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Author Topic: Airport Express or Extreme?  (Read 4544 times)

Debbie Dunkley

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Airport Express or Extreme?
« on: September 12, 2016, 10:16:40 am »

I am thinking about getting a second Airport Express as back-up to the one I use at shows to control my QU16, QU-PAC and DMX lighting. 
After spending some time over the past few weeks becoming more familiar with Airport Utility in troubleshooting connection to an Android Tablet, I'd like to switch out my Cisco E2500 that I take now as back-up and bring a second AE instead. However, I can pick up an Airport extreme for the same or less money and wondered if that would be of any benefit to me.  This would only be used for remote control mixing. I have been very happy with the AE so I would need a good enough reason to get the Extreme. One down side ( for my purposes) is the size but I'd like to know if anyone could point out a good reason to get the Extreme over the Express.
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2016, 11:06:52 am »

I am thinking about getting a second Airport Express as back-up to the one I use at shows to control my QU16, QU-PAC and DMX lighting. 
After spending some time over the past few weeks becoming more familiar with Airport Utility in troubleshooting connection to an Android Tablet, I'd like to switch out my Cisco E2500 that I take now as back-up and bring a second AE instead. However, I can pick up an Airport extreme for the same or less money and wondered if that would be of any benefit to me.  This would only be used for remote control mixing. I have been very happy with the AE so I would need a good enough reason to get the Extreme. One down side ( for my purposes) is the size but I'd like to know if anyone could point out a good reason to get the Extreme over the Express.

Please follow the group think recommendation and get an Access Point.  Don't buy something you don't need (a router) that can introduce issues.

The Ubiquity stuff is one of the favorites however if that is too much I can recommend a few others.

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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2016, 11:14:05 am »

Please follow the group think recommendation and get an Access Point.  Don't buy something you don't need (a router) that can introduce issues.

The Ubiquity stuff is one of the favorites however if that is too much I can recommend a few others.

The AE has been so reliable for my purposes - it seems only natural to duplicate it. However, if there is a preferable option which would be a straightforward set- up process for me (most important), then I would consider it. There have been quite a few threads regarding WAP options and I remember reading good things about the Ubiquiti product. It was said however, that it is not that straightforward to set up and what with my recent troubleshooting issues ( Samsung tablet), the last thing I need is to get into something above my abilities.
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Milt Hathaway

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2016, 11:47:02 am »

The AE has been so reliable for my purposes - it seems only natural to duplicate it. However, if there is a preferable option which would be a straightforward set- up process for me (most important), then I would consider it. There have been quite a few threads regarding WAP options and I remember reading good things about the Ubiquiti product. It was said however, that it is not that straightforward to set up and what with my recent troubleshooting issues ( Samsung tablet), the last thing I need is to get into something above my abilities.

I prefer the Extreme over the Express as the Extreme has a better antenna array in it, and I like having the extra ethernet ports available.

BTW, there is nothing about having an access point with an internal router that will "cause issues", if that AP is set up properly in the first place. Since you already have an Extreme, there's no reason not to stick with that system.
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Keith Broughton

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2016, 12:13:18 pm »

I prefer the Extreme over the Express as the Extreme has a better antenna array in it, and I like having the extra ethernet ports available.

BTW, there is nothing about having an access point with an internal router that will "cause issues", if that AP is set up properly in the first place. Since you already have an Extreme, there's no reason not to stick with that system.
I tend to agree with Milt having both these units.
As for not needing and router, it may come in handy if you ever need to network a rack of RF mic receivers.
That said, a commercial quality WAP should have better RF stability than a "wireless router" for home use.
If you mix on a tablet regularly, the extra expense could make your life easier. :)
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2016, 01:08:16 pm »

I tend to agree with Milt having both these units.
As for not needing and router, it may come in handy if you ever need to network a rack of RF mic receivers.
That said, a commercial quality WAP should have better RF stability than a "wireless router" for home use.
If you mix on a tablet regularly, the extra expense could make your life easier. :)

The most common "stores & rides in the console case doghouse" setup I see is the Ubiquity Bullet 5Ghz AP with a "stick" antenna (the model has been posted in another thread).  These are "A" level firms that can afford some IT & RF consultation, granted, but they're in the business of sound for which excuses are unacceptable.  And note that none of them are using their setups for mixing the show; these are setup and system tuning tools that do not require fail-safe show time use.

