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?

  • 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, 2012 at 20:36
  • Notice that there are digital snake not using ethernet transport, most professional console manufacturer offer 'stageboxes' that use a proprietary protocol between a stagebox and the console main unit.
    – audionuma
    Feb 6, 2015 at 17:24

5 Answers 5


It's called a "Digital Snake"


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.

  • What would you call cost prohibitive?
    – skids89
    Feb 7, 2015 at 5:32
  • 10 years later, affordable digital snakes are available; especially if you use a digital mixer too.
    – Hobbes
    Sep 18, 2019 at 14:37

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.


See also AES67, a layer 3 protocol standard that brings together Dante, RAVENNA, Q-LAN and Livewire.



As a primarily live audio engineer I can tell you that this is called a digital snake and they rock! As you know playing with old heavy analog snakes esp. with high channel counts is LAME! Digital snakes can carry hundreds of channels of sound over one ethernet cable using several different protocols and are of such good quality now, that even the seasoned pros can't tell the difference between them and their analog counterparts.

EVERY show you see on tv and EVERY big name artist save a very small handful, use digital snakes anymore. Heck even analog sound boards have gone the way of the Dodo Bird. Digital has taken over and is industry standard for almost everything from small churches to sold out Metallica concerts.

Quality digital snakes and mixers can be found for very reasonable prices. For a digital board on a budget look into boards by brands like Behringer's x32, Presonus's Studio live boards, and Allen & Heath's QU-32. Currently these boards run under $3,000 new (not including the snake). These boards produce solid reliable results on a budget. (P.S. Several of the largest Country groups in the US have used the x32 live on tour).


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.

  • Actually many new snakes use or can use the Neutrik RJ45. Look into the x32 from Behringer (Midas designed the board).
    – skids89
    Feb 7, 2015 at 5:34

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