Behringer X32 or Scarlett 18i20 and a controller?

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by stevepaulsounds, Aug 5, 2014.

  1. stevepaulsounds

    stevepaulsounds Active Member

    Hi
    I currently own a Scarlett 18i20 and am using my iPad or faders on a Novation SL MKII to control Ableton Live and Logic. I'd love more control over the faders and more general DAW control from my hardware.
    I've been looking into getting a Behringer X32, hoping this may make my Scarlett 18i20 redundant and act as a controller at the same time. The first concern is the price and the size, but it looks like it ticks a lot of boxes for me. Does it provide all the DAW control you'd get from a standard MIDI controller? I was even considering a SSL Nucleus for its feature set but again the price is ridiculous. The yet to be released Behringer X-Touch looks intriguing but only has 9 faders.
    I really want to be able to use 16 faders at once for some of the projects I'm working on, and all the controllers I've found seem to only have a maximum of 8. Having got used to the display on the SL MKII which shows me what the faders are controlling, it would seem a step back to be moving a fader and not see what it's doing on the hardware. Is there a controller under £800 that I've missed that ticks my boxes?
    The other thing I've noticed about the X32 is that it doesn't seem to have 1/4" inputs on the back apart from the AUX channels. Is plugging a guitar into a mixer a thing of the past or do they expect you to have 1/4" to RCA cables or some kind of adaptor? When recording into the X32, does it act in the same way that a Scarlett 18i20 would in terms of getting the input levels right without clipping etc?
    Thanks in advance
    Steve
     
  2. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    My x32 is now far too busy to use it in the studio, it's a very versatile bit of kit and using it live the simplicity of hanging my mac on it and pressing record is far better than the old faffing around system. I haven't tried controlling cubase yet, but you can program it to change patches on my external harmoniser, so using it to start and stop should be simple. I'm very impressed with the preamps too. It's very quiet, although the maximum gain on the mic inputs isn't so wide as my Soundcraft.
     
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    If I were going to purchase a console that could also act as a DAW controller, personally I'd be looking at the A&H Zed R16 because of the preamps, EQ ...and ability to act as a full DAW controller.

    Allen and Heath have always been known for their exceptional EQ and preamps. I've never worked on an A&H anything that didn't sound great.

    IMHO of course.

    d/

    http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/ZEDR16/
     
  4. stevepaulsounds

    stevepaulsounds Active Member

    Hi Donnie,
    What other qualities does that Allen and Heath have that the X32 doesn't? Is it intuitive which channel is controlling what in MIDI control? Is it like Mackie control or HUI?
    Thanks
    Steve
     
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    A&H can explain it better than I can. ;)

    SSL
     
  6. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The A+H Zed-R16 is a long way ahead of the X32 in sonic quality of the pre-amps, the EQ and the mix amp. It's a fully analog mixer but with D-A and A-D available on each of the 16 mono channels plus A-D on the 2-track mix. It has XLR and TRS jacks on every mono channel input as well as TRS inserts. There is also DAW control and transport control via MIDI, with an independent section of the board dedicated to that. In addition, any number of the 16 mono faders can be switched to unity gain in the analog path and the fader used as a DAW parameter control input.

    Zed-R16s are currently going for £800 - £1000 on Ebay UK, and at that sort of price are phenomenal value.
     
  7. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    LOL... I was hoping Bos would jump in on this one... and of course, he never disappoints. ;)
     
  8. stevepaulsounds

    stevepaulsounds Active Member

    Can you record separate channels straight into a DAW or does the mix come in on just 2 channels?
     
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    each channel/input can be sent to its own corresponding discreet track on your DAW. Ch 1 to track 1, Ch 2 to track2, etc, etc.

    It also returns from your DAW to the console the same way if you were wanting to mix to a separate DAW, standalone CD recorder, 2 track tape, etc.

    At least up to 16 discreet tracks... more than that I blieve if you also implement Adat/Optical. Bos would have to confirm that part.

    You can also toggle back and forth between fader/audio, fader/controller.
     
  10. stevepaulsounds

    stevepaulsounds Active Member

    Great thanks.

    How does the MIDI control work? Is it limited to just faders? Are the faders motorized in response to the DAW?
     
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I don't believe that it does... I've worked with many different "flying fader" consoles - both digital and analog - over the years, and I've always found them to be somewhat of a pain in the ass.... as well as adding serious weight to the console and more than a few service issues...

    In my case, whether the Zed has that particular function or not doesn't concern me in the least.

    But... I respect that there are those who do prefer that, and at this point Bos will have to step in again.

    I will say this...and I'm speaking as a professional engineer who has worked on all kinds of consoles over the years... pro, average, and budget....Neve's, SSL's, Harrisons, Tridents, Midas, Allen and Heath, Yamaha's, Tascams, CAD's, Mackies, Peavey's and Behringers .... pretty much any console brand you can think of, I've more than likely worked on it at some point... and it's with this experience that I can say with complete confidence that I'd rather have a console/controller with great EQ's and preamps ( like the A&H) without motorized faders - and I mean any day of the week - over a controller/console that had motorized faders but "average-at-best" pres and EQ's (like the Behringer).

    Sonically speaking, motorized faders won't do a thing for your sound/fidelity.

    But, you can bet that great preamps and EQ's most certainly will, as will those that aren't so great ;)

    So, that kind of choice is pretty much a no-brainer... at least to me, anyway.

