Behringer XR18 Review

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Pkdawg, Feb 22, 2015.

  1. Pkdawg

    Pkdawg Member

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    I play in a four piece rock cover band and was looking for a better way to mix shows. I wouldn't call myself a sound guy, but sound guys I've used in the past have told me my mixes are great since I started running it myself.

    Prior to purchasing this I've been playing with the ipad app demo on my ipad 2 for a few weeks and then downloaded X Air Edit for the PC mid week. I noticed on a Tuesday night this was available on the Sweetwater site and emailed my contact Anthony who happened to be working the late shift. It was shipped on Wed. and received it 1/2 way across the country on Fri. I spent the day fooling with it trying out the effects and presetting what I thought would work for my gig on Saturday. I'm the guitar player, but have been doing the sound lately for the band using a 10+ year old Behringer board. I forget the model. I run this with newish JBL PRX712 and 718XLs.

    The thing is small and could likely fit in your old Scooby Doo lunch box. I just showed my age.

    I brought my laptop an ipad to the gig. I never once lost a connection to my laptop using the built in wifi, but be sure to set your sleep mode a little longer so it won't lock you out or go black during the set.

    The ipad worked fine and was even more useful for quick changes, but as some others have mentioned it did lose it's connection a few times per set. That really wasn't an issue for me since the unit still works during that time and to get it back connected took 5 seconds. I would end the app, not by closing it, but by swiping it and then launch it again. I was back and running literally in seconds. Not a biggie since I know that will likely get fixed and I can't make that many changes during the song anyway. I'm busy playing guitar. I'll likely just gig with the ipad going forward after a few more gigs with the added laptop as a backup and tweaking my scene. (My ipad is also from work and has some pretty tight security profiles on it so that could my issue too, but seeing others had the same issue I doubt it's just my ipad.)

    Comments I heard were all positive and even non musicians came over said how great the mix was and crystal clear the vocals sat on top. Others said the lows were strong and punchy, but not muffled. I didn't even eq the mains either so the JBLs are pretty awesome, however the channel eqs were used on every channel, but nothing major.

    X Air Edit PC - First be sure to update the Firmware to the latest version. Using the app wasn't hard to figure out since during my wait for it I was able to demo the competitor's versions from QSC, Presonus. I like the QSC interface a lot, but didn't really need the recording features. It did have the built in screen and wifi, but then again I could just buy another ipad for that price difference between the XR18. This was definitely closest to the Presonus look and feel. I know this is just the beta 0.5 version so I didn't expect much. I was a little upset by this since Behringer was talking up this product as new and innovative. Plus, a non beta version should be available from day one, but I suppose demand got the best of them and they sent the product out. Besides that, it really didn't matter. It worked and worked great and it's half the price of others. I did have an issue where the effects weren't working after me playing with all types settings and whatnot. I called Behringer and they picked up and answered it within less than 5 minutes total. I just had to reinitialize the mixer from the app and it's worked fine since. I likely changed something I shouldn't have, but the point is Behringer helped and in a flash.

    While it's not the prettiest interface I give it a bi since those are easy fixes that I'm sure will come. It could use more areas to right click, hover or pop up areas for seeing numbers/value change etc, but that did not limit me at all.

    The colors and numbering on the faders are pretty bad and it was hard to set gain levels. I made adjustments from the ipad afterwards since that looks better in that area at least.

    Needs sub groups and/or DMAs, but that isn't crucial for me since really it's only 16 (18) channels anyway and I use 11 of them. I'm sure they will come.

    The Pres seemed as good as any I've used. Overall main out volume seemed lower than my old board, but to be fair being the guitar player I didn't get a whole of time to play with the master after we started.

    Thee Gate and Compressor default settings seem fine with a few adjustments mostly on the threshold.

    The effects seem great and have enough flexibility and character that you'd never be hurting for quality sounds. Needs tap delay capability though. Plus you can't save your effects for using later unless it's just part of your scene. I'd like to recall a preset of my own one day.

    Pay attention when saving scenes and channels since you need to be in the right screen for it to want to save or open that file type. That took me a while. Just be in a certain channel if you want to save or load a channel and not if you want to load a scene.

