Contributor - Level 2

Unreliable wireless, in a venue with lots of smartphones

This isn't so much a question, but more of a warning for anyone trying this.

For these digital mixers touting wifi control from a tablet or smartphone, while this might sound like a good idea and may work great when tested in isolation, it has a risk of working poorly or possibly not at all out in the field.

In a typical modern audience it is quite possible that every single one of the attendees has brought a smartphone with them, with the wifi capability turned on.

There is limited wifi radio airspace, and all wifi devices in range (about 300 ft / 100 meters in open air) must compete for that airspace. Once you get up to about 15-20 devices in range, a single wifi access point is going to start becoming saturated, and more access points are needed to split the user load.

So how many people here are using digital mixing with wifi and only 20 people present total, both in the audience and venue employees, and anyone else passing by in the street with a possible smartphone in their pocket?

I suppose you could stand on stage at the start of the concert and announce "Will everyone in the audience please set their smartphone to airplane mode?" (good luck with that)

Maybe in the future the newer wireless protocols like 802.11ac will help fix this, but for now the risk of intermittent connections, or being completely unable to connect, is highly likely with wifi enabled digital mixers.



The large complex building-wide wireless systems that use a central controller and multiple slave radios that are managed by the controller can deal with this load sharing, but a single standalone wifi radio does not have this capability. What are the chances the venue actually has something like this already in place to handle the potential heavy wifi device load?

It's probably not a good idea to try to rely on the venue to have the wifi technology you need so that your own live stage production isn't a disaster. And as the number of smartphone users increase, it's possible that what was built out last year at a venue is now being overwhelmed with even more devices this year.



Really, if you're going to try using a tablet or smartphone to control a digital mixer for even a moderate sized audience of 50 or more people + venue staff, it would be a good idea to see if there's some optional plug-in wired ethernet adapter that you can use, to ensure a reliable closed-access connection between the touchscreen device and the digital mixer.
DaleMahalko Contributor - Level 2 2016-06-13

2016-06-13

Unreliable wireless, in a venue with lots of smartphones

This isn't so much a question, but more of a warning for anyone trying this.

For these digital mixers touting wifi control from a tablet or smartphone, while this might sound like a good idea and may work great when tested in isolation, it has a risk of working poorly or possibly not at all out in the field.

In a typical modern audience it is quite possible that every single one of the attendees has brought a smartphone with them, with the wifi capability turned on.

There is limited wifi radio airspace, and all wifi devices in range (about 300 ft / 100 meters in open air) must compete for that airspace. Once you get up to about 15-20 devices in range, a single wifi access point is going to start becoming saturated, and more access points are needed to split the user load.

So how many people here are using digital mixing with wifi and only 20 people present total, both in the audience and venue employees, and anyone else passing by in the street with a possible smartphone in their pocket?

I suppose you could stand on stage at the start of the concert and announce "Will everyone in the audience please set their smartphone to airplane mode?" (good luck with that)

Maybe in the future the newer wireless protocols like 802.11ac will help fix this, but for now the risk of intermittent connections, or being completely unable to connect, is highly likely with wifi enabled digital mixers.



The large complex building-wide wireless systems that use a central controller and multiple slave radios that are managed by the controller can deal with this load sharing, but a single standalone wifi radio does not have this capability. What are the chances the venue actually has something like this already in place to handle the potential heavy wifi device load?

It's probably not a good idea to try to rely on the venue to have the wifi technology you need so that your own live stage production isn't a disaster. And as the number of smartphone users increase, it's possible that what was built out last year at a venue is now being overwhelmed with even more devices this year.



Really, if you're going to try using a tablet or smartphone to control a digital mixer for even a moderate sized audience of 50 or more people + venue staff, it would be a good idea to see if there's some optional plug-in wired ethernet adapter that you can use, to ensure a reliable closed-access connection between the touchscreen device and the digital mixer.

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Valued Contributor - Level 2

Re: Unreliable wireless, in a venue with lots of smartphones

WiFi is IMHO nothing more than a (sometimes) useful option at this point. If I were to rely on wireless for my primary audio-work-surface it would have to be using radios that operate on frequencies completely separated from consumer devices.

Here I am talking about active mixing done from a FOH position. You simple can not be bothered with communications dropouts in stressful situations while mixing a potentially complex show with constant stage-changes. Temporary dropouts are much less serious for on-stage mixing and monitor-mixes where things are mostly static and you only occasionally have to touch anything.

A worrying trend worth mentioning is hacking and sabotage of live events. I've seen several events destroyed by sabotage in recent months. The communications protocol use to control X-Air and X32 mixers has offer no security/protection at all, and most other brands with similar consoles are not much better. Wireless networks are far too easy to hack and one in an attacker can turn your mixer configuration upside down in seconds. To me this is more than reason enough to keep the console and the primary controller on a wired network, and to either use a router with a separate on/off switch for the wifi radio or use a separate wireless AP that can be turned off if there is any suspicion of hostile activity.
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Contributor - Level 2

Re: Unreliable wireless, in a venue with lots of smartphones

Welcome to the forums, this is a discussion that has been going on since the mixers came out, though not as prominently lately, as the consensus (with a few luck outliers for whom the internal wifi has been stable) is that an externally, hardwired dual band router and hardwired laptop or other device for backup should be SOP for these products)
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Contributor - Level 2

Re: Unreliable wireless, in a venue with lots of smartphones

I use both the XR18 and the x32 with the Wifi.

