Making the Most of Wi-Fi: Optimisations for Robust Wireless Live Music Performance

Mitchell, Thomas and Madgwick, Sebastian and Rankine, Simon and Hilton, Geoffrey and Freed, Adrian and Nix, Andrew

Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression

Wireless technology is growing increasingly prevalent in the development of new interfaces for live music performance. However, with a number of different wireless technologies operating in the 2.4 GHz band, there is a high risk of interference and congestion, which has the potential to severely disrupt live performances. With its high transmission power, channel bandwidth and throughput, Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11) presents an opportunity for highly robust wireless communications. This paper presents our preliminary work optimising the components of a Wi-Fi system for live performance scenarios. We summarise the manufacture and testing of a prototype directional antenna that is designed to maximise sensitivity to a performer’s signal while suppressing interference from elsewhere. We also propose a set of recommended Wi-Fi configurations to reduce latency and increase throughput. Practical investigations utilising these arrangements demonstrate a single x-OSC device achieving a latency of <3 ms and a distributed network of 15 devices achieving a net throughput of  4800 packets per second ( 320 per device); where each packet is a 104-byte OSC message containing 16 analogue input channels acquired by the device.