    Eq - Again this sounded fine, but tweaking the setting could use help, whether you are dragging lines in the graph or typing in numbers. There are no sliders and sometimes you can type and tab to the next, but other times you need to hit Enter. That's not a big deal, but led me to making quick changes from the ipad during the show more often than the laptop.

    Ipad App - As a controller to connect to the mixer it worked fine, but if you had to set up a gig from this you'll be hurting since you can't access all the effects and the eq is lacking the graphics. However, Behringer said yesterday they submitted the next version to Apple and it will likely be available withing a week. I bet those are added. If you know how to use the ipad app or X Air Edit you'll easily adapt to the other.

    I know it's probably not meant to be the main tool to set up a scene, but it would nice if you could download a scene or channel in a pinch from email, Dropbox, etc.

    USB - I tried to use Cakewalk Sonar to record from the mixer before the gig, but couldn't figure it out. I have a feeling I need a driver that hasn't been made available yet. I wonder if you can record and use Edit to mix at the same time on the same computer.

    Aux In 17/18 - I wish I could just play music wirelessly from a computer or iphone rather than physically connecting, but you can't do that on traditional boards anyway. Maybe there could be away at somepoint through the wifi or Bluetooth add-on?!?

    Midi - Haven't thought about it, but maybe it's something the singer could use down the road to change effects for volume levels?!!? I'm not sure what's its for.

    Overall this thing worked perfect at my gig and any small hiccups were to be expected being so new. I never had any catastrophes and can't wait until next week where I'll just recall the settings I saved at the end of the gig and take a breather before we start.

    I'd certainly recommend this to others as long as you don't mind a new way to do things. If someone has never used a DAW you may have a rough time and would likely take longer to feel natural with it. It did feel strange last night when I needed to make an adjustment and I wasn't sure where to go and then realized my ipad was there next to me on the JBL sub within reach.

    The quality of sound is there and will only get easier to use. It's exactly what I hoped for and expected.
     
  2. aleclee

    aleclee TGP Tech Wrangler Staff Member

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    Thanks for the info. I'll be getting one as soon as my local shop gets it in.
     
  3. jimfist

    jimfist Member

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    Cool review, thanks.

    I'm also a new XR18 X-Air owner and am taking things at a slower pace. Brave of you to jump right in, so it's great to read that you had no major issues. Can't wait for Behringer to get all of the apps/software/firmware sussed out. It's a promising looking digital setup for pretty short money and lots of great features.
     
  4. JamminJoe

    JamminJoe Member

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    You had much better luck than we did using the XR18. Bassplayer in my band got the XR18 this week from Sweetwater and played with it all week w/o issues. But it was catastrophic at the gig. We connected with a pc laptop and an iPad. Both were disconnecting at least every few minutes. This was at a bar where a Mackie DL1608 had performed flawlessly for at least a half dozen gigs. Some disconnects could not be recovered without restarting the XR18 (and turning off the mains). Luckily we had a backup mixer which we used for our main set. The opening band was not so lucky. We would definitely not use this without bringing an ethernet cable next time. Will wait for some new firmware releases before trying this again at a gig.
     
  5. jimfist

    jimfist Member

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    As a personal choice, I won't gig with beta ANYTHING. IMHO it's a bad idea for Behringer to approve sales distribution of a product that has no owner's manual and software/apps that are in beta. It's also a very risky proposition to gig this gear knowing that there are loose ends that have not been wrapped up.

    If wifi connection of the XR18 isn't stable for the vast majority of users, then the mixers will fail in sales (word travels fast), so it's hard to conceive that Behringer would allow this to happen. At the same time, Behringer allows you a few different varieties of wireless connection, although it would really suck to have to rely on something OTHER THAN their provided wifi.

    Still early for this product, and stable releases on all fronts will probably snuff out most issues - at least I hope so.
     
  6. mattball826

    mattball826 Member

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    to date wi fi issues are common on all brands, but again most of those are not internal to the units. only a few units have built in wifi. this is likely the reason. consumers can only blame the router mfg on other units. newer presonus units with integrated wi fi have experienced similar. pretty much a given with this tech. pro's and con's to having internal wifi routers.
     
  7. Jan Duwe

    Jan Duwe Member

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    Dear X Air users,

    You have brought up some very valuable points for consideration when using any remote controlled mixer. What are the expectations of access availability, what ranges are required, how many clients to be supported, how many other networks are competing on bandwidth...?

