Behringer XR18 – Changing the way a band hits the stage
Mountain Music Exchange recently got the new Behringer XR18 mixer in, part of the X Air line. I have been waiting on these to come in since NAMM and was excited to give this thing a go. This new mixer is built like a breakout box you just sit on the stage and hook everything to it’s 18 channels. All controls are done with an Ipad or Android device. Here are a few features it touts.
- 18 Channels
- 6 Auxes
- Built-in Effects
- Built-in Wifi
- USB recording capabilities
- Only $699
- and much more
Once I unboxed the unit I was impressed with the metal build. Nice handles for carrying around, rack ears included and that’s about it. As any gigging band knows bringing your own sound system can be a pain but is also a necessity at a lot of venues. With this mixer here’s what you DON’T have to have …. A Front of House Console, a Snake, an effects rack, extra people to help set all this up. It’s all in this one small box you can just sit in front of the kick drum and go for it.
Of course being use to the old way of running FOH I had my concerns. First, was it stable? Like most pieces of new technology first runs can be buggy. Second, what happens if your iPad goes down or crashes and you need to restart it or worse case, you need to use another computer. Third, how does it sound?
To determine the stability I set up a live band scenario in the store with multiple inputs being used, effects on and music blasting. I left it like this for about 3 hours. I would randomly check on it fiddling with setting and making adjustments. It was rock solid.
Secondly, what happens if your iPad crashes? Well my ipad didn’t crash the entire time but it did go to sleep and when I would open it back up it would say not connected and then it would start reconnecting. This usually took less than a second and you were good to go. Once or twice it would just sit there kinda “buffering” for lack of a better word then finally connect. In all actuality this would maybe take 30 to 45 seconds. The good thing is it doesn’t affect the mixer. Everything stays as it was the last time you set it. The bad would be if you were right in the middle of feedback or a much needed mute situation. If that happened you would just have to wait it out. I never lost connection while I was in actual use and in the entire 3 hours I never really felt “out of control” of the mix. If for some reason you drop your ipad or the battery goes down with a laptop and a cat5 cable you can be up and running in no time. The front panel has a switch to go from the internal wifi router to a cat5 connection. All you have to do is download the software for your pc or mac, go wired and all the controls are right back and ready to use.
Finally, how did it sound? I have been using the Behringer X32 for over a year now and have come to love the preamps and the over pro sound the X32 brings to the table. Both the X32 and the XR18 use Midas Pre’s and the same built-in effects so basically by default it sounds great. It was quiet, had plenty of gain and the effects are spot on.
18 channels are just about the perfect setup for an average band and with 6 auxes you get plenty of sends to cover more than enough monitors. Oh yea did I mention you can have up to 4 Ipads logged in to it. This means up to four of the band members can log on and control their own monitors. Another awesome feature is saving shows. Once you have everything dialed in, the monitors sound great, the mains are rockin, all you do it save the settings. The next time you come to the venue just bring up that show and boom your’e good to go.
There are plenty of other features, multi track recording, midi controls, etc but as of yet I haven’t tried them out. I plan on using the XR18 for a multi tracking session soon and I’ll be sure to let everyone know how it goes. For now if you want to check out the XR18 be sure to come by Mountain Music Exchange and see one in person!