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Metric Halo announces new technologies and upgrade path Audio Interfaces
Old 20th March 2014
  #91
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just.sounds's Avatar
Ravenna site :
"The low-latency requirement has already been elucidated in the Live Sound section, but with RAVENNA's capability to configure latency numbers in the sub-milliseconds range, it can perfectly match the needs in the recording environment."

Sub milisecond is low but i think still more than 4 samples. ;-)
Old 20th March 2014
  #92
Quote:
Originally Posted by Actualsizeaudio View Post
This plus 1000. I have 3 boxes, and right now certain configurations cause me to suffer cranial dissonance. This looks like an end to that. Holy cow.

I'm wondering if you can use all of the available outputs in a 3 box system in the monitor controller section. That would be awesome.
I'm also looking forward to reclaiming all my digital ins and outs. 2 ULN-8s and 2 RME Octamics (or equivalent) mean 32 inputs in a 4 space rack.

Add my studio ULN-8 and and another 8 channel pre and that's 48 channels in 6 spaces, which would have been extremely handy a couple of times on location in the last few months.
Old 20th March 2014
  #93
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by just.sounds View Post
Ravenna site :
"The low-latency requirement has already been elucidated in the Live Sound section, but with RAVENNA's capability to configure latency numbers in the sub-milliseconds range, it can perfectly match the needs in the recording environment."

Sub milisecond is low but i think still more than 4 samples. ;-)
Latency is a word. It is being used all over the place. Neither the 4 samples referenced here or the sub-millisecond referenced there have any direct meaning in a studio environment. These are latencies in routing protocols and are only components in audible latency events. There is no miracle here that has now created 4 sample monitoring latency for recording studios - don't we all wish!
Old 21st March 2014
  #94
They are killing us with this tease and then subsequent lack of info.
Old 21st March 2014
  #95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Actualsizeaudio View Post
They are killing us with this tease and then subsequent lack of info.
BJ just posted a long msg on the mailing list. Looks interesting!
Old 21st March 2014
  #96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Actualsizeaudio View Post
They are killing us with this tease and then subsequent lack of info.
Here you go:

Hi Folks,

As you may know, at the Musikmesse last week, we announced a technology preview of the tech that we will be releasing in an upcoming upgrade for the Mobile I/O Family.

If you did not see or hear the announcement, you can watch a video of the presentation here (note the first 20 seconds or so are in German, but we switch to English after that):

Part 1:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=584657858292385

Part 2:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=584662884958549

To summarize:

We have announce a set of Core technologies that will form the basis of an upgrade for existing MIO's, LIOs and ULN-8s as well as the basis for future products. These Core technologies are comprised of the following:

1) USB2 Class Audio with MH sureClock transport.
- This provides 192 channel (96in/96out) communication at 1x rates
- The audio clock and the USB transport clock are decoupled in HW

2) MH Router
- This provides 1024x1024 channel router @ 192k on every unit
- The router transports audio in one sample
- All audio sources and sinks are connected via the router
- 1024 channels is large enough that it is effectively infinite

3) MH Link
- Each unit has 2 MHLink ports
- Each MHLink port provides 128 channels of audio in and out @ 192k
- Audio is transported with 1 sample of latency
- This is built on the Gigabit Ethernet Physical layer
- Connections are on Cat 5
- Cables are inexpensive and ubiquitous
- Cables can run 100m between nodes
- Connections are transformer coupled, so no ground loops
- Fully integrated with the MH Router
- Transports audio clock

4) MH Link + MH Router Enabling Technology:
- No more aggregate devices
- No more legacy I/O to bridge mix busses from box to box
- Makes all boxes look like one box to the mixer and the computer

5) MH Router integrates all I/O in the unit
- USB
- MH Link
- ADAT
- AES/EBU
- SPDIF
- Analog
- MADI
- Not all products will have all I/O types

6) In practice, the combination of MH Link and MH Router mean that audio can be transported from the input point on one box to the output point on the next box
with 4 samples of latency, and each additional MHLink hop adds an additional 2 samples of latency.

Since all boxes have two MH Link ports, you can chain boxes as you like. Unlike FireWire and USB, the MHLink is not a bus, so each link has the full bandwidth available to it in both directions.

