Most helpful positive review
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
As the owner of 2, these have made my life very simple (on the audio side)
on March 24, 2013
I could write a book here on the x32 (and did already refute one single star review of the x32 that was completely off base.). This is my "main" review" - concentrating on positives and not addressing perceived negative. I am using the console live, not in the studio, so my comments will come from that direction.
The X32 is a breakthrough in price/performance. a bit of background and digression: I was a loyal Presonus evangelist until recently when the faders started to die one by one after less that 100 hours use in clean, smoke free environments and protected, off-use, by a custom ATA case. I purchased replacement faders (they were cheap enough, but Presonus was no help is directing me to docs for proper replacement - they p, of course, wanted more money to fix their planned obsolescence - it was out of warranty, Afterall) Two of the "new" faders were as dead/or improperly working as the ons I was replacing. This led me to the X32.
The X32 is a multi-generational leap in technology over the competition in this, or a (x3) price range. 32 balanced XLR ins (one small ding, not having a few dual XLR/1/4" channels, or a few combined Neutrik XLR/1/4" ins), 16 assignable balanced outs. I currently have my board configured with all 32 channels occupied with instruments and sources intended for in-ear monitoring only (like the click track and a talkback mic - yes, I know the X32 has a full fledged talkback section, but Id rather sacrifice a channel to have the total control over the talkback levels and tonality in my IEMs, unfortunately not everyone likes the same talkback level In their cans so I went with a pre-fader channel where I could be more attentive to their needs - another small ding, lack of full talkback control (though. like the dual switches, latched and unlatched, and two mic options, internal and external.)
Channels themselves are well appointed. BIG BIG plus - digitally controlled head amps. What's the point of having scene recall if your head amps are not included. If you are mixing multiple acts, this is a huge issue - even in transport, trims can get bumped and all of a sudden tour total recall isn't on point anymore. Huge improvement over Presonus and others. The head amp has the requisite per channel phantom power, phase reverse, and HPF. There is a small-ish meter to set you levels to achieve as close to unity input as possible - you'd be better to use the level n the screen - 7 segments is a big spartan - but it's there.
Each channel has dynamics with strong functionality. Ducking is available to be triggered from any per input source, great for making introductions/speeches over pre-recorded music. Each channel has a 4 band parametric EQ with HPF that should suffice for all but the most demanding input sources. As with dynamics, you have multiple choices for placement of EQ In the signal chain. Each channel can routed to the M/C bus, L/R bus, and to any of the 16 busses (I have mine set so that 1-8 are pre-fader IEM sends, 9-12 are standard "group" busses (rhythm section, horn section, vocals, and drums) and 13-16 are effects sends. This has worked spectacularly, as opened up a lot of doors without having to be stuck with a "10 pre fader aux for IEM, 4 traditional Busses for grounds, and 2 busses for effects" convention.
The effects are superior sounding - they aren't a 480L, Bricasti or eventide, b for the customer this board is likely to appeal to - a mid market live AC or a worship center, the built in effects are more than sufficient - Plus they are firmware updatable (more on that later.) The vintage room is use, delays are clear, specialty effects as passably good. The only complaint I have (and this passes thru to other areas of the board) is the fact you are limited to 4 traditional effect and 4 (generally) dynamic or tonal effects. If you want a graphic EQ for a channel, that takes a slot, if you want a bass enhancer for a channel, another slot (but, even though there are 16 ins and outa to this section, only 8 effects may be selected.). thankfully the graphic EQ can be adjusted independently side/side so you can process two channels at once. I don't mind the traditional effects being limited to two slots (that's two more than many units at this price range offer), however, the limitations on graphic EQs, true limiters, etc are tough to accept. Perhaps this will be addressed in a Firmware update, but I am thinking processor power is likely tapped right now.
Some other great features - I love the programmable control section - 4 endless rotaries and 8 buttons - 3 groups (so with a button press, you get access to 4x3 rotaries and 8x3 buttons). terrific. in my situation, Given there are only 16 Input faders available at once, I have assigned the 4 most need channels to the rotaries, so in effect, I have access to 20 channels instead of 16 (I have my drums in the second layer, since I rarely adjust relative balance, but sometimes I like a little more bass and snare - so I assigned those, along with my two lesser used horn mics to rotaries, and I'm all set.). Great workaround. Pretty much anything can be assigned to those buttons and rotaries - buttons are especially great for tap delay times, among tons of other uses. There are also 6 mute groups, programmed easily by holding the mute group, selecting the channels to,be included, and, well, that's it. Super simple.