    The internal Wifi Access Point of X Air mixers is using a standard RF chipset, that performs very nicely with a considerable fieldstrength/range especially when only few remote client devices are connected. It's primary objective is providing immediate access to the mixer, with hardly any configuration required, and especially without any sort of dock connection. Unlike other remote controlled mixers, X Air mixers work out of the box with any available control device. And the great thing about "mixing inside the stage box" is that it is extremely fail-safe, and it will continue running audio even in case that no remote device is connected at all, temporarily.

    When integration to larger Wifi infrastructure is required, X Air mixers can also register into any existing 2.4 GHz WLAN, where a more specialized router may manage the network.
    Using off the shelf equipment worth less than 200$ you can even build a wireless remote connection over hundreds of meters of distance, if required.
    The most dependable solution in any environment is definitely using a wired connection, which is why all X Air Mixers allow being connected to a PC/Mac device directly, without any switch or router.
    A couple of weeks back at WNAMM, Anaheim, we had used one standard Netgear 5 GHz true-diversity router, that was switching all our X Air mixer signals and broadcasting them without the slightest glitch. We were walking through half of the hall with a Galaxy Tab and iPad connected, and had no dropouts whatsoever. Having done tradeshows for Behringer for almost 20 years now, I was really amazed how flawlessly that worked. My experience especially in recent years is that there is probably no more hostile environment for Wifi connectivity than the big tradeshows. ;-) Selecting the appropriate tools in this case solved all issues.

    You see, there is a lot of different possibilities for establishing remote control. My personal take on this is, there is nothing wrong with the integrated router of our X Air mixers. It works perfectly fine in the intended applications. However, if I had mission-critical jobs to do, where permanent, uninterrupted control connectivity is paramount, I'd prefer using the 5GHz band, and using a dedicated piece of hardware that is strategically placed for optimal results... not necessarily at the back/side of the stage, where my mics are connected.

    Hope that helps, and enjoy the exceptional X Air mixing capabilities!
    Best,
    Jan
     
  8. Pkdawg

    Pkdawg Member

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    Jan,

    Thank you for jumping in here. I'm the OP on this thread, but do question the ipad connecting via Access Point / RF connection. I drops out a lot on me in just a few minutes, but not on my pc. Is there an issue with the app or maybe ipad 2's? Certainly, you can't switch to another app or it will lose connection so the multitasking doesn't work, but if I set it and forget it the connection fails in short time.
     
  9. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    This is a good thread; I am seriously considering checking out one of these for my band. Kudos to Jan from Behringer showing up and answering things directly. :aok
     
  10. Zigthurm

    Zigthurm Member

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    Had been awaiting my XR18 forever like many people. Putting the iPad app in demo mode during that time, checking out features.

    Demo is sluggish in navigation, and doesn't seem to allow access to all the features (effects) they seem to promise on their webpage.

    Guess my just assumed once it connected to a real XR18 it would navigate screens faster and allow access to the advertised effects.

    Nope.

    First, is slow going. Takes about four seconds (an eternity in a live setting) to exit most edit/detail screens, which one might use often to tweak an EQ or compression settings.

    Second, my can't find a way to change the default effect slots. Just as in the demo, it seems to offer only one each of: Vintage Room Reverb, Hall Reverb, Modulation Delay and Dimensional Chorus. My want to access Leisure Compressor, XTEC EQ5 and Vintage Reverb (EMT250 - different than 'Vintage Room Reverb') which are all pictured on Behringer's XR18 product webpage, and would love Dual Pitch Shifter. (Which my X32rack has, though is not mentioned on the product page though it does say: 'Equipped with the very same FX engines as the now legendary X32'...)

    but hey... Haven't had any trouble with the access point network connection....

    As is, my am disappointed because is not (yet [hopefully]) what was promised in the literature, and the interface is slow-going.

    Here's hoping for an app upgrade.
     
  11. jimfist

    jimfist Member

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    You should lurk the Behringer X-Air forum. There are updates to the iPad app coming "any day now".

    http://forum.music-group.com/forumdisplay.php?113-X-AIR-General-Discussion

    --------------------
    --------------------

    Uli Behringer Uli Behringer is offline
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    X AIR Update
    Dear all,

    The USB Driver will be up in a few hours.

