Review: Behringer X32 digital mixing console, in the trenches
Positives:easy to use and get up to speed on quickly
iPad app offers excellent functionality
seems well-built, yet lightweight
Negatives:fixed angle screen
poor company name association
I’m new to the site and happy to be the first to review a piece of Behringer gear. After looking at the Best 50 and Worst 50, I thought sure I’d find something with the “B word” on it. Well this review is about Behringer gear yet isn’t negative much at all. Keep reading.
I’m a freelance live sound guy, getting my gigs through the union hall. I showed up to mix monitors for the opener at one of the larger venues in town, with a very well known artist headlining. The tour was just starting out and the production that came in asked that the house crew keep the opener completely separate from their Avid VENUE Profile at FOH and DiGiCo SD… (7 maybe, I forget) in monitor land. No problem. The house board is a PM5D, and there’s a small digital mixer in an adjacent space we could use for monitors. Enter the X32.
Having mixed on the PM5D, Profile, M7, LS9 and a number of analog desks, I wasn’t too intimidated. I spent maybe 20 minutes playing with it (the board – get your mind outta the gutter!) off stage with a 2 track source and headphones. That night I downloaded the quick start guide and iPad control app, which are both right there in the app store. No big surprises in the manual, but it did show me how get around very quickly, not to mention get my iPad rolling in a matter of seconds.
Fast forward to the gig. The house crew had to wait ten minutes to get on stage for setup. I found a free outlet, plugged in, and configured the board from input trims and basic EQ, right down to scribble strip labels for every input and wedge, all color coded. You can geek out if you want to here, which is tempting when you have the time. I also put a Graphic EQ on each monitor output.
So we get everyone on stage, instruments in place, everything connected and we are ready to rock pretty much immediately. Once I fine tuned my input trims, I set basic mixes up with the band members. They started rehearsing and I popped out my iPad. If you’ve ever mixed monitors from an iPad, you’re used to that amazed look from each band member when you walk up next to them and tweak their wedge. They love it. From a psychological standpoint, that attention and control makes them really comfortable. Maybe 30 seconds of tweaking, exchange smiles and walk over to the next guy.
Anyway, back to the mixer. Yes the mic pres are designed by Midas and they thankfully lean more towards a Midas than a Behringer. You can see Midas touches (see what I did there?) all over – the ergonomics on this little desk are pretty darn good. Is it perfect? No. The little screen, while easy to read indoors and probably in most situations, could become useless if the lights or sun hit it at the wrong angle. The angle is not adjustable.
The iPad app is fantastic. It offers much more control than Yamaha’s StageMix (for M7 or LS9), and the mix to faders function is faster. The Yamaha requires more taps to get that going. The fader control itself feels better on the Behringer. If you’re curious, go download the app and check it out – there’s a handy offline demo function. When we hit show time, I set the iPad on the board and used the Meters page for extra information.
I did not use the record function, as the FOH mixer was handling that. I tried to put the board through its paces as much as I could given the situation. It really held up well, and made my job quite easy. For $3k, I can’t imagine anything else comes close. I did make one mod: I taped black gaf tape over the Behringer logos. This, unsurprisingly, made it instantly sound and perform better. If they can keep on this path, perhaps some day I can say the “B word” without cringing a little. I’m not quite there yet.