Mixing over any public spectrum that allows promiscuous devices will be subject to interference, dropouts and other problems.  While I understand the attraction of ditching the big copper multi, the reality is that it's replaced with fibre that costs more than copper, or replaced with different copper (redundant CAT cabling).

The rest remains amateur hour.  Again, I understand pub managers not wanting to give up any space for FOH; I understand that psychotic wedding and event planners don't want visible technology... but until those folks are willing to tolerate absolute failure of audio as part of the wireless price tag I'm not joining the Marconi Circus.

Perhaps its different at other levels but in the Varsity leagues you get fired if you have a show stopping failure.  You don't get hired by others because of that reputation and your only recourse is to fire people and spend money on new gear to show potential clients that you learned from whatever happened.  THIS is why no major show, tour or event is mixed without some kind of physical connection between the control surface and the electronics package that manipulates the 1s and 0s.
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Milt Hathaway

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2016, 01:39:33 pm »

(I should know better than to take the bait.)
« Last Edit: September 12, 2016, 08:42:02 pm by Milt Hathaway »
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Keith Broughton

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2016, 03:50:50 pm »

While I understand the attraction of ditching the big copper multi, the reality is that it's replaced with fibre that costs more than copper, or replaced with different copper (redundant CAT cabling).

 but until those folks are willing to tolerate absolute failure of audio as part of the wireless price tag

And there is the problem.
These types of clients are convinced the RF solution will work perfectly, even though they have experienced dropped cell calls that proves the oposite  ::)
Yes, it's nice to give a client and extra table or cut FOH from a bar floor but there is a tradeoff that MUST be explained to that client.
This wireless mixing is far from "mission critical" reliable! Fantastic for setup and tuning though  :)
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Rob Spence

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2016, 04:53:24 pm »

While on one hand I agree with Scott that you really only "need" an AP, a properly set up router doesn't introduce issues and since most folks in the weekend warrior group use their iPads during the week for other things, having DHCP for them is convenient and the DHCP server is usually in the router box. Also, being able to access the Internet at home by just plugging in one cable can make firmware updates easier.

For Debbie, having a spare of exactly the same thing has value. If both are set up the same and correctly, you have an easy solution should an update make something behave funny. Just use the spare till you solve it.

I believe that the best spares are plug replaceable.

I also believe that Debby isn't going to gain anything she doesn't already have by going to yet a 3rd type of box. She already has a spare that isn't a AE. What would be the advantage to her to buy another not identical unit?


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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2016, 04:54:40 pm »

While on one hand I agree with Scott that you really only "need" an AP, a properly set up router doesn't introduce issues and since most folks in the weekend warrior group use their iPads during the week for other things, having DHCP for them is convenient and the DHCP server is usually in the router box.

For Debbie, having a spare of exactly the same thing has value. If both are set up the same and correctly, you have an easy solution should an update make something behave funny. Just use the spare till you solve it.

I believe that the best spares are plug replaceable.

I also believe that Debby isn't going to gain anything she doesn't already have by going to yet a 3rd type of box. She already has a spare that isn't a AE. What would be the advantage to her to buy another not identical unit?


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

Thanks Rob  ;)
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Lyle Williams

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2016, 05:44:36 pm »

A spare should be identical.  It should be pre-configured.  You should not care whether the original or spare is in service.  If something breaks during or just before a show, that will create a crisis, and with it an absence of clear thinking.  You must be able to return your system to a functional state with a minimum of thinking in a minimum amount of time.

Amateur hour is when people collect and carry random parts because the parts seem cool.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2016, 05:53:55 pm »

I'm sorry that so many of us "amateurs" are supporting our families (and in some cases the families of others) by satisfying our client's needs in a way that makes you uneasy.

Do I mix entire shows wirelessly? Never. Do I use my wireless mixing capabilities to make system tests and soundchecks go much faster? Yes. Do I use my wireless mixing capabilities to allow my clients to sell an extra $10k table or two to support their fundraiser? Absolutely.

