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Advantage Dante: audio streamlined at Indian Wells Tennis Garden

A Dante audio-over-IP network from Audinate has replaced an ageing CobraNet installation at Indian Wells Tennis Garden (IWTG), one of the largest tennis complexes in the world. The transition to Dante has opened new freedoms in audio routing, distribution and scalability, while reducing the costs and labour associated with system integration and ongoing use.

The low-latency, multichannel audio network covers 29 tennis courts and multiple support spaces across nine stadiums in an immense compound near Palm Springs, California.

Dante’s leading position in the audio-over-IP networking market was a central reason why systems integration firm Technicomm Industries selected Dante for this project, electing to install hardware from QSC, Symetrix, Shure and RTS.

One big timesaver is that I don’t have to put much thought into routing audio over great distances, and to and from multiple points, anymore

Steve Burgess, project manager, Technicomm Industries

“At IWTG, the reliable interoperability of Dante products enabled us to deploy a very complex audio distribution network much faster and easier than ever before,” said Steve Burgess, project manager, Technicomm Industries. “Dante is a wide-open road in comparison to the extreme limitations and bottlenecks we routinely faced with other networking technologies. The signals flow exactly where we want them to go, and it’s just simpler and more flexible to install and operate. These benefits are of enormous value when working in a facility of this scale.”

Despite the fact that the system required audio to be transported across long distances – thousands of metres in many cases – and the number of venues the network must support needed to scale across the facilities, Dante simplified the deployment. In all, the Dante network crosses 29 tennis courts and many deluxe suites, broadcast booths, press areas, video walls and fine-dining restaurants. Beyond the stadiums, the Dante network extends to a massive outdoor parking area to support live paging and pre-recorded announcements.

Burgess and his team migrated to two Dante-enabled digital signal processing systems to serve different stadium needs: a Symetrix X12L to serve the broadcast booths in Stadiums 1 and 2 and the TV compound; and the Q-SYS Core 3100 from QSC to cover the rest of the facility.

The Symetrix installation was the first phase, which initiated the move away from CobraNet. Once deployed, Dante alleviated the innumerable challenges of moving audio across such long distances.

“While the installation of CobraNet in stadiums 3 through 9 took a month and a half, it only took a week roll out the Dante network, even with the addition of stadiums 1 and 2,” Burgess said. “One big timesaver is that I don’t have to put much thought into routing audio over great distances, and to and from multiple points, anymore. The flexibility in how we set up and reconfigure the network to transport signals offers great freedom, and the simpler network cabling infrastructure further accelerates rollout while keeping costs down.”

In the second phase, Technicomm chose the Q-SYS Core 3100 DSP for the renovation of Stadium 1, the 16,100-seat main stadium that qualifies as the world’s third largest tennis venue. The main stadium incorporated Dante-enabled Shure microphones and an RTS Dante intercom system to deliver clear, reliable communications between the tennis courts, and the broadcast and judges’ booths during matches.

“Dante’s seamless and reliable networking allows one system to talk to the entire grounds, and one person can control the entire system from an iPad,” Burgess said. “And the most important thing is that when I plug Dante-enabled devices into this network, they’re immediately detected and the signal just plays.”

Both Symetrix and Q-SYS provide IWTG with the flexibility to accommodate its anticipated future growth needs, according to Burgess. The current 64-channel network capacity can be expanded to 128 channels and beyond just by adding additional Dante cards.

“Network scalability is another important consideration since IWTG owner Larry Ellison has near-term plans to upgrade Stadiums 3 through 9, and construct a hotel and convention centre on the grounds in the future,” Burgess said. “IWTG is the size of an amusement park, with some fibre runs reaching well over 5,000 feet [1,500m]. Dante is invaluable to an operation like this because without it, we would have multiple, autonomous systems that aren’t connected, and we would need a team of people just to manage everything. There’s really no limit to where we can take this system.”