Review: Enttec E-Streamer

Enttect E-Streamer The Enttec E-Streamer is a rack mountable show server for entertainment and the architectural world. One huge draw to the E-Streamer is that it can handle up to 64 universes. It is recommended that if you are using fully populated universes, you limit yourself to 40 per unit if you are running on a 100Mbit network. While the E-Streamer has no problem sending 64 universes of data out on 100Mbit network, there can be bottle necks and packet loses due to less expensive routers.  It is recommended to have a professional network administrator setup a high-end router to handle this amount of data through unicasting rather then broadcasting. Additionally, it has a swappable hard drive so if you have multiple units in multiple locations running the same show you can just copy all of the files to a hard drive, take them with you, upload them to the new unit and be on your way. It also boasts a processor beefy enough to allow you to run up to 100 simultaneous shows using any or all of the universes (any channels that are affected by multiple shows simultaneously are treated in an HTP manner). Events or start of shows can be triggered via the internal time clock, buttons on the face of the unit, RS232 commands, or network triggers, and is perfectly content sitting in a network rack running the same shows for years on end.

There are some caveats to this powerful machine. The biggest one is that the only way to get data in or out of the machine is through its Ethernet port, so you have to figure out some way to turn your 5 Pin DMX into an Ethernet based protocol. Conveniently enough, Enttec makes several boxes that can help you do this. The simplest is the ODE (Open DMX over Ethernet) which has male and female 5 pin XLR connectors on one side and a female Ethernet jack on the other. This tends to work out well for large architectural installations, if you have several sites that are separated from your control point it’s easier and cheaper for your Electrical Contractor to convert your DMX to Ethernet at each site and run Ethernet back to a switch near your E-Streamer (keeping in mind of course that the run limit for Ethernet is 100m before it has to be boosted). If, on the other hand, running the DMX makes more sense, Enttec also makes a Datagate which is a fully configurable Ethernet to DMX Splitter/Switch which has 8, 5 pin XLR connectors and an RJ45 jack on its face.

The E-Streamer is exclusively a streamer and not well suited for programing directly within. There is no way to program your shows using it as a standalone unit. An external console is necessary to program the lights, and once you have everything looking the way you want it just run the DMX through the streamer and record your cue stacks as shows. For large jobs, this is probably the preferred method for using the E-Streamer. If you are programming an E-Streamer project that is actually using anywhere near 64 universes you can have multiple programmers working on different sections with different consoles simultaneously because of the networked nature of the beast. Just don’t forget, you’re going to need some way to get the DMX out from the console into the E-Streamer.

Enttec is coming up with a lot of interesting control solutions that could be very helpful in the architectural and architainment markets. The E-Streamer is one of a number of powerful tools they have in their arsenal. For the right situation this box can be a life saver.  For more information on the Enttec E-Streamer, visit their website at www.enttec.comContact your local Enttec dealer for pricing.

Enttect will be demonstrating the E-Streamer and other control products they offer this week at USITT in a shared booth with Stage Research, #1040.