I just picked up an X32 after a couple in depth weeks of studying and research.
My principal gig is festival sound, wherein I'm Main stage at smaller festivals and 2nd or 3rd stage at larger ones.
I left analog a few years back with the purchase of a SL 16.4.2 and then a few months after that a 24.4.4.
In the two 1/2 years, dozens of festivals, and hundreds of bands, neither SL has given me a single problem. They have been absolutely robust, and literally zero issues. My rig for these things is a modified 5th wheel RV I tote the PA in, and the desk stays in the rig with a 200' 32x8 copper snake to the stage box and a amplified wifi rig. My workflow up til now has been set the input gains on the pres, then do everything else on the iPad. Most of the time I barely touch the desk ones I've set the pres inputs.
I multitrack every single band with Capture (a stunningly well written piece of software I must say. Never a single glitch).
I learned early on due to a bad generator at one of these things that having a pure sine wave UPS on the desk and the computer is not a nice to have but a must have.
My reason for going to the X32 is principally one of workflow. It's a PITA running back into the rig just to do a line check and set gains. The vast majority of these bands I've mixed so many times I have their input lists memorized and I've got very good channel presets saved out for each of the channels for most of these bands.
I do it that way rather than via scene as my "stays in place" channel lineup will vary somewhat from festival to festival, so I typically will recall my "zero" scene I've created for the festival that has the non moving channels with phantoms for DI's and basic low cuts and preliminary monitor sends in the ball park, then just drop the channel presets onto the lines and I'm good to go. My stage hands string lines, while I set up the mix and label channels on VSL and Capture.
IT's been a good workflow but at some of the smaller fests I'm the only guy, so every second counts and having recallable head gain on the pre's that can be stored as part of either a channel preset or scene is a compelling argument, and another big factor for me was having matrices. Even though I multitrack all bands, and put a stereo condenser crowd mic on another couple channels to get the crowd, it'd sure be nice to get a 2 track mix that includes that, so at the end of the set I can hand the band a pretty decent 2 track mix with the crowd.
Which brings me here. And to be honest, it's taken a long time to make the plunge. For the better part of a decade the only Behringer product I would own would be ones that in no way, shape or form be inserted into the audio path. (Which in my case was meant the patchbays, and even those got flaky after a year or so of use). I've had to loan out my 16.4.2 to other stages to replace dead non X32 Berhinger desks more times than I care to count, and it's invariably for a failed button or switch in a key location that renders the desk unusable.
Another bit of background, my "day" gig is at a control systems manufacturer, and my college is in EE, but I'm a principally a code guy and application design guy. Our stuff is sold and used by the pentagon, and all the 3 letter acronym spook shops, and the vast majority of the fortune 500, and for our stuff, failure is NOT an option. We've got systems in place that have been running 24/7 for over 20 years, so I know that you can engineer stuff to be pretty much fail proof, and it usually comes down to parts choices, sourcing and manufacturing.
So my issue with B products is it's not the design, it's the low level component part choices where to save 0.003 cents per part they'll go with one rated at 10K duty cycles vs. the next more expensive option rated at 200K or whatnot for example. I find it particularly illuminating that the much touted 3 year warranty excludes ALL the components that will typically fail due to a poor choice of part. Switches, encoders, faders, LCDs, LED's etc. So you'll have to bear with my skepticism on that regard. Granted this isn't like our stuff (or more appropriately its' not a 100K Midas or SC48 or Digico) so some cost saving measures and compromises have to be made, but switches, buttons and knobs are NOT the place to skimp, as they are the most heavily used item on any desk. A couple cents per part can make a world of difference.
I say this, because my reputation is only as good as my last gig, and believe me, I'm gonna be hanging on to my 24.4.2 for quite some time to come until I build a decent level of trust in this product. I'm doing my first festival on the X32 next week, simply because one of the bands also has one and I know I'll have a spare available in case this one flakes out (and my buddy informs me he's got a couple "sticky" buttons that he has to keep a reverse loop of gaff tape near the desk to pull them back up to their up position but they've been on tour and can't afford the downtime.
So with all that front loaded ranting, why even get one?
Make no doubt, the feature set is compelling, particularly for somebody who has to deal with 6-13 bands on any given day. So I held out for a good several months until these things have been out in the field for a while. I learned years ago the the principal purpose of any early adopter of bleeding edge technology is mostly to provide a softer landing spot for those who follow them off the cliff.
Well now I've got one. I spent several days prowling the forums (here and elsewhere) prior to picking it up, watching almost all of the webinars (quite helpful, thank you), and pouring over the docs, the Mac X32 edit app, and the iPad app.
Here's what I've found so far:
Not so hot. This is what I call a "copy and paste manual" Write one set of instructions for a specific operation, then look at all the UI screens and find the lowest level see spot run operation, paste the instructions from the previous see spot run level instruction and change the numbers to fit without explaining one iota of WHAT you are doing and why. This is indicative that the tech writer has never actually mixed a show in his life. Sure there's information there but it's for the most part useless. I can find which shaft encoder to turn thank you very much, but it would have certainly helped if there had been a lot more WHY then WHICH. The most useful sections of the manual were the few pages in the middle set up to explain how to set up a monitor mix, how to get an effects bus set up, and the single most useful part of the manual was the block diagram. I figured more out from that one page than the rest of them combined, which is sorta sad, because not everybody knows how to read one.
It would have helped a LOT to have had important things to know for each topic. All these gotchas that your tech support people answer day in and out over and over agin? This stuff needs to be clearly explained in the manual in an easy to find fashion. Oh and it doesn't help that while there's an index there's no actual page numbers anywhere IN the manual to find stuff. No numbers on the pages renders the index pretty useless.
Good examples of things that should have been expounded on:
Hold Times on Gates and Compressors. I"d guess at this price point you've got a fair number of users who've never SEEN a separate parameter for hold. There's not only a lack of an explanation in Audio terms (ok, so what's this do and why is it there, and where would one tend to use it?), but no explanation or reference to it anywhere that I could find.
I'm guessing a lot of your users are first timers on a desk with DCA's, Mute Groups, and whatnot. Hell for many subgroups is probably a new concept. What these things are and WHY they exist (obviously engineering dollars were spent on making them happen so the exist for a reason), and I'll bet you've had a lot of folks scratching their heads as to what this stuff is and how to actually APPLY it. Especially the subgroups / DCA groups.
The effects section needs a LOT of help. it's not clear how any of this works, (like you have to turn the insert on or nothing happens), and the difference between banks 1-4 and 5-8 is about as clear as mud. No where was it covered how one would set up a stereo feed into a stereo effect so the effects send follows main buss panning.
The LCR modes have practically no info at all. It's hip that you've got a more or less built in ability to support Aux fed subs without chewing up an additional bus, but that wasn't covered either.
All the little places of utterly unidentified or explained parameter options:
Best example of this is the slope values and their enumerations (LC6/12/HC6/12 etc). Hell I have no clue what those mean. In fact the concept of keying and ducking aren't even mentioned anywhere. There's several other places where you have option parameters that aren't explained anywhere.
I'd suggest, since this has now been out a while that you do what we do. We have our tech support guys keep track of what kinds of questions they encounter. Periodically those get data mined and we take all the commonly ran into problems that are really based in not understanding how the product works and revamp the user guides to clearly explain that stuff.
[continued in reply]