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#2927227 - 05/15/18 07:12 PM Semi OT: extending USB cable length
Reezekeys Offline
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For a festival gig coming up, one with a large stage where my controller will be far away from my laptop, I need to get a long USB cable run happening. Maybe as long as 25 to 30 feet. In my research I've seen two different methods for doing this: USB over ethernet, and a "USB active repeater."

I'm not expecting either of these to provide enough juice to power my keyboard without using a wall wart adapter. What I do require is good data integrity. I would think that midi over USB is not much of a bandwidth hog so it should work fine, but it would be nice to hear from anyone who's had real experience with one of these kinds of units. Thanks!

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#2927304 - 05/16/18 07:49 AM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: Reezekeys]
The Real MC Offline
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Originally Posted By: Reezekeys
For a festival gig coming up, one with a large stage where my controller will be far away from my laptop, I need to get a long USB cable run happening. Maybe as long as 25 to 30 feet. In my research I've seen two different methods for doing this: USB over ethernet, and a "USB active repeater."

I'm not expecting either of these to provide enough juice to power my keyboard without using a wall wart adapter. What I do require is good data integrity. I would think that midi over USB is not much of a bandwidth hog so it should work fine, but it would be nice to hear from anyone who's had real experience with one of these kinds of units. Thanks!


The problem is not bandwidth. The problem is cable capacitance and weak output drive of the USB port. The longer the cable, the more capacitance, and the more it degrades the MIDI signals.

I would highly recommend using MIDI and not USB for the 25-30 foot cable run.

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#2927312 - 05/16/18 08:16 AM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: The Real MC]
stoken6 Offline
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Would 5-pin MIDI be an option? (I've seen 50 feet quoted as the maximum length there).

EDIT: just seen MC's closing comment, so this post is a +1

Cheers, Mike.
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#2927317 - 05/16/18 08:33 AM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: stoken6]
David R Offline
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+2 for running MIDI in this instance. Dumb question - why do you have to be separated from your laptop by such a distance? Is it a no-go to have an unobtrusive low-profile laptop stand closer to your onstage position?
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#2927325 - 05/16/18 08:54 AM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: stoken6]
Reezekeys Offline
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As part of my backup plan I always carry a midi interface in case I need to use a backlined keyboard-du-jour. But if that happens, I also need my Korg NanoKontrol to work my laptop rig and that guy is USB only! Unfortunately, for logistical reasons there is a slight chance that I'll have to use a rental board because this particular gig is a "throw & go" with no sound check and very little setup time. I'm still working out the details but if I need to use the rental then I'll require the Korg NanoKontrol so I feel like have to have a viable solution for a long USB connection.

I understand about the cable capacitance. The USB repeater is supposed to boost the signal to help with this. The USB-over-Enet, well, that avoids any USB cable, right? (except for the short ones at the source & destination points of course). According to the Amazon link I posted, you can send the USB over a cat-6 cable for up to 100 meters! This is appealing to me in that I would have total freedom to place my laptop anywhere. I was hoping to hear of actual experiences with these types of products.

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#2927328 - 05/16/18 09:09 AM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: David R]
Reezekeys Offline
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Originally Posted By: David R
+2 for running MIDI in this instance. Dumb question - why do you have to be separated from your laptop by such a distance? Is it a no-go to have an unobtrusive low-profile laptop stand closer to your onstage position?

Not a dumb question. I've done this a few times on large stages placed my SKB case with the laptop near me on the drum riser (it's usually in the back, on top of my bass amp). The issue here, I'm sorry to say, is purely aesthetic! This is the highest-profile gig I've done with AWB since joining the band 5 years ago and possibly one of the biggest gigs the band has done since the old glory days. We're third on the bill at a festival that Bruno Mars is headlining. As I said, it's a "throw & go" with no sound check. I have to assume it will be a large stage and our leader will want it to look "clean" since I'm presuming we'll be on video screens. I really have no idea how this will play out but I want to be ready for any possibility.

[edit - just to add, my SKB case will not pass for an "unobtrusive low-profile laptop stand" unfortunately. I'm not changing my laptop setup either. The case lets me keep all my wires, my SSD drive & laptop power brick safely hidden. With the very limited stage change time, I'm not gonna deal with a naked laptop on a stand with wires & devices hanging off.]


