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In my live mixings until now I always worked with analog signals between stage and mixer. Recently I saw at a small performance a solution with a kind of ethernet cable to stage. On stage there was a device that did the AD-DA conversion.

How is this solution called? Is it use much in "big" live mixings?

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Can't speak for "big," but for medium to small <3000 it's still pretty uncommon in my experience. We've used it a few times with a Mackie digital snake and the box crashed in the middle of the performance one night. Thankfully we brought analog as backup or we would have been hosed. –  Mike Riess Jul 29 '12 at 20:36
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3 Answers

It's called a "Digital Snake"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_multicore_cable

It is gaining popularity, but it can be cost prohibitive.

Several manufactures offer solutions including; Mackie, Aviom & Roland.

Most are based on EtherSound or CobraNet, but may also be proprietary.

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The technology is sometimes called Audio Over EtherNet. There are several incompatible proprietary protocols from several manufacturers - EtherSound, CobraNet, A-Net, DANTE (more at wikipedia), but a proper Ethernet standard is being introduced called IEEE 802.1 AVB (Audio Video Bridging).

AVB is a combination of several extensions to ethernet protocols, designed to be usable for many purposes, but professional audio multicore replacement is the main driving force behind the standards at the moment. Because these standards are being designed by the same people as IEEE itself, and are designed to be usable in a range of situations, I expect that future networking gear (switches, routers etc.) will support them as standard, and the price will fall rapidly. I would not consider a non-AVB system - you'll be locked in to something that won't exist for very long.

The AVB standard is being promoted by the industry group AVnu.

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An alternative to this is MADI: it uses 2 coaxial cables to connect the AD/DA converters to the desk.
In my opinion: the cable itself is more rugged than an ethernet twisted pair, but the connectors are not so sturdy as the Neutrik RJ45 you see with e.g. Aviom.

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