Be aware when using a digital mixer via WiFi...

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Crowder, Dec 4, 2017.


  1. griggsterr

    griggsterr Supporting Member

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    At that level it is usually the console rebooting. On a large show even 15 seconds can seem like 5 minutes.
    So it becomes important how long it takes for the mixer to reboot and how soon can it pass and process audio. There are some well known and widely used digital mixers that start passing audio before you can actually use the faders or mutes. This can have really bad consequences too. 90% of these things happen due to power issues. So a lot of companies now use UPS on the console so that it will stay running even if the power drops momentarily.
     
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  2. griggsterr

    griggsterr Supporting Member

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    I don't want to be the guy that told you guys so, but here we are.
    That is the potential downside to a wifi only control setup. I have also been to places where the wifi was so crowded that I could not get a stable wifi connection. In those situations you will be glad you bought a dual band router. So if 2.4 is acting weird, at least you have the possibility of 5ghz being ok. and if nothing else works break out the laptop and a long piece of ethernet cable.
    I own an XR18 and some other mixers but with those I always bring a laptop an ethernet cable as a back up plan.
    Also I once had my ipad stolen at a gig. I laid it down for just a moment and when I came back it was gone. This happened outside at a large outdoor retail place with lot's of pedestrians and shoppers around. My ipad was clearly marked with my name and contact information on the cover. But did I ever get it back? nope.
    the name of the game is have a backup plan. or live with something that has an actual mixer to it as well.And still have a backup plan.
     
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  3. HoboMan

    HoboMan Silver Supporting Member

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    Even when I used an analog board I always had a backup board at every gig.

    I have a rack mounted XR18 as my main mixer and an X18 as a backup.

    The Xair software is free. I have it on my laptop, tablet and my phone and all three are at every gig, and yes, I’ve actually used my phone many times to make adjustments while walking a room.

    I’m sure there are people who think this may be overkill but I can tell you that my clients that I run sound for have never complained that I have too many backups.
     
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  4. jmoose

    jmoose Supporting Member

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    Well, for starters this clearly wasn't 15 seconds feeling longer. There are, or at least were videos on Utoob if you want to go looking... plus I have friends that are deeply into the band, one guy and his wife went to all 13 shows at MSG this year so I'll tend to believe them if they say the PA was down for a few minutes.

    I don't totally buy that its a power thing. Yeah a UPS can save you from a momentary hiccup but what about back in the day? You'd have your big honkin analog desk, like a 40 channel PM5k, Heritage, Soundcraft MH4 or whatever with redundant power supplies and a big honkin rack of outboard gear. Never lost power then and had the entire show go down... and if your at MSG or Red Rocks you're tied in and bonded. Its not like they toss a generator into the middle of the floor.

    The one great thing about the Avid consoles is that you can completely unplug or shut off the computer and they'll keep running with faders and mutes intact as long as you have juice. All the processing locks to wherever it was at, but at least you can get to set break or end of the show without rebooting. Quite a few other companies should follow that... it seems so obvious yet..?

    I'm not sure I'd even want to attempt to mix a show from my phone. I guess its better then nothing but that sucks. Tablets are good most of the time, unless your in direct daylight... or they grow legs and walk, which has happened to a few people I know. Call me old school, I'll take it but I need a dedicated control surface as the primary interface.

    I did sorta ponder the XR box for a minute and realized it didn't make any sense for my situation. Chances are good I'd never put it on the ground and use it as a stage box, too many chances for spills and damage so I'm still carrying copper snakes... plus then the headphone outs are on stage which is totally impractical. And even then, if I had it off to the side I'd also have to bring a laptop, router and tablets?? More crap to carry and setup.

    Plus I dunno... if I really wanted to be a full time IT guy I'd probably just get into that field... make better money.

    Obviously YMMV!
     
  5. jmoose

    jmoose Supporting Member

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    Actually I did lose power at the festival this year. The whole stage is powered from a solar array with one 20 amp line. Been running that for years, never a problem and before the panels we took power from a shed with standard 15 amp lines that was nearly 100 feet away.

    This year, second band get up plays a song and a half and WHAM - everything goes down. Lights, backline, PA rig, DJ booth the whole deal.

    They had more gear then the first band... another guitar amp, keyboard or two and his amp... couple horn players and a rack of wireless etc

    Took a few minutes to figure out that what blew was an old rack power box I had. Not a Furman, I think it was a Juice Goose? Was a cheap one that I've had forever, think it was almost 20 years old. Once we established that the power from the panels was still there and the lights didn't blow out, I tried resetting the box but it was no go. Ended up scrounging for a few $5 power strips to bypass the rack power and bring everything back up.

