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Author Topic: Dumb, basic question: Router or Access Point?  (Read 5552 times)

George Reiswig

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Dumb, basic question: Router or Access Point?
« on: October 20, 2023, 01:24:50 PM »

I'm fairly tech-savvy, but things like this make me think "maybe not." I know roughly what the difference is between these two categories of devices, but I'm not really sure why one might choose one over the other for something where internet service isn't needed, such as when just enabling control of main and monitor mix on a digital console with an ethernet port.

Are there distinct advantages and disadvantages? Or does one need both? Is there a primer somewhere on this topic that I can read up on?
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Dumb, basic question: Router or Access Point?
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2023, 02:58:06 PM »

Most common home internet devices are 3 or more things.

1. WIFI Access point. The job of a WIFI access point is to allow a wireless connection on to your wired network. That's it.  That's the device you absolutely need for wireless devices to connect to your network.  If you only have an access point, you may need to manually assign IP addresses to your devices, although some have auto discovery and assignment these days.

2. DHCP server - This is a controller on your network that hands out IP addresses to devices on the network. If you manually assign IP addresses, this isn't necessary, although it's convenient.

3. Router - This routes traffic between different networks. Local traffic on the same subnet talks directly device to device, but if it needs to get to another network, it needs to go through a router.  Typically to get to the internet, either your ISP provides a router on their end and every device on your network talks to that remote router, or you put your own in.

4. NAT server - This is a subset of a router. What this does is direct traffic from a single IP address to multiple devices inside the network. This way, to the internet everything appears as one device, but traffic gets where it needs to go.  Due to the limited number of IP addresses, NAT servers are a critical part of the internet.
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Brian Jojade

frank kayser

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Re: Dumb, basic question: Router or Access Point?
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2023, 07:20:38 PM »

Most common home internet devices are 3 or more things.

1. WIFI Access point. The job of a WIFI access point is to allow a wireless connection on to your wired network. That's it.  That's the device you absolutely need for wireless devices to connect to your network.  If you only have an access point, you may need to manually assign IP addresses to your devices, although some have auto discovery and assignment these days.

2. DHCP server - This is a controller on your network that hands out IP addresses to devices on the network. If you manually assign IP addresses, this isn't necessary, although it's convenient.

3. Router - This routes traffic between different networks. Local traffic on the same subnet talks directly device to device, but if it needs to get to another network, it needs to go through a router.  Typically to get to the internet, either your ISP provides a router on their end and every device on your network talks to that remote router, or you put your own in.

4. NAT server - This is a subset of a router. What this does is direct traffic from a single IP address to multiple devices inside the network. This way, to the internet everything appears as one device, but traffic gets where it needs to go.  Due to the limited number of IP addresses, NAT servers are a critical part of the internet.


Brian is correct.
For wireless mixing, only an access point is needed.  Disadvantage is one has to manually keep track and assign all IP addresses.  Some feel this is superior to using a DHCP server. Me, I'm lazy and I like the convenience of DHCP.  YMMV.


I have never seen an access point with a DHCP server.  That function is usually part and parcel of a router package, along with NAT server.  The reason I'd guess, is that one does not want to run multiple DHCP servers.  Products are mostly marketed as people use them.  We're pretty much talking home and SOHO gear.


I've seen router package Routing, NAT, and DHCP in the same box - fairly normal.
Then there is the all-in-one, as Brian described.
Finally, the "mostly featureless" WiFi access point. 


As Brian noted, the Routing and NAT functions are more appropriate where there are multiple networks, i.e., Internet is involved.





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David Sturzenbecher

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Re: Dumb, basic question: Router or Access Point?
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2023, 07:26:18 PM »


I have never seen an access point with a DHCP server.

