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Tips for Maintaining AV System Integrity

Management and control of devices on the network makes troubleshooting problems much easier, but what are the additional benefits?

Nobody enjoys walking into a room to discover the AV system isn’t working as expected. Troubleshooting begins and you realize someone has plugged a device into the wrong channel on the mixer or worse a key device is missing.  

Why does this happen? Well since I can’t read the minds of these rogue system disruptors, I can’t answer *that* question. But what I can do is discuss ways to prevent and track any changes to your AV system, making disruptions less frequent and returning a system to a known state easier.  

Inherently putting our devices on the network makes changes somewhat less likely than when connecting devices point to point in room. Since all devices get plugged into network switches and routing audio and video is done in software, “unplugging” a device takes it offline, and once plugged back in, the subscriptions resolve and the system works again. This is an easier fix than trying to trace a bunch of different cables plugged into multiple devices. Placing switches and other equipment users do not need access to behind locked doors helps prevent the chances of the unplugging bandit striking.  

Now that we’ve secured the physical cables how do we prevent changes to subscriptions in software or at least make it easy to return the system to a known state?  

If the in-room computer doesn’t need network access to the AV devices, putting it on a separate VLAN prevents unwanted access to the devices in Dante Controller. With the switches physically secured, we can make sure no one is gaining access to the network with their own laptop to make changes. If the computer does need access to the AV devices because it’s connecting to them via software, I recommend having presets saved for each room. 

Saving presets on a per room basis prevents taking out your whole AV network when returning a single space back to a working state, and the fewer the devices in the preset the faster it will load. Taking advantage of presets in Dante Controller lets you get back to the meeting, class, or event quickly.  

Increase security and track changes easily 

If you’re looking for more secure user access and tracking changes, Dante Domain Manager has you covered. With Dante Domain Manager even when you open Dante Controller on a computer in the same VLAN as your devices nothing will show up until you log in with your user credentials. You can give users different privilege levels from read only access, to being able to change subscriptions but not configuration, to full configurability, ensuring only authorized users can change your system. Since even experienced users might make changes you’re not expecting, the Audit Log in Dante Domain Manager tracks all changes to the system and who made them allowing you to revert the system to a known state with ease.  

Asset tracking can be painful for anyone managing systems spread across multiple rooms with a decent number of devices. An often-overlooked feature of Dante Domain Manager is the ability to export all enrolled device details as a .csv file which can be imported into an asset or inventory tracking database. Device details such as manufacturer, model, name, firmware version, and IP address are all tracked in a single convenient location. In addition to the default device information there are blank fields on the device details page to fill in location, description, and comments that will get also exported. I highly recommend adding the device’s location and serial number or other tracking data here when new systems are set up or devices enrolled in Domains. Data gathered about devices over the network can drastically cut down on manually having to input every piece of equipment and detail into your equipment tracking system. 

Once we’re using networked AV, by locking down the physical and logical connections, we prevent many changes from even occurring in the first place. Utilizing system presets mean restoring to a known state is possible with just the click of a button. Errors and data gathered and logged about your system makes it possible to troubleshoot and manage inventory from your desk without having to go physically inspect a device.  

Harness the full power of networked AV to make maintaining growing AV systems a little less painful.  

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