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Wireless Ableton LINK undependable in live situation

I played a gig the other night and I was relying on LINK to sync apps on my iPad Pro with Ableton Live on my MacBook. I brought a travel router, TP-LINK TL-WR802N, and both devices were on the network.

Halfway into the show Ableton Live was not seeing the LINK tempo coming from apps on my iPad, yet both devices were still on my wireless network. I tried toggling off and on the Ableton Live LINK button but it still wouldn't see it. Totally threw me off.

Later in my set both devices were seeing LINK again.

I can't play shows and count on this working and have this happen. Anyone else have this issue? Any hope that there is a solution in the works to allow a more dependable wired version of LINK?

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Comments

  • Yikes, that is my worst nightmare! Sorry that happened...

    I use a TP Link router and it's been rock solid with Link between two iPads. Interestingly, the only time I've had issues with Link dropping is when we tried incorporating a laptop running Live into the setup. It was stable sometimes but would flake out from time to time.

  • Anyone else have stability issues using LINK between iPad and laptop/Ableton Live?

  • Haven't try it for "pro" use, but you could try setting a wifi Hotspot on your Laptop.
    Then make an empty session with a tempo change at ~hour.
    Start at 120bpm and set the tempo change to 60
    Sync them with an app and leave them playing. After one hour ,check that the app has changed successfully the tempo...

  • Is there a wired way to do ableton link?

  • @Processaurus said:
    Is there a wired way to do ableton link?

    Nope.

  • A. Find a wifi free zone to play, or,
    B. Don't set a password on your router and encourage audience participation.

  • @lukesleepwalker said:

    @Processaurus said:
    Is there a wired way to do ableton link?

    Nope.

    I've thought of using MIDI Link Sync in order to convert Link into MIDI, rout MIDI to second iPad, on second iPad use MIDI Link Sync again to convert MIDI back to Link Sync.

    Maybe it'd work, who knows. Never tried.

  • edited August 2016

    @OscarSouth said:

    @lukesleepwalker said:

    @Processaurus said:
    Is there a wired way to do ableton link?

    Nope.

    I've thought of using MIDI Link Sync in order to convert Link into MIDI, rout MIDI to second iPad, on second iPad use MIDI Link Sync again to convert MIDI back to Link Sync.

    Maybe it'd work, who knows. Never tried.

    Might be ok at home, but for the beauty of it ;) ...Not in live.
    And I had troubles between converting Link to midi already... (stability) So...

    Something a bit less risky:
    Modstep (which includes Link) on iPad 1, to Apollo ,
    Apollo iPad 2, with Modstep on it also.
    A midi controller.
    Map the start/stop button of Modstep 1 & 2 on the same button.

    Voilà :)

    PS : limited to 2 devices...Apollo can manage just A/B connexion.
    PS 2: AUM should do the same...

  • Good idea!

    I personally just use the second iPad for effects on my live instruments. They can all be tempo sync'd reliably with MIDI clock so no worries about Link.

  • Hmm, with AUM might be a problem to send back the tempo as AUM is not midi bi-directionnal (no midi feedback) maybe soon...
    So Modstep with midi clock to send back the clocks...
    Or something :)

  • edited August 2016

    Digital mixer folk that use ipads for remote digital mixing have suggested using a 5ghz router at concerts, the idea being cell phones in the crowd are crowding the 2.4ghz band. I wonder if that would make a difference in the original poster's situation.

    I've had some weirdness with ableton link with an ipad running loopy and another running patterning. No matter what i did i couldn't get link to recognize the other ipad. What do you do to restart the process? I was killing the apps, turning the wifi off and on, on the ipads, etc.

  • The one reason I haven't jumped up and down about the arrival of link was the fact that it uses wifi. Maybe I'm being old fashioned but I much prefer a cable connection. Also having to lug an extra piece of equipment (router) plugging it in and having one's mind diverted from the main deal just completely put me off it.

    Of course the main reason I haven't fully gotten into link is that most of the apps I use live don't have it but having just wireless option would make me very nervous.

    It's great to have developers who cover our asses with apps like Apollo but I hope there will be a native Apple solution some time soon

  • @gburks said:
    I played a gig the other night and I was relying on LINK to sync apps on my iPad Pro with Ableton Live on my MacBook. I brought a travel router, TP-LINK TL-WR802N, and both devices were on the network.

