Sonic LAB: Behringer X-32 Digital Desk Review Part 1

Hardware overview - ask away for more information      05/08/12

   QuickTime (MP4)  | iOS MP4
9:55 mins    

Since it was first announced at NAMM last year, the anticipation for the new Behringer X32 digital mixing desk has been building. Since then Behringer (Music Group) have bought Midas - who make premium,  tour grade live desks and Klark Teknik- known for their studio grade pro effects and processors.
 
Fast forward to now and the first Behringer X-32 desks have been rolling out to the stores - we were fortunate enough to get hold of one - and I must say  I am impressed. This review is going to be split into parts - there is a lot to get around here and much of it is new.

Build
First up, the build quality is something that Behringer’s low cost production has been criticised for, so how is the X32?

First impressions are good, it's not a lightweight thing, easily liftable by one, but not something I’d want to carry all that far, it has a heft that bodes well. There are 25 physical faders - all 100m motorized - Behringers own make, which presumably is one area the cost has been kept down. Behringer tell us that they have been rigorously tested with Ikea-like machines stress testing and not fogetting, the X32 comes with a 3 year warranty. That said, they do feel fine to me, as do the 20 rotary encoders and  backlit buttons well over 100 of them!

Each channel also has an LCD scribble strip which you can edit colour, text and icon for easy visibility in a dark space.  I haven't felt conscious of any lack of quality in my time with the desk and when you consider the cost of this thing (£2000 UK, $2,800)  it's pretty astonishing.

Layout
The first 16 faders are switchable in layers, 1-16, 17-24 , Aux in USB and FX returns,  Bus Masters as is standard with many consoles of this type.

There are 32 XLR inputs, each with Midas designed digitally controlled Mic Preamps, plus 6 Aux inputs on Jack. You also have 16 XLR outputs - assignable from pretty much any source, plus 6 Aux outputs.There’s also monitor out on XLR and jack for studio monitoring applications. An AES digital output (assignable) completes the regular audio connections.

Network Audio
What is incredible at this price is the addition of two AES50 Cat5E network ports, which can each handle 48 channels of audio IO, plus MIDI and remote mic amp control data. You can buy the S16 16 in 8 out stage box for around £500 ($800?).
Now 96 inputs is not something you can handle concurrently, but the possibilities for patching (all recallable) is immense. Additionally, there’s the included FireWire and USB audio card for hooking up to a host computer for up to 32 channels of IO. Incidentally, the console operates at 44.1kHz or 48kHz only and can be clocked from internally or via the Firewire/USB  audio card - included in the basic model.


But looking at that, you can see just how many inputs can be accessed out of the box, with applications for both live and studio. I hooked up Reaper to the FireWire port of my Macbook Pro - with no driver I might add,  and was off, mixing drum tracks in the console. Indeed any input  (or bus) can be routed to any channel.

There’s also USB and MIDI connections  for control, plus an Ultranet network port for hooking up the Behringer P16 personal monitoring system.

16 Busses
There are 16 of them, they can be configured either as standard subgroups, or as sends.
The centre section has eight faders with four layers and represents, DCA groups, Busses 1-8, Busses 9-16 and Matrix outputs.
Also when in Remote Mode  - this  section switches to emulate Mackie Control, HUI or plain CCs. Note, the channel faders do not send or transmit MIDI.

I had this working in HUI mode with Reaper in a flash and was able to view track names, faders and transport control to run the DAW for playback or record. Very impressive. Oh, also on the top, there’s a USB port for popping in a USB stick or hard drive to which you can record stereo output (assignable) and playback files too.

 

Selected Features

 

  • 32 XLR inputs with Midas designed preamps
  • 16 XLR outputs fully assignable
  • 6 aux inputs - 4 jack, 2x phono
  • 6 aux outputs - 4 jack , 2x phono
  • Up to 48 mix inputs (channels, aux and FX returns)
  • 8 stereo effect generators
  • 16 busses - as subgroups or Aux sends
  • 8 DCA groups
  • 2x AES50 audio networking ports for up to 96 channels of IO
  • 1x Ultranet port for P16 monitoring system
  • Remote mode adds HUI, Mackie Control or CC mode using the Bus section
  • 25 100mm motorised faders
  • 2 track USB recored and playback to memory stick or drive
  • 44.1 or 48kHz operation

 

Just Watch
I suggest you watch the video here to see this overview of the hardware - if you have any questions or things you want me to address in the next part(s) of the review I will do my best to answer them either in the review or in the comments below.


