iPad Miini Review X32 Mix
Ok, first let me say that I despise Apple. I feel as if I have been invaded by the Borg. So my first statement has to do with the iPad mini only.
Seriously? Setting up the iPad took me around 30 minutes before I could even look at getting the X32 Mix application. Impossible password requirements, tons of questions .... etc.
Ok, enough bitching about Apple. What is done is done. Behringer, I wait patiently for an Android replacement
On to the app.
I thought the app was nicely laid out. It took me a little while to understand the navigation, but since I was already well familiar with what the X32 can do and the X32 Edit program, it wasn't long before I could move around with confidence.
My overall impression is that this app is designed more for use under fire than it is for setup. I would much prefer to setup my X32 Rack (when they arrive) with a PC through X32 Edit than through X32 Mix; however, I believe that X32 Mix is better suited for running a show than X32 Edit is. This is especially true for a touch pad where the controls on X32 Mix have been intentionally designed to have large forgiving hit and swipe points for touch pad use.
The channel strip for me was the really great surprise. It looks like everything I need to get to quickly is right there. The mute, solo for all channels is right on the main screen, and the channel strip has well thought out controls for everything else.
I particularly liked the "sends on fader" button which allows you to switch your 8 visible faders from the main, to the sends from your currently selected channel. Nice.
Now for the not-so-good.
The labels are muted and not high contrast. I am sure it makes for a nice looking application, but you just can't read the labels as well. It is possible that this can be changed, but I haven't figured it out just yet. Also, the text could be made a bit larger. This is more important on the mini than on the full iPad .... and also more important for those of us who have less than perfect eyesight these days
I was worried that the mini wasn't going to be enough real estate to work the X32 Mix app well on, but it seems fine to me.
I have heard several people who have the Mackie DL1608 state that the iPad app for that is better laid out than the X32 Mix app is. I am going to download it and see for myself
Ok, downloaded the "Master Fader" app for DL1608 for comparison.
Having used both (in demo mode), it is clear that the X32 Mix app is by far and away more powerful than Master Fader is..... this has nothing to do with the app really, but rather the mixer. The X32 is just much more powerful and flexible than the DL1608.
The channel eq section of the DL1608 is better implemented than on X32 Mix. There is just less hit and miss to it .... fewer missed pinch and pan gestures.
The one thing I really liked on the Master Fader app was that they included channel presets. Some of you pros may frown on presets, but for many of us, having a decent starting point is a really good thing. Sure, I can look up the kinds of settings people use for say a kick drum or for a female vocalist, but it is nice to have a preset to start with.
Haven't used the mackie one, but have used many of the others, mostly the Presonus one as that is my other desk and I've mixed a whole mess of festivals on that one. Did my first festie on the X32 app last week.
First thing I noticed is it's laid out like the LS9 app in blocks, which is a horrid model. Presonus really nailed their app. No blocks, just a sliding window across the channels. Swipe toright or left the change the focus of which channels or whatnot in view.
Similarly all the channel stip stuff is accessible by swiping to right or left to bring eq dynamics etc into view. In practice this is a much faster means of getting to stuff. If your Eqing one channel and select another the eq section of the channel strip remains in focus so it's literally one btton press to select the channel (perhaps a swipe as well the bring the channel into view) to eq another channel. Very fast unlike x32 where you have to select the right channel bank, the hit detail,then hit the eq tab, then pick the band then eq. Way too many operations required to get to what you need.
The entire graphic eq is accessible from a single screen and the individual bands as spaced far enough apart that even with my fat fingers I never grab the wrong band. On the x32 app they're crammed in tight and it requires a very deliberate action to not inadvertantly grab the wrong band.
Unless you use the sends on faders (and unlike on the desk there's only one mode not both) you have to select a channel, go to detail, pick sends tab, then adjust sends from there. It's not that you can't mix from the pad, but it's often somewhat cumbersome to do so and requires more steps than it could due to the way it's laid out.
I've mixed on most of the desks that have iPad support and the Presonus app wins hands down for workflow in regards to diddling things in channels and speed in accessing the graphics, which in a festival environment is crucial.
The Yamaha apps are the worst in terms of workflow, so much so that the 3rd party cob job apps are actually better than the Yamaha ones.
Dunno why more vendors don't make use of the swipe gesture to slide a moving window across things like channel ranges in view like Presonus did. Brilliant use of the UI mechanic. The did use it in the x32 app to select effect types, just wish they'd have used it on the channels instead of the horribly modal "pick a block of 8" metaphor.
