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Using powerline adapters for studio network?

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Using powerline adapters for studio network?

Postby Fishnish » Tue May 11, 2021 7:49 am

Question:
Do powerline based internet extenders cause noise or other problems when used in the studio?

Background:
We live in a 200 year old property with metre thick stone walls and have a studio in a modern extension. Our router is in the main part of the house.

Wifi doesn't reach the studio and even with wifi repeaters it's pretty hit or miss as there are several very substantial walls to navigate. Rigging a permanent cable from router to studio would be something of a civil engineering job.

Previously there's been no huge requirement for internet in the studio and when doing updates, installing new stuff etc we've got by with running a very long cat 5 cable across the floor of 5 rooms from the studio into the router in the main house.

Recently we've been using some plugin controlled hardware (Tegeler Creme RC - love it!) and it requires an ethernet connection. Everything works fine with a wired connection from the router to a switch in the studio and thence to studio PC and Creme RC. Although of course the PC is permanently connected to the internet then.

With a wifi extender in place of the long cable everything sort of works, although the plugin is slower to recognise the hardware at first startup and weirdly the DAW (Cubase) crashes every time on exit if the control plugin is used. This doesn't ever happen when it's wired.

The Creme RC can allegedly be connected sans internet directly to the single ethernet port on the PC, but we haven't yet been able to get things working in this configuration - More research, a conversation with Tegeler, and semi-regular grovelling under the studio desk seems to be required.

Hence my question. Might power line based network extenders have any advantage over wifi extenders, and could they present any problems, such as hum, noise or other interference? BTW there are 2 seperate mains circuits in the studio - one is currently used for all things audio and the other for anything else.
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Re: Using powerline adapters for studio network?

Postby RichardT » Tue May 11, 2021 8:25 am

I’ve used these before to connect a general purpose computer to a router. My experience was OK. The speed was acceptable, and it was reasonably reliable.

You shouldn’t have hum or noise problems as what comes out of the adaptors is a digital data stream.

I think it’s a case of trying it. You’re trying it over a greater distance than I did!
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Re: Using powerline adapters for studio network?

Postby Fishnish » Tue May 11, 2021 8:49 am

Thanks Richard, they're not that expensive so as you say probably worth a try. In a building like this I'm sure we'd find a use for them even it it was't to be in the studio. I've not actually measured the distance, but the cable we currently use is 35m, it's laid straight across the middle of the floors + there's very little slack. Also there's 3 x 1 metre thick walls made of basalt boulders to pass through. Hence the poor wifi performance!
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Re: Using powerline adapters for studio network?

Postby IAA » Tue May 11, 2021 10:01 am

I posted the same question a few years ago, and was reassured there should be no noise. I had to use one to get WiFi in my studio. Worked fine, used a separate socket and had no noise through any audio connection (other than expected from old synths etc!). As Richard notes speed is less than your pure WiFi, I found the Ethernet connection on them more acceptable.

Definitely worth a try.
I used the BT ones FWIW.

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Re: Using powerline adapters for studio network?

Postby Fishnish » Tue May 11, 2021 10:16 am

Thanks Ian, that's encouraging. I'm not planning on using one that does wifi as well, just the ethernet and I'm pretty used to slow speeds due to living in the back of beyond.

After browsing around for suitable units I see they come in differing speed flavours and/or Gigabit ethernet. Is there any advantage to looking at the higher specced and consequently more expensive units, taking into account that our source internet speed is never wonderful after it's journey down over a kilometer of copper?
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Re: Using powerline adapters for studio network?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue May 11, 2021 10:50 am

I've used them where running a cable isn't practical. They are okay and do that job. I've never had any interference or noise issues. But I've not found them hugely reliable or fast... And one set died because internal power supply capacitors exploded!

That sounds more dramatic than it was -- one specific cap in each unit expanded and popped! It was a known fault and fairly easy to replace, but it dented my confidence in the brand and product!
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Re: Using powerline adapters for studio network?

Postby Folderol » Tue May 11, 2021 11:04 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:That sounds more dramatic than it was -- one specific cap in each unit expanded and popped! It was a known fault and fairly easy to replace, but it dented my confidence in the brand and product!
If that's the type i think it is, I just don't understand why anyone still uses them. The plastic case cracks, the paper insulation inside then absorbs moisture, and the result is totally predictable :crazy:
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Re: Using powerline adapters for studio network?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue May 11, 2021 11:08 am

They were TP-Link TL-PA4030 500Mbps powerline adapters. I wouldn't use TP-Link units again...
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Re: Using powerline adapters for studio network?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Tue May 11, 2021 11:41 am

I don't use powerline now, I eventually went to hard wiring the house. Real wire is always best if you can do it, faster and problem free and a cable can be up to 100m long so distance is not a problem. Having said that, if you must go powerline then when I did use it I standardised on Solwise kit and had decent problem-free performance.

