This article describes how to connect and use MOTU AVB audio interfaces with the Avid S3L-X console.
For years, I have wanted to connect my MOTU AVB audio interfaces to my Avid S3L console, but have had no luck. After recently finding some information on the internets, I’ve found a way to reconfigure the S3L to talk using 8-channel AVB streams, which my MOTU devices require, and with some effort I now have bi-directional audio working!!
I’ve written up a document, and shared it as a public Google doc. I’ll eventually write it up here, but don’t feel like messing with WordPress right now.
The ICF recording studio where I do mixing for live video and internet broadcasts for is, shall we say, small. Due to its small size and the presence of multiple large screens, it can become quite warm, despite fans to help cool it.
To remove a source of heat generation, I moved the Avid E3 Engine outside and on top of the booth, a change that both made it quieter and much cooler. (Note, we use a separate console for recording our bands in the studio, so the E3 fan noise doesn’t cause any problems as it is normally powered off.)
Placing the device outside though means I cannot as easily flip the power switch to power it on. To get around this limitation, I did some research and found that I can power the device on using the Ethernet Wake-on-LAN protocol.
Avid E3 Engine
To remotely wake the E3 engine, you need three things:
A computer that is connected to the same Ethernet network as the E3 engine. If VLANs are in use, they must be on the same VLAN.
The MAC address for the engine. The MAC address is available under the Options > Devices tab and right-clicking on the E3 engine image.
The IP subnet address of the network. (Optional, depending on the software used.)
Software for remotely waking the E3 engine.
There are several software packages available to send the special Wake-on-LAN Magic Packet.
For those comfortable with the command-line, a short Python script will also do the job. Save this script somewhere as wakeonlan.py and make it executable with chmod +x. Myself, I keep a copy of the script in my ~/usr/bindirectory.
Unfortunately, the Stage 16 Box cannot be remotely power cycled without additional equipment. I haven’t set this up yet, but my plan would be to use one of the devices below to enable remote power on/off of the device.
During large productions, my team uses QLab to play various sound effects, and to trigger snapshots changes on our Avid D-Show mixing console. I’d like to make use of the same triggers on the Avid S3L we use for our video mix, but unlike the D-Show it doesn’t have built-in MIDI.
According to the Avid Knowledge Base, the Roland UM-One MK 2 is officially supported, but that other class-compliant USB MIDI interfaces should also work. I don’t have the Roland, so over time I’ll try out various interfaces that I come across to see what I can get working.
If you know of a MIDI interface that works with the S3L-X, leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list.
I tried installing the latest versions of the McDSP VENUE plug-ins on my Avid S3L-X today, but they don’t work. The announcement says they are for the S6L, but all past versions have also worked on the S3L, so I’d hoped they would continue working. Alas, they don’t. Stick with the older 220.127.116.11 release.
The specific behaviour I see is that the plug-ins install successfully, as I’d expect, but when I open a show file using one of the plug-ins, they appear with the yellow/red triangle and are listed as “not available”. Plug-ins that I don’t have loaded in the current show file don’t even appear in the tree of available plug-ins, although they are listed on the plug-ins install page.
To get back to working plugins, I downgraded my plug-ins to the previously working version of the VENUE 18.104.22.168 bundle installer.
[Update: 2019-03-03] McDSP released a new VENUE S6L Installer v22.214.171.124. I tried it, and it doesn’t work. They continue not listing support for the S3L, so I’m saddened, but not surprised.
[Update: 2018-10-16] I fixed the link to the VENUE 126.96.36.199 bundle installer. I had incorrectly pointed to a nonexistent 188.8.131.52 version.
[Update: 2018-09-06] McDSP released a new 184.108.40.206 plug-in version for Windows that supports iLok Cloud. I tried this version (via manual install), and it also does not work.
[Update: 2018-09-04] I noticed today that the term “S3L” was removed from the VENUE installer on the McDSP Downloads page, and only the S6L is listed as supported for the 220.127.116.11 release. I’m guessing they have unofficially dropped support for the S3L, although I can’t find any other confirmation to that effect.
[Update: 2018-09-01] I tried manually downloading and installing the 18.104.22.168 version of the EC300 and NR800 plug-ins on a separate Windows machine, copied the installed plug-ins to a USB stick, and installed them on my S3L-X. This also did not work. (I’ve successfully used this method in the past to install the SA-2 Dialog Processor before it was included in the VENUE bundle installer, so I know it works.)
