Located in China’s most populated urban area, Shanghai New York University (NYU) is China’s first Sino-U.S. research university. Founded in 2012 by NYU and East China Normal University with the support of the city of Shanghai and the district of Pudong, the University offers 19 majors and teaches entirely in English. One of three universities in the NYU Global Network, NYU Shanghai chose Audinate’s Dante audio network platform managed by Dante Domain Manager software to deliver upon its mission to offer outstanding teaching, research and public service.
The Audio Network Challenge
At the start of 2020, the pandemic forced educational leaders around the world to transition from in-person to remote learning, including the administration at NYU Shanghai. This presented many challenges for the University leaders and its almost 2,000 students, including improving the audio setup in 57 lecture hall-style classrooms. Each of the classrooms had existing loudspeakers to reinforce the sound for in-person attendees, but it lacked the proper audio equipment to capture sound and broadcast to remote learners. The University tasked a project team consisting of members of the IT and instructed them to create an audio system capable of delivering high quality performance.
Criteria for Choosing A New Audio Network System
The project team had several key criteria when choosing its new audio network system. First, it needed to ensure the upgrade fit within a required budget. Second, they wanted to select products from reputable vendors and brands who would provide the support it needed. Finally, reliability was critical as the system needed to last 5-7 years. When the team began researching equipment, it met with several representatives from different audio component hardware manufacturers and one brand consistently received endorsement in conversations as the choice for audio networking distribution —Dante.
Sunny Qi, senior IT helpdesk manager, was one member of the University’s project team tasked with evaluating Dante. Qi is responsible for communications services in the IT department, which includes classroom audio and technical IT support. When the team received proposals from different manufacturers, they were apprehensive about making a change given their comfort-level and experience with the existing, traditional point-to-point system. “Our team was not as familiar with Dante as we had experience mostly with analog connections,” says Qi. “When we determined our solutions required for hybrid teaching, it became clear Dante was the best choice for our campus.”
Selecting the Dante Platform
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 3,500 Dante-enabled products from more than 500 manufacturers, Dante replaces point-to-point analog and digital connections with software-based IP routing, allowing users to send AV channels anywhere on the network with perfect digital fidelity.
The University chose Dante-enabled equipment to improve the sound quality within the lecture rooms. Qi and her project team selected Dante-enabled Digital Signal Processors (DSP) from Extron for audio processing. The Extron DSPs also provide the ability to add high-quality effects including voice recognition, noise cancellation and surround sound capabilities.
The team also selected Dante-enabled Shure ULXD4D Dual Channel Digital Wireless Receivers with lapel microphones, and later added Dante-enabled ceiling microphone arrays from Shure and Sennheiser to provide better audio coverage and consistent sound during lectures.
Using Dante-enabled products, the team could connect different hardware brands with the latest products using standard Ethernet cables. This allowed them to directly integrate the products into their existing data network.
One other important factor for the team was selecting manufacturers with a solid track record of customer service. The presence of an Audinate customer service team based in China gave them added confidence in their choice. “The local Dante customer service team has been very responsive, and we are pleased with their support,” added Qi.
Dante Domain Manager
With numerous Dante products on the network, the university IT teams also use Dante Domain Manager, a server-based software solution that provides a centralized view of the entire deployment. The software allows the team to divide the system into groups to manage broadcast traffic more efficiently on the computer network and improve maintenance efficiency. Through a centralized view, the team receives alerts when issues arise in the system. Then, they can access the system from anywhere, determine the problem and solve it remotely.
“The Dante Domain Manager user interface is very straightforward, and has been simple for us to use,” says Qi. “With the ability to see all the devices at once on the network, it’s easier for us to monitor and manage our systems. Being able to access the network remotely also allows us to work more efficiently and keep our classrooms operating smoothly.”
Today, the NYU Shanghai project team is now both more familiar and comfortable with Dante serving as the backbone for their audio network. As new audio needs arise, the University will continue to look to Dante-enabled products to provide flexible, scalable networked audio and video.
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