My school installed a new sound system in our gym, built around a Soundcraft Ui16 digital mixer. It is a fantastic system that is great for sports, events, and the arts, but it wasn’t perfect right out of the box.
The company that installed the system set up the Soundcraft Ui16 with its default built-in WiFi. As many users have complained online, the built-in WiFi is more of a “gimmick” than a useful tool. It has a weak signal that is not reliable and doesn’t reach much more than 30 feet from the mixer. It might as well be Bluetooth. However, by doing a lot of research, I found a highly reliable solution.
We purchased an ASUS RT-AC68U Dual-band 3×3 AC1900 Wifi 4-port Gigabit Router on Amazon for about $142. With its dual-band 802.11ac 3×3 tech, it can reach speeds as fast as 1900 Mbps. This router came onto my radar when I noticed that a forum user paired it with his Behringer digital mixer and was happy with it. I ultimately chose this router because of CNET’s stellar review of it. Dong Ngu tested the router at CNET’s offices, a large environment with plenty of physical and signal interference. He showed its signal range to be as high as 300 feet, with solid performance at a range of 100 feet. He also did an endurance test running a high volume of data through both the 2.4 and 5.0 GHz bands for 48 hours straight. It never crashed. This gave me the confidence that we could run Soundcraft’s digital mixing HTML5 software through it for a 2-hour event, getting a signal from anywhere in our gym, despite interference from hundreds of smart phones, tablets, student Chromebooks, and the school’s complex WiFi network.
I set up the router and connected the mixer to it today. After about 1.5 hours of setup and troubleshooting, it was working properly. My iPad was able to control the mixer with only a slight delay from the opposite wall of the gym, which is about 150-200 feet away. I tested it while we had a small event in the gym that was a half hour long with 200 people present, and it worked flawlessly from 50 feet away. I will be able to test it for 2 long rehearsals within the next 2 weeks before using it for our graduation ceremony, which will put more stress on it than any other thing we do. We will be running signals through every channel on the mixer over a 2-hour event, with over 500 people in attendance, and need to control the mixer consistently from an iPad over 100 feet away. From what I have seen so far, I am confident the Soundcraft/ASUS pair is up to the test.
I set up the ASUS router with no internet connection. I recommend this for security and to simplify how the system runs. However, your devices may get confused about the lack of Internet connection. iOS doesn’t want to finish connecting to the router without detecting an internet connection. It connects to the router’s login screen before letting you connect, expecting that you should fix the internet settings before you continue. Pressing and holding the “cancel” button in the top right corner of my iPad screen sometimes offers the option to “Connect without using Internet.” Once you have done this once, it seems to reconnect without trouble after that.
The WiFi’s factory default IP address is 192.168.1.1, which works well. Type that in your web browser’s URL bar to login to the router and adjust the settings as needed. I suggest setting up an admin username and password for logging into the router settings and setting up a password for connecting to the router via WiFi. The default SSIDs are ASUS and ASUS_5G, which are fine unless you want to make them more or less familiar to users. It is not password-protected by default, which makes setup easy.
You do not want to leave your network unprotected! Guests at your events could connect to it, login to your mixer, and mess with your sound. Yikes. Password protect your sound system’s WiFi, and don’t use a password that would be easy to guess or hack. Mine has uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and punctuation. If you are very concerned about people trying to connect to it and slowing down your system, which could be an issue with huge crowds at an event, you can make the SSID invisible. It’s all in the ASUS router’s settings.
By default, the Soundcraft Ui16 is set up to broadcast its own WiFi network. This is a good thing, as it makes it easy to connect to it and adjust settings, but it is not good for long-term use of the mixer because of its weak signal. Connect a device to the Soundcraft Ui16 WiFi, and type the mixer’s default IP of 10.10.1.1 in your browser URL bar. I find the digital mixer easiest to operate with an iPad.
Go to the settings screen (button is at the top of the mixer screen), and click on the Networking tab. It should show 3 networking options: the built-in WiFi, connecting to another WiFi, or LAN. The first is probably green and the other 2 red because they are not enabled. I highly recommend connecting the mixer directly to the router using an Ethernet cable and setting up a LAN connection in the mixer’s networking tab. As good as wireless technology is getting, Ethernet is still faster and more reliable. However, you can keep the built-in WiFi up and running–just in case you mess up with the router, so that you have a back-up method of connecting to the mixer. The mixer can handle multiple connections being open at the same time.
It turns out that the 10.10.1.1 or 10.10.1.2 IP addresses that the mixer defaults to are not friendly to many routers. In the Soundcraft LAN settings, I changed the IP to 192.168.1.50 and the gateway to my router’s IP address, which was the common default of 192.168.1.1. Once those settings were saved, I was able to access the mixer through the router.
Test It Out
Once you have followed the steps above, connect a device to the ASUS router’s WiFi. Go to your web browser and connect to 192.168.1.50. Your Soundcraft Ui16 welcome screen should pop up.
If it doesn’t work, shut off the power to everything, check that all cables (Ethernet, etc.) are properly connected, and restart it all. Go back into the settings and make sure that they had saved correctly, then try to connect again.
If that still doesn’t work, do lots and lots of Google searching and keep troubleshooting. You could try different IP addresses. I tried 192.168.1.10, which didn’t work, before trying 192.168.1.50, which did work. I had seen both these IP address suggested on forums about pairing the Soundcraft Ui16 with routers. There are many other users out there who have tried what I tried and are sharing their tips, but it takes diligence to find all their forum posts.
If you are worried about messing it up by changing too much, remember that you can always restore these products to their factory settings and start from a clean slate: the way they came in the box.
Once you have finished setup, you have the option of keeping Soundcraft’s built-in WiFi running as a back-up. You may want to add password protection to it, though. You also may want to consider disabling it so that there is one less WiFi signal bouncing around the environment.
Scan the area for what WiFi frequencies are being used. There are several ways you can do this, depending on what devices you have. On my Macbook, I option-click on the WiFi icon, click “Open WiFi Diagnostics…,” and go to in the top menu system to Window > Scan. You can see there what protocols, bands, and channels are being used in the area. I checked that my ASUS and ASUS_5G are on different channels and bands than the school’s WiFi and any other signals in the area. If any are on the same channels, you will have to login to the ASUS settings (by connecting to the router’s WiFi and typing 192.168.1.1 in your browser), and figure out where you can specify the channel. I have done this scan to change my home WiFi channels so they do not match the 15 neighboring apartments’ channels, and my home internet never crashes anymore. Staying on your own channels and utilizing dual-band are strategies that definitely make a difference.
As I said earlier, another user paired the ASUS RT-AC68U with a Behringer digital mixer, so if you have a different mixer brand, this router may work for you as well. If you want something cheaper but comparable in the router department, the ASUS RT-N66U is comparable in quality and range to the AC68U, but with about half the speed at the 100-foot distance. It is about $82.
To me, the extra $60 for a faster router is worth it. The HTML5 software that runs the Soundcraft Ui digital mixer seems to use a lot of processing power, and the delay is noticeable when it gets any lag. If a mic is feeding back and growing deafeningly loud, the fraction of a second quicker that a faster router gives you is totally worth it. Note that I said to pay extra for a faster router. Digital mixing requires dual-band flexibility, speed, range, endurance, and reliability. The other bells and whistles some routers offer are not worth paying for.