The newest version added support for DCA and mute groups (finally) but broke scene recall and the new library load feature doesnt work either.
Thanks Scott and Mark for the reviews. I guess I'll stick with my small laptop with the X32-Edit for now. I'll also poke Behringer regarding the scene recall, library load, and label issues.
Originally Posted by Mark Lewno
Just downloaded and tried out the SL iPad app.
First, you are correct, it is nice to swipe to scroll through channels. Presonus also did a nice job of using the portrait vs landscape orientation to get more information on a single screen.
As for the rest, there is so little that CAN be configured from the iPad on the SL that there is no comparison. Sure, it is simple, but then again, it can't do much either.
The LS9 has similar features to the X32 and therefore I would expect the app to be more complex as well.
Looking at the workflow you mentioned, there does appear to be some room for improvement on the X32 Mix app. Once I select a channel for details (you only need a single operation for this if you hit the channel select) and I select the eq tab, if I then return to the main and select a different channel, the details doesn't remember the last tab I was on, so I have to select the eq tab again. As you point out, this is unnecessary.
I do like the workflow on the SL app. You can get around very quickly, and everything is easy to understand.
On the flip side, there just isn't that much information on the SL. The metering pages on the X32 app for instance are really nice. This feature simply doesn't exist (that I could find) in the SL app. The eq on the SL is easy, but limited as well. You don't have to worry about what kind of filter each band is using or what its Q value is since it can't be changed. Same thing with the gate. No need to worry about the frequency filter for the gate on the SL since it doesn't have one. Routing? No need on the SL.
Also, while the SL app looks really good for a 16 channel mixer (you can see 12 faders at once vs 8 on the X32), I think not having a fully visible full meter bridge on a 32 channel desk would be a huge disadvantage.
Also, the larger size of the X32 faders made it easier to use on my iPad mini. The faders on the SL were just a little bit small in comparison.
As you pointed out though, for the 90% of what you do, the SL workflow is better. I don't believe that the same workflow could have been crammed in on the X32 and still covered the features and functions that the X32 is able to do.
Perhaps Behringer will make a different iPad app for the iX16? It should have a much simplified capability which should lend itself to a much simpler iPad interface. Also, having only 16 channels should reduce complexity as well.
Out of curiosity, why wouldn't you want to use "Sends on Faders"? I thought it was a great workflow.
It is sad that the scene recall got broke and that the library load feature is broken as well. Hopefully they will fix it soon since I am quite interested in the scene recall.
As for the meter bridge on the sl, you don't need one. There's meters on all the channels next to the faders and they're always active, no need to go to a special page just to meter.
Originally Posted by Scott Bolt
I do use sends on faders, as that's the only way of reasonably dealing with them, as it's just far too many clicks to do it via channel details/sends. My comment was more about the inability to select a channel and see an overview of all the various send levels that channel is contributing to the various mixes, IE the sends on faders only works in one mode, not both like it does on the desk.
While the SL doesn't have the complex routing abilities that the x32 does, you can do everything that's possible on the desk from the app outside of the head gains because they're analog. You can do routing to subgroups etc.
As for the eqs, that varies depending on the desk model. The 24.4.2 has fully para eqs and the hi and low bands can be changed from para to shelving. You change the q by pinching. FWIW the eq is far more granular value wise on the SL than the x32, as are the comps. The x32 ratchets through a fixed and not terribly granular list of values for q whereas on the SL you can change q in .1 steps from 0.1 to 4.0, the freq ranges on the high band are in .1 k increments vs .5k increments on the x32, and the gains are in .1 db increments vs. .5 on the x32.
Similar lack of granularity exists on the comps. Ratios on SL are adjustable in .1 increments across the entire range, and thresholds are in .1 db across the range as well, as opposed to the finite preset ratios list and stepped thresholds on the x32.
I was able to get far more precise notches on the SL as a result. The app in use was also far more responsive overall, most likely due to Presonus rolling thier own comm protocol to talk to the apps vs going with Osc which requires an immense amount of string parsing.
This is evidenced most obviously when firing the app up. There's no delay while waiting for the desk to send tons of strings for each value. The app pops up, in sync and ready to roll almost instantly. The same thing applies to the desktop apps. There is no synch button in universal control, as the second the UI for the desk pops on screen it's already sync'd, as opposed to watching each channel update one at a time over the course of many seconds.