What is amazing about this new console is the price - at £2099 /$2800 it's significantly less expensive than pretty much anything else with these features. The tagline for the campaign is, "Game Changed" - I think for once, the marketeers have it just about right.


Stay tuned for part 2....

 


 

More From: BEHRINGER
Even more news...

29 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
Adam Bailey    Said...

Can it record 32 ch. direct to hard drive, or does it require a computer?

05-Aug-12 06:56 PM


KiwiSteve    Said...

Really interesting on how it interfaces to a computer for DAW style activities. I realise if is a recording desk (I assume therefore no Control Surface features) but I still am interested in how it would integrate into a small or project studio. I guess a shootout between it and say a 24,4,2 StudioLive from Presonus would be a "roughly fair" comparison.. Or the Yamaha (but I guess you have to be careful of your sponsors LOL)

BTW I never saw ADAT IO? So that might be an issue if you wanna integrate other outboard digital gear like a Focusrite Liquid Saffire etc? Hopefully an option card in teh future will include say Thunderbolt, USB3 and plenty of aDAT

05-Aug-12 08:35 PM


KiwiSteve    Said...

Really interesting on how it interfaces to a computer for DAW style activities. I realise if is a recording desk (I assume therefore no Control Surface features) but I still am interested in how it would integrate into a small or project studio. I guess a shootout between it and say a 24,4,2 StudioLive from Presonus would be a "roughly fair" comparison.. Or the Yamaha (but I guess you have to be careful of your sponsors LOL)

BTW I never saw ADAT IO? So that might be an issue if you wanna integrate other outboard digital gear like a Focusrite Liquid Saffire etc? Hopefully an option card in the future will include say Thunderbolt, USB3 and plenty of aDAT

05-Aug-12 08:37 PM


Suuny Jim    Said...

Are there plans to integrate accepting external clock, and if so when?

06-Aug-12 01:05 AM


Starrock777    Said...

Does the display also mirror your chosen DAW?

06-Aug-12 11:57 AM


Alankara    Said...

How is the sound quality of the overall mixer and Comparing to an O1V96i VCM?

How are the effects? How good is the compression and EQ session?

It really looks like an awesome machine!

06-Aug-12 12:11 PM


Ed    Said...

How difficult would it be to set it up for 5.1 output? Does it have integrated surround mixing capabilities?

06-Aug-12 02:00 PM


Jay    Said...

Great review, Nick!

I'd be interested in seeing how well it works as a DAW controller (for Logic, in particular).

Also, how easy is it to record all input channels to a computer (over FireWire), similar to the way the StudioLive does with Capture? Do they have plans for a Capture like app?

Lastly, it comes with the USB 2.0/FireWire card in the back, but do they have any plans for a Thunderbolt option?

Thanks!

06-Aug-12 03:45 PM


mystryda    Said...

The S16 has a P16 jack on it. The X32 has two AES50 jacks, and so can talk to two different sets of S16's over different AES50 jacks. The X32 also has a separate P16 jack on it. Does that mean that the X32 in conjunction with two S16's can run three separate P16 networks? Are is routing to the P16 network(s) also done in blocks of 8, or can any set of individual input channels and buses be routed?

06-Aug-12 05:03 PM


I'mTooLexy4MyShirt    Said...

How is the Reverb? How does it compare to, say, Lexicon?

07-Aug-12 03:32 PM


Rubidot    Said...

How does this compare to the offerings from PreSonus, such as the SL 24.4.2? I'm interested in using this for a church mixing setup, and trying to gauge the comparative feature sets.

08-Aug-12 03:54 AM


Troll    Said...

lol, always rockin the same loops in all the demos for the last few years.

09-Aug-12 02:01 AM


Nick B    Said...

Only for live drums, if someone wants to send me some more I'll use them. Just dont have access to all that many

09-Aug-12 04:06 PM


Ryan    Said...

Is it possible to cascade 2 x32s together using the AES50 for a 64x16 setup?