Am I an "amateur"? By some standards, I guess I must be.

Hey Milt, I get it.  And I bet you don't use the wireless as your sole, exclusive means of SHOWTIME control either...

If a wireless mixing failure hoses that big ass fundraiser, guess who ain't coming back next year?  That's how we get gigs for more money than our competitors charge, we deliver results not excuses.  We don't do bar gigs and seldom do wedding receptions; we're not scaled that way.  We do a fair bit of fundraising and corporate work and some of those accounts are decades old for a reason.

As I've said in other threads, if one can sleep at night knowing the fragility of the connection and the client is 100% okay with whatever happens, fine and dandy.  Our clients are less fault-tolerant.

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Milt Hathaway

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2016, 07:45:19 pm »

(I should know better than to take the bait.)
« Last Edit: September 12, 2016, 08:42:24 pm by Milt Hathaway »
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2016, 08:59:55 pm »

(I should know better than to take the bait.)

No bait.

If you've got a foolproof way I'm very willing to listen and learn.  Most of the folks we work for are so uptight they can make the Lincoln portrait on a penny cry.  We have zero margin for failure.

Part of why I work as an IATSE stage hand is to learn from my betters.  The guys from Sound Image, Clair, Solotech... have been very generous in sharing with me and one of the common things is "we don't use wireless mixing via WiFi."  There are other RF connections that do not attract promiscuous connection attempts that they *do* use from time to time but 2.4gHz and 5.x gHz ain't it.

Until Jim Finney retired from Asleep at the Wheel, their show was mixed remotely using a 900mHz link.  DECT phones and certain wireless DMX products could interfere with it, too, but any problems would be evident long before doors and they had a back up plan or 2 in case something went south at show time.

I'm not yanking your chain, Milt, it's that the level of robustness we need is not delivered by WiFi as I've seen, experienced and used it in situations of many types.  It's not certain to fail but when it does it will be at the most inopportune moment in front of those most likely to have a huge issue with the failure.  That damn Murphy and his law... and being 1/4 Irish I can't buck that guy. ;)
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Bob Charest

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2016, 09:20:55 pm »

Hi Tim,

The most common "stores & rides in the console case doghouse" setup I see is the Ubiquity Bullet 5Ghz AP with a "stick" antenna (the model has been posted in another thread)...
The one that I use with my Bullet 5Ghz AP is the L-Com HGV-4907U. Just got a spare in the mail today, in fact.
 
Quote
The rest remains amateur hour.
So be it I guess. Tim, you would know the difference, and I certainly respect that. I'm far from Varsity, but cannot tolerate failures either. My clients expect a certain level of presentation and performance. Maybe I'm just lucky to not have ever had a show stopping failure, but I think it has more to do with best practices, and doing a thorough site survey during the day. That and staying away from 2.4Ghz...

Quote
 
Perhaps its different at other levels but in the Varsity leagues you get fired if you have a show stopping failure.  You don't get hired by others because of that reputation and your only recourse is to fire people and spend money on new gear to show potential clients that you learned from whatever happened.  THIS is why no major show, tour or event is mixed without some kind of physical connection between the control surface and the electronics package that manipulates the 1s and 0s.
I have no doubt that this is so, and sure wouldn't want to be in that position. I've been close enough to be happy where I am.

Best regards,
Bob
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frank kayser

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2016, 10:21:25 pm »

While on one hand I agree with Scott that you really only "need" an AP, a properly set up router doesn't introduce issues and since most folks in the weekend warrior group use their iPads during the week for other things, having DHCP for them is convenient and the DHCP server is usually in the router box. Also, being able to access the Internet at home by just plugging in one cable can make firmware updates easier.

For Debbie, having a spare of exactly the same thing has value. If both are set up the same and correctly, you have an easy solution should an update make something behave funny. Just use the spare till you solve it.

I believe that the best spares are plug replaceable.

I also believe that Debby isn't going to gain anything she doesn't already have by going to yet a 3rd type of box. She already has a spare that isn't a AE. What would be the advantage to her to buy another not identical unit?


