Digital Snakes

in Buyer's Guides
Whirlwind E Snake
It's either ironic or just plain dumb, but as the live event audio industry gets more and more digital, the one piece of the signal chain that most lends itself to bits and bytes — the transport of signal between stage, console and speakers — is the part that is having the hardest time really catching on.

The biggest reason is the lack of any kind of standard and the fact that there are multiple companies making multiple products that are all really good, but will never work nicely together. Yep, that big roll of copper with the mass pins and XLR breakouts is big and heavy, but you can use it with any console or amp and not have to worry about what piece of gear is running what digital protocol and so on.

In the install world this is less of an issue, which is why digital distribution of audio is actually becoming somewhat common. But on the road, not so much.

We usually just put a category out there and allow gear makers to "self-qualify." In other words, we are not going to define a large-format line array. If it is the largest box you make, it is your large-format array. But here we actually had to lay down some ground rules. We kept it simple. In order to qualify as a snake, the digital device had to be capable of at least 32 sends and eight returns, handle all D/A and A/D conversion and had to be able to connect to other gear using industry-standard connectors. Here is what we got back. Remember, your mileage may vary...

Manufacturers listed in this month’s Digital Snakes Buyers Guide:

Aphex Systems, Ltd.
Music Sciences
NetworkSound, Inc.
Optocore, Inc.
Pro Co Sound
Riedel Communications, Inc.
Roland Systems Group
Salzbrenner Stagetec Media Group, Inc.
Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc. 

To view a PDF of the Buyers Guide, click here.