Today I had the pleasure of creating a wireless network for some Shure wireless devices. As confusing as this sounds, it can be even more confusing in reality. However, there are some simple steps that we went through that made it much easier.
First, what is this all about anyway? I was down at a rehearsal space with some clients today who are using Shure UHF-R and ULX-D systems. They wanted to network these systems together through Wireless Workbench 6 but did not want to run Cat5 cable to each rack. They preferred to set up this network wirelessly using Apple AirPort products. These are the steps I took to set up this network wirelessly.
First, we had an airport extreme at monitor world. We created a network ID for this called “Shure Wifi”. We could then plug the UR4D receivers (for vocals) directly into the ports on the back of the extreme. Next, we fired up one of the airport expresses and connected to it with a laptop. When it came on line, we chose to “Connect to my existing network wirelessly” and simply set up the express to extend the “Shure Wifi” wireless network. Incidentally, I gave the express the name “Shure remote1” and the same password as the extreme.
Once the express rebooted and had a green light, we plugged it into the rack – way stage right and went from the ULXD receiver in the rack into the ethernet input of the express. It instantly was recognized by WWB6 and everything seemed perfect.
Then, we’re going through the settings in workbench and the ULXD goes offline! Why? Nobody touched the rack, everything should be fine… Couldn’t figure it out. So we set up the next express (same as Shure remote1) but named this one “Shure Remote2”. We kept this one at monitor world and plugged a UR4D directly into it. Everything worked great and it was recognized by workbench immediately. In the meantime, our ULXD at stage right came back online then offline again a few times.
By this point, I was pretty convinced it was simply a range issue with the extreme. This base unit was hidden inside of a rack and, with no external antennae, just had an inconsistent connection with the express at stage right. This was further confirmed by the fact that the express at mon land never lost signal and the UR4D connected to in remained visible in workbench at all times.
There were a few more extremes to set up to reach each rack on stage. We moved the express from monitors to the closest rack at stage left. Then we set up 2 additional extremes between it and the one at stage right. Everything was very stable at that point and we never lost signal with any of the networked devices.
Setting a string of AirPort Express units across the back of the stage worked really well and I would generally feel comfortable going with this set up for this application. However, I can’t say that I would trust it 100%. There are better and way more expensive options for creating a wireless, wireless network. But the only way to be sure is to wire cat5 directly to each receiver.
It’s still good to know that this option is available. I’m sure many people will prefer this option to Cat5, especially if your ears and vocals are all hardwired and you only use the airports for instrument systems.