Since we integrate Automatic delay compensation into the system, effectively each box that you add to the system adds 2 samples of system latency.

For example, if you have 8 boxes to implement a 64 channel system, the system will add 16 samples of overall latency to ensure that all channels are aligned regardless of which box it comes from. This amounts to 333 microseconds of additional latency if you are operating at 48k. At higher sample rates, the latency scales down.

The presence of the router on every box means that any input on any of the boxes can be routed or multed to any output on any of the boxes. This includes the USB, which could be connected to different computers on different boxes.

7) Since the computer transport is USB Class Audio, the units can be used with any host that supports USB Class Audio -- this includes Mac OS X, iOS, Windows and Linux.

8) Of course, in keeping with our commitment to future-proof products, this is an upgrade for every FireWire interface that we have ever shipped.

There have been many questions about what we discussed and I wanted to clear as many of them up as a can. Please find a bit of a FAQ below. In addition, we'll be posting a tech talk that goes into some additional detail. The talk has been recorded, and it is being edited now. We'll post a link once it has been posted to YouTube.

Here is the list with the most asked questions:

*** Q1: I don't understand; is this an upgrade or a different box?

This is an upgrade. It applies to every unit we have ever shipped. 13 years ago, we said future proof, and we meant it.

*** Q2a: USB 2.0? not USB 3, Thunderbolt etc.?

The USB 2 is what we consider to be the baseline for the upgrade and future products. There are a few important points as to why we choose USB2 as the baseline:

1) Every single device you would want to use these with supports USB2 and USB2
Class audio.
2) Neither USB 3 nor Thunderbolt have class implementations for audio - so that
means that custom drivers are required, and for the platforms that do not
support custom drivers, that means that you simply cannot interoperate.
3) We have been able to implement an exceptionally capable transport layer on top
of USB2; we can do 96 channels in and out at 48k (192 channels total) which
far exceeds the needs of most of our customers.
4) We have this all working now.

That does not mean that we will not implement USB3 or Thunderbolt. It just means that we are not ready to *talk* about it yet.

*** Q2b: But if you use all the UBS2 bandwidth how do I add a USB drive to the USB bus?

On the Mac (at least) each USB connector is on its own bus. So you can use the different connectors. That being said, if you use a USB3 hub, the USB2 and USB3 busses are actually completely separate (on the same connector) -- so you can attach the interface on USB2 and a USB3 drive, and the two devices will both get full bandwidth.

*** Q2c: Multiple boxes on one USB 3.0 port using a hub might come in very handy…

You don't need to do this because of MHLink -- multiple boxes on the USB bus gets us back to the situation with FireWire -- where each box is independent and you need an aggregate to use them together. MHLink aggregates in HW.

*** Q3a: Will the old FW ports remain, or will everything be swapped so that only the new USB/MH Link interfaces remain?

Everything will be swapped. All the computers that support FireWire also support USB2, so there is no compatibility break, and maintaining support for FireWire would increase the end-user cost of the upgrade.

*** Q3b: Will USB2 bus-power a Mobile I/O?

No.

*** Q3c: Will USB3 bus-power a Mobile I/O?

No.

*** Q3d: Will ThunderBolt bus-power a Mobile I/O?

No.


*** Q4: When I connect multiple computers which will show the Miomixer? All of them or is one the master?

We are still working on this, so we are going to defer answering it until we have a more complete story to tell.

*** Q5: Can I record to two computers at the same time for redundancy?

Yes.

*** Q6: What's all this about 1 sample of latency and USB?

The USB latency is higher than one sample (obviously). USB2 uses 125 microsecond isoch periods. Latency on the USB bus is quantized in units of isoch periods. In the sureClock implementation, we need to have 2 packets plus a couple of samples of safety offset on the input and output side of the USB. The 2 packets correspond to 250 microseconds of latency in each direction.

On the computer side, there is some additional transport latency due to the way that the USB hardware works -- 2 or 3 packets worth. So that is an additional 250-375 microseconds.

On top of that you have the audio buffer latency that is determined by the size of the audio buffer you choose in your host -- that's going to be the same regardless of the transport protocol.