Edited by Reezekeys (05/16/18 09:14 AM)

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#2927337 - 05/16/18 09:50 AM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: Reezekeys]
Theo Verelst Online   confused
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Hi Reeze, just to prevent a pitfall: USB prolongation cables with active components might not recognize certain interfaces, such as certain (fast) USB audio interfaces on Windows or Linux will not work through a repeater. Also, long cables are more sensitive to disturbances and ground loops which can make them unreliable. Ethernet onnections I don't know about, but the sometimes complicated USB protocols might fail for certain equipment, so testing first would be a must, I'd say.

TV

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#2927341 - 05/16/18 10:14 AM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: Theo Verelst]
Reezekeys Offline
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Preventing pitfalls is why Im asking these questions! And the gig is in July so my plan is to thoroughly test whatever setup I go with.

Thanks for the heads up on the repeaters. Ive been reading the Amazon reviews carefully so I see what youre saying about certain devices not working with them. My uneducated guess is that midi data is not as demanding as audio over USB but I suppose theres no way to know for sure until I buy & try. Im staying away from those super-cheap adapters that seem to only work for keyboards & mice.

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#2927373 - 05/16/18 02:04 PM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: Reezekeys]
MoodyBluesKeys Offline
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Suggestion: contact B&H Photo, or your favorite national supplier and ask their techs. B&H carries a number of extenders for USB. Didn't see any listed by Sweetwater.

If the devices are high quality, there is no reason why Ethernet bridging shouldn't work well. A thought: USB devices are either host or device. Hosts are the only part capable of controlling devices (another name (not pc) is master/slave). USB itself is a general (universal) serial port protocol.

At any rate, B&H (or other supplier) should have sold enough of the devices to know which will work properly in your application. Prices vary widely, I assume that the more expensive devices have more capabilities.
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#2927374 - 05/16/18 02:16 PM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: Reezekeys]
The Real MC Offline
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One potential hiccup is that if you use an Ethernet extender you lose the device configuration features of USB and your laptop may not recognize the USB device over Ethernet.

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#2927382 - 05/16/18 03:28 PM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: The Real MC]
Markay Offline
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An alternative solution to get the "clean look" on stage and less complicated, why not place your rack next to your keyboard and wrap black cloth secured by black gaffer tape around the front and sides of your keyboard and rack. A little bit of time in preparation before the gig and $10 in material.

I do this with Velcro tabs attached to the controller and a piece of black cloth custom cut to fit and with the Velcro tabs located on it so it goes on the same way each time. Also had a sign made out of light weight material with bands name to replace the cloth.

Now I only use this in a cover band situation playing in low rent dives, but have seen this done by big name bands on big stages. Greedy Smith who fronts Mental as Anything comes to mind who does this with a psychedelic patterned drop.
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#2927388 - 05/16/18 04:16 PM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: The Real MC]
bfields Offline
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Originally Posted By: The Real MC
One potential hiccup is that if you use an Ethernet extender you lose the device configuration features of USB and your laptop may not recognize the USB device over Ethernet.


That's surprising. What's your source for that?

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#2927422 - 05/16/18 09:28 PM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: Markay]
Reezekeys Offline
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Well the plot thickens. I just posted a question about using the e-net extender with a midi keyboard on the Amazon page. I have Prime so I can return it & lose just the shipping charge so not a big deal I guess.

Originally Posted By: Markay
An alternative solution to get the "clean look" on stage and less complicated, why not place your rack next to your keyboard and wrap black cloth secured by black gaffer tape around the front and sides of your keyboard and rack. A little bit of time in preparation before the gig and $10 in material.

Interesting idea but it looks more complicated to me, not less. It seems risky to change my setup for one gig, with an unfamiliar stage crew that will be working to get stuff off & on the stage as fast as possible. Keeping my SKB case where it almost always is on top of my bass amp, with the screen off and lid partially closed, is what I want to do. As long as one of these extender solutions works, that should be the easiest solution. And it may just work out that I can put my SKB near me like I did on a few other gigs on big stages. I just want to be prepared for any possible setup.

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#2927434 - 05/16/18 11:36 PM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: Reezekeys]
Jazz+ Offline
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Why must you use a laptop ?
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#2927455 - 05/17/18 06:04 AM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: Jazz+]
Bobby Simons Online   content
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Probably another stupid question: Is using bluetooth not an option?
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#2927460 - 05/17/18 06:18 AM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: bfields]
bfields Offline
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Registered: 07/12/16
Posts: 107
Originally Posted By: bfields
Originally Posted By: The Real MC
One potential hiccup is that if you use an Ethernet extender you lose the device configuration features of USB and your laptop may not recognize the USB device over Ethernet.


That's surprising. What's your source for that?


To elaborate:

1) Isn't it just tunneling the USB protocol over ethernet (ok, maybe over the cat5)? Why couldn't that be made completely transparent to the endpoints?

