The tablet market has certainly been responsible for a range of exciting portable audio solutions that would have never been possible with conventional computers. Because of this, we are seeing a wide range of products, first for the iPad and then for Android tablets, that continue to push the boundaries and change how we as musicians work both live and in the studio. Behringer has certainly done just that with the new X AIR XR18 digital mixer. This is a real game changer and is going to make a lot of people question their existing live setups.
All In One Box
At first, I thought there was some kind of mistake as I was supposed to be testing out a mixer and all I got was the stage box. Then it dawned on me, this was the mixer. All that is needed to complete the console is an iPad or Android tablet to use as a controller interface and the XR18 is ready to go. It really is quite a clever design and one that was so obvious, that I am surprised that no one else thought of it first.
So, consider the common setup for a large console in a live venue. The stage box takes all the inputs and runs them along a long, bulky and expensive multicore cable back to the mixer, which is located at the other end of the room, unable to be moved. Now, imagine that mixer was able to be moved, and carried in one hand so you could access control from any vantage point within the room. Then take away that bulky multicore, after all, they just get in the way. We’ll replace that with a Wi-Fi signal that transmits from the stage box to the mobile mixing console. Now, you can imagine how convenient this is going to be.
The stage box itself is quite compact and built into a tough and sturdy case, so it can be left on the floor on stage without fear of it being broken. The mixer app then gives you access to all the features you would expect on a large format console, just controlled from your tablet. With 18 Midas preamps in the box, you get great audio quality on the way in and with 6 ends on XLR along with master outputs also on XLR, there are a number of setup options. Best of all, you can store your mixer settings for different bands, venues and applications for a quick recall and setup. The XR18 even doubles as a USB audio interface with 18 input channels into your recording software. Just quietly, I think this is going to be one of those products from Behringer that will no doubt change the way in which we look at live sound in the future.
Hits and Misses
Compact and lightweight
Built ready for stage use on the floor, like a stage box
Doubles as a serious 18 channel audio interface
Works with Behringer Personal Monitoring Systems
No standalone option, requires a tablet or computer to function
• 18 wi fi/ethernet controlled channels
• 16 Midas designed mic preamps
• 18 x 18 channel bidirectional USB direct recording interface
• Award winning X32 effects rack featuring 4 stereo FX slots
• 6 aux and 2 main XLR outputs
• Built in tri-mode wi fi router