First thing I did after seeing some of the problems you described was get a good dual band router so I could work on the 5ghz spectrum. Setting up the network properly is also important as is placement of the router.

I never rely on the built in router for gigs and I also bring along a 75ft piece of cat6 network cable and my laptop so if there are any issues I can just plug in the wire. So far I have not needed to do that since I got the dual band router. I plan on upgrading to the tri band router soon when I find a nice one on sale. I've done gigs with at least 1000 people in the club in a heavily populated urban area and I'm sure they all carried phones and tablets and I don't have problems.

If you put your router on the floor and don't password protect it you are probably going to have connection issues. If you follow the suggestions that you can find on the forum here you'll have a nice solid connection and once you start mixing wireless you will never want to go back to being trapped in one spot. No more being stuck against the wall or in a corner.
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Contributor - Level 2

Re: Unreliable wireless, in a venue with lots of smartphones

Kevin Kommit;79237 wrote:
I use both the XR18 and the x32 with the Wifi.

First thing I did after seeing some of the problems you described was get a good dual band router so I could work on the 5ghz spectrum. Setting up the network properly is also important as is placement of the router.

I never rely on the built in router for gigs and I also bring along a 75ft piece of cat6 network cable and my laptop so if there are any issues I can just plug in the wire. So far I have not needed to do that since I got the dual band router. I plan on upgrading to the tri band router soon when I find a nice one on sale. I've done gigs with at least 1000 people in the club in a heavily populated urban area and I'm sure they all carried phones and tablets and I don't have problems.

If you put your router on the floor and don't password protect it you are probably going to have connection issues. If you follow the suggestions that you can find on the forum here you'll have a nice solid connection and once you start mixing wireless you will never want to go back to being trapped in one spot. No more being stuck against the wall or in a corner.


I googled tri-band router and learned that it uses one 2.4 Ghz and two 5 Ghz radios and intelligently routes to devices based on the device requirements in real-time. The 2.4 Ghz spectrum is the most congested and the 5 Ghz spectrum is much less busy. So it is clear that the 5 Ghz would work much better than using 2.4 Ghz.

However, please explain how using a tri-band is any better than a dual-band in the 5 Ghz spectrum for controlling the XR18 mixer?
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Contributor - Level 2

Re: Unreliable wireless, in a venue with lots of smartphones

Steve Walker;79239 wrote:
I googled tri-band router and learned that it uses one 2.4 Ghz and two 5 Ghz radios and intelligently routes to devices based on the device requirements in real-time. The 2.4 Ghz spectrum is the most congested and the 5 Ghz spectrum is much less busy. So it is clear that the 5 Ghz would work much better than using 2.4 Ghz.

However, please explain how using a tri-band is any better than a dual-band in the 5 Ghz spectrum for controlling the XR18 mixer?


I often have multiple devices connected, sometimes I give the bands access with their devices as well so they can control IEM's etc. Having multiple radios can have an advantage and on some of the tri band routers you can give one device priority of the others so it will keep one device connected to one radio at a fast speed and connect the others to the second radio at whatever speed the slowest device is running. I don't think it will help if you only run one device?

I am not sure but if for some reason something steps on the signal for one radio it might automatically connect my device to the second radio without me having to do anything? Same as if I have two routers bridged together using one as a range extender.

I almost always run at least my laptop and a tablet just so I have some redundant backup. I start out the night usually with my laptop since the windows based software gives me a better overview and use my tablet for the PEQ's. Later in the show when things stabilize I start to abandon the laptop and just carry my Android tablet.

If I have someone that keeps bugging me about monitors I might launch the app on my phone and hand it to them and let them mix their own monitor.

A few other things you can do to help is the location of the router. Keeping it high and line of sight and clear of cables and power cords as well as setting fixed IP addresses etc. The quality of the router also makes a difference. It's also important to make sure you close any unwanted apps on your devices and get rid of any unneeded saved networks.
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Contributor - Level 2

Re: Unreliable wireless, in a venue with lots of smartphones

Kevin Kommit;79264 wrote:
I often have multiple devices connected, sometimes I give the bands access with their devices as well so they can control IEM's etc. Having multiple radios can have an advantage and on some of the tri band routers you can give one device priority of the others so it will keep one device connected to one radio at a fast speed and connect the others to the second radio at whatever speed the slowest device is running. I don't think it will help if you only run one device?

I am not sure but if for some reason something steps on the signal for one radio it might automatically connect my device to the second radio without me having to do anything? Same as if I have two routers bridged together using one as a range extender.

I almost always run at least my laptop and a tablet just so I have some redundant backup. I start out the night usually with my laptop since the windows based software gives me a better overview and use my tablet for the PEQ's. Later in the show when things stabilize I start to abandon the laptop and just carry my Android tablet.

If I have someone that keeps bugging me about monitors I might launch the app on my phone and hand it to them and let them mix their own monitor.

A few other things you can do to help is the location of the router. Keeping it high and line of sight and clear of cables and power cords as well as setting fixed IP addresses etc. The quality of the router also makes a difference. It's also important to make sure you close any unwanted apps on your devices and get rid of any unneeded saved networks.


Thanks for the insight to the application of the tri-band routers.