News

13 Sep 2012

Behringer angry at CX review of X32

Should product reviews make manufacturers happy? Here’s one that didn’t.

For over 22 years CX has held editorial independence as a hard won principle, so we were not about to ship our X32 review to Behringer for ‘approval’ before we published. Now we wonder whether we (Julius and Jimmy Den Ouden) went too hard.

Which is where YOU come in, because our readers are our jury. We value your comments about our approach, below.

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Was THIS part over the top? (Julius wrote this….)

First some background on Austrian uber genius Uli Behringer, who I once interviewed in Germany. Myth has him living in an evil eyrie, a granite hued mansion atop a cliff overlooking the South China Sea. Huge glass walls frame the tropical storms as Uli composes another opus on his 1872 cabriole leg Stienway. A timid servant scurries out with a tray of caviar and a flute of Bol as the maestro is interrupted by a call from his foreman at Uli City, the entire province in deepest darkest China. Tens of thousands of grateful white coated technicians churn out shiploads of audio and musical equipment and receive guidance from above.

 

Was this the part they didn’t like? (Pic from the GEARBOX video review, view it here)

Image

Or this:

The truth is possibly somewhat less interesting, but there is a facility styled as a city in China, and it appears to be approaching Apple corporation quality levels if the X32 is any indication.

But not before our hero plucked Midas and Klark Teknik from the safe arms of the Bosch conglomerate for a considerable amount of Euro’s. His privately owned Music Group had stormed the bastille of audio and captured the Midas DNA. The holy grail of British live audio console manufacturers – the Neve of live. Stolen by Uli Behringer from the hearts and the console risers of the working engineer. Purists were shocked, incensed and offended. Beer was sunk in tribute at hasty wakes in county pubs across the royal homeland. ‘Oh aye, they’ll be dead by sunrise me lad … nay, by the stroke of midnoy’t!’

 

Maybe this, the concusion of the Julius part of our Gearbox review:

Do I like it? Yes I do. Would I trust it on a professional gig? Not yet. Recently I was off duty at a show with my family, on paid tickets. Suddenly there was an enormous outbreak of digital noise at peak level that almost blew the toupee off the geezer in row 2. Two more of these uncommanded and highly offensive outbreaks happened during the concert, and later on the engineer explained his digital mixing desk (not a Behringer) was haunted. Still later, he discovered the manufacturer had quickly released a new version of the operating system to alleviate this destructive quirk.

 

The review then took a new turn, as Jimmy weighed in:

I’m not sold on this desk.

The X32 is priced not far from the Behringer DDX thing of a decade ago, but it does lots more.  Given generational advancement and the whole thing about everyone wanting more for the same money, the X32 is a logical progression. 

Setting up a basic mix is a fairly straightforward process once you initialize the whole console – there were no default scene files in our test unit so a factory init was the only way we could be sure everything was back at zero.

Basic operation – pushing up faders and getting noise out of it – is intuitive and it all makes sense.  Good for novice users.  But to me that’s where it ends.  Some of the system options on the screen (patching inputs and outputs) make sense, but other elements of this console are wildly counter-intuitive.  I’ve mashed enough buttons on enough consoles to know how long it should take me to setup a matrix mix, and on the X32 it took too long.  The controls feel cheap but solid enough.

It sounds exactly like what it is – a four thousand dollar digital desk.  Adequate, but not great.  EQs work okay as do channel dynamics, but I can’t help but get the feeling that the overall dynamic range is somehow choked.  Soloing a channel with a mic plugged into it, I felt like I should have been hearing more.  Or less – with no processing in line the input signal still sounded somehow compressed.  I put it next to an OLD Behringer MX1602 analogue console just for laughs – the 1602 sounded better.

The upside here is that the X32 will be way forgiving for novice operators – and these are probably the hands in which it will commonly land at this price.  The headphone amp is gutless, and seeking more level by hitting the preamps harder doesn’t yield good results.  The box says “powered by Midas”, and while it’s got XL200 style “flexibility” with the gain pot, it’s just not the same.

Would I buy the X32 if I had the option to spend twice as much?  No.  Would I buy it if it were the only thing in my price range?  Yes, and I’d probably be very happy with it too.