All told the transport latency adds up to around 1 - 1.5 ms (maybe a little bit more) at all sample rates. This is consistent with what we were able to achieve on FireWire.

*** Q7: So very exciting - love the Ethernet connectivity - love to hear the details on USB in/out latencies. But isn't the 1 sample stuff is being taken way out of context?

It is a little bit, in that the USB <-> Computer latency is higher, and is generally dominated by the buffer size you choose for the host.

But the latency is 2 samples per hop (1 sample for input to the MH Router and 1 sample for output from the MH Router) on the box -> box connection, which is much, much lower than anything that can be achieved with other high-bandwidth transports and allows for the aggregation of boxes in a way that we cannot achieve on USB, FireWire or something like Dante.

The latency would be achievable on something like MADI, but MADI does not have the channel counts that we can attain with MHLink, nor does it have the bandwidth for control data, and it has much more expensive and less generally available cabling.

*** Q8: How is MADI integrated?

The tech is done. The realization in specific products is still being determined.

*** Q9: Is this a real ethernet connection? If yes, wouldn't it make sense to connect the device via ethernet to your pc?

Yes it is a real ethernet connection. It is possible to connect via the computer. That being said, MHLink generates packets at a much higher rate than computers really want to deal with, and there are real challenges in getting the latency down to what we wish to achieve when using an ethernet connection that is controlled and shared with a GP OS with a full networking stack.

In addition, while it may not be the case for PCs, in Mac and iOS, current machines do not ship with Ethernet connectors on the hardware, so you are back to needing an adapter. That is not the case for USB.

*** Q10: How can USB be superior to FW in aspects of CPU load and performance?

Modern USB HW uses the same DMA engines that FireWire used. All the data transport is done via DMA, and does not require CPU intervention. In addition, USB audio transport is headerless, so there is no need to do payload extraction and header pre-pending for USB (whereas it is required for FireWire), so the actual CPU intervention is lower for USB than for Firewire.

*** Q11a: Are the 96 channels a total channel count?

It is 96 in and 96 out at 1x (44/48) rates (so 192 total). For each doubling of the sample rate, the total number of channels goes down by half. So 2x rates are 48in/48out and 4x rates are 24in/24out.

*** Q11b: Is this tied to the number of boxes?

No -- the USB channel I/O is controllable independently from the number of boxes, so, for example, if you are mixing in the MIO mixer on one box, you would be able to do so with a much higher number of output channels from your DAW, without having to add additional boxes (for channel count). Depending on what you were doing, you may need more boxes for DSP.

*** Q12: Why is that high channel count not achievable with Firewire?

There are two components for overall transport performance - the capabilities of the computer and the capabilities of the device. The current MIO hardware implements the FireWire protocol layer on a DSP, and a significant amount of the overall limitations are due to CPU and bus bandwidth limitations on that HW. In addition, on the Computer side of things, the number of DMA contexts that is required to be supported by a FireWire controller is fairly low (we pretty much only guaranteed of having 4 input DMA and 4 output DMA contexts).

So those combined together limit the ability to stream the theoretical maximum channels. In contrast, with sureClock, we have implemented the USB transport layer in hardware (without a software component), and that allows us to reach the actual channel bandwidth of USB. In addition, on the Computer Side, USB controllers are required to support DMA for all endpoints up to the bandwidth limit. So bottlenecks are removed on both sides of the USB.

While we could implement the sureClock on top of FireWire as well, at this stage of the game, there really is no point, because every machine with FireWire also has USB, but many machines with USB do not have FireWire.

*** Q13: What's the timeframe?

Some time this year. We'll firm that up when we can.

*** Q14: What's the cost?

Not yet determined, but it will be affordable.

*** Q15: Can we have exact features?

Of course not! As Gustav Graves said in "Die Another Day" -- "It's not a secret. It's a surprise."

*** Q16: and how it's going to become available ?

For existing users, it will be an upgrade like the 2d Card was; new masterboard and new backpanel. It will be field-installable, and we will also offer a factory upgrade service.

For new units, it will be included as part of the unit.

*** Q17: Are there pictures?

Not at the present time. The development hardware we have is not representative of the final product.

