WiFi Vs. WiMax

Wi Fi Fo Fum, I think I smell the blood…oops wrong tale. This story doesn’t involve giants, but it does involve giant leaps forward in technology that will affect us all.

The other day I was watching two kids play. Each had a tin can up to their ear and they were speaking to each other on the ‘phone’. Talk about technological leaps. Yes, the string that I used as a kid to hook up this intricate communication system had disappeared, and they were now wireless!

When I was Batman back then, the string always kept me close enough to Robin so we could hear each other, even around the corner of a cinder block wall. Unrestricted by ‘the magic string’ these kids tended to drift out of range from time to time. Showing true genius, they engaged Billy’s little brother to position himself on middle ground, and he relayed wireless messages back and forth. They called him ‘tower’. I laughed.

It really is a reflection of a changing world. We’ve gone from HiFi to Wi-Fi, and next on the endless chain is WiMax. The transition from ‘High Fidelity’, which simply related to sound quality, to ‘Wireless Fidelity’ or Wi-Fi, took about thirty-eleven years. The transition to WiMax is already in play, yet most of us haven’t figured out what Wi-Fi is really all about.

According to the ‘Webopedia’, the term is promulgated by the Wi-Fi Alliance, and is short for Wireless Fidelity as I indicated above. What it means is that you can access the Internet from a laptop computer with the right stuff (wireless card) in various locations without the burden of a physical wire.

Hold it – Webopedia? Yikes! Yes, it’s real, and it defines and explains web ‘stuff’. I guess Babe Ruth probably thought that Encyclopedias were on the bleeding edge, yet I wrote my 7th grade essay all about him using that standard, great source of knowledge. Makes you wonder what ‘pedia’ is next doesn’t it?

It goes on to say that any products tested and approved as Wi-Fi certified (a registered trademark) by the Wi-Fi Alliance are certified as interoperable with each other, even if from different manufacturers.

That’s kind of like Fords & Toyotas use the same gas to make them go, and their owners use the same ramps and highways to pick up milk, or go to the cottage. Even Hudson Hornets used a leaded version of the same fuel.

An example where this wasn’t so well planned is the access to the electricity grids in Europe as opposed to North America. The same plugs don’t work in both places.

Rather than making that mistake, the Alliance has created an accepted standard so that manufacturers create equipment, and the like, that can be used in a similar fashion to access the web. That means that your laptop, regardless of brand, will use the same ‘hot-spots’ to get access. Hot-spots are areas where the facility, like Starbucks or the hotel that owns the lobby, has put in the proper equipment to provide access from your wireless card to the great big cloud called the Internet. The wireless card is the gas for the Fords & Toyotas, and the hot-spot is the on ramp.

And therein lie both the beauty and the problem. The beauty is that I can access the web from Starbucks in Atlanta, as well as a hotel lobby in Vancouver. If you’ve ever seen someone doing the hippy-hippy shake with their computer in their hands, you’re probably witnessing the problem. Wi-Fi access is limited in both speed and distance. The twisting person was probably trying to get a more consistent signal in the ‘hot-spot’.

Enter WiMax. That’s not Max Smart and his wireless shoe communications, but it is the next generation of Wi-Fi. According to WiMaxxed.com it “will connect you to the Internet at faster speeds and from much longer ranges than current wireless technology allows.” They go on to say “WiMax promises up to a ten mile range without wires, and broadband speeds without cable or T1.”

The result – we are absolved from the penance of viewing way too many hippy-hippy shakes. Well, not so fast, don’t throw out your dancin’ shoes quite yet. It’s not on the Wal-Mart shelves for next Christmas, but there are a lot of indicators that it’s real, and it’s just around the corner.

First of all, it is an acronym for Worldwide Interoperability For Microwave Access, and it has actually been in the works for quite a while now. An article titled ‘FCC Move Could Boost WiMax’, states “A number of vendors and carriers have announced products, testing, or support for the standard in the last month, including Intel, Nokia, AT&T, BellSouth, Sprint, and Motorola.” These companies aren’t akin to Duke’s Pool Room – these are the big boys.

The article continues to say, “Congress has been lobbied for months now to free more frequencies for wireless broadband.”

AlcaTel states that WiMax will “bridge the digital divide by delivering broadband in low-density areas.” If you really study that statement, you can see where we are in the world today. Where governments once ensured that all residents were able to receive phone service in the Ma Bell days, that lingo is now being used in relation to broadband access to the Internet. May everybody have equal access is the refrain, but only if it’s high speed!