    I'll second @Processaurus comment; 5gh is much better, and a dual channel hopping version better yet. I can see the interest in a small router like this, but for a show critical piece of gear it looks underpowered. And my understanding are the big ugly antennas really do make a difference - the more the better.
    And just in case you didn't, the SSID should be hidden (prevents phones from asking if they can connect). Also, assigning a unique IP range should help (as the venue's routers, and the ones from the coffee shop next door are all banging along on the factory ranges), also setting up static IPs on your Mac and iPad would be worth doing as well.

  • @Processaurus there's no way to restart Link--only to enable in each app.

    The 5ghz router is something to consider. Question: If the router is passwords protected is there an impact from smartphones simply searching for available Wi-Fi?

    I'm not inclined to create a spaghetti of cables and adapters just for Ethernet between iPads, but if I get really desperate? Never say never... So thanks for the suggestion, @DeVlaeminck .

  • edited August 2016

    Ok the ultimate solution (AMHO)
    Airport Extreme, SSID hidden, WPA2 password protected.
    I plug it to my ADSL modem to extend my wifi and create a proper network for Link.

    Pros:

    • no antennas
    • install File Explorer (free youhou...) and you've got your external hard drive accessible to export AND import files between your computer and tablets. (no need for ifile2 or anything else)
    • you want to be in "airplane" mode ?(or you're going on stage...) Unplug the Airport from your modem.
    • you still have access to internet, updates etc...(not if unplugged from the modem obviously)
    • fast (5 Ghz AND 802.11ac)
    • stable.
    • works.

    Cons:

    • expensive (got mine second hand on ebay)

    Alternatives:
    If you don't need to share a hard drive, you can get the Airport express, without USB hard drive support, and "only"802.11n.
    You may find some ASUS router of that type, might work perfectly, but I didn't want to take too much time on this...(it took me an hour to get exactly what I wanted, then, never looked back...)

  • To help block unwanted access, set up MAC blocking on the router.

  • @lukesleepwalker said:
    @Processaurus there's no way to restart Link--only to enable in each app.

    The 5ghz router is something to consider. Question: If the router is passwords protected is there an impact from smartphones simply searching for available Wi-Fi?

    yes, if the router is advertising itself, then smartphones are polling it for its security settings.
    Hidden SSID, MAC address table, static IP, all easy and really required for show related hardware.

  • @wigglelights said:

    @lukesleepwalker said:
    @Processaurus there's no way to restart Link--only to enable in each app.

    The 5ghz router is something to consider. Question: If the router is passwords protected is there an impact from smartphones simply searching for available Wi-Fi?

    yes, if the router is advertising itself, then smartphones are polling it for its security settings.
    Hidden SSID, MAC address table, static IP, all easy and really required for show related hardware.

    Got it, thanks for the info!

  • At the Rocky Mountain Synthesizer Meetup, we recently went for the Link record... didn't quite make it (26 Links where the currently documented record is 32), but it was a lot of fun trying. Before we went for it, we had run a seminar about Link and a series of pickup groups, where four or five people at a time would plug into the mixer and were given five minutes to talk to one another and create a piece. The results were good to great every time.

    Some observations from that (and from a lot of Link usage elsewhere): First off, we ran into almost exactly the same problem the OP did... a colleague had purchased a tiny travel router for this purpose, and it worked fine in his limited tests, but started having issues when a lot of people started connecting. My router, a current-generation Airport Express, worked perfectly.

    I've been using the Airport Express as my Link box for months now and have never had an issue. It's "only" 802.11n, so 5 GHz isn't an option, which hasn't been a problem so far. Because a lot of what I do is educational seminars, I've found it much easier to not hide the SSID so people can find the network easily. But yes, a WPA2 password is vital so people aren't trying to surf for porn while you're playing. (With no Internet connection, they couldn't anyway, but the polling can't be good for bandwidth.) I have contemplated getting an Airport Extreme and going full 802.11ac for my solo concerts, but since a lot of the people in my seminars have older phones that don't support 5 GHz, it hasn't been practical so far.

    Yes, one has to jump through a couple of hoops beforehand to make sure one's Link network is solid, but I think hard wiring is overkill in this situation. One defining beauty of Link, IMNSHO, is that you don't need a cable to make it work.

    mike

    ps. New member, first post -- hello! :)

  • @MrSpiral heck of a first post... Welcome!

  • @lukesleepwalker said:
    @MrSpiral heck of a first post... Welcome!

    Thank you very much. This actually wasn't much; my second post in the Audiobus 3 thread was more of a stun grenade. :-)

  • @MrSpiral said:

    @lukesleepwalker said:
    @MrSpiral heck of a first post... Welcome!

