MESSE09: CopperLAN - One Wire To Link Them All

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

No flash plug

14:28 mins
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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10 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
S R Dhain    Said...

At any given moment, my studio resembles darth vaders bathroom, with assorted analog synths, cv/gate, midi to cv, midi, usb et al, so something like this, if it can be adopted and developed to REAL WORLD fruition, is a godsend. Interesiting mention of comparisons to tcp/ip , which is a de facto networking protocol. My years as a systems engineer used to bring tears to my eyes as to how poorly lan's were implemented.

Now If this is even anywhere near as fast as that, and as reliable, then its a winner. The only OTHER THING, invariably, is security and how they implement that, in terms of lan, wan useage. Im curious as to the custom code set theyre using here, as how or where is the handshake implemented according to the standard OSI model? Surely theyve created a plethora of algorithms to enable multi communication over all the other standards we currently use, in which case, it must be quite system intensive.

All in all, its all good, but im curious about how it copes with packet collision detection, packet switching etc, which will inevitably be out of the hands of the originators and more in the hands of the individual developers and manufacturers, as to how THEY deal with the implementation in their products.

MIDI has worked all these years ( 27 now, i believe) simply cause it does what it says on the tin, and isnt anywhere near as complex as a lan/wan system.

11-Apr-09 09:03 AM

PL    Said...

I agree. Another standard? I bought into the mLan system philosophy and was burned when it all became abandonware. That really stings for being an independent musician. Now I can't sell this stuff to save my life. No thanks, I'll stick with what's worked well. I've already given too much money to the "midi over lan" gods already.

12-Apr-09 04:12 AM

Henry Fretzel    Said...

Wow! From viewing their website, it seems that these guys have got their act together. Am I dreaming? This is mind-blowing and so visionary! At last a system that would handle cabling without the usual headache of patching midi cables and, the icing on the cake, at the press of a button, you get an instant recall of all your settings. This goes far beyond what we've been used to in the last two decades in terms of flexibility and set-up. As far as standards are concerned, I read they're using Ethernet, USB, Firewire and possibly future standards of communication to link computers and instruments including the midi stuff so in my opinion, there's little risk to be left behind. In terms of investment, I guess as a studio owner, I won't have to worry too much about cost, if any at all, to be able to use that technology as it seems to be licensed to manufacturers so we'll just need to wait until the first synth or sequencer comes out equipped with this 'beauty' . I hope manufacturers and devs will jump on this as I can't wait to see Cubase and others handling hundreds of channels and thousands of controllers. No wonder big names are already embracing the project. Well done guys!

15-Apr-09 05:32 AM

Bjarne D.    Said...

I saw a wifi device in the back there. Could it work via that as well?

19-Apr-09 10:21 AM

H Fretzel    Said...

Yep, it looks very much like a modem. I don't see why it wouldn't work since the signal is just transmitted via wifi and would then further be processed to its final destination. On a larger scale, this could be applied, provided it get supported, to virtually any transfer protocol. That's why I think this system is opening new doors for the future.

19-Apr-09 01:42 PM

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07-Jun-09 04:52 AM


copperlan more like coppercrap to get our money, this is another mlan nonse, look at all those people left behind just bacause they wont release a 64bit driver, stick to midi and standard firewire. yamaha has stolen our money far too long.

02-Nov-09 11:21 AM

steven Hilard    Said...

Wow this is a another Mlan Disaster in the makin lol, come on stop the bleeding and let those Mlan users have their drivers. I personally stopped using their products and gone with better pc solutions like RME and MOTU, hell even Tascam have vista 64 and now win7 64 drivers for their fw1884, lol, what a joke yamaha shame on you.

02-Nov-09 11:25 AM

mtktofr    Said...

What about the YSFW driver, does that support other gear besides Yamaha equipment?

11-Jan-10 01:08 PM

NuNu    Said...

Hey you last three... Have you ever read anything about this upcoming technology? It's clearly said CPL has NO BINDING to ANY HW manufacturer. They are free, and thus very powerfull. I might understand your disappointment with mLan if you put any money in there. But you must have learned the underlaying technology before betting it on. Sorry if you hadn't... But leaving all your (and others) mistakes behind... This technology feels very promising, and indeed is (as already tested). I can only immagine what it will yield when it comes to its designed full-blown state including audio-over-copperlan, DMX-over-copperlan, and almost whatever-over-copperlan, and only your immagination will be the limit of what is possible using this...

10-Jan-12 10:21 AM

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