*** Q18: How and where is the +dsp available and how do we control it. In class compliant mode especially.

All of the processing you have come to know and love on our hardware will be available on the new hardware - simply with more available DSP. For example, the Firewire transport engine consumed all of one DSP and about 15% of the the other DSP on the 2d Hardware. sureClock uses no DSP at all. The MH Router would consume 100% of the 2d DSP; on the new hardware it uses no DSP at all. As far as the specific forward looking aspects of your question -- we are still working on this aspect, and we'll share more when we can.

*** Q10: I only have one box -- why do I care about this?

Four reasons:

1) Interoperability with whatever platform you want to use at the moment.
2) More of what you already love about your box -- more processing, more
channels, more plugins.
3) Easy expandability -- if you need more in the future, you can add more
seamlessly.
4) The new processor architecture has a minimum of 1000 times the available
memory as compared to the 2d Card. This means that the memory limitations
that occur on 2d are simply gone.

If you have further questions, please post them and we'll do our best to answer when we can.

Best regards,

B.J. Buchalter
Metric Halo
Metric Halo
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Old 21st March 2014
  #97
Gear Maniac
 

No ULN-2 support. Very very disappointed!
Old 21st March 2014
  #98
Lives for gear
Wow - what a great read -
Made a first pass but will read through a few more times!

Certainly a great example of looking at how to maximize the most ubiquitous interface in use today. 1000X the memory would open the roof for how and what things can be done internally. All ain all - very exciting and tantalizing stuff.

Visions of a more "control room oriented box" with simple ethernet to get to the "recording room device (s)" -- :-) or whatever you guys are cooking up!

Again - 1000 thanks for the tech brief!
Old 21st March 2014
  #99
Quote:
Originally Posted by sarmad View Post
No ULN-2 support. Very very disappointed!
What are you talking about?

"It applies to every unit we have ever shipped."

For doing big shows, the way to go seems to be to have the ULN-8s on stage with a 100m ethernet cable connected to the truck outside where you have a ULN-2 to monitor everything.
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Old 21st March 2014
  #100
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Jake's Avatar
 

As I read the email, the upgrade is available on all MIOs which would include the ULN-2 and the 2882.
Old 21st March 2014
  #101
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by edwinhurwitz View Post
We have announce a set of Core technologies that will form the basis of an upgrade for existing MIO's, LIOs and ULN-8s as well as the basis for future products.

Best regards,

B.J. Buchalter
Metric Halo
Metric Halo
BJ wrote ULN-8s and not ULNs... what should I understand from that?

@edwinhurwitz
I stopped reading after that!
Yes he does say, "It applies to every unit we have ever shipped."

So is ULN-8s a typo?
Old 21st March 2014
  #102
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Jake's Avatar
 

Metric Halo's nomenclature is frankly a little confusing, but both the 2882 and ULN-2 are "MIO" class units, i.e. Mobile I/O units that can be bus-powered via firewire. If you look at the front panel of the ULN2 it has the Mobile I/O badge. The LIO and ULN-8 are an entirely different class of interface despite the common use of "ULN" between the ULN2 and ULN8.
Old 21st March 2014
  #103
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Jake's Avatar
 

Metric Halo's nomenclature is frankly a little confusing, but both the 2882 and ULN-2 are "MIO" class units, i.e. Mobile I/O units that can be bus-powered via firewire. If you look at the front panel of the ULN2 it has the Mobile I/O badge. The LIO and ULN-8 are an entirely different class of interface despite the common use of "ULN" between the ULN2 and ULN8.
Old 21st March 2014
  #104
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks for the clarification Jake ... Looking forward to the upgrade!
Old 21st March 2014
  #105
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dbjp's Avatar
 

With this new incredible offering, it really would be icing on the gigantic cake if MH released a preamp only unit (no monitor control, headphone amps, etc) at an affordable price.

At the moment it's a little too expensive to be going for multiple ULN-8's.

With this new tech it would really make sense to have such expander units to make MH the ultimate I/O for both location recording and in studios.
Here's hoping...
Old 21st March 2014
  #106
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junior's Avatar
 

Badass!!
Old 21st March 2014
  #107
Quote:
Originally Posted by sarmad View Post
BJ wrote ULN-8s and not ULNs... what should I understand from that?

