This two part article is designed to be a feature overview of the X Air XR18 and some of my initial thoughts on it. This is not written to be a review. An article in that style will come as a flow up to this one when I have had more experience with the X Air XR18.
With Digital mixers coming down in cost quite a bit there is starting to be a market place for smaller digital mixers. While digital mixers like the X32, Allen-Heath QU, Personas digital mixers and the like, will continue to dominate the pro space of digital mixers there are some products that are being created for those of us that don't have a spare 3 to 10 grand laying around in spare change. One of these products is the Behringer X Air series of digital mixers. The concept of the X Air series of mixers is to have an interface board that communicates to a tablet or PC to be a controlled. This means that none of the mixers in the X Air lineup have any physical controls (with the exception of the headphones volume dial). The X18 is designed to be like a standard digital console but the XR18, XR12 and XR16 are designed to sit on stage in place of a stage box or be mounted in a 19 inch rack.
The following are my current thoughts on the X Air XR 18. Not all the features I talk about are available on the other skews of the X Air Mixers. Disclaimer: I was not given the X Air XR18 to review from any company and this review is not sponsored by any company.
What's in the box with the X Air XR18?
- The mixer its self
- Decent length 3 pin black IEC power cable
- Two 19inch rack wings
- a Quick Start guide in your favourite7 languages
- a Behringer logo sticker so everyone knows your legit
- 2 peace of closed cell foam to protect the mixer while it is in the box.
Hardware Feature Set:
The X Air XR18 sports 18 balanced inputs with 16 of those inputs having an XLR and TRS combo socket. The two TRS sockets labeled 17/18 are joined so that they form one stereo channel which can't be split in the control software. This means mono wise you can only have 17 inputs. The First 16 channels are equipped with phantom power to drive ribbon/condenser microphones or DI boxes. Channels one and two accept high impedance sources from instruments without a DI or phantom power.
The mixer sports 6 AUX busses which all have balanced XLR out puts. These aux channels can be configured in software to be Sub Busses, Aux Sends or Physical Effect Sends. The remaining XLR sockets are for the balanced stereo master out. All channels have Midas pre-amps which sound very clean (no colour added to the sound) but if you're looking for warm sounding pre-amps this mixer is not for you.
The USB port that is on the mixer can be used to connect the mixer to a computer for multi-track recording and all 18 channels can be recorded at once. The interface also will allow you to play 16 tracks back into 16 channels on the mixer. If your DAW is fast enough you can its effect plug-ins as insert effects for each channel.
There is a midi in and out port which can be used as a mid-interface and/or to control the mixer with a midi control surface. The RJ-45 socket next to the USB port is used to connect the mixer to Behringers series of digital wired IEM's. The RJ-45 port that is on the left of the mixer is used to connect the mixer to a LAN network or directly to a PC so that it can be controlled. The mixer can also be put into two wireless modes to allow wireless devices to connect to mixer for control.
The one thing missing from the I/O line up is that the mixer has no AE50 port and therefore it can't be expanded with the addition of extra digital stage boxes. Having said this the mixer doesn't have the extra processing power to support this feature. However, it would have been nice to be given the option to use a digital snake instead of being forced to use an analog one. Even if you are only able to select if channels and returns come from the stage box or local inputs/outputs.
Next month in my series I will continue this review. I will explore the Software Feature Set as well as the control software.
Zach Radloff lives on the Gold Coast and is studying IT and Multimedia at university and is also a qualified Live Production, Theatre and Events Technician.
Zach Radloff's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/zach-radloff.html