|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2013)|
SoundGrid is a networking and processing platform for real-time professional audio applications, developed by Waves Audio.
The SoundGrid system consists of a server, SoundGrid-compatible plugins, a Mac or Windows control computer, and an I/O, and is used for live sound, broadcast, post production facilities, and more, and provides an extremely low latency environment for high precision audio processing on selected consoles, e.g. of DiGiCo, Allen & Heath, and Yamaha.
- Extremely low latency platform (less than 1ms) for SoundGrid-compatible plugins
- Runs on standard Intel CPUs and 1Gbit/s Ethernet networks
- Uses standard computers, switches, and servers
- Integrates with analog and digital mixing consoles
- Provides a complete Redundancy & Recovery system
- Split to recording on a standard DAW
- Comprises network infrastructure for sound installations
- Includes MultiRack SoundGrid control software
Audio transport and system control
SoundGrid is a proprietary Ethernet Layer 2 protocol and EtherType. Audio is transported and routed between networked I/O devices and is processed on plugin servers connected to the same network. The I/O device converts SoundGrid packets to standard and proprietary audio protocol schemes.
Taking advantage of nowadays CPU power and the memory capabilities of native processing, SoundGrid runs on standard CPUs under custom optimized Linux OS, resulting in predictability, stability, and low latency that was previously exclusive to dedicated DSP-based systems. Consequently, SoundGrid can run large numbers of plugins, as well as extremely CPU-intensive plugins that are beyond the capabilities of DSP-based systems.
Separate computers form the basis of the SoundGrid processing ability:
- SoundGrid Server(s), CPUs dedicated exclusively to audio processing running a customized Linux OS that is optimized for audio processing.
- SoundGrid Host, a standard Windows or Mac computer that runs the SoundGrid host application and GUI functions.
This division of labor between the audio processing CPUs and the host application CPUs is the key to the high performance, stability, and low latency achieved by SoundGrid.
Audio is interfaced with SoundGrid by integrating a SoundGrid-programmed FPGA (Xilinx Spartan 3) into a mixing console’s I/O ports. The FPGA receives I2S or other audio signal formats and converts them to the SoundGrid format. The FPGA is also used to transfer control messages between control nodes external to the SoundGrid network and the SoundGrid control application.
SoundGrid audio processing, connections, system configuration and monitoring are controlled by the MultiRack SoundGrid control application, which runs on standard Windows and Mac computers, including embedded systems. MultiRack SoundGrid displays rows of virtual plugin chains, named Racks, each of which chains up to eight Waves plugins. A Rack processes audio coming from a user-selected input and sends the processed output to a user-selected output. MultiRack SoundGrid offers remote parameter control and navigation over MIDI, or over an inter-application API by integration with the console’s host application.
System configuration data is part of the SoundGrid protocol, allowing the user to:
- Connect and route audio between system components
- Configure I/O devices
- Configure plugin servers
- Set system sample rate, block size, and latency
- Monitor and control system and component status
- Set redundancy and recovery modes
SoundGrid systems can be easily configured for optimal effectiveness per channel-count, processing capabilities, routing, and sample rate, and are scaled and expanded by adding I/O or processing devices as required.
- SoundGrid audio networking for applications of SoundGrid networks
- MultiRack SoundGrid for the host control software
- SoundGrid servers for what servers are used for the audio processing
- DiGiCo for SoundGrid systems for DiGiCo
- Yamaha, for SoundGrid Y16 card for Yamaha consoles
- Allen&Heath for SoundGrid M-Waves solution for Allen&Heath consoles