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8. Operational quality issues

8.4 Switches and cables

Redundancy protocols offer a solution for situations where a connection in a networked audio system fails. However, bad connectors on network switches or excessive attenuation due to long cable runs can cause intermittent connection problems that can not be solved by the redundancy protocol. System designers need to carefully study the specifications of the network interfaces, switches, connectors and cables to provide a cabling reliability that matches the customer’s reliability requirements.

Excessive copper (CAT5E, CAT6) cable lengths are a common cause of intermittent connection problems. The determination of allowable lengths is a problem for system designers because many cable manufacturers do not provide maximum length specifications. Depending on the cable and connector quality, the maximum length for CAT5E and CAT6 cables is 100 meters. For mobile use, wear and tear of the cables and connectors, and the use of patch panels, might support shorter cable lengths. For longer distances, the use of fibre cabling can be considered.

For networked audio systems that are installed many times on a temporary basis - such as outside broadcast and live touring systems, road proof network switches and rugged connectors and cables can be used to provide a high reliability. Examples of rugged network connectivity systems for the audio industry are Neutrik EtherCon(*8H), Neutrik opticalCon(*8I), and Connex Fiberfox(*8J).

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