So instead of hot-spot hopping, WiMax will provide true wireless mobility. And there’s more. In an article by Al Senia of America’s Network, he states that ‘Phone manufacturers such as Samsung and LG are expected to introduce Wi-Fi handsets compatible with this service by year’s end.”

O.K., so that’s VoIP, except it’s wireless VoIP in hot-spots. Next is WiMax, with wide-area wireless VoIP.

To be sure, there are quality and security issues to be resolved, whether that’s for surfing, voice applications, or a gazillion other Internet applications, before wider market acceptance is achieved. However, I attended a recent presentation by the Gartner Group, where the presenter stated emphatically that security is not an ‘if’ but rather ‘how much’. His meaning was clearly that the level of security required for business applications will be achieved, and that commercial providers will find the economic model that works. Ditto for quality.

We used to trade information at the speed of the Pony Express, when the air was just filled with farm smells. Now when the air is filled with zeros and ones, information is transferred at speeds faster than Clark Kent. If we’re to remain on competitive even ground, we had better pay attention to these applications that are on the horizon. We have to assume that our competitors are paying attention.

It took a century to transform from Alexander Bell’s basic invention to wireless phones. However, in the last decade alone, the Internet has met with wide acceptance by business, VoIP has become more common, Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi VoIP is now a reality, and WiMax and wide area wireless VoIP is very nearly on the market.

In the past, I’ve often used an example of future possibilities by alluding to a chip in our eyebrows that can transmit holographic images around the globe. That’s not even that far-fetched anymore, so I guess I’ll have to come up with a better example. I’m going to have to track down the Jetsons and Star Trek reruns.

“Grandpa, why is the sky blue?” That’s always been a puzzler. What on earth are you going to say when the question is “Grandpa, why is the sky zeros and ones?” That’s when you ask yourself, “Wi me?”

That begs another question. Where do all the zeros and ones go when they’re used up? Is there a big Z&O dump somewhere? Or should that be backwards – OZ. Oh, that Wizard, I knew he was up to something.

Selecting Subwoofers for Dubstep and Drum and Bass

As a concert producer, I’m frequently asked which subs I would recommend. Subwoofers, like mains, are selected by the type of music you will be playing though them, and how they are going to be used. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to restrict the conversation to just Dubstep, and Drum and Bass.

Dubstep and Drum and Bass have a huge amount of content in the 20hz – 50hz range, and if you do the math, you are going to need about 5000 watts dedicated to a that frequency range to produce enough of that sound to be heard along with the rest of the music.

My setup

My larger setup is (5) QSC HPR181s across the front of the stage, (6) Martin Blackline dual 18′s for the house, and 2 Bag End Dual 18′s running 8000watts through an ELF processor dedicated to the 8hz – 50hz range through a lab gruppen amp. When I play smaller shows, I just use my QSC HPR181, which are 700 watts each, but good for ultra high volume bass. The QSC’s are self powered and take all of 5 minutes to setup, which also helps. Now I’ve heard the common wisdom, don’t mix subwoofers, but in reality, I’ve yet to find one sound manufacturing company that does it all, short of a tour package that is produced for a given show, rather than a type of music (an important distinction). That said, crossover points and keeping each subwoofer and the overall system in phase is very important when mixing subs.

Setting the crossover

Conventional crossovers, like the very common dBx DriveRack PA have a good and fairly adjustable crossover that also includes the ability to change the slope of the roll off. When matching and tuning subwoofer frequencies, I’ve noticed that although the crossover claims to have rolled a frequency off, some of the content continues to be transmitted to the sub. Clearly, when two brands of subwoofers are generating the same tones, distortion is created. I, therefore, separate the frequencies by about 5hz. Visually on the crossover, it appears that I’m losing musical content, however, with the amplification gain, in fact I’m not, and a RTA mic will confirm that the setting are correct.

Sealed box enclosures and subharmonics

Bag End is really the go to here. There are other sub systems that do subharmonics, but Bag End was first, so I’m writing about them. The Infra processor, and before Ron Wickersham left, the Elf Processor are the two key components. Dubstep and Drum and Bass require a huge presence in the 20hz – 50hz range. Most people cannot hear music in this range, but you can feel it, and you can feel the difference between 20hz and 40 hz when the signal is clear and free of clipping. The Infra processor is available in two forms. The first one has a flat response down to 18hz, the second one to 8hz. 18hz is much more efficient for larger systems. If you have an extra 20k to burn, then go for the 8hz integrator and (4) dual 18′s. You will need a substantial amount of AC Power to run the amps as well, usually an additional 20amp 220 circuit for a Lab Gruppen or four 20amp 110 ciruits for four QSC amps bridged into each sub. My Bag Ends generally pull about 3000 watts per dual 18 when generating content STRICTLY LIMITED to the 18hz – 50hz range. I should note that making adjustments to your crossover at full volume can quickly destroy all of your equipment, so be careful, and know your equipment frequency response and power handling ratings.

