SymNet Designer Version 3.52 Release Notes
Copyright 2003, Symetrix, Inc.

Overview of contents of this file


I) Changes in Version 3.52 from previous versions

II) Installation Notes

III) Upgrading Firmware for V3.5

IV) Issues with Site files from previous versions of SymNet Designer


This document is intended for those users upgrading from Version 1.1x-3.0x. If you are upgrading from Version 1.0x, you should first read the upgrade instructions for version 1.1x. This file is located on the installation CD in the "Help" folder. It is also installed to the SymNet Designer folder, C:\Program Files\Symetrix\SymNet Designer 2.0\Release 1_1x Notes.txt and is available on the web site.

I) Changes in Version 3.52 from previous versions

Changes in V3.52

SymNet Designer V3.52 is a maintenance release for version 3.5. It is recommended that all users of V3.5 who use super-modules in any of their designs upgrade to V3.52.

A bug was fixed that caused certain site files containing super-modules to route audio incorrectly. New firmware is not required for this fix.

Changes in V3.51

SymNet Designer V3.51 is a maintenance release for version 3.5. It is recommended that all users of V3.5 upgrade to V3.51.

A bug was fixed that caused site files with a significant number of preset or externally controlled controls to crash 8x8, 8In, 8Out DSP units and CobraLink units. This fix requires a new microprocessor firmware file (V3.506). See instructions on Upgrading Firmware below.

Main New V3.5 Features

SymNet Designer V3.5 is a major release and adds many new features.

1) Features have been added to allow automatic time alignment of multiple outputs. This option, which consumes extra DSP resources, can be turned off in the Preferences dialog box under DSP Optimization and is not enabled by default. You may choose to either compile for maximum DSP usage or minimum routing delays. If minimum routing delays are chosen, the delays can additionally be compensated for, guaranteeing that all outputs are in phase.

2) Graphic EQ modules have been added. Mono and stereo versions of 31-band, 15-band, 11-band are provided.

3) Many improvements in efficiency have been made to speed up both on-line and off-line operation. In particular, Control Screens and large mixers now operate faster on-line.

4) SymNet Designer now supports the new hardware device Control I/O. See our web site for more information on the Control I/O.

5) Interactivity between ARC units connected to a SymNet system has been improved. Now, a change made from one ARC will be reflected on all ARCs controlling that same parameter. New ARC firmware (V1.07 or newer) is also required to take advantage of this feature.

6) The global output volume can now be ramped up after downloading and unmuting. A progress bar appears during this process and allows immediate muting if problems occur (e.g. feedback, unwanted noise). A preference setting allows choosing the ramp time from 0 to 20 seconds, with a default of 4 seconds.

7) External control of analog volume and gain has been simplified. Now, these settings can be assigned to RS-232/485 controller numbers just like other DSP parameters for control via ARC or an external RS-232 controller.

8) A new item called “Select Connected Wires” has been added to the right-click menu for wires. This allows the designer to easily see how a wire is connected even with complex, overlapping wiring.

9) The SymNet Design interface now outlines in green all controls that are externally controlled. This allows easy visual identification of externally controlled items.

10) Improved Control Manager now divides up RS-232/485, Analog and Control Signal control types into separate tabs. This also adds an increased level of visibility of how Control Signals are connected.

11) A new simplified method for resizing of controls and graphs in control screens is available. When one or more objects (e.g. faders, buttons, graphs) are selected, pressing shift plus the arrow keys resizes all the selected objects. Previously, numerical entry was required for resizing and for buttons and faders resizing was only available in one direction.

12) Firmware versions are automatically checked on download to prevent mismatches.

13) The maximum Q value for parametric EQs has been increased to 50 to allow for narrower notches.

14) Compressors now can be set for a slope of infinite (previous maximum was 20) to act as a true limiter.

15) Added “Bring Forward” and “Send to Back” right-click menu items to control object precedence in design, configuration, and control screen views.

16) “Handles” (small square boxes) are no longer drawn on graphics when Edit Mode is turned off. This is primarily to improve the look of control screens that use background bitmaps.

17) A distinction is now shown for approximate (before compiling) vs. actual (after compiling) DSP usage. Compiling may result in routing modules being added to the design, which can increase the DSP usage. A design should not be considered to “fit” until it has been compiled (using either Download or Compile Only).

18) A new “Compile Only” item has been added to the Hardware menu. This allows compiling the design and looking for problems even when hardware is not present. Designers should use this item to make sure their designs compile successfully before going to job sites. This feature was previously available by choosing Download with no hardware present and responding “Yes” to the ensuing dialog box.

19) ARCs now have the ability to not affect system settings when first powered up or connected. This behavior is selectable using the Edit ARC dialog. Using this new option, which is the default, can prevent an ARC from e.g. dramatically increasing system volume when first powered on or if it momentarily loses power.

20) The last recalled preset is now visible in the Preset Manager.

II) Installation Notes

If you are upgrading at an existing installation that loads a configuration automatically on start-up, the following procedure is recommended:

1. Turn off the automatic configuration load by going to Upgrade Firmware, clicking on Erase Memory, selecting only “Triggers and Power on Default” and hitting Erase.

2. Upgrade the firmware as described below.

3. Re-download your entire site file to the hardware. If you still have the original site file (.sym file), open it in SymNet Designer 3.5 and choose Hardware->Download Entire Site File to SymNet (or press F4).
If you no longer have this file, first choose Hardware->Upload Entire Site File to SymNet, then Hardware->Download Entire Site File to SymNet (or press F4).

Following this procedure guarantees that the DSP code running in your hardware is the correct version to work with the new firmware and SymNet Designer application code.

