering groups of devices that can only be accessed by authorized users. At the same time, support staff can stay on top of issues with a system-wide dashboard and complete set of alerts and audit logs that helps expedite troubleshooting. Most important, Dante Domain Manager delivers campus-wide AV network monitoring and management for better remote, hybrid, and in-person education experiences.
"Four years ago, all our audio systems were locally-connected, stand-alone analog systems that were cumbersome to modify or expand. We had no big-picture view of how things were working around the campus," said Jamieson. "Today, we can easily configure systems and equipment as needed; and we can monitor and troubleshoot the entire system in real-time from virtually anywhere. We have new buildings coming online now, and our Dante audio network with Dante Domain Manager are key parts of the new infrastructure."