    A new version of the X AIR iPad remote control has just been uploaded and is pending Apple's approval.

    We are also planning to release the first X AIR Edit Beta for Mac real soon. As we stated several times, this is just the beginning of a long and exciting journey with lots of updates and additional functionalty including auto-mixing, unprecedented speaker remote control and much more.

    Thank you for your patience.

    Warm regards

    Uli
    Uli Behringer
    CEO

    MUSIC Group
    www.music-group.com

    ----------------------------------
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    Jan Duwe Jan Duwe is offline
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    Dear All,

    Please note that the X18 / XR18 USB low-latency ASIO driver is available on the download area of product pages:
    http://www.behringer.com/EN/products/X18.aspx
    http://www.behringer.com/EN/products/XR18.aspx
    I am aware that it may take a little while until this is visible everywhere. You may also use this direct link, if your PC is not showing the product downloads properly.

    Best regards,
    Jan
     
  12. Badside

    Badside Member

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    For changing the effects, on the Android app at least I can just do a long press on the image of the chosen "processor" and I get a drop down list of all the effects available.
     
  13. MKB

    MKB Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the reviews on the XR18, this is definitely #1 on my list of mixers when/if a new band I'm considering starts. I have heavily used Behringer X32's in multiple bands and venues over the last few years, and their sound and operation have been faultless. And if the XR18 is rack mounted, IMHO it is in the perfect form factor for a mixer; a patch bay in a rack. I never use the X32's faders/knobs as I find the iPad app simpler and quicker to use.

    One thing we did run into at my church, we have about 12 or so Line 6 wireless mics, and these run on the 2.4gHz WiFi band. We absolutely could not get the X32 to connect to iPads with a 2.4gHz router. Not once. But we then got a 5gHz 802.11n router, and the iPads work perfectly now. Also other X32 users I know have gone to 5gHz, and it made their remote connections very quick and reliable.

    But this does concern me with the XR18's built in wifi, will it be reliable enough for each band member to have their own iPad for monitor mixing during the gig? And we have found it to be important in some cases to enable mac address filtering so that unauthorized users can't gain access to the mixer. Does the XR18 allow that level of control in its built in wifi?

    One of the reasons the XR18 is such a good value is its built in wifi, hopefully it is 5gHz or you might have issues. If it is 5gHz, that will save you >$100 right there. I plan to download the XR18 manual and have a look, I assume it is available since the units are shipping.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2015
  14. PhilF

    PhilF Member

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    I got my XR-18 Friday at work. Had time to turn it on and get hooked up to it this weekend at home. The only reason that is relevant is I live in an apartment building where there are 15ish wifi networks visible at all times. Major wifi traffic.

    First of all, I don't know how clear this is , but at the moment the only way to save ALL the settings AND have control is via the PC program.


    For example the scribble strip settings won't save so anything you name channels or change colors to help you are gone if it's done with the x air app. Also, when i tried to setup the WEP password via my Nexus 10 on the app I could never log into the xr-18 again after it was set. I had to reset the wireless every time. Then I set it up via the pc program and it worked just fine and was rock solid. Also, the fx won't save via the apps. I'm not even sure you can access all the fx yet via the ipad app, but as mentioned in the thread a new one is due.

    Right now I'm thinking a windows tablet would be the best option for this thing. But, if i were a mac user especially, and to a lesser extent android I would personally wait for a while till bugs and other nuisances have been bitched about by the early adopters and fixed. Luckily the first gig I'm going to try and use this at is still almost 3 weeks away because I personally wouldn't trust it at this exact moment without getting MUCH more comfortable.

    The number 1 thing I want fixed is full functionality in the app with regards to saving ALL settings and presentation.
     
