What is CobraNet?

The established solution

CobraNet is the granddaddy of networked A/V technologies. Between being one of the first commercially viable solutions, and having the development oomph of Cirrus Logic behind it, CobranNet has been the most widely used protocol for Audio over Ethernet (AoE) equipment. It's the oldest and most established AoE standard in the industry, and has been used in tens of thousands of live sound installations over the years.

CobraNet is well-known, dependable, and has a huge number of products to plug into your sound reinforcement designs – Dolby Labs, BiAmp, Crown, Whirlwind, Stewart Audio, Yamaha, QSC, and yours truly, just to name a few. And, now that there are cost-effective CobraNet devices, it's a solution makes sense for small and large venues alike.

Okay, but what is CobraNet?

Think of it as the digital equivalent of a hard-wired connection. On a technical level, CobraNet uses OSI level-2 technology to make point-to-point connections between devices. We can get into the nitty-gritty details later, but at its most basic form the CobraNet setup takes a digital audio stream, packs it into a specially-formatted network bundle, and then makes the data instantly available to every other device on the network. Between input and output, there's usually an A/D and D/A conversion, DSP processing, and visits to multiple intermediary devices, too.

In English, OSI level-2 means that CobraNet acts a lot like a physical cable, but with the important advantage of still being directed as a software signal over the network. You aren't going to get advanced features like self-configuration, bandwidth adaptation, or error correction. Since it's a digital signal, equipment does have the ability to process the audio, but that's a function of the manufacturer's gear, not CobraNet itself.

At the end of the day, CobraNet focuses on doing one thing really well: live audio delivery.

Technical Mumbo-Jumbo

CobraNet runs on standard Ethernet equipment, but doesn't take advantage of the more advanced OSI stuff like TCP/IP. It's a true network, communicating via Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), with its own internal controls, timing protocol, and specialized data packets, and the audio routing is stored with each device.

What that means to you, the sound reinforcement pro, is that you'll plan around bandwidth, but most of the configuration lives inside of the CobraNet devices. So, no need for specialized equipment on the LAN, other than making sure there's enough bandwidth for the application (set up VLANs, Quality of Service (QoS) settings, install dedicated lines or switches). And, if you have to change the network topology, it's ok to do so as long as you don't lose the connection between devices or cap out how much data will fit through a single line.

We know you'll have other questions, but this is an overview. You might want to take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions page and download a CobraNet white paper for some more details.

Is CobraNet the only solution?

Heck no. It's the most visible one, thanks to a big install base, but it's by no means the only choice you've got. Like everything else in technology, the world of networked A/V is always changing. Newer A/V networking technologies like Dante offer the same real-time delivery as CobraNet, but add on features like plug-and-play installation, lower latency, and smaller bandwidth requirements.

Okay, why choose Attero Tech stuff instead of another manufacturer?

Back to the cost-effective devices we referred to a second ago, check out our Out-of-the-Box A/V product series. We've finally made it affordable to get into a CobraNet setup by giving you a way to get digital conversion, DSP processing, and AoE networking right at the wall. It's like taking a 100-foot cable run that goes through mixers, racks, patch bays, switchers, capacitors and amplifiers, and turning it into a four-foot run. It's a night-and-day difference, both in quality and in the decreased overhead. That means money in your pocket.