    Thank you very much. This actually wasn't much; my second post in the Audiobus 3 thread was more of a stun grenade. :-)

    Well, I'll go look for that one, then! ;-)

  • @wigglelights: If I hide my SSID on my router, will devices that have connected in the past be able to connect automagically? Or will I need to manually input the SSID on that device?

  • I occasionally get a blip between Live and my ipads but it's very rare, even so I would still prefer a wired connection option too. A good idea to request this in the Live forum feature requests. I can't see them not adding this eventually especially since the tech must be in place already. I mean Link already communicates between software on the same device without wifi so over cable must just be an extension of this. (ok so it's probably not a simple as that but can't be far off for those clever Ableton folk)

  • Update on my original post: I ran my MacBook > Thunderbolt ethernet adapter > ethernet into my travel router, and eliminated half of the wirelessness. So far Ableton Live instantly sees my iPad LINKed apps when I turn on its LINK button.

    However I noticed another problem. Whenever I am connected to my travel router, some apps can't load into AUM. iSpark freezes on the loading screen, crashes, then you can switch to it, and it may start working. Infinite Looper consistently gets stuck on its loading screen, crashes, and I cannot get it to run at all. If I turn my Wi-fi connection off or switch to a different Wi-fi connection, Infinite Looper can load. Doesn't matter if LINK is on or off.

    @SecretBaseDesign any idea why your app (and some other apps) would crash when I'm Wi-fi connected to my TP-LINK TL-WR802N travel router?

  • @lukesleepwalker said:
    @wigglelights: If I hide my SSID on my router, will devices that have connected in the past be able to connect automagically? Or will I need to manually input the SSID on that device?

    That would be a manual connect - select "other network" and enter the name. However, you should only have to do this once per device.

    While I respect @MrSpiral s comment about keeping the SSID open in his situation, I work on large scale events where audio, video and lighting are all running wifi networks (not to mention performers). Once a couple of hundred, or thousand, phones show up the last thing anyone needs are those polling the routers.
    It really just depends on your situation.

  • @wigglelights said:

    @lukesleepwalker said:
    @wigglelights: If I hide my SSID on my router, will devices that have connected in the past be able to connect automagically? Or will I need to manually input the SSID on that device?

    That would be a manual connect - select "other network" and enter the name. However, you should only have to do this once per device.

    While I respect @MrSpiral s comment about keeping the SSID open in his situation, I work on large scale events where audio, video and lighting are all running wifi networks (not to mention performers). Once a couple of hundred, or thousand, phones show up the last thing anyone needs are those polling the routers.
    It really just depends on your situation.

    Really helpful, thanks.

  • @gburks said:
    Update on my original post: I ran my MacBook > Thunderbolt ethernet adapter > ethernet into my travel router, and eliminated half of the wirelessness. So far Ableton Live instantly sees my iPad LINKed apps when I turn on its LINK button.

    However I noticed another problem. Whenever I am connected to my travel router, some apps can't load into AUM. iSpark freezes on the loading screen, crashes, then you can switch to it, and it may start working. Infinite Looper consistently gets stuck on its loading screen, crashes, and I cannot get it to run at all. If I turn my Wi-fi connection off or switch to a different Wi-fi connection, Infinite Looper can load. Doesn't matter if LINK is on or off.

    @SecretBaseDesign any idea why your app (and some other apps) would crash when I'm Wi-fi connected to my TP-LINK TL-WR802N travel router?

    Sounds like something flaky happening with the Ableton Link API -- a network packet getting filtered, or something like that, preventing Link from starting up properly. Must be something unusual that your travel router is doing. They've got an updated Link API that I need to grab; is this something that hits all Link-supporting apps, or just iSpark and Infinite?

  • @wigglelights said:

    @lukesleepwalker said:
    @wigglelights: If I hide my SSID on my router, will devices that have connected in the past be able to connect automagically? Or will I need to manually input the SSID on that device?

    That would be a manual connect - select "other network" and enter the name. However, you should only have to do this once per device.

    While I respect @MrSpiral s comment about keeping the SSID open in his situation, I work on large scale events where audio, video and lighting are all running wifi networks (not to mention performers). Once a couple of hundred, or thousand, phones show up the last thing anyone needs are those polling the routers.
    It really just depends on your situation.

    All very true. Therein lies the difference between an educational seminar for a couple of hundred people and a full-blown concert for a potential audience of thousands.

    This has got me thinking about what it would be like to try and demo a Link network in the middle of a large tradeshow like NAMM. I know from experience that tradeshows are an absolute nightmare when it comes to Wi-Fi. Often there will be 50 to 100 networks running in one room. To be fair, that is an extreme environment and I think that the folks at Ableton can be excused for not building Link with that in mind. :-)

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