Also, a quick mention to the AES50 digital snake options. These are great - one cable handles 16 inputs and 8 outs, and they're stackable. No more thick cable runs from mix position to stage. I have a pair of S16 digital snakes even though I mix from the stage. The make for such a clean stage - one S16 handles my wireless rack - receiving inputs from my 12 wireless sources and 4 channels from my audio interface (click, bass, sfz, and "everything else") and providing the outputs to drive my 8 PSM 900 wireless IEM units - the other S16 sits in my drummers rack - handles his kit, his monitoring, and a few misc. stage instruments. This is super clean and makes for a great looking stage. I uses : each group of 8 ins or outs (ins 1-8; 9-16, and outs 1-8) is selected in a group of eight, not Individually. This may sound like not a big deal, but takes away a lot of versatilitiy. This same "8 by" choice issue is implemented in all channel group assignments - if you want to monitor just channels 1, 2, and 3 from FireWire, you can't do it - ALL 8 become driven by FireWire. Not cool, and eliminates the option of allowing me to directly drive the board with my support track because I lose channels in the process.
The output section: 4 modes are available for the 8 (9 counting the master "gas" fader). DCAs, Buses 1-8, Buses 9-16, and Matrix outs. DCAs are cool, just like track groups in a DAW. They don't actually process audio, they just act as a way to control the relative level of multiple sources. Buses 1-8 (for me are monitor sends), Buses 9-16 vary - for me 9-12 are traditional group busses, allowing full processing of all sources sent. Send your drums to Bus 11, apply some compression, overall EQ, gate, etc and have your preferred drum mix ready to fade up or down in a second. While this is a typicality for busses, there is a lot of processing power here for those who want to polish a group of signals prior to reaching to main bus/main outs. Buses 13-16 represent effect returns. It isn't required that you return your effects to busses, to some it might be a waste. You could simple return them to their dedicate returns on the third page of the 16 channel input group. However, you wouldn't be ale to as clearly see what was going on. The fourth selection is the matrix out option. There are 6 matrix outs which can be handled in stereo or mono. These can accept input from virtually anywhere and output them virtually anywhere. Good example, I have my mains controlled by my master fader, assigned (by default, but easily changed) to outputs 15 and 16. I have Matrices 1 and 2 as a stereo pair (linked) being fed by the same main L/R out as the master fader but appearing at outputs 13 and 14. This allows for a set of side fills to be independently controlled with its own HPF, LPF, 4 band para EQ, and dynamic processing. I also have outputs 11 and 12 set up for videographers to take a stereo send, fed by matrices 3 and 4 (linked). Other uses - you could use the H/LPFilters to act as a basic crossover - making Matrix outs 1 and 2 stereo hi paks, Matrix outs 3 and 4 stereo mid paks, and matrix 5 and a mono sub out --- point in having a sub run in stereo... perceiving directionality of such lo frequencies signals is not possible.) also, in a house of worship, you could set up Matrices 1 and 2 to feed a secondary room during a service (and overflow room, or a children's area), Matrices 3 and 4 to drive a 2 track recorder or camera, and 5 and 6 to drive a second, time delayed set of mains positioned halfway up the sanctuary. LOTS of great options here at this price point...
A few other points, the unit can be used as a control surface in studio, HUI compatible (not sure about EuCon.). It has a built is 32 channel FW or USB (Great to have the option) audio interface for recording and playing back recordings. The board does not require a computer in order to handle external control devices (iPads, etc.). You do need a router, but do not need to boot into a computer (BIG plus for those who have been forced to always boot into their computer just to get IM remote control.)
The unit can store scenes to USB or to internal memory. Those scenes can be limited to one function (ie. just dynamics), to an entire channel, or to every function on the board (terrific if you happen to work in a situation where you have multiple X32s available to you and you want to load your setups.). Also, regarding USB, you can record a live board ape (in addition to the multi-track recording happening they the interface discussed earlier.) VEry cool, because you can select any source for L and any source for R. It is a great rehearsal tool to make a recording of someone's backup mic of the L and a mono sum main mix on the R. They can take it home, study it, fix the issues they're having, and come back next time ready to roll. Of course, you could also make simple L/R board recordings too, or anything else you can think of...