CC
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Re: Using powerline adapters for studio network?

Postby merlyn » Tue May 11, 2021 11:59 am

Fishnish wrote:Is there any advantage to looking at the higher specced and consequently more expensive units, taking into account that our source internet speed is never wonderful after it's journey down over a kilometer of copper?

It could be worth distinguishing between the WAN and the LAN. The WAN -- the wide area network -- is on the other side of your router. You connect to your ISP and the whole rest of the internet. The LAN -- the local area network -- is on your side of your router. It's all the devices in your house.

The Tegeler is using the LAN, not the WAN so the speed of the internet connection coming into your house is not a factor in controlling hardware over the LAN.
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Re: Using powerline adapters for studio network?

Postby 1024-QAM » Tue May 11, 2021 12:20 pm

I wouldn’t think you would have any noise issues using them. I think they operate somewhere between 10 and 30 MHz at around 2V peak to peak. They shouldn’t have anymore impact than any switch mode power supply. The networking topology used for Ethernet over power creates a single collision domain so if you have more than one end on the power line you suddenly have the situation where multiple devices might be trying to transmit at the same time. Causing collisions and resulting in dropped packets and an increase in latency. But excluding all the technical dribble they do seem to work ok so I would just give it a go. Just try get the 2 ends as close together as you can to minimise any cable losses and issues with time domain the faster the packet gets from point a to point b with the best SNR possible the faster and more reliable it will be.

Another thing to look at if you have access to the roof space is putting a Wifi access point in the roof if you use a good quality AP as long as your ceiling hasn’t got any metal lined insulation between the AP and your target devices it should work ok. Use a POE access point and you only have to run the single Ethernet cable. The biggest upside to this is you can then run as many devices as you like think phones tablets ect. Something like the Ubiquity AC PRO or AC LR.
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Re: Using powerline adapters for studio network?

Postby blinddrew » Tue May 11, 2021 12:28 pm

I use them here in my shed because the wifi doesn't quite reach this far. Mine are badged D-Link and are generally pretty good. Maybe once every two or three months one of them will throw a bit of wobbly but just unplugging and plugging everything in again sorts them out.
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Re: Using powerline adapters for studio network?

Postby Fishnish » Tue May 11, 2021 1:19 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:They were TP-Link TL-PA4030 500Mbps powerline adapters. I wouldn't use TP-Link units again...

We currently have a box full of the last 2 decades worth of broken and obsolete telecom and internet bits + bobs waiting to go the tip. I notice one brand is particularly well represented in it. Buy cheap buy twice and all that.

ConcertinaChap wrote:I don't use powerline now, I eventually went to hard wiring the house. Real wire is always best if you can do it, faster and problem free and a cable can be up to 100m long so distance is not a problem. Having said that, if you must go powerline then when I did use it I standardised on Solwise kit and had decent problem-free performance.
CC

I'm looking into hard wiring as a best option. Of course, it would have been easier if we'd thought of it of it whilst initially configuring the extension wiring a few years back! Failing that, it seems as though a powerline setup might work ok as an option B. It's a relatively cheap and easy option to investigate anyway.

Thanks everyone for the useful technical info and advice.
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Re: Using powerline adapters for studio network?

Postby James Perrett » Tue May 11, 2021 1:24 pm

I don't quite understand why you need to connect to your router. All you need is a network switch to go between the computer and the Tegeler Creme RC. You will need to assign static IP addresses to both devices though. If you don't want to assign IP addresses manually you could use an old spare router as both a switch and a DHCP server - the DHCP server will automatically give each device an IP address.

Powerline adaptors don't usually cause interference at audio frequencies but short wave listeners hate them.
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Re: Using powerline adapters for studio network?

Postby Fishnish » Tue May 11, 2021 1:49 pm

James Perrett wrote:I don't quite understand why you need to connect to your router. All you need is a network switch to go between the computer and the Tegeler Creme RC. You will need to assign static IP addresses to both devices though. If you don't want to assign IP addresses manually you could use an old spare router as both a switch and a DHCP server - the DHCP server will automatically give each device an IP address.

Powerline adaptors don't usually cause interference at audio frequencies but short wave listeners hate them.

TBH I'd rather not have it connected to the router full time. I've tried setting it up manually both with a switch and without, using the info supplied from Tegeler, but can't get the plugin to recognise the static IP address. Could certainly try using an old router rather than a switch though.
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