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They were very unhappy – and the advert commitment is over now. That does happen – at least they didn’t go as far as the famous Musiclink meltdown of 2009 when we had the audacity to mention a small fact, that Musiclink were in the same ownership cabal as Billy Hyde. THAT meltdown over our breach of some secret rule that one must never associate the music importer with the chain of music stores they owned almost had us call Lifeline out of concern for the Musiclink executives concerned. Our instinct was to mail them a house brick, postage collect, but we didn’t do this since the last time we used this tactic we were rightly accused of being aggressive.

So for balance, the whole Behringer review is here, from top to bottom.

If you’d like to read it in laid out format and see the nice pictures we took, go here:

http://www.cx-mag.com/behringer-x32-review-sept-2012.html

ALSO, see our Video Review, here at cx-tv.

Tell us whether we went too far… and how.

 

FULL TEXT OF CX MAGAZINE REVIEW:

Behringer X32 live sound mixing system

Powered by Midas. What does that mean?

By Julius Grafton

 

I tried hard to hate the X32

First thing I made Jimmy do was to stress test this new audio console by running signal in for 24 hours, with a Par Can up the backside to heat it up, and record the output. Then we watched the timeline to see if it wheezed or panted. The timeline was rock solid.

We had a hard listen to the input preamp at all gain settings, especially flat out. I love the sound of digital eggs frying.

Finally I did the Julius test, which is to find out how long it would take me to build a 32 channel live mix, and send out 2 effects plus six sends of monitors.

Results below.

First some background on Austrian uber-genius Uli Behringer, who I once interviewed in Germany. Myth has him living in an evil eyrie, a granite hued mansion atop a cliff overlooking the South China Sea. Huge glass walls frame the tropical storms as Uli composes another opus on his 1872 cabriole leg Stienway. A timid servant scurries out with a tray of caviar and a flute of Bol as the maestro is interrupted by a call from his foreman at Uli City, the entire province in deepest darkest China. Tens of thousands of grateful white coated technicians churn out shiploads of audio and musical equipment and receive guidance from above.

The truth is possibly somewhat less interesting, but there is a facility styled as a city in China, and it appears to be approaching Apple corporation quality levels if the X32 is any indication.

Image

But not before our hero plucked Midas and Klark Teknik from the safe arms of the Bosch conglomerate for a considerable amount of Euro’s. His privately owned Music Group had stormed the Bastille of audio and captured the Midas DNA. The holy grail of British live audio console manufacturers – the Neve of live. Stolen by Uli Behringer from the hearts and the console risers of the working engineer. Purists were shocked, incensed and offended. Beer was sunk in tribute at hasty wakes in county pubs across the royal homeland. ‘Oh aye, they’ll be dead by sunrise me lad … nay, by the stroke of midnoy’t!’

OVERVIEW

Maizels and I saw X32 at Vegas alongside the Midas stand.  The ‘Powered by Midas’ on the front had drawn a crowd, and the Americans were keen to know the price. Just like here at CX as visitors swing into the studio to see the latest device in review. ‘How much do you reckon it costs?’ we ask. Seven to ten grand, they say.

Try around 4 grand. With the entry level Midas up around 10 grand, the X32 could sell for 7. But Behringer tend to rely on low price points, and in doing so make them the most terrifying name in pro audio, especially as they just purchased Turbosound.

Why sell it for 4 grand, when to start at 7 would be logical? Why not give those poor, destitute, hungry, arse-hanging-out retailers some love this one time? A product like this encourages estranged retailers to open an account and come into the Behringer fold. But wait, and cue the edict from the man on the cliff: “Nein. It vil sell for 4 grand. Ve must maintain ze ratio of cost to retail. Und ve vill destroy ze enemy before dawn. Im Auftrag…. wir werden den Markt dominieren mit Preis wie unsere tödliche Waffe.“

32 inputs, 24 outputs, 6 auxiliary inputs and 6 auxiliary outputs, all on the back panel set the scene. The X32 is designed for live – it has 16 input faders and you flip bank to get to channels 17 to 32.