OK getting verbose, so to sum up...
Pros : - 32 REAL (not channel 23/24's stereo in's counting as separate channels - try mixing with that..). channels, 16 fully assignable busses
-Strong on board effects
-excellent control via external devices
- full multi track recording support out of the box
- AES50 digital snakes, and reasonably prices S16 stage boxes to compliment.
- option to be used as a control surface
- An very good sounding board in this price range (it isn't a 50k Avid, and doesn't have the sound of one, but it sounds very very good for the investment... better than anything sub 5k, IMHO. (remember the two mixing axioms. $ in $ out, and 90% the guy behind the board 10% the product). I don't discount the need for quality products - I have great EAW cabinets, Crown Macrotech amps, and BSS system controller, etc. The Behringer isn't acting as the weak link....
- Matrix outs for zone control.
- The scribble strips, eliminating the board tape are great (sounds trivial - try doing three or four shows in an evening... the channel names all save with the scene making changeovers a breeze, and the color coding helps too..)
- multiple 1/4" aux ins to eliminate the need to waste two channels on an Dual RCA iPod in. These appear on the same pages as the EFX/aux returns.
- A large clear screen for editing.
- USB recording and saving of full board scenes.
- the unit is firmware upgradable. I've already seen some great additional to the nit since purchase and have heard about some coming feature that should be great. Thanks to Behringer for not just throw it out there and forgetting about it - continually upgrading the platform will encourage new buyers and make existing buyer happy and willing to rack,end the unit to others. (I understand auto tune is coming in a future rev... I hate it, but it's such a ubiquitous sound that for a variety band, what a cool addition to the FOH board)
- (theoretically) trickle down tech for Midas and Klark.
- channel driver selections in groups of 8 only
- Effect section doesn't provide enough limiters/gEQs for my needs
- 7 segment channel metering is virtually useless for anything other than seeing if a channel is clipping, compressing, or gating. These meters are not useful for setting gain structure.
- The board takes some serious time and commitment to get to know - its is nowhere near plug and play. I set the board up in my house for a month before even attempting a real show with it. That was time well spent, but I can see when MANY would get frustrated - I turned it off plenty times at 2am thinking Id come to an insurmountable hurdle, only to find the easy answer in 2 minutes the next day and Ive done live and studio sound for 20 years professionally.
- the manual is terrible
- the SMARRT analyzer theat presonus added just before I got rid of mine due to multiple fader deaths, was something I used and was helpful. Hopefully it will be added to the Behringer in some capacity soon.
- No built it router (the new Presonus 32 channel does include this - still not nearly enough to even come close to the X32 feature set), still need an external box to utilize the wireless function - plus - you'd better have at least a basic knowledge of IP if you expect to get it to work quickly. I had no problems but a few friends reported some angry nites.
- Controls do feel a little less than solid, but nothing gave me a problem. Given that I had multiple fader failures on my (babied) Presonus, I am fearful of the process to fix the motorized faders in the X32.
- That said - it's a Behringer... It took me four months to convince myself to give it a try just because of that word, and had Klark and Midas not been on it as well, I likely never would've bought it. My original Behringer DDX digital mixer died out of the blue one day (sold the carcass as is on eBay to someone with a different problem and he ended up with a working unit) I watched the quality of their original compressor product decline until it was a shadow of its former self. SO...
given that the price was so affordable - I bought 2 (total without cases, less than 5k --- 2 x32's, 2 ATA cases, 2 S16 digital snakes, two 4 space racks for S16s = 6800. unbeatable). I have my main X32 in an odyssey ATA case ready to pop In place at every gig and an X32 in a Gator ATA case in our truck ready to pop a USB stick in and roll in case this one fails. The three year warranty helps me sleep - the second board assures I won't get bitten by the Behringer curse (In all seriousness, I firmly believe they built this board as with a lot of attention to detail to rehab their iffy reputation. I hope that's the case, because if my main board fails, and Im stuck with just the backup while the main one is in the shop, I'll be very scared until I have another spare to rely on.
So, that's my take. I know I missed a lot, but that's what the manual is for :-) (which is TERRIBLE, BTW, for a unit of this complexity. use the forums (Behringer does reply with regularity to concerns.) I can't see how you'd go wrong with this unit unless it is just too much product for someone who just needs a scaled down straight ahead analog console. I can't recommend it highly enough.