All last week I was working at my church’s Family Camp. This is something I have been doing for many years, and my job for the week is to be the sound engineer for all the services. I love this week because, unlike at my tech director job, the only thing I have to worry about is mixing sound. I don’t have to prepare the presentations or handle the lighting – there other people to do that. This week my focus was on running sound, and it’s one of my favorite weeks of the year.
This year I decided to bring our PreSonus digital console that I have mentioned a few times, and of course my iPad to mix from. This is the first year that I would be using a digital console; every other year I used an analog one. I was pretty excited to see how it sounds. The campground that we use is in Vassar, MI, and if you find it on a map you will see it is in the middle of nowhere. Because of that I barely get a cell signal, and internet access, even 3G, is even harder to find. I knew I would probably have some issues getting everything setup, but wasn’t expecting all of the ones that arose.
The way that the PreSonus iPad apps talk to the console is through a client that is running on the computer you have hooked up via FireWire to the console. That means that the firmware on the console, the software on the computer, and the apps on the iPad all need to be running versions that are compatible with each other. I brought a computer with me and also the software to install on it. That was mistake number one.
When I installed the console in our auditorium, the computer I put it on had internet access. So as soon as I installed the software, it updated the software and the firmware on the console to the newest version. That version was newer than the software that came with the console, the software that I brought with me. As soon as I installed it on my computer, it said it couldn’t talk to the console, and that I needed to upgrade the firmware. I said OK, only to realize that the upgrade was actually a downgrade. I didn’t worry too much about it until I tried to connect with my iPad, and it wouldn’t even see the console. The app wasn’t able to talk to the console since the software versions were incompatible. At this point I started to think about what I had to do to get the software updated back to where it was supposed to be. I knew that PreSonus had the software on their website – I just had to figure out how to get it downloaded and on my computer.
I grabbed my TouchPad and hopped in the van and drove the 15 minutes to the nearest McDonalds, because I knew that they had free WiFi. I didn’t take my iPad because I know it’s easier for me to download files and get them off my TouchPad. After eating lunch, and browsing to PreSonus’ website, I found the file I was looking for and got it downloaded. After another 15 minute drive back to camp, I had the file on my computer and successfully updated the client on my computer and the firmware on the console. I figured now I was good to go, so I fired up the iPad app again. It still wasn’t working. At this point I would normally navigate my way over to Google.com and do a search trying to find answers. After waiting 15 minutes for my search to load, amid many disconnects of service, I gave up trying to find it on my phone. I guess I was going to have to head back to McDonalds for dinner.
This time I took my iPad with me. After getting it all connected to the internet, I started searching for some answers. I didn’t find a whole lot of helpful things, so I closed out my browser and was going to head to the App Store to download Chrome for iOS since I had seen it was released. As soon as I opened up the App Store I saw that I had four updates available. At this point I was willing to bet that at least one of them was a PreSonus app. I switched over to the updates tab and sure enough, both the QMix and the SL-Remote apps had updates available. I started them downloading and went to grab a refill of my beverage. After all the apps were updated I packed up and headed back to camp.
Once I got back, I again turned everything on, and went to fire up the iPad. I was very happy to see the console immediately pop up in the app. All told it took me a few hours to do something that had I been at home, or even in a town where I actually got a decent cell signal, it would have only taken me a matter of minutes. I know that I rely on internet access a lot, but I didn’t expect to have that much trouble getting all the equipment talking to each other. This just shows how reliant we (I) have become on easy internet access. Next year I will make sure everything is functioning properly before disconnecting everything from my work network.