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Thread: New X32 User coming over from SL 24.4.2

  1. #1

    New X32 User coming over from SL 24.4.2

    Greetings.

    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:

    The Manual
    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]

  2. #2
    Super User Paul Vannatto's Avatar
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    Hi Mark,

    Welcome to the forum, and thanks for your lengthy post. I couldn't agree more about what you said regarding the manual. Many of here are well aware of the inadequacies of the manual and are attempting to do our best in filling in the gaps here on the forum. There is a very wide range of users here, from some who barely know the basics to well seasoned sound engineers like you who are well aware of DCA's, mute groups, etc. By sharing all our cumulative knowledge, we all learn and get more proficient with our trade. So I hope you will continue to share your expertise as you have started to do.

    Paul

  3. #3
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    Howdy Mark - Nice of you to join us and coming over from the dark side.

    I was as skeptical as you when making this transaction. Now having been pleasantly surprised at every turn. The funtuality of the X32 has made me a believer.

    I would like to know more about your expereance with a certian generator that you spoke of at one of your shows.
    ♫♪♫ I have a fever and the cure is cowbell ♫♪♫ .......... *LIVE FREE OR DIE* .......... ♫ I'm all ears ♫

  4. #4
    Mark - my story is similar to yours - came from SL24. It have just been sold as I believe that Behringer have stepped up quality quite a bit on the X32. I do however keep a backup plan for now

    TOTALLY agree that the Manual is next to worthless - I think it is really disappointing that Behringer didn't put more effort into that very important part. And in general Behinger has a lot to learn from Presonus when it comes to updates, manuals, number of webinars and so on. For me the tutorials found on youtube made by Behringer CUSTOMERS are much more useful than the Webinars/Tutorials Behringer have put up

  5. #5
    the x32 manual is lousy. the webinar/tutorials are a little 'dry' too.
    i'm growing weary of the SL24 to x32 comparisons. the sl24 is easier to operate without instruction, with that exception the only similar item between them is their suggested street price.

  6. #6
    Ok, sorry to continue late, but was out of net access out of town..

    The forum limits how long a post is which makes this challenging as I'd written all this stuff intending to post it at once then couldn't but had to get other stuff done, have a festival this week that the less than organized promotor hasn't even gotten me the input lists I asked for 2 months ago. So much for preparing ahead of time..

    Continuing on..

    General gripe about saves

    Parameter Safes / Saves / Etc:

    This is very unclear. I get what the checkboxes are for but what I don't understand is if everything is saved with a channel preset and the check boxes determine what gets applied when I load one, or if I were to uncheck something prior to saving, does that mean it doesn't get stored with the preset at all, which begs the question as to what happens when I load that preset onto a channel and then check one of the values I didn't save when I saved the thing in the first place? These sorts of things need a lot more clarification as to what's really going on so users can make intelligent decisions as to their workflow. Other stuff is not even covered.. When I save a channel preset do the values of the sends get saved with the preset? Stuff like that needs to be explained. Granted bits of these types of things were covered in the webinars but that's not a lot of help when I'm in the middle of some field someplace without YouTube or net access.

    X32 Edit

    I'm running this on a 2.8Ghz Core Duo Macbook pro running OSX 10.75. Same machine I've been using with my studiolives for the past couple years. It's been extremely stable. I've got Logic installed in addition to Capture, VLS and now X32 edit.

    First thing: It's buggy. I've found I have to save my scene file every few operations because it crashes so much. On a given day I will get 10 or more unexpectedly quits. It also tends to crash when closing about 50% of the time. This usually occurs when editing some parameter.

    UI Observations. Since I have a festival coming up next week that will be my first use of the x32 in the field, I spent a good 10 hours last saturday hand transcribing my channel presets from the StudioLives over to the X32. I'd load a preset, then transfer the values as close as possible over to the X32 edit app.

    I have noticed the X32 is far less granular value wise than the StudioLives. The steps between values are generally much bigger, particularly in the EQ section, particularly in the frequency and Q values, but also in the ratios for the compressors and gates. I haven't had enough free time to determine if the lack of granularity translates into audible differences in an actual mix, but they are there.

    What I have notice is audible clicking on a the preamp gains as you ratchet through the values. My mixes don't need a click track. Additionally the pre's make a fair bit of self noise if you turn on phantom without even having anything connected. I fed it to a card out and stuffed that through some metering plugs via Apple AU Host test app, and noticed all kinds of funky changing output noise in the 40-120 hz range. If you gain the pre up enough and push the channel high enough it's clearly audible, although you'd only notice it between songs. It shows up about 64 db down on the freq analyzer.

