University of North Texas Boosts Connectivity with Focusrite’s RedNet Systems

Pictured L-R: Ted White (RedNet Senior Technical Sales), Kurt Howell (RedNet National Accounts Manager), Blair Liikala (Director, Recording Services, UNT College of Music) and Derek Miller (Audio Technical Director, UNT College of Music), pictured in the Murchison Performing Arts Center with a portion of the University of North Texas College of Music’s arsenal of Focusrite RedNet devices.

DENTON, TX – The College of Music at the University of North Texas recently completed a large installation of RedNet components from Focusrite. A total of 44 RedNet units, which act as interfaces for the Dante Ethernet-based audio-over-IP network infrastructure, now connect the school’s two main performance halls. Pictured in the Murchison Performing Arts Center are, from left, FocusRite’s Ted White and Kurt Howell and UNT’s Blair Liikala and Derek Miller.

More details from FocusRite (www.focusrite.com):

Each hall has its own recording control room, and a portable jazz workshop, with a total of 64 I/O.

Seven RedNet 1 and seven RedNet 2 units provide the I/O interfaces; six RedNet D16 AES interfaces offer 16 channels of AES/EBU connectivity to and from a Dante audio network; a pair of RedNet D64Rs provides the link between the Dante network and any MADI / AES10 setup; four RedNet HD32R units are the interfaces that allow Pro Tools|HD users direct access to the full benefits of the Dante digital audio networking system; 17 RedNet MP8R units are 8-channel remote-controlled microphone preamplifiers and A/D-conversion for the Dante network; and a RedNet 3 connects the digital audio systems and components to the RedNet network, with up to 32 inputs and outputs and full software remote control. The system was sold and designed by A/V design and installation firm Audio DAWg (Spunky Brunone, owner) of Irving, Texas. The system installation at the University, located in Denton, Texas, took place in August of this year.

A portion of the University of North Texas College of Music’s arsenal of Focusrite RedNet devices, pictured in the Murchison Performing Arts Center, one of their main performance spaces.

“They wanted to get the system in and running before the semester began,” says Brunone, who brought the RedNet/Dante combination to the attention of Blair Liikala, Manager of Recording Services at the University’s College of Music, about a year ago. “It was a very good fit for what they wanted to do,” he says. “They had been looking at using MADI as the audio transport format, but they already had a lot of fiber in the buildings from a previous networking system they had been using which was no longer being supported, and a lot of their hardware, such as mic pre-amps and their ProTools|HD system, could be made to work on a Dante network using the RedNet interfaces. It was just a great fit and great solution.”

Audio DAWg principal Spunky Brunone, pictured with the RedNet units he spec’ed for the University of North Texas College of Music.
Blair Liikala agrees. “We have two buildings and multiple spaces that have to be connected, as well as new equipment that was part of the upgrade, such as a Yamaha CL5 console for FOH in one of the halls,” he explains. “The jazz program has been bringing in more and bigger-name guest artists, and that’s been driving up our channel count. So we needed a good connectivity solution that would encompass the entire facility, in two buildings, and increase the number of channels we had available. The combination of RedNet and Dante did exactly that.”

Derek Miller, UNT College of Music Audio Technical Director, adds, “The MP8R’s were ideal for us for several reasons – one huge thing we were looking for was remote control of the mic pre’s, which is very simple via the Rednet control app. Also, a bonus was the built-in splitter with gain compensation, since we share the mic pre’s between FOH and recording.”

Liikala adds that RedNet’s plug-and-play nature made it easy for him and his one staffer to install the entire system, taking advantage of the campus’ existing fiber cabling. “We went from 32 to 64 channels, so that solved that problem, and the very specific nature of the RedNet interfaces made designing the system very straightforward. For instance, the RedNet D64R units act as the interfaces for the MADI that we’re using to run between the two buildings a block apart, and we can use them as two separate networks or combine them into a single network. And routing audio anywhere with Dante and RedNet is a breeze.”

Spunky Brunone says he’s been increasingly seeing the RedNet/Dante combination as the perfect solution for exactly this kind of complex, multi-space situation. “Dante offers schools like the University of North Texas a way to move audio around a big campus efficiently and cost-effectively, and RedNet has the interfaces for any type of connectivity they need. It’s a great combination.”

WHY ARE INSTITUTIONAL PURCHASING COOPERATIVES POPULAR RIGHT NOW?

For retailers selling goods to schools, universities, counties, cities and states, there have always been hoops to jump through when it comes to selling to these entities. One of the biggest challenges has been getting on individual “bid lists”. Otherwise, as a retailer, there is literally no chance to participate in purchasing opportunities and Requests for Proposals (RFP’s) issued by these institutions. Of course, there are a lot of schools, universities, counties, cities and states to connect to! Imagine the time and manpower involved for retailers who wish to, for example, be listed on each bid list across a state the size of Texas or California! It’s a very tedious process (and is probably virtually impossible to achieve)!

Of course, in most cases these entities are actually required to find the lowest possible prices for the goods they purchase. And, since they also need to utilize vendors that are on their bid lists (or even those that can provide minority-owned or women-owned certifications, they’ve sometimes been forced to select and buy from a vendor that isn’t really all that well-suited to their needs.

