ACE (Audio and Control over Ethernet) is Allen & Heath's system of moving multi-channel digital audio over network technology.
It is 24bit 48kHz 64 channels bi-directional.
Typically it is used in iLive to provide the bridge between the MixRack (DSP brain 'The Mixer') and the remote control surface.
32 or so channels in/out are reserved when used as a MixRack / Surface link.
This is for the 8-channel I/O cards on modular iLive surfaces when you can have up to 4 cards.
The T & R surfaces have fixed I/O typically 8 or 12 inputs and 8 or 16 outputs.
Additional channels are used for the PAFL busses and Talkback.
In Addition to the audio data, there is enough bandwidth in ACE to handle TCP/IP control data such as the AH-Net which controls and manages iLive.
Other third-party control data may also be 'tunnelled' through ACE.
So for a T or an R surface and a fixed format MixRack, all you need is one CAT5 cable between your iDR MixRack and the surface.
This could, in theory, be up to 120m long.
The M-ACE option module is provided to fit the RAB audio networking cards on iLive modular systems (both MixRack and Surfaces).
M-ACE also fits the port-B expansion slot on the fixed-format iDR 16/32/48 MixRacks.
Unlike the single ACE connection provided as standard in the T & R series and fixed MixRacks, the M-ACE option module has two RJ45 ACE ports (link-1 & link -2).
A 'Network-Bridge' port is provided to allow tunnelling of iLive control data (& third-party data) over the ACE lines.
The default mode is 'redundancy': that means if two cables are used to join ACE <> ACE in iLive systems then if one cable gets broken or disconnected, data will seamlessly switch to the other link without and loss of packets, so no glitch in audio or control will be experienced.
This may be desirable when the MixRack is located on the stage for example and the surface is at Front of House and a long cable has to be run out to connect the two.
In case this cable gets damaged a second cable is run out (preferably via a different route!) these cables are connected via M-ACE links 1 > 1 and 2 > 2.
Non-redundant mode disables the auto-switching ACE from link to link and instead distributes what has been allocated to the ACE output channels (typically mic-preamp digital splits or channel direct outs) to BOTH ACE link-1 and link-2 sockets allowing a subsequent device to receive audio.
The main bi-directional ACE function is on link-1 which could be linking for example a (Master) MixRack (FOH) to a Monitors MixRack (Slave)
Up to 64 mic-pre digital splits can be sent via ACE from the Master to the Slave.
Signals can also be sent back the other way using the OUTPUTS screen on the iLive Touchscreen or Editor software.
Another device such as an iDR MixRack can also be connected via link -2 and will also get these outputs, thus a daisy-chain is created so in this case you could have FOH (with the Analogue Mic-Pre control), Monitors with +/- 24dB of digital trim, and then a broadcast/recording iLive system which also gets a copy of the Master mic-preamp signals and has independent +/- 24dB of digital trim in its local control system.
Important: Link-2 is output only in this Mode, so audio and control data go only one-way.
Signals cannot be sent back up to the other devices, and network control data cannot flow back into Link-2.
In this case, it will be necessary to do network connections via the network hub connections provided on each piece of iLive equipment for them all to be 'seen' and communicate correctly across the complete network.
A utility to switch between redundant and non-redundant ACE modes is provided in V1.61 firmware, located in MixRack Preferences.