Is the Behringer X32 a viable professional option for digitial mixing? Digitial mixing use to be costly, especially back in the day…
By Rev Bill, Mike Frietag and Larry Hall
Set the WayBack machine for 2006. The Rev. was still mired in the world of print mags and putting together a buyer’s guide to affordable digital consoles. And the closest we got to actually affordable was a couple in the $25K range. In fact, we ditched the idea of affordable and set the top of the price range to $50K just to get enough models into the guide.
That was just six years ago. Today a band or small venue or local rental company has multiple choices in the $3K range. For about 1/10th the cost of what was considered affordable just six years ago, you can buy a digital console with wireless iPad control and recording capabilities. Really.
It’s hard to remember another product announcement that caused such a buzz so long before anyone could even get their hands on said product. We first heard about the X32 digital mixer well over two years ago. It’s been so long I can’t even remember what trade show it was.
The heat got turned up a notch or two when a prototype was in a prominent position at the Behringer booth at NAMM in Jan. Two things got everyone’s attention. First, the price. Second, the big sign above the mixer that said “Powered by Midas.” The rumor mill kicked into overdrive. And the rumors continue because it is still hard to get a hold of one. Pre-orders hit the 20K mark before the X32 shipped. And, even after adding a whole new production line JUST for the X32, Behringer’s manufacturing unit in China is able to kick out about 5000 units a month. Do the math.
So we were pretty jazzed to get one. We were lucky. They had some at the InfoComm show in June in Vegas and since we are here as well, we were able to convince everyone to let us come by Midas North America HQ a couple blocks West of the Strip and pick one up before it made it back into the system.
THere is just so much here there is no way for us to cover it all in a single installment. Not even with the addition of video. So we will be looking at this in a couple of parts just like we did for the PreSonus StudioLive series which is the unit that threw down the first gauntlet in this market segment to begin with. (speaking of which, the Rev. will be attending PreSonusSphere in Sept in baton Rouge. Stay tuned for a bunch of cool StudioLive stuff from that event.
As a starting point, we’re gonna look at some specs and capabilities and try to put them into some kind of context given everything else that is out there. There are several videos included here and more coming. A note about the video. Quality is less than we would like it to be. Future ones will be better. (Because the Rev. has finally broken down and agreed to use a tripod instead of hand holding because he can’t hold the damn camera still.)
The attached videos will run you through basics of routing, EQ and dynamics. A couple of bonus vids address some higher end uses. We hooked up an X32 and a Midas Pro 9 with the X32 acting as a master console like you would do in a multi-act festival setup. Yep, as long as you can go 48 kHz, you can use a $3K board for you production master instead of a $30K board. Opens up all kinds of options.
Behringer X32 EQ Section
So, here’s the basics. XLR inputs = 32 (and you can take that up to 48 if you are on a network). Aux sends = 16. Onboard FX processors = 2 Klark Technic. And of course you get the full complement of EQ and dynamics we have come to expect on a digital console.
Some stuff that’s not so basic. LED channel scribble strip. Flying faders. AES 50 I/O. A dedicated out for Behringer’s P16 personal monitor mixers. An option for a digital snake with mic pre’s on the deck.
Behringer X32 Bus Section
A couple of the videos will address the important part—how does it sound? Two answers. It sounds good enough that the next video will be the X32 on a rental gig with a national touring act at a Vegas casino. How did we pull that off? Our preferred Vegas soundco, HAS Productions is working with us on this one. And Larry hall who owns HAS and who is an infamous “doesn’t like anything” kind of guy used it in a rehearsal with his band. A rehearsal where the entire band was on in-ear monitors. After he finished, the Rev. got a text. “Holy shit! That Behringer sounds amazing.” Check out the videos and stay tuned for more.
Behringer X32 – How does it sound? Live comparison Video
You might also be interested in:
Touting the Merits of the Behringer X32
Offical Behringer Website