    Its times like that I'm glad I have a board with real controls... analog or digital. Soon as we had juice running the band was back to playing. If I had to go through and reset network connections, get everything talking again it would've added more time and stress to an already stressful scene. I never checked the time but I'd say it was at least 15-20 minutes from the power going out to being back up.
     
  6. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

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    "unplug or shut off the computer and they'll keep running with faders and mutes intact as long as you have juice." - XR18 does the exact same thing. The issue would be if you have a break and enable mute groups, then your laptop or tablet bugs out and you can't get stuff unmuted...
    I love the XR18. Always use 802.11n (5Ghz) router, locked down network, no broadcast of SSID. Extra ethernet cables if I want to straight to laptop, I actually walk the room with my laptop and then put it back on the rack and hook up USB to be able to track the show.
    I'll never use an analog console again. The real beauty (for me) using the XR18 is EVERYTHING is saved (including channel volume / trims) so I'm usually 90% dialed in before we even walk into a show. Very little tweaking which is essential if you are also IN the band (vs. doing sound for someone else).

    Like the OP I use small mains (DXR10's) and a single sub. VERY portable rig, minimal cabling, simple setup. direct recording, etc...
    The laptop also runs DMXIS and I have a USB to DMX hub and have my lights programmed as well. Random scenes and stuff but pretty damn cool with fades, etc.
    If we played to a click I could build an entire light show around the music which would be fun, just a little too much work (for now).

    -- And yes, I'm an IT guy as my day job.

    I do have a tiny Behringer mixer which analog controls, but I think that has a lot of digital stuff too (built in FX). I bring that as super small backup.
     
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  7. griggsterr

    griggsterr Supporting Member

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    My comment was that 15 seconds can seem like an eternity. I'm sure it was however long you say it was.
    All the bigger consoles do what you talked about. Don't need a computer to run period.
    Yamaha, Avid, Digico (those are the big 3)
    On big shows they always a dedicated console not ipads. On a Digico the ipad app is really only just some faders and a little EQ. When you spend 25k and up on your console you already have a good mix position picked out most of the time. Most of it is power related, most of these are now running Dante, or Rio or MADI as a transfer protocol and if any area of that goes down, even just a managed switch somewhere goes down so does the show or the lights or the comm system whatever.
    The old school systems were not as vulnerable period. But those days are pretty much gone with flip phones.
     
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  8. griggsterr

    griggsterr Supporting Member

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    I have owned 2 XR18s
    However the only digital mixer I ever owned that died on me on a show was an X Air 18.
     
  9. zenmindbeginner

    zenmindbeginner Member

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    Sounds friggin' awesome!!
     
  10. HoboMan

    HoboMan Silver Supporting Member

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    The nice thing about the XR18 is you can hook up multiple wireless devices simultaneously. I usually get the basic mix with my laptop and then I can walk the room with my tablet or phone. Did an outdoor block party gig once where we used our bassist's PA (he also has an X18) and during break they had children's ballet performance. They ran music and made announcements thru the PA. While the bassist was controlling their MP3 player I was out front adjusting volumes with my phone.

    If you have to manually reset network connections you're doing it the hard way.
    I have my XR18 rackmounted with with my surge protector and router. I turn on the surge protector and everything boots up, my laptop and tablet see the connection and immediately connect with no interaction from me.
    I also have a bluetooth adapter connected so that I can play music during the breaks from my phone. From across the club I can change songs, adjust volumes etc.
     
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  11. HoboMan

    HoboMan Silver Supporting Member

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    Yep, a fantastic feature. I played with a couple of different bands this year and also have my own sound company. I have every show saved and can just recall them as needed on the fly.

    You can even share settings with other XR18 users.
    When I first got mine I was intimidated and didn't know where to start. I sub on guitar for my friend's band and bought their XR18 several months before I got mine. I contacted the bassist and he emailed a mix from one of the gigs I played with them and I loaded it onto my XR18 and used that for my "starter" settings.
    Every gig I've done has just been tweaked setting from his original email.

    I was running sound for another band a couple of weeks ago and that bassist stopped by. He was looking at my mix settings and laughed when he saw one of the effects labeled "Chipmunk". That was one of his that he created earlier in the year for his band.
     
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  12. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

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    Yes, when I lived in Delaware and was gigging regularly I hired someone to do sound - it was a simple "briefcase gig for him. Actually, he just showed up with his iPad and built mixes for all of our shows. I did all of the heavy lifting (literally) so I could pay him less. I kept all of saved mixes which are starting points for the band down here. I recently upgraded firmware and such, brought the system to our rehearsal space in an about 10 minutes we were up and running with a very solid base mix.

     
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  13. Guitar Stu

    Guitar Stu Member

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    Had the dreaded wifi drop out on my xr12 for a school christmas carols I volunteered my services for. Was just running FOH with two mics and christmas songs on my phone for music for the night. It was all going good with music playing till about 5 mins before they wanted the mics which I had muted. Wifi had dropped out. Looked up and yep couple of hundred people in the hall.