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I believe Rob has it nailed here.
Though Rob and Scott have helped you, and generally on the same page, I believe this round goes to Rob.
FWIW
frank
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Keith Broughton

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2016, 08:00:14 am »

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« Last Edit: September 13, 2016, 12:59:40 pm by Keith Broughton »
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2016, 03:05:18 pm »

I believe Rob has it nailed here.
Though Rob and Scott have helped you, and generally on the same page, I believe this round goes to Rob.
FWIW
frank

I didn't know it was a competition.  I don't have an emotional stake in it.

The wireless infrastructure is such a small outlay the fact she already owns one is not relevant.

The Apple is consumer grade and with every update is more and more cloud based voo doo.

This is being used for a show.  If you want the convenience of reliable wireless then programming enterprise grade gear is part of the package.   Running a show on consumer gear is simply not an option to me.

I am currently testing these Cisco APps with full MIMO support.  As soon as Income up with a pole mount cup these are going to be my new solution.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2016, 03:11:51 pm by Scott Holtzman »
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Lyle Williams

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2016, 05:45:40 pm »

The apple airport includes an internal power supply, and is a very neat and compact package.

Enterprise Grade (or even Carrier Grade) gear often brings features and overheads of no interest to someone with simple requirements.
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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2016, 12:06:34 am »

Earlier today I updated my other thread about which router to choose as my back-up.I picked up a refurb express from Apple for $49 and it has a full 12 month warranty. I should be in good shape. I feel I'm safer sticking to what I know and what works and has been working for me.
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Riley Casey

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2016, 10:27:16 am »

Aside from a better antenna what makes an AP a better choice than a consumer wifi router?  I rarely if ever have range issues using Apple units, far more often losing sync within a few feet of the wireless router in high RF density environments like hotels and special event sites.

 
I tend to agree with Milt having both these units.
As for not needing and router, it may come in handy if you ever need to network a rack of RF mic receivers.
That said, a commercial quality WAP should have better RF stability than a "wireless router" for home use.
If you mix on a tablet regularly, the extra expense could make your life easier. :)

Scott Holtzman

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #21 on: September 17, 2016, 05:22:40 am »

Aside from a better antenna what makes an AP a better choice than a consumer wifi router?  I rarely if ever have range issues using Apple units, far more often losing sync within a few feet of the wireless router in high RF density environments like hotels and special event sites.

 

Several things to me:

1 - Better radio's - Better filters on the front end, connectorized antenna ports, multiple radios in one box (no need to time share 1 radio)

2 - PoE - Stick the AP on a pole with a single wire feeding it

3 - Real user interface, Cisco has a CLI.  You can modify deep setting within both the radio and network interfaces.  The wireless and wired sides are actual interfaces and can be configured without the VooDoo of consumer devices.  The interface is bridged and you have visibility into the forwarding and spanning tree activity

4 - A continuation of three....Reports on MAC tables, radio statistics etc.

5 - Build quality...Built to take a beating

6 - Runs a real OS, Cisco takes the cake here (real Cisco not pretend Cisco small business). AP's run IOS. 

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Milt Hathaway

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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #22 on: September 17, 2016, 07:07:53 am »

Several things to me:

1 - Better radio's - Better filters on the front end, connectorized antenna ports, multiple radios in one box (no need to time share 1 radio)

2 - PoE - Stick the AP on a pole with a single wire feeding it

3 - Real user interface, Cisco has a CLI.  You can modify deep setting within both the radio and network interfaces.  The wireless and wired sides are actual interfaces and can be configured without the VooDoo of consumer devices.  The interface is bridged and you have visibility into the forwarding and spanning tree activity

4 - A continuation of three....Reports on MAC tables, radio statistics etc.

5 - Build quality...Built to take a beating

6 - Runs a real OS, Cisco takes the cake here (real Cisco not pretend Cisco small business). AP's run IOS.

How do 3, 4, and 6 apply to our application?

And regarding 1 and 5, let me just put this here: https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/AirPort+Extreme+A1521+Teardown/15044

The Airport Extreme runs NetBSD, not iOS.
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Re: Airport Express or Extreme?
« Reply #22 on: September 17, 2016, 07:07:53 am »


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