    On the StudioLive, the Universal control app has no limit as to the number of channel presets. This one does. Granted one can save individual files to disk, but the inability to transfer them to the desk is a huge limitiation,. I literally have hundreds of channel presets for each musician I encounter. At the end of the festival I save out all the channel stuff for each new band I've encountered that festival so if I ever run into them again they're instantly available. The obvious question is why not just save them with the scene for the band? Well I live in the bluegrass world, and these guys are infamous for sitting in with each other. On any given band I may have from 2-6 guests sitting in over the course of the bands set, and I always have several lines for guests. When they show up, I load their channel preset, tweeze the gain and I'm good to go. Having the ability to do that on the pad would be ideal since it'd save me a trip back to the desk when yet another sit in shows up on stage.

    The hard coded limit on channel presets matches the limits of the desk itself, but for no real reason since you can't batch load them to the desk anyway.. That was one of the first things I found was the utter inability to transfer libraries en masse to the desk. I had to save each one out individually as a file, toss them on a USB stick and then manually import them and drop them in the correct slot. Guys, this absurd.

    Even more frustrating is there is no way whatsoever to transfer scene presets from one computer to another without having the same desk accessible to both computers, because there's no import button for scene files. It's a one way ticket, massively limiting the usefulness of the app as an offline editor. I can't work up a scene file and email it someone else unless they have desk handy. Not well thought out.

    On the Presonus (and other off products offline editors you can have as many "saves" of stuff as you'd like and it's very easy to load a subset of that (due to the board having fixed memory size, I get that) to the desk. It's very easy to batch transfer stuff. Here it's impossible. The again, the no import button on the editor makes it impossible to work on stuff offline on 2 different computers. My rig is 45 miles from here. I shouldn't have to drive 90 miles just to move my presets from one computer to another but that's what I'm having to do.

    Then there's the EQ screen. The UI layout for the encoders on the editor, the iPad app and the desk itself falls under what I call "property sheet UI design", which is indicative that the UI was laid out by a programmer, not a mix guy. In order to work with a given frequency point you have to go up and down parameter pages. Granted on the desk you have encoders for Freq / Gain / Q on the desk surface, but on the editor app and LCD screen section having ONE parameter for all 4 bands at a time makes no sense.

    No audio guy works that way. You work with one band, then move to the next, you don't set all 4 frees, then set all 4 gains, then set all 4 Q's. The way it's laid out requires way too many mouse clicks on the editor and way too many parameter page up downs on the LCD part of the desk.

    While the iPad app doesn't suffer from that, the inability to drag a parameter node directly and use pinch gestures to control Q is sorely lacking. Presonus nailed that one. I can eq faster on the pad with 1 finger just by dragging the node around on the frequency graph than I ever could with knobs.

    I've got lots more but am out of time. Will continue later..

    I'm hoping you folks are amiable to an open, honest and clear dialog. That's way more important to me than any marketing mumbo jumbo.

    Cheers.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Henry More View Post
    Howdy Mark - Nice of you to join us and coming over from the dark side.

    I was as skeptical as you when making this transaction. Now having been pleasantly surprised at every turn. The funtuality of the X32 has made me a believer.

    I would like to know more about your expereance with a certian generator that you spoke of at one of your shows.
    Quote Originally Posted by Henry More View Post
    Howdy Mark - Nice of you to join us and coming over from the dark side.

    I was as skeptical as you when making this transaction. Now having been pleasantly surprised at every turn. The funtuality of the X32 has made me a believer.

    I would like to know more about your expereance with a certian generator that you spoke of at one of your shows.
    LOL. Actually I view this as "going over to the dark side". I'm still worried about the long term longevity of the desk. Didn't help much that over the weekend I discovered one of the mute switches on one of the subgroup makes an audible mechanical crunching noise when you press it. Scary..

    As for the Genny story.. Was at a festy 2 years ago and the one of the rental genny's had a mechanical issue. No biggie the promotor was smart enough to have the provider bring a spare. Well it was a perfect storm, and the spare refused to start. So the promotor has the property owner (we're out in the sticks on a farm) check with his neighbors to see if any of them just happened to have a 10KW genny laying around and as it turns out some guy has a 7.5KW welding generator. Better than nothing except the AC was the dirtiest stuff I've ever seen on a scope. Not even close to stepped sine. Now I had the presence of mind to have a UPS with me just in case we dropped power, so I wouldn't have to worry about the laptop and desk losing communications to each other but the nasty AC stuff just ate the UPS for lunch. In 10 minutes it was toast. Ok, fine lose the UPS, didn't have much choice. However being as we were 2500 watts short of what I'd specced for the stage, (and we lost all non essential loads as it was) the genny was bogging down. What happens on a generator when its under heavy load is the motor slows down, which changes the line frequency of the incoming voltage. Granted the power supplies in digital stuff can cope with to some extent with fluxuations in line frequency but not EXTREME ones. They have to base the internal clocks for things off the incoming line frequency. So once the freq dropped below 52 Hz, the control surface part of the desk stopped responding. It still passed audio but you couldn't chance anything. The solution was to drop a couple subs out of the mix temporarily to get some of the load off the genny and reboot the desk between songs. So now I carry a full on Sine UPS, not so much for the pure sine wave (as the presonus wasnt' THAT picky about output, I"ve ran it on stepped sine inverter type generators lots of time with no issue) but more in that it was far more tolerant of radically changing line frequency.