Version 3.5 installs to a separate location than from previous versions on your hard drive. Version 3.5 will not interfere with your Version 1.x, 2.0, or 3.0x settings. Version 3.5 can cohabitate with previous versions on your PC. It is important to note, however, that the firmware on the hardware must match the version of SymNet Designer that communicates with it. Version 3.5x will only communicate with hardware that is running the firmware released with Version 3.5x, etc.. If you intend to switch between versions of SymNet Designer with the same hardware units, you must remember to change the firmware each time. Version 3.5 now checks this on download and warns you if a mismatch is detected.

III) Upgrading Firmware for V3.5

IMPORTANT: In order to run SymNet Designer version 3.5, the firmware in your hardware devices must be upgraded to the latest level. If you are receiving this software with a new SymNet device from the factory, then the firmware versions should already be correct. However, if you are using it with an existing SymNet device, then the firmware must be upgraded.

There is a new "Verify" button in the Upgrade Firmware dialog. This makes it easier to verify that you have the correct Microprocessor firmware file for the currently running version of SymNet Designer. However, it does not check for the correct version of the FPGA firmware file. This must still be done manually.

Current Versions

As of this writing, the current versions of the SymNet firmware are as follows:

SymNet Microprocessor file: Version 3.506 (applies to SymNet DSP, CobraLink, and BreakIn/Out devices.)

SymNet FPGA file for SymNet DSP Devices: Version 3.500

SymNet FPGA file for CobraLink Devices: Version 3.500

SymNet FPGA file for BreakIn/Out Devices: Version 3.500

(See "Why are there two different files?" below for more information.)

Upgrading Firmware

1.      Install SymNet Designer 3.5 using the provided Setup utility. This will copy the necessary firmware files to your hard drive.

2.      Launch SymNet Designer 3.5.

3.      Connect your hardware devices as they would be for normal operation. It is recommended you disconnect or power down all audio devices, especially power amps and speakers, connected to SymNet during the upgrade.

4.      In SymNet Designer 3.5, choose Hardware -> Upgrade Firmware. The dialog that appears will tell you the current version of the firmware in your hardware devices.

5.      Click the Upgrade button under SymNet Microprocessor file. An open file dialog will appear allowing you to navigate for firmware files. By default it should take you into the C:\Program Files\Symetrix\SymNet Designer 3.5\Upgrade folder. Select the file SNMv3500.bin and click Open.

6.      After this finishes, click the Upgrade button under SymNet FPGA file. Select the SDFv3500.bit file and click Open. (If you are upgrading a CobraLink or BreakIn/Out device, select the CLFv3500.bit or BIv3500.bit file instead.)

7.      If you have more than one SymNet device, select each device using the address dropdown at the top of the dialog box and repeat steps 5-6.

8.      If you are using CobraLink and have more than one ring, also repeat for all devices on all rings using the Ring dropdown at the top of the dialog box.

9.      When finished, click Close.

Why are there two different files?

SymNet firmware has two components, the microprocessor file and the FPGA file. They are generally independent and both may need upgrading.

The microprocessor file contains the code that SymNet's embedded microprocessor runs. This microprocessor is responsible for communicating with the host, managing the DSPs, external control, and many other tasks. The microprocessor file is common to all SymNet DSP, CobraLink, and Break In/Out devices.

The FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) file controls the programmable logic devices used in SymNet. These devices manage the SymLink bus, facilitate DSP communication, and perform several other tasks. The FPGA file is common to all SymNet DSP devices. However, a different file is required for CobraLink and BreakIn/Out devices. The file intended for SymNet DSP devices is prefixed with SD, e.g. SDFv3500.bit. The file intended for CobraLink devices is prefixed with CL, e.g. CLFv3500.bit. The file intended for BreakIn/Out devices is prefixed with BI, e.g. BIFv3500.bit. SymNet Designer checks the file contents to prevent you from using the wrong type of FPGA file.

IV) Issues with Site files from previous versions of SymNet Designer

In version 3.5, the site file (.sym file) format had changed from 3.0x. You will be able to open all previous version site files in V3.5 or later. However, files saved with version 3.5 will not be readable by previous versions. If you intend to maintain both versions on your computer, we recommend the following guidelines to minimize difficulties with file formats:

A) Backup Version 1.x/2.x/3.0x design files.
B) Don't use the same file names for Version 3.5 design files.
C) Choose the default locations when installing software.
D) Do not use version 3.5 software with version 1.x/2.x/3.0x firmware or version 1.x/2.x/3.0x software with version 3.5 firmware.

A) Backup Version 1.x/2.x/3.0x design files.

It is recommended that you backup your version 3.0x or earlier design files to a secure location before using or installing Version 3.5. Even if all else goes completely wrong, as long as you have those files, there is a way to recreate your old setup.

B) Don't use the same file names for Version 3.5 design files.

If you are going to maintain both versions of the software on your PC, it is highly recommended that you include something in the file name of all Version 3.0x and earlier files you save that indicate their version. This way you will be able to tell which files are which if the files become co-mingled.

Even if you are not going to maintain both versions, it is a good idea to use this practice at least until all your design files have been converted and you have fully embraced Version 3.5.

C) Choose the default locations when installing software.

When you install any version of SymNet Designer software, allow the installation to go to the default folder. This will ensure that different versions do not interfere with each other.

D) Do not use version 3.5 software with 1.x/2.x/3.0x firmware or version 1.x/2.x/3.0x software with version 3.5 firmware.

The versions of software and firmware must match. The only operation that accesses hardware you should do with mismatched software and firmware is upgrade to the correct firmware. Upgrading is generally possible regardless of the firmware mismatch. If this is not the case, the release notes will make a point of mentioning this.