MESSE09: CopperLAN - One Wire To Link Them All

A networking protocol suited to audio and MIDI      10/04/09

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14:28 mins

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The story started in LA in January at the NAMM show, when I was approached by a secretive foreign gentlemen telling me I simply must come and see him at MESSE where I would be witness to the unveiling of a totally new networking "command and control" protocol ideally suited to audio applications. I was intrigued, but we've been here before – I remember a similar thing with the DICE II chip networking capabilities, which while impressive, appear not to have become the new standard. Still, these guys look like they mean business – with a substantial collection of qualified individuals on the staff – including ex CEO of Goodyear-Dunlop Europe no less, plus a few heavyweight developers. There's clearly been plenty of investment – both financial and intellectual gone into this technology. You can tell there's a vision thing going on here – I spoke to Eric Lukac moments before the big unveiling at the press conference in the swanky Hotel Maritim at the gates of the MESSE building, where he gave me an overview and demonstration of some of the capabilities of the system.
    What is CopperLAN?
  • Protocol and networking system for audio + command & control
  • Based on existing hardware standards
  • Self-configuring, plug and play
  • Compatible with MIDI
  • Turnkey solution: protocol, hardware solutions, middleware, driver and application code
This is all rather high level marketing speak – as presently the focus is on getting more manufacturers – both of hardware and software, to take up the CopperLAN creed. Basically this is a system that allows for large amounts of control data to co-exist over ethernet, with bridges to existing interfaces such as USB, MIDI, Firewire etc, enabling control of huge numbers of parameters of both hardware and software to be edited, stored, recalled in one huge self-aware system – plug in a CopperLAN enabled device, or indeed plug something non CopperLAN into an aware device, and the system will say you have a new XX or YY plugged in, what would you like to do with it? It does seem like it has a huge potential to re-vamp and consolidate a number of disparate technologies and help to unify the control of all of it. Not to mention it can also turbo-charge the rather tired MIDI standard and increase the amount of data you can zoom about the wires. Once you start thinking about it, there are numerous applications including some potential for long distance communication - say remote mix tweaking, editing patches in a 'live;' project or the like. The potential for something quite ground-breaking is there, it's just a question of persuading everyone to jump aboard. The CopperLAN team are keen to point out that they are independent – not tied to a manufacturer, like Yamaha was with mLAN or DICEII seemingly was with TC Electronic. This means their only desire is to get it adopted so they can sell embedded hardware and presumably license the technology so we can all get our hands on it. To get the idea, I strongly recommend you watch the video in it's entirety. Nick Batt


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