I’m part of the audio team at ICF, and learned that we had an unused Netgear GS724Tv4 network switch lying around. The switch was originally purchased to connect multiple AVB devices together, similar to the MOTU AVB Switch, but with more ports, and because the MOTU doesn’t work with the Avid S3L. Unfortunately, nobody had ever gotten it to work with AVB, so I took a stab and wrote up the instructions below.
Using a Netgear GS724Tv4 network switch to pass AVB between a Mac Pro and the Avid S3L-X
I can confirm that the switch works (firmware version 22.214.171.124 tested).
Click on the Switching tab, then click on the Auto-VoIP sub-page. In the “Protocol Based Port Settings” table, click the checkbox in the top-left corner to select all ports and enable Auto VoIP Mode for all ports. Then, click Apply in the bottom-right corner.
Click on the 802.1AS sub-page. Set the 802.1AS Status to Enable. Then, click Apply in the bottom-right corner. There will be an EAV advisory note which pops up after you hit Apply, which you can ignore.
While still on the 802.1AS sub-page click on the Advanced > 802.1AS Port Settings. In the purple header row at the top of the list select the check box to select all ports. (Consider to uncheck ports g25 and g26 to prevent AVB traffic flowing into the backbone network.) Enter a value of 5000 for the Pdelay Threshold. Then, click Apply in the bottom-right corner.
Click on the MRP sub-page. Set the MSRP Mode to Enable. Ensure that all other options are disabled. Also, set MSRP Max Fan In Ports to 26. Then, click Apply in the bottom-right corner. There will be an EAV advisory note which pops up after you hit Apply, which you can ignore.
While still on the MRP sub-page click on the Advanced > MRP Port Settings. In the purple header row at the top of the list click the checkbox to select all ports and then select Enable for MVRP Mode and MSRP Mode and enter values of 20 for the Join Time, 120 for the Leave Timer, and 2500 for the Leave All Timer. Then, click Apply in the bottom-right corner.
Click on the VLAN sub-page. Under the Advanced settings choose Voice VLAN Configuration. Enable the Voice VLAN Global Admin Mode at the top of the page. Then, click Apply in the bottom-right corner.
While still on the VLAN sub-page, under the Advanced settings choose VLAN Membership. In the VLAN ID dropdown choose VLAN ID 2, in the Group Operation dropdown choose Tag All. Then, click Apply in the bottom-right corner.
Click on the LAG sub-page. In the purple header row at the top of the LAG Configuration list select the check box to select all ports and select Disable for Admin Mode, STP Mode, and Link Trap. Then, click Apply in the bottom-right corner.
Power cycle the switch.
The one small modification to the instructions was in step 4, where I removed references to MVRP. In my experience, enabling MVRP will cause the E3 to lose connection to its internal network switch, and the only way to fix this is to cleanly shutdown the E3, then remove the power plug and wait for the green power light to go out. I did not test enabling it for everything except the E3. (Apparently this is a known issue — search for VSW-10570 in the “What’s New in VENUE 4.6.1” document that comes with the VENUE 4.6.1 release.)
Long story short, if you need use an Avid S3L-X with macOS and playback via AVB, do not install macOS High Sierra. macOS Mojave works fine, as does the older macOS Sierra, but High Sierra has clocking issues that manifest as constant clicking during playback, rendering the audio unusable.
If all you need to do is record via AVB, macOS High Sierra works without issue.
Note, all versions of macOS High Sierra through 10.13.6 are affected.
[Update 2019-03-03] I continue to have no problems with macOS Mojave (currently 10.14.3). [Update 2018-09-29] Preliminary testing with macOS Mojave (10.14.0) and 64-channel recording and playback indicates that the AVB problems have been fixed. [Update 2018-07-28] Increased affected versions to 10.13.6. [Update 2018-06-05] Increased affected versions to 10.13.5. [Update 2018-03-31] Increased affected versions to 10.13.4.
Myself, I keep a copy of the script in my ~/usr/bin directory. To wake my system, I call the command like this, where 172.16.0.255 is the subnet of my network, and 00:90:fb:4a:13:9e the MAC address of my E3 engine.
Furman M-8S (US) or the Furman PS-8RE III (Europe) connected to the GPIO connection from the E3 engine, along with an event (saved in the default show) to latch a GPIO when the system is started. Attempt only if you feel comfortable with electronics. If you would like me to build this setup and demonstrate it, send me an email.