09-Aug-12 05:51 PM


Nick B    Said...

Ii dont believe so, cascasde is not possible.

10-Aug-12 07:44 AM


Andy Keys    Said...

Do you still get the silver triangle sticker ???

:D

10-Aug-12 01:35 PM


Steve    Said...

I do mostly live musical theater. One of the most critical things there is scene changes. So my questions are:

1. How many scenes does the X32 store?

2. How quickly can it transition from one scene to the next?

3. Does it crossfade smoothly from one scene to the next?

- Thanks

10-Aug-12 07:34 PM


NRG    Said...

part2 please.........!

12-Aug-12 06:24 PM


Denis JAmes    Said...

A great review of a very good looking digital mixer, can't wait for part 2

14-Aug-12 11:08 PM


Danny D    Said...

Hi, Fantastic review - if only all reviews could be this clear and informative! One question - We run two studios in the same building and record between them - could the AES50 protocol be used to send inputs from one X32 to a second X32?

16-Aug-12 11:10 AM


neil harrson    Said...

the reviewer should learn what the features are designed to do. dca's are an important tool. but the cursory mention would leave any newer engineer none the wiser to the benefits of programmable vca's the features of the desk are impressive , a more imaginative review would explain the benefits. a dca is not a stereo output

18-Aug-12 06:00 PM


neil harrson    Said...

the reviewer should learn what the features are designed to do. dca's are an important tool. but the cursory mention would leave any newer engineer none the wiser to the benefits of programmable vca's the features of the desk are impressive , a more imaginative review would explain the benefits. a dca is not a stereo output

18-Aug-12 06:00 PM


neil harrson    Said...

the reviewer should learn what the features are designed to do. dca's are an important tool. but the cursory mention would leave any newer engineer none the wiser to the benefits of programmable vca's the features of the desk are impressive , a more imaginative review would explain the benefits. a dca is not a stereo output

18-Aug-12 06:01 PM


laurie Curry    Said...

the concern I have is they say this is a mixing desk,yet, in a studio situation this console manual does not mention anything about automation or being a slave or master with timecode sources... the behringer DDX 3216 console did make use of the motorised faders in an automated mix.... and automated fader moves and cuts were stored onboard the console.... so this console is just a live board with moterized faders for snapshots only.... too bad, it looked good until i noticed no automation

21-Aug-12 04:52 PM


laurie Curry    Said...

the concern I have is they say this is a mixing desk,yet, in a studio situation this console manual does not mention anything about automation or being a slave or master with timecode sources... the behringer DDX 3216 console did make use of the motorised faders in an automated mix.... and automated fader moves and cuts were stored onboard the console.... so this console is just a live board with moterized faders for snapshots only.... too bad, it looked good until i noticed no automation

21-Aug-12 04:54 PM


laurie Curry    Said...

the concern I have is they say this is a mixing desk,yet, in a studio situation this console manual does not mention anything about automation or being a slave or master with timecode sources... the behringer DDX 3216 console did make use of the motorised faders in an automated mix.... and automated fader moves and cuts were stored onboard the console.... so this console is just a live board with moterized faders for snapshots only.... too bad, it looked good until i noticed no automation

21-Aug-12 04:54 PM


ole    Said...

Great review. The 2 AES 50 jacks can handle 96x96 channels. While the desk only handle 32 channels on 2x16 ch layers. is it possible to mix more than 32 channels or is it just routing and mixing 32 of 96 possible inputs?

22-Aug-12 07:46 AM


Dave James    Said...

Does anyone know how many 32 band eq's this has as amazingly this is not part of the specs and really should be ( for live ) and are they assignable to say auxes, inputs main outs ??

16-Dec-12 09:25 AM


WCBruce    Said...

the usb port: can I save mix settings; remove and edit externally, then return as with a yamaha MC7?

06-Jan-13 03:48 PM


Post a comment 
test
 


More Videos

Video: New AIRA Firmware And SH-101 Plug-out 

Many fixes and tweaks to the range, official release of SH-101 plug out


Presentation: iZotope RX4 Audio Restoration 

We get to check out the new features


Sonic LAB: Zoom H6 Portable 6ch Recorder 

With interchangeable input modules


Cubase Focus: Tempo Detection 

Free yourself from the grid