Another challenge is quality, knowledge and experience. For example, just because a vendor can provide the lowest price on a much-needed piece of music software or a mixing board to record the school band doesn’t mean that this same company has the knowledge or expertise to provide accurate advice before the sale – or the capability to install an item properly after the sale.

In short, there’s more to a smart purchase than low pricing. And the traditional bid list/RFP process just doesn’t address that challenge effectively. But, make no mistake, competitive pricing matters.

That’s where Purchasing Cooperatives – also known as “Co-ops” – come in. The concept isn’t brand new; these modern, web-based organizations are essentially modeled, to some degree, after the old “farm co-ops”. The goal is the same: to increase buying power and access to quality and low pricing for Co-op members – many of whom will be purchasing key items quite regularly. Co-ops are not yet widely utilized in all 50 states, but their popularity is growing. And, Co-ops have truly become the norm among institutions in key (and very powerful) purchasing states such as Texas.

Thus, entities are addressing the delays, hiccups and procurement red tape of the past by signing on to Co-ops such as BuyBoard (a prominent co-op that enjoys a big market share in Texas and also services other states.). BuyBoard (and competing Co-ops) do serve as middle-men between buyers and sellers. And that can be a very good thing. The good news, is that it doesn’t mean that the professional relationships between buyer and seller are compromised. Co-ops do take a small percentage of each transaction from the seller. But, they also provide added value to buyers by offering an easily accessible list of competitively procured product resources ranging from audio recording gear to lunch tables – and everything in between. So, essentially, Co-ops can be convenient “one-stop shops” for government organizations and educational institutions.

Of course, both purchasers and retailers must rethink the way they work through the buying/selling process. They do need to learn a host of new procedures and be willing to embrace procurement adjustments if they want to work with a Co-op.

For schools and local/state government staff, they may be restricted to selecting a supplier that participates in a Co-op. So, they may be unable to buy from a long-standing preferred retailer that doesn’t belong to a Co-op. But, on the upside, the lengthy and exhausting RFP process can become a non-issue (nice time saver!), since Co-ops promise to provide product discounts and insure highly competitive pricing to their buying customers. So, purchasing from Co-op awarded suppliers offers institutional buyers easy access to a wide array of competitively procured suppliers, as well as reducing time and headaches. Sure, change isn’t easy. But sometimes it is actually an improvement.

For retailers, the time involved in uploading their (sometimes massive) list of products onto Co-op website platforms can be both challenging and time-consuming. And vendors should pay close attention to membership deadlines and details so they don’t miss an opportunity. Frankly, if a supplier decides not to list with a Co-op, they may find that they are unable to work with longstanding school and government clients. So the effort is, generally, well worth it!

Despite the pros and cons of trying anything new, Purchasing Cooperatives like BuyBoard and other Co-ops remain the trend in procurement and there’s no indication of that changing in the near future. In many ways, buying through a Co-op makes life much easier for procurement professionals. Co-ops offer a web-based interface through which orders may be placed – for any and all participating suppliers. And being a Co-op member certainly doesn’t preclude buyers from being able to take advantage of manufacturer limited time deals, since they’re still able to maintain a direct, personal relationship with their favorite Co-op vendors.

Once a retailer has successfully navigated the proposal process and been awarded a contract by a Co-op, they are likely to gain new clients that may have been difficult to reach previously. Additional exposure is never a bad thing. And Co-ops offer a far-reaching, new outlet for selling their goods!

Nothing’s perfect. But the Co-op concept is really gaining traction. More and more institutions – in more states – are adopting and working with Purchasing Cooperatives. So, it does look as though they are here to stay. And that can be a good thing for all involved.

Audio DAWg is an Approved BuyBoard Cooperative Purchasing Vendor

Does your government or educational employer require you to make your purchases through a cooperative purchasing organization? If so, never fear, Audio DAWg has you covered. We’re a member in good standing of BuyBoard, one of the nation’s most widely used cooperatives.

Purchasing Cooperatives ask vendors– like Audio DAWg – to provide their very best pricing to their customers. We’ve uploaded a comprehensive list of the pro-audio products sold by Audio DAWg and we’re here to help you navigate the purchasing process.

In Texas, many school districts, cities, counties and other governmental entities participate in The Local Government Purchasing Cooperative or are required to make their purchases through cooperatives like BuyBoard.

Nationally, members of the National Purchasing Cooperative have access to BuyBoard to take advantage of the streamlined purchasing process that complies with procurement laws of each participating state.

As an awarded pro-audio vendor on BuyBoard, we’ve already met competitive procurement requirements. So, if you’re ready to embark upon your next pro audio purchase, let us know.

Audio DAWg is always available to provide you with highly professional advice on recording equipment, audio editing software, acoustic studio treatments, consulting – and more. We’ve been doing this for a long time and we’re happy to share our knowledge and expertise with you and your staff! We take pride in helping customers learn about their options, so you are well informed BEFORE the sale. When you’re ready to purchase, we’ll make sure everything you need for your dream recording studio available.

Let us help take the hassle out of your life when purchasing professional audio products for your school or government entity. Search for Audio Dawg on BuyBoard!