2) If by "device configuration features of USB" you mean this stuff: https://beyondlogic.org/usbnutshell/usb5.shtml That seems like a fundamental part of the protocol. If you managed to break it somehow, how would you end up with working USB at all?

My bet is it works just fine. Never tried it, though!

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#2927471 - 05/17/18 07:48 AM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: bfields]
EscapeRocks Offline
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The USB>CAT5/6 does work just fine if you have the proper units.

i.e. $$$$ There are some big acts where all the stuff is well off stage. You can get CAT5/6 USB extenders that support USB 3.0, 2.0, 1.1, and 1.0 devices with data transfer rates up to 480 Mbps. Heck, some are even using Fiber Optic USB extenders now that support USB2.0

Checking the Roadie . net forum, it seems the Extron line is a go to right now.


Edited by EscapeRocks (05/17/18 07:50 AM)
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#2927473 - 05/17/18 07:51 AM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: EscapeRocks]
stoken6 Offline
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One more suggestion if the Ethernet way doesn't work: Yamaha UD-BT01. It's a bluetooth extender for USB MIDI. Latency might be high, but perhaps not an issue for just the NanoKontrol? Use 5-pin DIN for your keyboard.

Cheers, Mike.
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#2927529 - 05/17/18 11:43 AM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: stoken6]
Reezekeys Offline
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Well, everybody, thanks for all the suggs. I have received some "clarification" on this big festival gig. It seems the UK tech guys that will be traveling with us (and have done so in past tours) are nervous about my laptop setup and want me to use a rented Nord for simplicity's sake. What they (and a poster in this thread, it seems) don't understand is that I have customized patches and certain sounds that I use from very nice 3rd-part VI plugins that are superior to (imo) or even unavailable on a Nord. What they also don't understand is that on these "throw & go" gigs, I can boot my laptop and load my setup while backstage which means the actual stage change time is the same as with a Nord I just carry the SKB case out, place it on the bass amp, plug in a few cables and I'm ready to play. I don't even need AC power backstage the laptop's battery certainly has enough juice for the 2 minutes it takes to boot the computer and load my entire setup. And... there's a third thing they don't get: they are the tech crew and I'm the musician, so it's not their job to tell me what instrument I should play! My impression is that laptops on stage are more the province of either young EDM artists or smooth jazzers, and many of these crew people are more comfortable with guitars, basses, drums and amplifiers! I'm pretty sure it was a big gig in Glasgow Scotland last year that reinforced their anti-laptop views. My USB cable didn't reach over the large stage, so I plugged in a second USB extension cable and the new combined length caused problems (which is why I started this thread). I found this out during sound check so I switched to 5-pin midi and the gig went fine.

In view of these issues I will suggest that, to allay their fears, I will get a long midi cable and use 5-pin midi from my controller, therefore avoiding the whole USB deal which seems to be the sticking point with them. I'm still curious about being able to get a long USB connection so I will probably try the ethernet extender at some point. Thanks again for everyone's input!

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#2927589 - 05/17/18 06:55 PM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: EscapeRocks]
Reezekeys Offline
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Originally Posted By: EscapeRocks
The USB>CAT5/6 does work just fine if you have the proper units.

i.e. $$$$ There are some big acts where all the stuff is well off stage. You can get CAT5/6 USB extenders that support USB 3.0, 2.0, 1.1, and 1.0 devices with data transfer rates up to 480 Mbps. Heck, some are even using Fiber Optic USB extenders now that support USB2.0

Checking the Roadie . net forum, it seems the Extron line is a go to right now.

Got $1000? Here's a fiber optic 5-pin midi extender. I could have my rig 2 miles (3 km) from my controller if I wanted!

clonk

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#2927666 - 05/18/18 07:41 AM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: Reezekeys]
stoken6 Offline
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Rob, do you still need the NanoKontrol if you're using your controller via 5-pin MIDI. (If not, sorry I got sidetracked...)

Cheers, Mike.
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#2927700 - 05/18/18 09:49 AM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: stoken6]
Theo Verelst Online   confused
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Sounds somewhat hectic and exciting and maybe there it comes from that some backstage people don't like the IT guy on stage succumbing to the "did you reboot" adage ..

It's a serious matter how the USB protocol can or cannot be "repeated" or "hubbed" because of electrical signal properties: it is possible certain messages require an acknowledge (response) signal within a certain time frame, like for audio clocks, and that the repeater cannot deliver that short a response time, and therefor the connection fails. Or it's a matter of transparency, so that the powered extender announces itself like some sort of hub, which makes audio drivers say no to establishing sync.

