When wireless fails. I really should listen to my own advice.
I preach this ALL the time to my customers… but I broke my own rule last night, and I paid the price in front of a full 1000 seat theater.
Last night for my first return the the Royal Caribbean main stage in 18 months (thanks COVID) I used a wireless product that uses most common wireless channel of 2.4GHz. This common wireless channel is where Bluetooth, WiFi and other communication all live.
I was using a wireless MIDI system that sent MIDI cues from my laptop side-stage to the lighting booth in the back of the theater to trigger my lighting cues. The product is called Panda MIDI and they tout “flawless control”. On their website their user base includes The who’s who of touring pros like The Rolling Stones, Black Eyed Peas, Red Hot Chili Peppers and many more. Yet it failed me last night… in terrible fashion too.
Now before you say, “You should’ve tested your gear more thoroughly”, I want you to know I ran it through its paces in rehearsals, it was flawless… and I will tell you now why that "successful" test in an empty theater simply meant nothing.
2.4GHz is the same wireless channel used by every single cell phone in the audience. Bluetooth and WiFi all run on 2.4GHz, so imagine 1000+ broadcasters showing up at showtime on my frequency… not good.
With my MIDI wireless transmission jammed my lighting techs were lost because they had no idea when to fire anything as we were counting on my wireless transmitter to trigger each lighting cue. The techs were pros and did the best they could to guess when my lighting cues would fire, but it was far from an ideal show. On top of it all the Royal Caribbean brass (the people who write my checks) were in the theater for this important maiden voyage… ugh.
This is the EXACT reason why I have always choose a licensed frequency (not open to the public) for our Audio Ape remotes. The Audio Ape Pro takes reliability to the next level by adding 5 times the power and even adds military grade frequency hopping making it quite simply… UNSTOPPABLE.
Last night my Audio Ape Pro remote never blinked during the show, so at least my audio and video cues were flawless.
Please heed my warnings, and even if you never purchase one of our products, NEVER use Bluetooth or WiFi controllers for critical applications during your live shows.
See you at showtime