So after a long (very long) wait, I am finally the proud owner of an X32 Rack which will be retiring my venerable MixWiz and a total of over 100lbs of rack and rack gear ..... and a really nice 100 ft reel snake
So for those of you who are looking at getting the X32 Rack .... or really any of the sister products, here is a review of my experience getting up and running .... so far:
I am an electrical engineer and am very familiar with software, firmware, and hardware development from low level automotive controllers to large scale multitier server systems. I have been playing in a band and doing sound for my band (and some others as favors once in a great while) for around 30 years.
4 piece band with 2 guitars, bass and drums. The drums are Roland TD10 vDrums. Monitoring is performed with a Furman HDS6/HDR system which has 4 mono inputs and one stereo input. The entire band uses IEM's. The FOH is powered speakers DSR112's over PRX618S-XLF's.
- 11 channel input (5 drums, 2 guitars, 1 bass, 3 vocals)
- DCA control for Vocals, Guitars, Bass and Drums
- 4 mono bus mixes for lead guitar and vocal, rhythm guitar and vocal, bass guitar and vocal, drums
- Stereo output of main mix into monitor (which is where I get my vocal reverb in the IEM mix as well)
- Multi-track recording of shows to a laptop
- Multi-track playback to create scenes for FOH mix
- MIDI scene changes from FCB1010
- iPad remote mixing for virtual sound check
- iPad remote monitoring for input levels through gig
- Stereo recordings direct to USB for backup if no computer is available for recording
- Hard wired laptop control as the primary backup for the iPad in case of wireless issues
- Mute of EFX between songs for speaking
- Playback of iPod music for break music
On the door step
The packing was very good (shipped in 2 days for free from Full Compas).
Out of the box
It looked great. I plugged it it and it started up. So far so good.
Connecting to PC and iPad
Ok, things got a little hairy here.
First, the instructions that come with the X32 Rack are purely worthless. They could have saved the paper. I configured my new router from my computer to have an SSID I could remember, and a password that hopefully I will remember. I disconnected the router and hooked the router to the X32 Rack.
I did a quick windows ipconfig command to figure out what my PC network setup looked like. I adjusted the X32 to the appropriate settings ..... and nothing.
Things to note here. It is silly that the default subnet mask of the X32 is set to 0.0.0.0. It should be 255.255.255.0 by default. This works in nearly all situations that your normal non-network IT person is going to see (most surely any musician using this gear!).
So .... nothing happened. ..... hmmmm.
A quick search on the internet and I found that the X32 must be connected to any port BUT the internet modem port of the wireless router. OK. Connected! Woot! This is the kind of information that a little picture and a couple of examples would have greatly helped.
Ok, so I transferred my X32 Edit settings to the Rack without any issues.
Connection to the iPad .... also .... no issues.
Operation of either the physical unit, the iPad, or the PC program resulted in instant results on the other two. Very good sync and low latency.
First signal test
I plugged in a microphone and put on some headphones. Adjusted the plate reverb and delay to a pleasing level (I didn't touch either effect for any settings). Nice. Great sounding clear vocal with really transparent efx. I was genuinely very very pleased.
Playback of recorded multi-track through Reaper
So now I was eager to put some real multi-track recording inputs into my new mixer and see what my band would sound like through it. This is really the big test for me.
I plugged in a USB cable to my computer. Windows XP (yea I know) promptly loaded a driver ..... then stated that the hardware had a problem!
Hmmm. So I go onto the web and locate the Behringer youtube video of using an X32 with Reaper. In the video, I learn that I have to download some X-USB drivers and an ASIO driver.
I download the drivers and try to install them ..... but they wont install because now the computer can't see the X32 and the driver wont install without it ..... errrr.
I un-install whatever windows so graciously installed incorrectly for me and re-booted.
I ran the ASIO driver install and the X32 X-USB driver ..... except a couple of things go wrong. First ...... the ASIO driver wasn't happy with my motherboard on-board sound driver (which runs as a service). I got a popup every 2 seconds until my screen was nearly covered (took me a few seconds to find the service and shut it down).
The next thing that went wrong was that my anti-virus software tagged the X32 X-USB driver install as a threat. I accidentally hit the wrong button and whatever file it was trying to install got left out.
When I went into Reaper, the ASIO driver showed up, but no channels were available to use (pulldowns for inputs and outputs were blank).
One more full uninstall, reboot and re-install and WOOT sound is going into my X32 Rack from multiple channels from Reaper! Cool.
This process was horribly filled with ways to mess up. A little documentation would have been a HUGE help. If the process was going to be so easy to mess up, it would have been good if there were at least warnings on how to avoid the "gotcha's".
Ok, either I am doing something wrong ..... or something is simply broken.
I could not find any way for me to transfer the scenes I had stored on the PC with X32 Edit. I can sync the console with any scene at connect, and then save that setup as a scene on the X32 Rack, but I can't just send a bunch of scenes down to the rack. This is a pain.
The X32 Edit program can not be used to setup MIDI program changes to use for each scene. It simply doesn't work. You can ONLY do this directly ON the console.
Once I saved a couple of scenes on the console, I had no problems using the iPad app to change from scene to scene. Scene changes happened very quickly, and I could do it within a song and not hear any side effects or drop-outs when the scene changed. Nice.
Tomorrow I will hook up my MIDI controller and see if I can get it to switch scenes that way (this is going to be my normal method of work flow while on-stage at shows since I mix from stage).
Sound quality and usability
Once I had sound going into the console, it took me under 5 minutes to get a great sounding mix. With a few more minutes, I was able to solo each track and tweak the channel eq to my liking.
The resulting sound was superior to what I could do with Reaper with the same tracks. This is mostly due to the superior efx in the X32. Great job on these Behringer.
This really could NOT have been any easier to do. Stuck a USB stick into the front of the unit and turned on the recorder. Wow. How great a feature.
Sadly, I am out of town next week for business and wont be able to play with the entire band for REAL until 2 weeks...... figures.
Anyway. Hopefully this is useful to someone. I am going to put together a video on my setup complete from unboxing to the first gig.