Here is How to Connect Your Allen & Heath Avantis or A&H dLive to Virtual Sound Check via Dante

Overview of Virtual Sound Check

Virtual Sound Check has become an indispensable tool for modern audio engineers, allowing them to refine mixes, troubleshoot issues, and fine-tune performances without the presence of the live band. For users of Allen & Heath’s Avantis and dLive mixing consoles, using Virtual Sound Check via the Dante networking protocol opens up a world of possibilities. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of connecting your Allen & Heath console to Virtual Sound Check via Dante, streamlining your workflow and enhancing your mixing capabilities.

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Understanding the Components:

Before diving into the setup process, it’s essential to understand the key components involved:

  1. Allen & Heath Avantis or dLive Console: These mixing consoles serve as the central hub for audio processing and control.
  2. Official Allen and Heath Dante Expansion Card: Connecting to the back of the Avantis or dLive, the card enables Dante connectivity.
  3. Computer with DAW (Digital Audio Workstation): Your computer running a DAW such as Pro Tools or Ableton software will serve as the playback device during Virtual Sound Check sessions. Notably, Reaper is a free multi-track recording and playback tool that also can be used.
  4. Dante Virtual Soundcard (DVS): This software application allows your computer to become a Dante-enabled device, transmitting and receiving audio over the Dante network. You can pay for and download Dante Virtual Soundcard here.

Step-by-Step Setup Guide:

1) Establish a Dante Network

  • Connect your Dante enabled devices to the same network. Generally, we recommend a separate network from your regular devices, using Category 6 cable at a minimum. Avoid using Cat5E or Cat5. Do not use WiFI for Dante Connections. The connection is too unstable.
  • We recommend using Dante certified switches as the basis for your Dante network. This is particularly important for large Dante networks with many devices. For the purposes of Virtual Sound Check, a simple hub will do.
  • For Dante connections to your computer via Dante Virtual Soundcard on the Mac, we strongly recommend not using network adapters such as a USB-C to Ethernet or equivalent. Over the years when troubleshooting mysterious problems with Dante Networks, we often find these pesky adapters to be the culprit.

2) Connect Your Allen and Heath Dante Expansion Card to the Avantis or dLive Console:

  • Locate the Dante Primary and Secondary ports on your Allen & Heath expansion card.
  • Connect the primary port of your Dante Expansion Card to the Dante network, using CAT6 Ethernet cable.

3) Setup Dante Virtual Soundcard (DVS) on Your Computer:

  • Download and install the Dante Virtual Soundcard (DVS) software from the Audinate website according to the Audinate instructions. In addition, download and install the Dante Controller application.
  • Launch the Dante Virtual Soundcard application and enter your license as required.
  • Launch the Dante Controller application.
  • Configure the Dante controller to view the appropriate network adapter connected to your Dante network. Most modern computers have multiple network adapters. Think WiFi, Ethernet, Etc. You have to tell Dante Controller which network adapter is the Dante network. Figuring out which network interface number is which can be challenging and involve some usage of terminal.
Dante Controller Window
Dante Controller Window
Dante Controller Window - Select Network Adapter
Dante Controller Window – Select Network Adapter
Dante Controller Window - Select Network Adapter Interface
Dante Controller Window – Select Network Adapter Interface – NOTE: your interface may vary based on your computer.

4) Configure Dante Routing

  • Use the Dante Controller software to manage audio routing within your Dante network.
  • Create audio routes between the Dante-enabled devices (console, computer) to establish audio routing. Start by opening ‘Transmitters’ in the Dante Controller window. You should see, if connected correctly, your Dante enabled devices, including your Allen and Heath console, your computer with Dante Virtual Soundcard enabled. Next, open receivers. You should see a list of receiving Dante devices. Press the “plus” symbol on the Dante device corresponding with the computer running your DAW under the transmitter section. Then, open the “Receiver” section of your Allen and Heath console. You will see a matrix grid appear. Next, route your channels between the devices as desired. Typically, channel 1 is routed to channel 1, channel 2 to channel 2, etc.
  • Ensure that the playback channels from your DAW software are routed to the appropriate Dante transmit channels connected to the console. This process may vary by DAW.
Dante Controller Transmitter and Receivers Windows
Dante Controller Transmitter and Receivers Windows
Example Dante Routing
Example Dante Routing

5) Initiate Virtual Sound Check

To start virtual sound check, follow these steps

  • In your DAW software, load the session you wish to use for Virtual Sound Check and load your previously recorded tracks.
  • Enable playback and monitor the audio levels to ensure proper transmission over the Dante network.
  • On the Allen and Heath console, click on the I/O button and tap Virtual Sound Check on the touchscreen. Route the Dante receive channels containing playback audio to the desired input channels for mixing by selecting the input card at the top of the screen. I/O port 1 or I/O port 2 for Avantis. For dLive, you need to take care to select the correct port that the Dante card is installed in. The applicable IO port could be in the MixRack or in the Surface.
  • Next, click “virtual sound check enabled” on the bottom right of the touchscreen, and your routing will change on the desk according to your virtual sound check configuration.

Using Virtual Sound Check via Dante with your Allen & Heath Avantis or dLive console offers a highly flexible workflow with relative ease to configure. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can seamlessly connect your A&H dLive or Avantis console to Virtual Sound Check via Dante, allowing for efficient mix refinement and troubleshooting without the need for the live band’s presence. Embrace the power of technology to elevate your audio mixing experience to new heights.

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