In two years and hundreds of band mixed on my sl's I never had a single app crash either on the pad or desktop. X32 edit is flaky. I have it unexpectedly quit several times a day, and it loses it's changes every time it does.
Just saying Berhingers software development leaves a fair bit to be desired. Yeah, I can get through a show with it, but it doesn't have that rock solid "absolute trust" factor I had with the Presonus stuff.
I was a presonus 24.4.2 user for 2 years before getting the x32, I constently had to use the apps all the time, one thing I didn't like about SL remote was that you have to have a computer attached up and there is a variable delay/latency all the time. I enjoyed landscape/portrait mode also though its hard to work with when the iPad is in a case with lid to get to the setting. Now I am using X32 mix and I use it every Sunday, rarely do I ever touch the console, and it doesn't rely on a computer to use it. I also am a very proud owner of an iPad Mini that I use all the time, easy to hold and when I need to walk back to the console or the stage, I can easily put it in my cargo shorts side pocket. If you are complaining about the size of the features of the Mini, then why did ya get it, it's the same GUI on the regular iPad and a lot Easier to see for people with bad vision. My church currently uses 3 iPad 3's and my iPad mini, one iPad 3 is setup with the X32-Q app double sized for one of my singers with bad vision. I am sorry to say, my sl24.4.2 was purchased new and never had 1 issue until 2 months after warranty ended, then the desk just up and died in the middle of a service, presonus told me what caused the issue, though the repair cost is the same price as a new desk. (Internal ground wire just came loose and created a short along the board, covered fully under warranty, not after.)
Now on to the great advantages of the x32-mix app, I love it, after getting used to where everything is, I don't even notice what it takes to get to the EQ page or anywhere else, I haven't got to try the scene save or library load stuff yet, there have a fix very soon for that.
This is a good example how big the difference in tast can be.
Mixing live concerts I dont need .1 dB Steps for Equing. Most of the time 1 dB isteps would be fine. But making precise nothes with a q of 4? Sometimes 10 isnt narrow enough for me.
Sliding through the faders is for me not so ideal as tapping at te right group be cause selecting the group is more precise as finding the right fiders by scrolling around. This might be ok for 16 channels but if you have to manage 48 input/return faders this would be too inaccutate.
By the way. Is there any possibility to setup the aux inputs of the SL on the iPad (except the aux send levels)?
I did two jobs last week with the X32. The first I used the previous version of the App, the second one I did it with the current version. The added features of the app allowed me to do the soundcheck of a seven piece band only using the iPad mini. The console I used only during the concert. This was extremely helpfull for my workflow as I am first doing the monitor (on stage side by side with the musicians) and then finally checking the foh sound from different positions.
I would prefer a rework of the Eq section and the channel selection on the channel detail page off the iPad app for the X32 because both is solve better in other applications.
The time of the reconnect is ok for me so far. But I must say, that I previously used the LS9 app often and the reconnect time of this app is really bad. On the other hand I dont like the Presonus solution of their current consoles because they are connected via firewire to an extra computer. It is not the fact of the extra computer because normally I also connect a computer to the X32 as well. The problem is when you accidently disconnect the computer from the console. You will get several extremely loud pops on all outputs. The same happens when you reconnect. This is really really bad behaviour and a nogo for live situations.
Yust my 2c
I hear ya on the FW400 connect. I've always got a computer attacked as well as I multitrack all the shows I do. I've never understood why an industry as entrenched in Fw400 as the audio biz is never came up with a locking solution like the neutrik XLR shell thing for cat 5. I was sorely tempted to mod my 24.4.2 with some sort of locking connector elsewhere on the case and solder a pigtail to the board internally. Ultimately my solution was less invasive. I just ran cable ties on the table to keep the cord in place then slide the desk back onto the connector. Haven't had an issue since, so only had to endure that disconnect click once.
I agree with you on the pad notion. It's paticularly usefull when setting up monitor mixes as your standing right there and don't have to translate the bands descriptions of what the think they need, you can hear it for yourself. It makes for much faster mon mixes and a lot better sounding ones as well. I'll never go back to the side stage q&a over talkback method. Just too clunky and tedious, particularly in a festival setting where you've got at most 5-8 minutes to set up the mixes.
I too prefer the way the SL app works.
But one thing I dislike about all of the apps is knobs. I'd rather have virtual sliders than virtual knobs, as it's easier to keep from blocking one's view of the numeric readout. Or move the dang readouts.
And Presonus needs to move the select buttons to the top - there aren't supposed to be controls below the faders of a console! I accidentally engage them far too often.
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