Over the past month or so I've been reading posts on the "Behringer X32 Professional Users Forum".
One of the recent recurring issues I've seen discussed is, people using wireless access points to connect tablets or laptops to the X32 (for portable controlling of the X32) but they have constant network connection dropout or their wireless network just performs so poorly that it is unusable.
So, in this article, I'd thought I discuss 3 ways to help your digital mixers wireless rig work more reliably.
Location, Location, Location
Wireless, all most always works better when there are as few obstacles between the Access Point and the devices that its communicate with. I find that the best place for a WAP, to be is high up above the audience members heads so that it has an unobstructed line of sight to communicate with my wireless devices.
I've had success leaving the WAP:
- On the top of the Front of House speakers during outdoor events
- At the heist place in a theatre's booth that has a line of sight to the stage – providing that the seating is tiered
Many Pro/Enterprise Access Points also have a preferred orientation. Placing the WAP upside down or even vertical can degrade the signal quality of some WAPs. It is best to consult you WAPs manual to figure out the orientation which provides the best signal strength and integrity.
Don't use Consumer Grade Equipment
Consumer grade equipment isn't good for large distances or heavy network traffic – both of which are often present while running live events with a digital mixer and with several wireless control devices. A lot of the time a consumer grade all in one modem or WAP just aren’t going to cut it. While I've had success with my older consumer grade access point with my old XR18 rig, the wireless capability of the WAP just isn't capable of keeping up with the amount of data going back and forth between my X32 and laptop/tablet/X-touch.
If you want reliable WIFI than go with an entry-level Pro/Enterprise grade WAP solution like the Unifi AP range. I've been testing out the Unifi AP LR at home for the past few days and it is leagues better than any consumer grade WAP I've used. Keeping in mind I live in a place where there is a tone of other household wireless networks broadcasting that has in the past made it almost impossible to get reception up one end of the house.
Pour configuration will often also case you WAP to stop working correctly. The number one thing you want to do is disable your WAPs SSID broadcast. The SSID allows other devices to see you WAP and attempt to connect to it. This has been made particularly worse with the likes of Apple, Android and Microsoft devices having WIFI auto connect turned on by default. This feature allows devices to attempt to automatically connect to any wireless network it finds.
With several hundred audience members phones all doing this at once, your WAP can get quite overloaded. The result of this overload is a reduced communication speed between your connected devices or your WAP drops out completely as its processing power is consumed by connection requests. While Pro/Enterprise grade access points are designed to handle lots of "hey can I connect" or "who are you and how can I connect" type requests from audience members phones or devices, it's still a good practice to leave the SSID off.
Security is also a good thing to set up so that you can keep unauthorised people off your network. Its no fun for anyone if an unauthorised user starts taking control of your mixer! While WPA and WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access) are reasonably secure they are susceptible to attacks and for the most part, will keep 99.99% of people off your network.
This is particularly important if you don't want to run into a situation where you WAP has assigned all 255 IP addressed to audience members phones, thus preventing you from being able to connect or reconnect to the wireless network.
Zach Radloff lives on the Gold Coast. He is studying IT and Multimedia at university and is a qualified Live Production, Theatre and Events Technician.
Zach Radloff's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/zach-radloff.html