    I also have another home build worst case scenario power supply in case I'm going into some environment where I know up front the power is gonna be sketchy. I have my old factory converter I pulled out the RV (replaced that with a much faster 3 stage unit, the factory ones pretty much suck for my kind of use) that feeds a pair of deep cycle 6 volt batteries series up to 12V, and THAT feeds a 1500 watt inverter. It won't run the FOH but is plenty enough for my desk, & computers, and the light guys desk and computers for a good 3 hours if I lose power, and is utterly immune to nasty incoming AC crap if I get stuck with another welder rig. Everything I do, and everything I carry is a direct result of some lesson learned over 30 years of doing this stuff.

  8. #8
    So once the freq dropped below 52 Hz, the control surface part of the desk stopped responding.
    I hope that you mean 42Hz?! Otherwise non of the presonus consoles would work in my part of the world. The desks contains universal power supplies that covers the world.

    When it comes to ups and generators you're better of using an online ups. Otherwise it will eat your battery in a blink. Today we use led lights instead of 'normal' lights that doesn't load the generator with a constant resestive load. Put some 500W lamp to smooth the generator output...

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Lofgren View Post
    I hope that you mean 42Hz?! Otherwise non of the presonus consoles would work in my part of the world. The desks contains universal power supplies that covers the world.

    When it comes to ups and generators you're better of using an online ups. Otherwise it will eat your battery in a blink. Today we use led lights instead of 'normal' lights that doesn't load the generator with a constant resestive load. Put some 500W lamp to smooth the generator output...

    Robert, it'll run fine on 50 hz if that's what it sees when it powers up (the supply auto senses "native" current. The problem is once booted under that power configuration if the freq changes drastically. So in my case in the US it booted to 120VAC/60Hz, then dropped to 53, and that's where I ran into problems.

    As for the online UPS bit, by using a RV Charge converter attached to the battery bank it's essentially an always on UPS. The inverter sees 12VDC, and as long as incoming AC is hitting the charge converter, it's supplying that current as well as recharging the battery bank at the same time. You only hit the battery bank when the charge converter goes offline due to a loss of 120VAC. The beauty of an always on UPS is there's no switchover time if you do lose AC as you're essentially running off the DC source all the time anyway, therefore no chance of glitches from the time it takes to switch over. Granted in more recent years the offline UPS's switch much faster and this usually isn't an issue but would still rather not take the risk. And I hear ya on the LED's. While the cheaper ones colors look horrid (make everybody look dead and pasty) there's much to be said for an entire light rig on a single 20A breaker.

  10. #10
    Last Night's Findings

    So I finally got input lists (well sort of, they weren't exactly the level of detail I'd like) from the promoter for this weeks festie. So I'm setting up my scenes and saving them out.

    In the process uncovered various bugs, listed here in no particular order:

    iPad App

    Does not track the state of mute groups well. I've got one mute group for all input channels, another for all FX returns, and yet another for 2 track house music playback common to all scenes for a festival. The remainder are assigned on a scene by scene basis. So when I recall a scene, often the Ipad app is utterly out of sync mute wise with whats happening on the desk. The Jerkaround is to force quit the iPad app and reconnect. Not the best solution.

    Metering page glitch: Went to metering page and tabbed over to the aux inputs and not only did the screen not render correctly (everything was shifted up vertically, only half the meters were on screen) but the app froze mid render. While you could navigate off the page, and come back to it that page was still frozen and I had to force quit the app, then restart it to get it to render the page in question correctly.

    Finally when you recall scenes on the pad with the "Scene Load" confirm pop up checked in prefs, theres no dialog that comes up on the iPad, you have to physically run back to the desk, which kinna defeats the whole purpose of being remote with the pad. There should be an on screen dialog on the iPad to confirm scene loads if this pref is enabled (and for safety's sake in a festival environment I will have it enabled).

    Additionally there's no way to actuate mute groups on the pad. Big oversight. If I'm mixing in the crowd on the pad at the end of the set, one of the whole reasons for having mute groups is to kill all the channels onstage before the band starts unplugging guitars and such to prevent pops. Now I have to either manually mute each channel, or run back to the desk to hit the mute group.

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