They exist, but sometimes you need to search for it.   Here is a page that I have bookmarked to find it on a few of the units I own.
https://doctorengenius.engeniustech.com/en/articles/6709069-how-can-i-find-the-dhcp-server-on-eap300v2-access-point-mode

Its also not a feature that commonly shows up in spec sheets for APs...so...YMMV
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Riley Casey

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Re: Dumb, basic question: Router or Access Point?
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2023, 09:20:09 AM »

One not insignificant point in choosing your wifi hardware configuration is that a wifi access point can be much smaller than a consumer router + switch + wifi AP. This is important anyplace that is densely packed with large bags of salt water - AKA audience members. Getting your wifi antennas above head height is the first step in reliable communication with iPad type devices. The switch with or without a router capability can be at the console while the small AP like the Unifi AC is small enough to go on a mic stand boom.

dave briar

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Re: Dumb, basic question: Router or Access Point?
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2023, 11:50:29 AM »

I have never seen an access point with a DHCP server. 
IIRC Dr Ault was working on one solution but I donít recall him ever reporting back on his explorations.
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George Reiswig

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Re: Dumb, basic question: Router or Access Point?
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2023, 12:20:09 PM »

IIRC Dr Ault was working on one solution but I donít recall him ever reporting back on his explorations.
This has all been helpful, so thank everyone for sharing their knowledge. It fits with what my perception had been before, but adds some really valuable detail.

DHCP would be more convenient, I imagine, when giving band members access to the mixer to adjust their own monitors: just providing the network name and a password is likely a lot easier, right?

I noticed the Cisco AP with DHCP mentioned earlier in the thread has been discontinued. Is there anywhere a list of APs that seem to work well for people, and maybe includes whether dynamic protocols are even an option?
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Dumb, basic question: Router or Access Point?
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2023, 05:24:41 PM »

IIRC Dr Ault was working on one solution but I donít recall him ever reporting back on his explorations.
The Microtik Metal 52 happens to run the routerboard OS including a DHCP server! 

It is very fairly priced and I use a band clamp to attach a 2Ē atlas extension to the AP so it can go on any mic stand. 

The routerboard OS is full feature so it does all sorts of tricks.  You can configure the port with 802.1q clan trunking.  Each vlan can be assigned a different ssid creating as many wireless networks as you may need.  I have never tried it because the AP does not have a hardware routing chip but if you had a need to forward some packets between vlans you might be able to get away with that but I would watch CPU usage carefully as you donít want to impact AP performance playing tricks. 

Speaking of monitoring the web interface has a great monitoring utility but if you want to collect stats the well documented SNMP MIB will give you tons of data on performance.

Donít worry if none of that means anything to you.  You donít need to know what any of that means to use it as an access point.  A setup utility allows you to choose access point and it will configure that role for you.  Set your IP network and get ready to rock and roll. 


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman

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dave briar

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Re: Dumb, basic question: Router or Access Point?
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2023, 11:51:41 AM »

The Microtik Metal 52 happens to run the routerboard OS including a DHCP server! 

It is very fairly priced and I use a band clamp to attach a 2Ē atlas extension to the AP so it can go on any mic stand. 

The routerboard OS is full feature so it does all sorts of tricks.  You can configure the port with 802.1q clan trunking.  Each vlan can be assigned a different ssid creating as many wireless networks as you may need.  I have never tried it because the AP does not have a hardware routing chip but if you had a need to forward some packets between vlans you might be able to get away with that but I would watch CPU usage carefully as you donít want to impact AP performance playing tricks. 

Speaking of monitoring the web interface has a great monitoring utility but if you want to collect stats the well documented SNMP MIB will give you tons of data on performance.

Donít worry if none of that means anything to you.  You donít need to know what any of that means to use it as an access point.  A setup utility allows you to choose access point and it will configure that role for you.  Set your IP network and get ready to rock and roll. 


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I assume youíd still need a POE injector in your rack?
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Dumb, basic question: Router or Access Point?
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2023, 03:38:26 PM »

I assume youíd still need a POE injector in your rack?
Yes, it includes one or you can use a switch with POE.


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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman

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Re: Dumb, basic question: Router or Access Point?
¬ę Reply #9 on: October 22, 2023, 03:38:26 PM ¬Ľ


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