“What is mLan? What is it good for?”
As explained in our WFTD (Word for the Day) Archives mLan is a digital networking protocol that uses Firewire connections. MLan is an emerging standard among music and production equipment manufacturers. There are other emerging digital networking standards, but mLan is specifically for music production and is being adopted by an increasing number of manufacturers you’re probably already familiar with (Tascam, Yamaha, Presonus, Korg, etc.).
Theoretically mLan could represent the end of analog interconnects in the studio and on stage. A single mLan cable is said to be capable of carrying 100 channels of audio, 256 MIDI channels, and control data. You can literally connect your mLan equipped keyboards, computer, digital mixer, recorder, studio monitors, etc. together using only one (or a few) firewire cable(s) each, and they would all be able to communicate necessary information to one another. The recorder and mixer could transfer audio back and forth (not unlike Light Pipe connections allow today), but the mLan could also carry the control information (location, time code, track arming, etc.). Similarly the keyboard could be connected to the computer, which is connected to the mixer, so the computer’s sequencer could send MIDI data to the keyboard while it in turn sends audio to the mixer all down one optical cable. In addition the setup of the very network itself is under computer control. Items can be reconfigured from one centralized location, and it’s all hot swappable.
The implications are staggering. We’re definitely talking about something that, if it really catches on, could dramatically change music production as we know it. While much of this is still in the dream stages mLan is becoming a reality. We are starting to see mLan connections on a number of products already.
What can you do with mLan today? It is already being added to a number of digital audio and MIDI products to be used as a method for transferring audio and/or MIDI information. Yamaha offers a few different types of mLan cards that can be installed in some of their digital mixers or keyboards. They also have a box that translates between mLan and MIDI and audio so non mLan equipped devices can still function on an mLan network. As mentioned above, other companies are adding mLan capabilities to their products. Most of the initial implementation from companies other than Yamaha had been in the form of transferring audio, but as things continue to roll we expect to see a much wider range of possibilities emerge. Stay tuned and keep talking to your Sweetwater Sales Engineer for developments.