Can I run HelixNet on my Dante network?


Yes. Please read below to see what network settings are required/recommended, and understand the impact of these changes on other network traffic prior to committing changes. 

In practice, a well behaved and tweaked Dante network (as per Audinate's guidelines) can carry a HelixNet network assuming that the Dante network is not configured to use multicast flows for one-to-many audio distribution.  When Dante uses multicast, we need to go a bit deeper.

HelixNet utilizes mDNS - multicast Domain Name Service - to broadcast main station names to allow for easy pairing of HelixNet endpoints to their mainstations without any IP addresses having to be entered. 

In fact, when paired by name, when the HelixNet components change IP addresses they will still connect without any configuration changes.

IGMP Snooping is a commonly used mechanism to manage multicast network traffic (one to many) on a network.  The IGMP Snooping will detect multicast traffic and only onward to those who need the traffic, instead of simply sending it everywhere on the network.

For HelixNet's mDNS to operate, it is recommended that IGMP Snooping is disabled on the HelixNet network as some switches' IGMP Snooping functionality can filter the mDNS traffic in a way that makes it invisible to the HelixNet components. When mDNS is inoperable, pairing by name and HRM expansion will most likely not be possible, but pairing by IP addresses will work as it does not rely on the mDNS and it's multicast traffic. For networks that only use unicast Dante traffic, disabling IGMP snooping should not cause problems.

Network IGMP Snooping can affect HelixNet in the following ways:

  *   Names of main stations will not be propagated to the endpoints.

Possible result: It will not be possible to "Pair By Name" when connecting via IP.

Workaround: "Pair by IP" or connect via Powerline.

  *   Names of HRM expansion panels will not be propagated between HRM panels.

Possible result: HRM Expansion mode cannot be configured.

Workaround: None. Systems network must support mDNS.

All other functions of HelixNet are routable unicast traffic and will not be effected by IGMP Snooping.

Dante recommends that IGMP Snooping is enabled to support possible audio multicast traffic on larger networks. Without IGMP Snooping the Dante multicast traffic can flood slower network ports and WiFi segments on the network. Keep in mind that most Dante audio traffic is unicast (point to point) and that multicast flows (one to many) need to be specifically enabled and managed by the system's administrator in Dante Controller.

According to Audinate, IGMP Snooping is vital when:

  *   When lots of Dante Multicast flows are used.

  *   When Dante is mixed with other Multicast traffic.

  *   Using Multicast Dante in 100M networks since bandwidth can quickly be filled.

  *   Using critical control devices on the same network as Multicast .

  *   Using Wi-Fi on the same network as Dante, otherwise Dante multicast data will flood the Wi-Fi bandwidth.

IGMP Snooping settings can differ between VLANs on many popular Ethernet switches.  One network VLAN can have IGMP Snooping disabled for HelixNet and the next one can have it enabled for a Dante network utilizing multicast.

Answers to networking questions fortunately/unfortunately come in various shades of grey.

In networking almost anything is possible with the appropriate hardware and knowledge to configure the network hardware.