You can’t really run more than 16 sends, so it is a middle market stage monitor desk if you choose to use it for this task. 16 sends means 8 stereo sets of in-ears, enough for most acts but not the ones I mix.

But it has Midas AES50 ports, so you can Cat 5 off to another X32 (say side of stage, as a monitor console) or the Midas S16 stage box or the P16 personal monitor system – which is Behringer’s take on the earlier Aviom or Roland implementation of this. iPad remote control is also standard.

OPERATOR VIEW

16 faders for input, 6 segment input LED ramp, coloured multi line label screen, and solid backlit buttons for mute, solo and select. Above the 16 sets of these is the selected channel controls, preamp to dynamics, EQ stage and then 4 bus sends with 4 sets of switches to access all 16 sends. Main bus mono and pan complete this area of the console.

Above the eight master group faders, which can be Group/DCA or Bus or Matrix faders, is the 800 x 400 (not touch) screen with system buttons, CUE led ramps and rotary encoders.

At console right is the output master, 12 user assigns, 6 mute buttons and stay bits along with a nice smart phone holder. The headphone jacks are hidden in the grab handles on each side. For navigation a little graphic points the way from the front panel on each side, otherwise we would never have found them.

X2 has enough lights and colours to attract attention, and the industrial engineering is correct for me. I don’t like girly designs and missing bits like I see every other day on some other brands. This console says ‘professional live sound’ in an assertive voice. The front panel doesn’t flex much when I slump on it, elbows down, 80 kg of pulsating sound guy.

37 different devices are available for 8 effects places – reverbs, delays, effects or graphic EQs. The default patch has effects 1 – 4 taking input from bus 13 – 16, or you can insert an effect over a channel.

Like all digital desks, there is a gate / compressor combo on every channel and output.

Do I like it? Yes I do. Would I trust it on a professional gig? Not yet. Recently I was off duty at a show with my family, on paid tickets. Suddenly there was an enormous outbreak of digital noise at peak level that almost blew the toupee off the geezer in row 2. Two more of these uncommanded and highly offensive outbreaks happened during the concert, and later on the engineer explained his digital mixing desk (not a Behringer) was haunted. Still later, he discovered the manufacturer had quickly released a new version of the operating system to alleviate this destructive quirk.

For balance, read what my erstwhile colleague has to say, below.

JIMMY’S X32 NOTES

I’m not sold on this desk.

The X32 is priced not far from the Behringer DDX thing of a decade ago, but it does lots more.  Given generational advancement and the whole thing about everyone wanting more for the same money, the X32 is a logical progression. 

Setting up a basic mix is a fairly straightforward process once you initialize the whole console – there were no default scene files in our test unit so a factory init was the only way we could be sure everything was back at zero.

Basic operation – pushing up faders and getting noise out of it – is intuitive and it all makes sense.  Good for novice users.  But to me that’s where it ends.  Some of the system options on the screen (patching inputs and outputs) make sense, but other elements of this console are wildly counter-intuitive.  I’ve mashed enough buttons on enough consoles to know how long it should take me to setup a matrix mix, and on the X32 it took too long.  The controls feel cheap but solid enough.

It sounds exactly like what it is – a four thousand dollar digital desk.  Adequate, but not great.  EQs work okay as do channel dynamics, but I can’t help but get the feeling that the overall dynamic range is somehow choked.  Soloing a channel with a mic plugged into it, I felt like I should have been hearing more.  Or less – with no processing in line the input signal still sounded somehow compressed.  I put it next to an OLD Behringer MX1602 analogue console just for laughs – the 1602 sounded better.

The upside here is that the X32 will be way forgiving for novice operators – and these are probably the hands in which it will commonly land at this price.  The headphone amp is gutless, and seeking more level by hitting the preamps harder doesn’t yield good results.  The box says “powered by Midas”, and while it’s got XL200 style “flexibility” with the gain pot, it’s just not the same.

Would I buy the X32 if I had the option to spend twice as much?  No.  Would I buy it if it were the only thing in my price range?  Yes, and I’d probably be very happy with it too.

COMMENTS VALUED!

 

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