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Ethernet ports on musical instruments.
  (+7, -2)
(+7, -2)
  [vote for,

I saw a pub band bumping-in the other day. There was a guy with gaff taping signal leads together into bundles as thick as ... something quite thick. It struck me that they look a bit like the UTP cables I use when they enter one of our floor concentrator comms racks.
So, why not replace that bundle with a net? I asked. The the answer is just "that isn't how we do it". Hmm. I feel a halfbake coming on.
Let's digitise the sound and send it across a net to the desk. But where to do the A/DC? Just how close can we push the ADC process out to the original sources?. Why not put IP and ethernet into every mike, gutar, flute, whatever on stage?
Some numbers: CD-quality - 1.4Mbps, so everyday ethernet will carry more than five of this kind of source before sweating too hard. Compress it and YMMV. Plug it into switches and 100/gig trunks and things start to look cheery indeed. IP stacks use 256 words of memory (google: tiny TCP/IP). Dallas Semiconductor make a CPU+ADC on a chip that can process IP and and do the analogue work at the same time. Ethernet interaces are also easy and small - (http://www.embeddedethernet.com/), tiny, tiny tiny.
Power the lot from a 9v battery or put 5 volts onto lines four and five in the UTP. Harden the UTP so it can cope with roadies. Put a strain relief on the instrument to protect the connector. Cover the switches to protect them from beer/sweat/'precious bodily fluids'.
P.S: Leave the 'bannana plug' sockets for old times sake and to placate the owners of valve amps, don't you think? Better, ASIC the mike/instrument unit leaving you with one chip, isolators for the ADC and line transformers for the net. Sweeet. Couple of bucks a pop, I reckon. PPS: MIDI2 - whatever happened there?
SandraElm, Sep 10 2001

Online Musical something-or-other http://www.halfbake...0Recording_20Studio
When I saw your idea, mine sprang up in my head. Perhaps the 2 could be combined? [AfroAssault, Sep 10 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

[BunsenHoneydew]'s link http://www.giles.co...0/products/mlan.htm
// Baked as Yamaha's mLAN system, uses Firewire rather than ethernet // [BigBrother, Sep 07 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Ethersound http://www.ethersound.com/home/index.php
Read the blurb and then have a look under Devices [BunsenHoneydew, Jan 07 2007]


       So you're saying that each instrument or microphone becomes a device on a network? Champion idea. I especially like the thought of being able to hack into less secure pubs and screw around with their sound. Hehe. I'd infiltrate the ultra hard anti-everything sounds of Cannibal Corpse with, ooh, I dunno, Engelbert Humperdink. Then I'd videotape the stunned crowd.   

       One con though. You've seen how hard it is for stoned roadies to repair a conventional guitar/mic lead on stage in a hurry. Imagine a UTP cable, hub, uplinks, bridges, firewalls, routers et cetera.
sdm, Sep 10 2001

thumbwax, Sep 10 2001

       Mmm... all-digital mixing. But forget all that ethernet and IP stuff. Too much lag with all that packetization, queuing, routing, buffering, and depacketization. In any live venue you will need to ensure that processing delay of the sound doesn't fall behind acoustical delay of the sound. Otherwise your audience experiencess a really unnerving pre-echo of the sound as the weaker acoustic signal reaches the ears before the processed, mixed, and amplified electric signal.   

       I'd recommend a raw high-speed synchronous serial connection with balanced push-pull signalling. A T1 would give you 1.544 Mb/s, which is fast enough to carry CD quality sound. Hardened UTP would work great for this, and you could get by with cheaper cat3 cabling for short runs. The connectors would need to be quite durable and have built-in strain relief. Instead of ethernet switches, use time-division muxes.   

       The mixing console supplies the master clock to the muxes. The muxes supply timing and phantom power to the instruments. Today's technology can easily produce a serial line driver, frequency multiplier, and an A/D converter on a single chip. Market volume would eventually bring the price down, too.
BigBrother, Sep 10 2001

       Fascinating stuff -- eliminate the snake, and with it, analog woes such as signal loss over a long cable. An efficient touring setup might develop the entire sound-and-light system into (say) a wireless "expert system" that's relatively easy for knowledgeable musicians themselves to set up and run with the help of one or two digital-audio engineers (or am I oversimplifying?).   

       Such a setup would also be a natural for digital multimedia. You'd have a partial precedent (of sorts) in the synth setup that Phililp Glass used when he took "A Thousand Airplanes on the Roof" on tour -- one actor, a sample bank, four keyboard players, and a synchronized slideshow that turned the set into different backdrops.   

       But farther along, why tour? The current MP3 sites might evolve into online pay-per-view or subscription service that specializes in digital concerts of all musical and performance-art genres. High-end pieces could range from concerts-with-CGI-stage-sets to spontaneous digital art with real-time soundtracks -- which might be different enough from current media (and current media content) to win its own paying audience.
whatsbruin, Sep 10 2001

       Croissant for putting the ADC on the instrument. I can imagine setup --- "hey man, I can't ping the drums. did someone pull the cable out again?"   

       Another possibility (short of going to a complete custom digital bus like BigBrother suggests) would be IEEE1394 (aka Firewire or iLink). 100-400 Mbps, designed to be bus-powered (you can run power over ethernet cabling, as you mention, but I think it's nonstandard), also designed to carry multimedia streams with low latency and to form small ad-hoc networks.   

       You'll have latencies on the order of milliseconds, instead of the microseconds you'll get from BB's design, but sound only travels a few feet in that time. No prob., you can still get the signal out the speakers before the direct sound reaches them.   

       Ethernet has the other advantage that you could slip some 802.11 (or the in-the-works 60Mbps 802.11a) instruments into the mix without confusing the mixer board.
wiml, Sep 11 2001

       What about this.... build a pretend system that for all intent and purpose looks like a network but eliminate any of the echo and delay problems by not connecting it up and simply playing a CD through a mixer desk. Get the band to mime.. Wow what an idea.. might just change the face of live performances as we have come to know them..
TableSpider, Sep 13 2001

       Baked as Yamaha's mLAN system, uses Firewire rather than ethernet   

       /url deleted/
BunsenHoneydew, Sep 07 2002

       Please do not type URLs into the annotation text. We have a [link] function specifically for adding links to other web pages. Click where it says [link] in the left hand column of this page, under the idea's main text.
BigBrother, Sep 07 2002

       [Bunsen] has had trouble grasping that concept today...
BinaryCookies, Sep 07 2002

       what ever happened to Sandy Beach? it reminded me that I was very nearly C. Shaw.
po, Sep 07 2002

       Wow. Now seriously baked as Ethersound [link]
BunsenHoneydew, Jan 07 2007


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