    YMMV.

    d/
     
  12. stevepaulsounds

    stevepaulsounds Active Member

    Thanks for that.
    At the moment I'm working with a Focusrite 18i20. Any idea how the quality of the pres in that compares with the X32 and the Allen & Heath Zed-R16?
    I've also only ever used native EQs in Logic and Ableton Live, and T-Racks for mastering. Any idea how the quality of those compare with the mixers?

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  13. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    One thing that missed to be mention is that the X32 is a digital mixer and the R16 is an analog mixer.

    The advantages of x32 is that you can recall mixes and there is a bunch of effects per channel that you can use. (EQ, comp, reverb...) in addition to bus effects.
    In fact you could do a complete mix without any plugin in your DAW. (seducing for those who say plugin calculations degrade the sound) ;)

    The advantages of R16 is that you can do an analog mix of your DAW tracks, so it acts as an analog summing unit as well as a mixer.
     
  14. stevepaulsounds

    stevepaulsounds Active Member

    I actually asked the same question about the X32 on a different forum and got this response:
    >>>
    All it will allow you to do is mix more mics onto the same track. Its not a multi channel interface, nor is it a controller. You could sub mix several mics into its buses and send the buses to the scarlett, but from your description, that doesn't seem to be what you need. Plus you're just adding a piece of gear on the front end that really isn't needed.

    Once the tracks are recorded, that's where you need a controller if you want hands on mixing capability. I don't think the Behringer has that capability unless you run all your tracks out of the DAW, through the Behringer then back into the DAW. Allot of losses occur when converting back to analog then digital again. The Behringer does have good preamps, but that's not going to halp with the conversion losses. Its got an expansion slot for USB/Firewire/ADAT but I didn't see what that does.
    >>>

    This seems to contradict some of the things about the recording process I was aware of. Can it be used as a multi-channel interface? Can it be used as a controller? Will there be losses in the process? I have a feeling almost everything he is saying is wrong. What do you think?

    Thanks

    Steve
     
  15. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    To reply to the couple of points about the Zed-R16: my description of the mixer's A-D and D-A facilities was accurate but perhaps a little terse. All the 16 input channels have their own converted route out via FireWire or ADAT, and all 16 mono channels have a similar route in via D-A. The digital 2-bus mix is available in FireWire mode only, but the analog outs are always present. To use as a recording console, you can come in via analog (16 channels) and out as 16 digital channels via FireWire or ADAT, either pre- or post-EQ. The converted 2-bus mix is available in addition to the 16 mono channels in FireWire mode only. As a mixdown console, you can bring in 16 channels via ADAT and mix to analog out, or 16 in via FireWire and mix to 2-track FireWire out as well as analog out.

    I would put the pre-amp quality of the Zed-R16 a little above that of the 18i20 and more than a little above that of the X32.

    Paul (Paulears) would be better responding to the other points on the X32, as it sounds as though he actually owns one.
     
  16. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    "...All it will allow you to do is mix more mics onto the same track. Its not a multi channel interface, nor is it a controller."

    Wrong on both counts. As Boswell mentioned, you have the ability to route each input channel to it's own singular, discreet corresponding track on your DAW.

    I'm only guessing, but I suspect that the person whom you were asking about this on the other furm you mentioned was probably thinking of of a lower-priced A&H mixer, which allowed only two channels to your DAW.

    This is not the case with the R16

    You have discreet track control, 16 ins, 16 outs, via firewire.

    As the preamps stand, I think that they are likely similar to the Focusrite, maybe a notch or two above, but both the A&H and the Focusrite are far above the quality of the Behringer in preamps and converters..

    Again, here's the link to the Zed R16... it's going to answer most of the questions you keep asking here.

    SSL
     
  17. stevepaulsounds

    stevepaulsounds Active Member

    "...All it will allow you to do is mix more mics onto the same track. Its not a multi channel interface, nor is it a controller."

    Wrong on both counts. As Boswell mentioned, you have the ability to route each input channel to it's own singular, discreet corresponding track on your DAW.

    I'm only guessing, but I suspect that the person whom you were asking about this on the other furm you mentioned was probably thinking of of a lower-priced A&H mixer, which allowed only two channels to your DAW.
    >>>>>>>>
    Hi
    Thanks for your replies. I was actually quoting that person in the other forum in reference to the X32 not the A&H. Does the same apply?
     
  18. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    The X32 is happy interfacing with most kit in the digital domain, so there isn't any loss to worry about as most people don't go in and out in analog apart from to the monitors and inputs. I used mine with Cubase for a month or two, but have now too much work for the X32 for live stuff. I just fed my analog sources to it, and used it as a 32 in/32 out interface, but using the routing for monitoring and sends. Once the tracks are in Cubase, then there they stay until I mix down or monitor. I could control the faders via MIDI, but as you can do the mixing inside Cubase, I just have the X32 faders at their unity gain level and use it as I'd use the LX7 I currently have plugged into Cubase, using a Tascam interface. It's quiet, seems to add little I don't like, and if I wish to use the effects or eq, then cubase easily routes things in and out, via firewire or USB. In my own circle of friends we now have 3 between us and we help each other out. Behringer service has been excellent, and without any question whatsoever, I'd buy more, and recommend them to people I know, safe in the knowledge they won't complain. No way would I buy any analog mixer now, as the value and resale value shrinks each day. My two friends and I were sceptics a year ago, but are now totally convinced it's an excellent product, and at the price point, it's a no brainer.
     

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