@edwinhurwitz
I stopped reading after that!
Yes he does say, "It applies to every unit we have ever shipped."

So is ULN-8s a typo?
I don't know if it's a typo, so much as fairly hasty organization of as much information as possible while it's still all coming together. My guess is that they were far more involved in how to make this happen than getting ready to explain it in a way that answers everyone's questions. But, when BJ says that every product is future proof and you can upgrade (I like that! Field upgradable!) every unit that ever shipped, I believe him. I think you and I and a lot of other people are going to be grinning ear to ear starting in about 6 months for quite some time!

I love the preamp only idea. I'm using RME with AES outs now, which are OK, but the MH pres and conversion seem to be on another level completely.

I'm sure that part of the confusion we see right now stems from the fact that they are perched at the moment of where everything is going to blow wide open. From having a fairly small, but devoted, niche business dealing with Mac users in music recording and some other creative application of their boxes, they are going to be spreading out into Windows users, Linux users, iOs, etc., who will be using this stuff as a huge live mixing console, for broadcast mixing, for major theater design projects, for interactive multimedia, I'm hoping for little node boxes to plug in iOs units for more me monitoring live and in the studio, I'm imagining post production facilities setting up multi box behemoths, with major motion pictures mixed on them. So far, they are excellent interfaces with great signal path implementation and dap hampered by some clunky issues with aggregation and a fair amount of fiddle under the hood to get the perfect routing going on. After this, it seems like it will be a question of envision your perfect mixing desk and then implement it. There is a possibility of MH becoming a much bigger company, so I'm anticipating some changes. I'm hoping it doesn't get super corporate, but that doesn't seem to be the Buchalter style. This is great stuff!
Old 21st March 2014
  #108
GnS
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This is really absolutely outstanding. This blows all the competition out of the water in aspects of channel count. WOW, B.J.!
Old 21st March 2014
  #109
This is amazing.

On FB BJ confirmed that all outputs across boxes are now available in one monitor controller window. Wow.

It actually makes 2882s that much more valuable. For instance I have 1Lio and 2ULN8. If I add a 2882 I know have access to light pipe to feed a monitor mixer or something like that. Also, in a monitor mixes situation you can easily get audio from a ULN8 mic input to an output on a 2882 that might be dedicated to headphone mixes with what, at most 8 extra samples latency in a 4 box system? Awesome.

Last edited by Actualsizeaudio; 21st March 2014 at 06:03 PM.. Reason: clarification
Old 21st March 2014
  #110
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Does this mean that you would not need to connect adat or wordclock between two boxes now or would the physical connections still be needed?
Old 21st March 2014
  #111
rlg
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rlg's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dykesh View Post
Does this mean that you would not need to connect adat or wordclock between two boxes now or would the physical connections still be needed?
3) MH Link
...
- Transports audio clock
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Old 21st March 2014
  #112
Quote:
Originally Posted by dykesh View Post
Does this mean that you would not need to connect adat or wordclock between two boxes now or would the physical connections still be needed?
This is an important question actually.

Let's imagine a setup where you are doing a remote record and you want to have talk back to the room and you want to have monitors where you are setup. Having a ULN-2 next to you, and then 100M of Cat5 to several ULN8 would be a great setup. Now, does the ULN2 next to you need to send or receive word clock from the other boxes? That's a big question.

Another big question unanswered at this point is in regards to the mix engines within the boxes. Many of us use the Mio mixer as a summing mixer outside of Pro Tools. The summing within my ULN8 DOES NOT sound like the summing within Pro Tools. Regardless of which is better, I prefer the Mio summing. As it stands now I can only get 18chs in per box, which can cause me to have to do some sub mixing at times (NBD). Is that mix engine limitation gone? Will it still even work the same where channels in your DAW are specifically routed to individual DAW sends to a specific box? Is there a sonic benefit the way it is now having less than 20ch mixed by a specific 2D mix engine?

