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Scalable AV Systems

Scalable AV Systems

Posted by Written and Edited by the SoundPro Team on Mar 5th 2024

Estimated Reading Time: 6 Minutes

From education, hospitality, and houses of worship, to broadcasting studios, convention centers, and more, venues of all kinds demand quality, reliability, and versatility from their installed audio and video systems. No matter what your application is, its requirements will likely grow and change over time. Planning for inevitable growth must be at the forefront of decision-making when looking at the bigger picture of what you want to achieve with your application.

Scalability is key, enabling you to grow your tech ecosystem without making redundant expenses (such as replacing components). So how can you make strategic choices about your system setup now to ensure you can seamlessly scale up in the future?


Transmission of both audio and video signals is increasingly moving into a networked environment. This isn’t a huge surprise as the move from analog to digital started years ago. The key to understanding the challenges of this transition is to realize that you won’t be replacing analog point-to-point transmission with digital point-to-point—it’s about true digital networking with the needed control, standards, interoperability, and ease of use. AV/IP equips you to use protocols to simplify and streamline your setup, allowing you to build out your networked audio and video ecosystem.

How do you find the best AV/IP gear—and, on that same note, how do you ensure that this gear will be versatile enough to grow and change with your application? Start with looking at two of the biggest drivers of networked audio and video: Dante for audio, and NDI for video. There are more AV/IP offerings available, but these two are a great place to start.

Digital Networking via Dante

Developed and licensed by Audinate, Dante is a networking technology that delivers tightly synchronized audio and video signals with ultra-low network latency over computer networks, bringing the benefits of IT networking to pro AV for a more flexible, scalable, and streamlined solution. Dante uses a single cable type—Ethernet Cat5e or Cat6—to connect all system devices to a central Dante device simultaneously. Each Dante device supports up to 512 channels, meaning that a single system can support hundreds of devices for ultimate scalability.

Dante refines digital networking, so that gear from different manufacturers can seamlessly talk to other gear. It allows complete real-time AV over IP based on the new generation gigabit switches that are available in the market. Since Dante can be used with existing networks, many of these applications benefit from infrastructure that is already in place.

Dante sound cards are now available for many consoles and mixers including software mixing tools for laptops and tablets. In addition, most top manufacturers build Dante into their products. It is currently available in over 3,000 products from more than 500 manufacturers, covering a diverse range of installations and applications across industries. All Dante-compatible devices enable interoperability for a fast, easy, and dependable network.

Planning for Dante – or any other AV/IP ecosystem – will get you further along the path of futureproofing and network-proofing your entire ecosystem as the movement toward digital is inevitable. Therefore, inquiring about Dante compatibility is a must, as you select mixing consoles, loudspeakers, video over IP cameras, and other products in the networked AV ecosystem.

Popular Dante-Compatible Gear

For more information about the basics of Dante, check out SoundPro’s Introduction to Dante article.

Networked Video with NDI

While Dante has traditionally been focused on audio, Network Device Interface (NDI) is a royalty-free software standard developed specifically to enable video-compatible products to communicate, deliver, and receive high-definition video over a computer network. Since the 1980s, SDI was traditionally the digital video standard, but NDI has risen to prominence in recent years, boasting a better network connection to broadcast video, offering high-quality, low latency imaging up to 4K resolution that is frame accurate and suitable for switching in a live production.

Popular NDI-Compatible Gear

How is NDI Different from Dante AV?

  • NDI centers around MPEG2 and H. 264-based codecs and provides video compression that’s familiar to those domains
  • Dante AV provides codec control for JPEG2000

NDI is designed for low to mid-quality broadcast, while Dante is designed for broadcast and installed AV systems that need higher quality and even lower latency. In purely broadcast applications, latency isn’t a major problem since the viewer isn’t receiving two different signals (live in-person and broadcast) at the same time. However, latency is immediately noticeable—distractingly so—for IMAG, such as if a person is making a live presentation to a large room that is utilizing video displays to share visuals of the stage with the entire audience.


Getting up to speed on AV/IP, Dante, NDI, and other new platforms will give you the tools and know-how you need to find the right gear for your setup—as well as open up a wider range of equipment for you to choose from when assembling your system. Whether you’re a “pop-up” church, indie recording studio, educational facility, or corporate office, starting with a quality base system will form an ideal foundation, providing quality results in the present while setting yourself up for affordable, flexible growth in the future.

Curious to learn more about how AV/IP technology—such as Dante or NDI gear—can benefit your audio and video installation both now and in the future? Contact the experts at SoundPro by emailing or calling 800.203.5611 to discuss how to craft a system that meets your present needs while preparing for future scalability.