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Whirlwind has introduced the first CobraNet based digital snake, E Snake. It is the latest addition to Whirlwind's E Sys family of products that also include the E Desk system controller, E Beam Ethernet laser and E Mod CobraNet modules. Whirlwind, known primarily for producing multipair cable products is going digital.
In addition to its lightweight cabling, E Snake is not affected by interference and is not subject to ground loop problems. A 48kHz sampling rate @ 24 bit word length provide full frequency response and wide dynamic range at mic or line levels.
Employing lightweight network cable also opens up added possibilities for routing the cable overhead, around obstacles or underground. And replacing a damaged cable is a LOT less expensive than replacing or repairing 58 pair cable and multipin connectors.
Set up and tear down are faster and splits can be accomplished by using standard Ethernet switches to connect multiple receivers.
E Snake is a combination of an E Snake Frame (ESF) and E Snake Control software for managing the system. Each ESF consists of a motherboard that can accept up to four input cards and up to four output cards. This modular design allows each ESF to transmit and/or receive as few as 8 or as many as 32 channels of real-time audio.
E Snake utilizes CobraNet, a standard for real-time, multi-channel networked audio. This allows a single E Snake frame to be used as a multiple channel input/output device in existing CobraNet networks. However, connect two of these frames to each other with CAT-5 cable or fiber optics and you replace the traditional analog multipair audio snake. Multiple frames can be employed to increase the capacity to literally HUNDREDS of channels if required over a Gigabit Ethernet network.
E Snake Control Software
E Snake Control software is included for controlling the input parameters with a PC from any point on the CobraNet network. Functions on mic/line input cards include mic or line level select, phantom power, 20dB pad, limiter, gain adjust and seven segment LED meter. Other versions of input and output cards are or will soon be available. These include mic or line level I/O, transformer mic inputs, line only inputs, AES/EBU digital audio I/O and voltage control conversion.
When two or more frames are used as a snake, E Snake Control "tracks" any changes made to the inputs and adjusts the outputs accordingly. This makes the E Snake a "virtual wire" -- as input gain is adjusted, the analog level of the output card is adjusted by the same amount but in the opposite direction. Once you have set your analog console's gain structure, adjustments to the E Snake's gain stage won't affect the input level at the board.
Other features include fail-safe backups and preset files for quick setup.