  15. mattball826

    mattball826 Member

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    been in numerous venues with x32 boards or other digital boards using ipads and man are they touchy as hell. out of 5 sound guys they went back to using faders since the ipads are way too damn sensitive. a simple touch can really blow away a mix for a sec then they take it down. our kb players, lead player and myself have all watched video of our shows where this happens. you think you are getting a simple 2-3db boost for a part and instead you get 10 or more, then it gets dialed back. really annoying!

    many of the sound techs are riding hard faders again. still use the ipads to set up the mixes and what not, but during performances, they ride faders on the x32.

    idk, maybe there is a way to make the fader less sensitive in performance mode, but we hear the same things constantly with people that own these and other mfg digital boards that use ipads/tablets primarily for fader control or fx control. many complain the controls are too damned sensitive.

    a popular floyd tribute band was playing at a venue we saw and when they punched in vocal fx via that ipad it was as if they wanted to add a few repeats and the sensitivity was so bad it created this really long delay feedback level. the vocalist was pissed off to no end and told the sound guy ride the gd faders and stop fing up their show!
     
  16. Moxsam

    Moxsam Member

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    I don't know Uli.

    Your customers have been sitting patiently in the waiting room for a year or more now. Now that they've paid their money and boarded the plane they are finding out that the plane needs refuelling and maintenance that will have to be inspected and approved by someone else. (Apple). Oh and by the way the inflight meal is cold (but we're working on it) and some of you (Mac users) will have to stand because we don't have enough seats (yet). Relax and enjoy the inflight movie though because it's going to be a VERY long and exciting (hope this plane makes it) trip. Just remember when we get there it's going to be beautiful sun drenched white sandy beaches with all you can drink auto-mixed cocktails and remote controlled television (speakers). P.S. We forgot some of your luggage but don't worry we'll send it on the next flight.


    Apologies for all the sarcasm but what a disappointing and very odd way to release a highly anticipated product. I'm really hoping the "long and exciting journey" part doesn't mean we will be here next year still waiting for the updates to make this thing deliver as promised.

    Seeing some of the people from Behringer chiming in, is great however, and does give some hope.

    Hope you guys get it right (soon).
     
  17. MKB

    MKB Silver Supporting Member

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    Having deployed and used the X32's for a few years, there have been several firmware upgrades that have improved the functionality and added more cool features (I especially like the RTA display superimposed over the EQ). It did take them awhile to get everything working smoothly, but they eventually did. No reason to assume this won't happen with the XR18 either. There has been a lot of negative press on Behringer products, and some of it is well deserved (a tube rack product with a buried LED to make it look like a glowing tube is in it??) but they really seem to be doing a great job with some of their pro level products, such as the mixers and some of the rack gear like the DCX2496.

    I have seen this myself, but the fix for this seems to be an 802.11n 5gHz router. Since we went to this type of router in all X32 deployments we have had zero problems. In many venues the 2.4gHz band is simply too crowded and there is a lot of info being sent between the mixer and the iPads. In my old band, a semi-pro wedding/festival band that plays all over the east coast, they replaced two Allen-Heath 32ch boards (one for stage monitoring and one FOH) with a single X32, and all 9 members use iPads for local monitor mixing. The FOH sound man uses an iPad, and the X32 stays on stage. The router is a dedicated Apple 802.11n 5gHz. They have had zero latency issues or problems of any kind in over a year of hard use.

    Do not cheap out on the wifi router either, get something of high quality. The Apple routers worked flawlessly but are >$200 each IIRC.
     
  18. mattball826

    mattball826 Member

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    not really the router, its the gui on the ipads. it doesn't matter what board brand or gui they have. fact is, the control areas are just too sensitive and if you want minor changes, use the faders and knobs (which you can't on the units with no control options).

    two other times the guys had to switch out ipads since the one they were using was just not working well with the rig. some of the sound guys were just screaming give me my old board!! lol

    i just talked to another guy in a acdc tribute that said another venue was running a mackie 32 ch digital unit and that thing was issues from hell. they stopped their show for a good 20 min fixing the problem (communication issues, pop noise intermittent, and then it just cut out completely except for aux sens/mons). pissed them off to no end.
     
  19. PhilF

    PhilF Member

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    The x air apps have a button in it called "fine". It makes it so that the adjustments you make are much finer. It should help the too much adjustment issues.
     
  20. mattball826

    mattball826 Member

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    next time we play there i will remind the sound guy "use the fine" adjustment. my thought is they assume they can use it in standard mode and do just as well, but a little bump and the ch mix is way off or fx punched in are too high etc.

    these units are new to a lot of the guys though, but as they are finding, these tribute bands that don't really know the local sound techs really get pissed at stuff like this.
     

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