Boy I hope someday Pro Tools (once Avid sells it probably) lets us use ore than 32 channels of 3rd party I/O. Honestly it will eventually become a reason to switch DAWs if they don't.
Old 21st March 2014
  #113
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impressive.
Old 21st March 2014
  #114
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Jake's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Actualsizeaudio View Post
Another big question unanswered at this point is in regards to the mix engines within the boxes. Many of us use the Mio mixer as a summing mixer outside of Pro Tools. The summing within my ULN8 DOES NOT sound like the summing within Pro Tools. Regardless of which is better, I prefer the Mio summing. As it stands now I can only get 18chs in per box, which can cause me to have to do some sub mixing at times (NBD). Is that mix engine limitation gone? Will it still even work the same where channels in your DAW are specifically routed to individual DAW sends to a specific box? Is there a sonic benefit the way it is now having less than 20ch mixed by a specific 2D mix engine?
As I read BJ's email, the channel count between Mio/DAW will be 96i/o at 44/48; 48 i/o at 88/96; and 24 i/o at 192. Internally, the Mio via the MH router will have a limit of 1024 X 1024 channels. If I'm understanding this correctly -- well to quote another post above -- Bad. Ass.
Old 21st March 2014
  #115
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Actualsizeaudio View Post
Let's imagine a setup where you are doing a remote record and you want to have talk back to the room and you want to have monitors where you are setup. Having a ULN-2 next to you, and then 100M of Cat5 to several ULN8 would be a great setup. Now, does the ULN2 next to you need to send or receive word clock from the other boxes? That's a big question.
This is my current setup...well faking it with firewire over Cat5, along with some AES line for talkback and monitoring.

This upgrade is a much more elegant and flexible system! I can't wait for this! They have gone above and beyond what I was expecting them to come up with, and I am not disappointed in the slightest that they have held off on thunderbolt considering they think this is better!

It sounds like sync will be transmitted over Cat5, along with audio and control over the boxes? I think it's a one cable solution!
Old 21st March 2014
  #116
Quote:
Originally Posted by zygmunt View Post
This is my current setup...well faking it with firewire over Cat5, along with some AES line for talkback and monitoring.

This upgrade is a much more elegant and flexible system! I can't wait for this! They have gone above and beyond what I was expecting them to come up with, and I am not disappointed in the slightest that they have held off on thunderbolt considering they think this is better!

It sounds like sync will be transmitted over Cat5, along with audio and control over the boxes? I think it's a one cable solution!
Me too. I use a Lindy cat 5 firewire extender (currently for sale) and ETS boxes. This means I have to run 2 cables, and I lose any ability to use front panel knobs for monitor level, and I don't get a headphone out. the ULN2 scenario gives you front panel talkback level via mic pre gain, monitor level via a pot, and a headphone jack with level control.

Very elegant
Old 21st March 2014
  #117
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake View Post
As I read BJ's email, the channel count between Mio/DAW will be 96i/o at 44/48; 48 i/o at 88/96; and 24 i/o at 192. Internally, the Mio via the MH router will have a limit of 1024 X 1024 channels. If I'm understanding this correctly -- well to quote another post above -- Bad. Ass.
Correct, but that still doesn't address where and how the mixing happens. Meaning, if you have 3 ULN8s which one is doing the summing of signals, or will it matter? Will we even need to know?
Old 21st March 2014
  #118
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Actualsizeaudio View Post
Correct, but that still doesn't address where and how the mixing happens. Meaning, if you have 3 ULN8s which one is doing the summing of signals, or will it matter? Will we even need to know?
Good question! I think the concept is that it won't matter since all MH units will be treated like one big MH box with free routing between all of the inputs and outputs. Can't wait to see the detailed info from MH -- this sounds like such an elegant way to create an easily scalable and flexible system.
Old 21st March 2014
  #119
Well I now know what my next studio purchase is going to be.

A Windows capable USB2 LIO-8.

Bring it on.....................

Keith.
Old 21st March 2014
  #120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Actualsizeaudio View Post
Correct, but that still doesn't address where and how the mixing happens. Meaning, if you have 3 ULN8s which one is doing the summing of signals, or will it matter? Will we even need to know?
My impression is that all the boxes act like one big box and the system will make the decision where the actually summing happens. Apparently we don't need to know and the process will be transparent. All inputs will be available to all outputs. I'm not sure if there's any way for DSP to be shared among boxes or how that works.

I'm trying to find the quote from B.J. about this, but it's eluding me.
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