What You Can Expect From Wireless Workbench 6.11

What You Can Expect From Wireless Workbench 6.11

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What You Can Expect From Wireless Workbench 6.11

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The newest release of our Wireless Workbench software features the most robust set of updates ever. User Experience Designer Sam Drazin explains the highlights.

In 2006, when Shure first introduced Wireless Workbench® software, analog television stations were still broadcasting, there were fewer mobile devices, and wireless microphones operated on a wider RF spectrum. But even then, wireless frequency coordination was still a significant audio challenge.

That was over a dozen releases ago. In April 2015, Shure released Wireless Workbench 6.11, so we asked Product Manager Sam Drazin to explain what users can expect in this newest and most robust version of the software.

For the benefit of readers who may not be familiar with it, what is Wireless Workbench, or WWB, and what does it do?

WWB is a desktop software application for Mac and Windows with two main functions: wireless frequency coordination, and monitoring and controlling networked Shure wireless systems. It's designed for any environment using networked Shure wireless systems, but it can also be used as a stand-alone frequency coordination utility.

Typical applications are pro touring, rental, installed wireless systems, broadcast, and of course live events like concerts, festivals, and conferences.

Is frequency coordination the number-one application for WWB6.11?

Yes. Professional RF coordinators are paid big bucks to make the impossible possible, enabling hundreds of systems to operate simultaneously in the most treacherous RF environments. With evolving spectrum regulations and increased operation of unlicensed wireless devices, it can feel like a dangerous world out there for even the most experienced wireless user.

With shifting regulatory requirements and shrinking usable spectrum for wireless audio systems, having a single point of control for coordinating frequencies helps to ensure that wireless systems operate in clean and legal RF spectrum. Multiple systems operating concurrently add to the challenge.  Wireless Workbench 6.11 lets users coordinate and deploy frequencies directly to Shure networked systems with the push of a button.

Frequency Coordination TabFrequency Coordination Tab

You mentioned that WWB allows remote monitoring and control of Shure wireless systems. Can you explain in more detail what users can see remotely, and what updates they can deploy?

Viewing meters and levels of channels, as well as single or batch edits of device and channel parameters are all possible. Users can confidently control their devices from anywhere on the network, and monitor the health and status information of their channels remotely.

In addition, live scan data can be captured in real time and displayed within Wireless Workbench 6. Visualizations of the spectrum give customers an extra measure of confidence about what's happening in the RF environment, and allow for coordinated frequencies to avoid noisy spectrum.

Live Scan DataLive Scan Data

What else can users do with WWB?

Several things. They can walk-test microphone systems through a venue before the show. The RF History Plot can track and plot the received signal strength of the transmitter from the receiver's perspective, indicating any areas of low RF coverage.

WWB6 also includes a database of TV stations in the US and dozens of countries around the world. Even when live scan data isn't available, users can search the database for TV stations operating in the same spectrum so they can avoid those ranges when coordinating frequencies.

In addition, the software offers a customizable alerts management system to warn users of low RF, low battery, and other threshold-driven events.

We know that touring sound engineers routinely use WWB because we talk to them pretty often. What about less-experienced wireless users? How intuitive is the software for them?

Very intuitive! Many users typically operate just a few channels of wireless, whether they run sound at a church, manage a small production, play in in a garage band, or support various educational environments.

The steps these users need to take to get their systems up and running are simple, and are core workflows in WWB6. They essentially need to tune their systems to a compatible set of frequencies. A few short steps will take care of this. These steps are: populate their inventory, specify the RF environment (e.g. capture scan data, search for nearby TV stations, etc.) and press "Calculate."  After that, frequencies can deployed directly to their Shure devices. This compatible set of frequencies puts their chances for success miles ahead of just turning on the devices and hoping for the best!

Shure offers a WWB6 Quick Start Guide and several video tutorials that help walk users through these basic steps.

You've said that version 6.11 is the biggest WWB release to date.  Why is that?

For starters, every main tab of the interface has been given a functional and aesthetic update. In particular, the Monitor tab has been completely redesigned, now offering heightened flexibility in channel arrangements, groupings, and views.

Inventory batch editing now allows users to send parameter changes to multiple devices at once.

The coordination workspace isolates frequency coordination from the inventory, letting users select a subset of frequencies for coordination and perform time- or location-based coordinations. Frequencies can also be manually assigned to channels before deployment.

Monitor TabMonitor Tab

WWB is designed for Shure wireless systems. Is it compatible with competitive systems too?

While WWB doesn't offer monitoring or control for non-Shure networked systems, the application can still include those competitive systems when coordinating frequencies.

WWB features a number of equipment profiles that characterize wireless systems from other manufacturers so users can build their own custom equipment profiles for any wireless systems they have. Then, users can add these systems to their inventory and perform frequency coordination for them. This allows WWB to be a single source of truth, taking all systems into consideration and coordinating a frequency solution for the entire wireless rig. Once coordinated, those frequencies can be exported to a report and printed or shared to manually tune the channels to the assigned frequencies.

Any final thoughts on the future of WWB?

WWB 6.11 has a long list of new features and enhancements to add functionality, flexibility and convenience to improve overall wireless operation. We will continue to make sure that our customers have the tools they need to get the most from our wireless systems.