Pricing

Subs vary tremendously in price. In the lower price range, I have heard the Peavey blackwidows, which are technically louder, but much less musical. When you are mashing up two tracks, or quickly transitioning from one to another, it is tough to hear much difference with the Peavey subs, they are just loud, not so much musical. JBL and Cerwin Vega subs are fart cans, and I think most people know this. They can rumble and shake, but they don’t have an articulated sound – a clarity in the low end that is absolutely necessary for Dubstep and more so for Drum and Bass.

Some other equipment that I’ve tried, If you are rich, the D&B (not db technologies) audioteknic Q2 subs are killer, EAW 218z subs are pretty good, McCauley does a pretty decent sub with good all around specs for Dubstep, and Bag End kills. All of these cabinets require extremely expensive amplification though. You can get 12,000 into amps alone before you can even turn on a mid-sized system of this caliber.

Home Construction

Another alternative, is to build your own box. This is not a beginner project, but if you love wood working, and have a spare 2500 bucks, you can build some pretty amazing cabinets. The best way to do this is to get on the forums and look at designs, then read the threads through. Often people post reviews over the course of years.

Look for a design that has a good frequency response down to 40hz, and a driver that has exceptional frequency response. OHM (brand) makes a pretty incredible driver, and there are a couple of high end RCF subs that are bad to the bone.

Listen to them before you buy them if at all possible though, using a parametric EQ and shut off all frequencies except for the 20hz to 50hz range – that is the sweet spot of Dubstep that makes it truly different from other similar music.

Cave Paintings and Content Marketing

My friend David Brock nearly busted his gut laughing when I said, “Heck we were doing content marketing thirty years ago. It was called print and direct mail.” He wasn’t laughing at me, he was laughing with me, because things have not changed as much as some people would have us believe. Then David said, “You need to write this post.”

In 1982, we had a sales and marketing automation system running on a Digital minicomputer. It sat in an air conditioned clean room. The hard drives were platters the size of big vinyl records that held a whopping 50MBs. This was not archaic; it was cutting edge, state of the art technology.

Everyone in our database was there because they wanted to be there. We only sent what the customer wanted. If they were looking for green boots, they received content related to green boots; not socks or blue sneakers. And when they no longer wanted our propaganda, we stopped sending it.

Today, it’s called Permission Marketing.

Our customers loved it. They received high quality, current information about products and the industry free of charge. Many of our customers created libraries of loose-leaf binders filled with our marketing collateral and white papers that conveniently displayed our logo, name, and contact information. Just like a web page!

Today, it’s called Content Marketing.

For lead generation, lead nurturing, feedback, and database updating, our staff of social PR experts used the state-of-the-art technology of the day – telephones. They called our contacts every 90 days, chatted politely, caught up on news, verified prime contact information, and reviewed the type of content they were receiving. It was very social and excellent marketing.

Today, it’s called Social Marketing.

Networking took place at trade shows, association meetings, elevators, golf courses, squash courts, bridge clubs, watering holes, and any venue where business people congregated. It was as social as social gets.

Today, it’s called Social Networking.

With the help of the content marketing, social marketing, and social networking mediums of the day, we became trusted experts and advisors long before our competition entered the hunt. We sold manufacturing equipment, but our product was information and relationships.

I make no claim to the development of content marketing, many others used the same techniques, and still more long before us. Sears was a content marketer in the 1800s. I’m sure a merchant or two took advantage of Gutenberg’s printing press during the renaissance, and content marketing’s roots may be in cave paintings. Social Marketing and Social Networking were practiced in the most rudimentary forms in the first marketplaces.

When we made complex sales by telephone in 1982, our competition called sacrilegious. Now it’s archaic. Today, the majority of marketing and networking occurs on the internet. Some people thought it blasphemous; now everyone is climbing aboard.

Some things change. Mediums have changed and they will continue to change. In the not too distant future, FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, the iPhone, and the internet, will lose popularity or go the way of the dodo.

Some things never change. As sales and marketing evolve, two things will remain the same; people and their behavior. Basic human behavior remains a constant. That is why networking was, and always will be social. Because if it ain’t social then it truly ain’t networking.

As we adopt new technologies, they should be implemented as support for the core fundamentals that make sales and marketing successful.

Now that I’ve stirred the pot, I look forward to your reactions, responses, and rebukes.