T

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#2927714 - 05/18/18 11:09 AM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: stoken6]
Reezekeys Offline
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Originally Posted By: stoken6
Rob, do you still need the NanoKontrol if you're using your controller via 5-pin MIDI. (If not, sorry I got sidetracked...)

Not if I'm using my Roland controller, no. I only need the NK if I'm playing a backlined keyboard. I prefer USB when I use my Roland because it's one cable for both power & data. If I use 5-pin midi I need the wall-wart for the Roland, which means a quad box near the keyboard, and my MOTU Fastlane interface. More pieces of gear & more cables. Of course, with the issue of long cable runs the equation changes, and I'm glad my Roland does both USB and 5-pin.

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#2927729 - 05/18/18 12:02 PM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: Reezekeys]
stoken6 Offline
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Got it. Good luck with the festival gig. Do you know if it's televised?

Cheers, Mike.
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#2927738 - 05/18/18 01:09 PM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: stoken6]
Reezekeys Offline
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I have not heard, but assume it's not televised I think there would be mention of that somewhere.

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#2927756 - 05/18/18 03:03 PM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: Reezekeys]
EscapeRocks Offline
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Originally Posted By: Reezekeys
Originally Posted By: EscapeRocks
The USB>CAT5/6 does work just fine if you have the proper units.

i.e. $$$$ There are some big acts where all the stuff is well off stage. You can get CAT5/6 USB extenders that support USB 3.0, 2.0, 1.1, and 1.0 devices with data transfer rates up to 480 Mbps. Heck, some are even using Fiber Optic USB extenders now that support USB2.0

Checking the Roadie . net forum, it seems the Extron line is a go to right now.

Got $1000? Here's a fiber optic 5-pin midi extender. I could have my rig 2 miles (3 km) from my controller if I wanted!

clonk


That's why I mentioned those top line units are being used by major touring acts as they are $$$$ smile like
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#2927758 - 05/18/18 03:08 PM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: EscapeRocks]
Reezekeys Offline
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Yes, and your mention is what led me to finding that 2-mile fiber-optic midi extender. Thanks, I had an idea that f-o and e-net was used for long audio runs, but not midi or USB.

Now the question is, does some of that not-so-expensive stuff work for us musicians? Like the one I linked to in my first post in this thread? Looks like I'll have to pay ~$50 to find the answer to that question. I'll do that, once the soap opera of what my setup will be at this festival is over!

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#2927773 - 05/18/18 04:21 PM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: Reezekeys]
hardware Offline
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Ive used MIDI x 2 50 footers to automate FX on a Midas or straight to FX.
Just a coupler is all I needed.
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#2927775 - 05/18/18 04:32 PM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: hardware]
Reezekeys Offline
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That's impressive. I'll guess that cable quality has a lot to do with max range. Whats the brand of that cable?

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#2927840 - 05/19/18 01:59 AM Re: Semi OT: extending USB cable length [Re: Reezekeys]
Theo Verelst Online   confused
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Registered: 02/27/10
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I use a remote mouse sensor along a long monitor HDMI cable with maybe 30 feet USB cable composed of pieces where one piece is 5 meters of active end extension cable. The mouse receiver doesn't draw significant power, still sometimes reconnecting the multiple cable pieces is necessary to re-establish Usb fuction, maybe because of contacts increasing resistance. Some Usb devices simply draw too much current, making the voltage drop to under 4.5 Volts or whatever the required minimum voltage, especially when power use peaks. Using an extra supply at the end of the connection for instance with a powered hub can solve that.

In principle it's possible to make a cable that sends enough current through the extension cord from the computer side USB connection plug, up to the max spec, and use the remaining voltage at the end of the cable with a buck converter to make the required 5Volts stabilized at the end point of the connection, and not do anything but digitally repeat the signals, as if the Usb device is directly connected. At ten meters, the delay of about 50 nanoseconds might be all right, but the sensitivity to picking up electrical and magnetic disturbance, and potential ground loop currents might be a reason to require an intermediate protocol repeater.

Repeating over Ethernet in some form should be neat but if the Ethernet connection is a standard one, the minimum message length is taking a little longer than some applications require, and it's worse in the face of disturbances: the protocol is to repeat messages to form a reliable end-to-end TCP connection which takes yet 3 times longer, until the message has been received reliably. Just using ethernet cable, with a custom protocol probably loses this reliability.

Well, that's all the not too nerdy info !

T


Edited by Theo Verelst (05/19/18 02:03 AM)

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