    Thats ok. I have my backups. Get out cable to connect tablet direct to mixer, not working. Plug in back up wireless router, not working. Crap. Panic. Got mikes going through two channels that weren't muted but gain was to low.

    Ended up working out that I had my ethernet settings backwards in my brain on the XR12 and didn't have the selector switch on the unit set properly. Once that clicked backup router was working fine even though it was only 2.4ghz.

    I was looking for a direct wired connection to the mixer without having to buy a laptop.
    I use either a Cheap 7" Lenovo Android tablet or my Moto G5+ android phone to run the XR12. I wanted to be able to connect them direct to the xr12 using OTG mini usb cable and usb to cat 5 adapter. Managed to get it to work with the Lenovo but wont work with my Moto G5+.

    Cheers
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
  14. jmoose

    jmoose Supporting Member

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    Are you high? The XR has no physical controls. Unless I'm high all I see is a patch box. The brain may continue to function but will have no control over what's happening if the controller goes south.

    I think we're on two different pages anway... your talking about a $600 mixer that needs add on's to run. An Avid Venue system is at least $60k

    @HoboMan - Agreed manually resetting the network isn't and shouldn't be required but crap happens. And if you do enough shows with a digital mixer at some point its going to happen. None of this stuff is bulletproof. You've never had a laptop crash? Tablet lock up? The phone always works perfectly all the time yeah?

    For me, my little PA rig... being able to recall settings really doesn't matter. Most of the time its a show with a handful of bands and there's a new one every 60-90 minutes. The workflow is totally different. Occasionally I'll have one band playing all night but even those are one-offs. I need the physical controls to get a mix together in about half a song, that's kinda hard when your on a tablet looking at maybe 8 channels at a time... at least for me.

    I'm not offering my services as a "sound company for hire" or anything like that. Not even close. Its a cheap and cheerful rig to cover small events basically for friends as needed. Someone needs to plug in a half dozen IEM packs? Wants big honkin' subs? Needs to cover 500-1000+ people at blistering volume? We'll call a legit sound company.

    If I was doing that stuff full time I'd probably get at least a Yamaha TF3 and a bunch of QSC cabs or something on that level but I can't justify the expense. Instead I've got a $600 analog desk that can take 12 mics, supply two mixes on wedges and Smackie Thumps. If they all blow up or get set on fire I don't really care! For the half dozen or so times a year that it all leaves the house its beyond acceptable.
     
  15. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

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    My point was if the laptop or tablet takes a **** mid set you will not lose total sound output - like you mention with the gazillion dollar consoles in a previous post.

    No, I'm not high. Calm your ass down...

    The XR18 is an amazing piece of kit, especially for the price.
    "Instead I've got a $600 analog desk that can take 12 mics, supply two mixes on wedges" - I've got a $600 digital mixer with 16 XLR/1/4" connectors and decent pre's, total recall, quite a few EXCELLENT quality built in FX AND the ability to route out to external Plugins/FX in realtime, 18 tracks discreet direct to disk, no snake needed, ability to hardwire ethernet and/or use wireless, SIX AUX sends, built in RTA, access to monitor mixes via iPhone / iPad and the list goes on...

    Peace...

     
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  16. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    One other thing I did at this gig that I'd never bothered with before was taking a set of decently-isolated headphones with me and using the XR18's headphone out to double-check the mix from time to time. It was good to have that for confirmation after a couple of hours of listening. I could get a sense of how the kick and snare mics were working in the overall mix.
     
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  17. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    You do have the option on the XR18 to have all outputs default to MUTE ON or MUTE OFF in the event of a problem. I've always used MUTE ON which is probably why the PA went silent when the computer lost its connection to the XR18. I will experiment with the other setting and see whether that might've kept the music going.
     
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  18. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

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    I've started to use the "Virtual soundcheck" technique. Get a good live mix, track to disk. Then later on route the USB tracks back out the XR18 and remix to your hearts content. Not doing that with an analog desk.
     
  19. HoboMan

    HoboMan Silver Supporting Member

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    Yes, I agree stuff does happen which is why I mentioned in one of my posts that I always bring backups, even when I was using an analog mixer. So far haven't had any digital mishaps BUT I have had older analog stuff crap out or have issues in the past.

    Stuff can happen with digital or analog. I've used both and prefer digital. Everybody I know who has gone digital prefers it over the analog stuff. Not saying that's everybody, just everybody I know.
    I'm speaking from experience after using both in real world, live situations. IMO there is no comparison. Obviously YMMV.
     
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  20. Jacobite_Rebellion

    Jacobite_Rebellion Member

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    Your computer wasn't set up correctly.
     

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