Behringer XR18 digital desk

glt56glt56 Frets: 72
edited August 2016 in Other Reviews
I've been asked if I could produce a review of this unit which I bought a few weeks ago for use with our covers band. In the past we have always used analogue desks, snake and breakout box, together with various rackmount units to get the sound we need (and still got a few of them) but this little box has replaced the lot.  There's a bit of a learning curve to get to know the software and how it relates to the old analogue settings, especially as there's so much more you can do with it.  For me, the best thing about it is the fact you don't need loads of your old heavy gear, and that you can set up a mix and save the settings as a "scene" and recall it.  We normally have a couple of scenes that we like and and recall them, so there is no setting up time.  You can then tweak the scenes as you wish for a particular venue then save it as a different scene, brill!  I am no sound engineer (I'm the guitarist/vocalist in the band), but this unit has made life soooooo much easier for us.  As long as you are ok with using software, setting up wi-fi, tablets, etc. then it is a huge step forward.  I haven't really scratched the surface with it, as there are loads of software plugins for all types of settings and effects imaginable, plus dynamic eq's, gates, compressors, etc.... all kinds of functions that a sound engineer would love but that we don't really need (or understand!)!  

By the way, you can download the XR18 app FREE from here:
https://www.music-group.com/Categories/Behringer/Mixers/Digital-Mixers/XR18/p/P0BI8/downloads
and run it in demo mode so you can check out if the software is something you would be happy with before buying the unit itself.

There are many reviews online but one of the best is here:

http://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/behringer-xr18

With some videos here:







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Comments

  • BahHumbugBahHumbug Frets: 114
    +1.  We've been using one of these in one of my bands for about a year and a half.  Much more luggable than all the bits that it replaces.  On board FX are very good.  Plenty of aux outputs, all of which can have a separate mix, so we can each have separate monitor mixes.
    it also does ok as a rudimentary 16 input recording interface.
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  • glt56glt56 Frets: 72
    They are great little units!  It'll take me while to understand all of it's capabilities, but to be honest, it works out of the box for most uses.  
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1147
    BahHumbug said:
    Plenty of aux outputs, all of which can have a separate mix, so we can each have separate monitor mixes.
    Do you allow each person to run the app, and set their own monitor mixes, or does one person do it centrally? What are you using for monitoring, IEMs or speakers?
    BahHumbug said:
    it also does ok as a rudimentary 16 input recording interface.
    What do you record into? It would be handy to record 16 channels directly to a USB drive. Is that possible?
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  • glt56glt56 Frets: 72
    Roland said:
    Do you allow each person to run the app, and set their own monitor mixes, or does one person do it centrally? What are you using for monitoring, IEMs or speakers?
    Yes, we use wireless IEM's and we have small android tablets (or phones) running this little app:
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.behringer.android.control.app.xairq&hl=en_GB
    which allows us to change our individual mix, but you could do the same with floor monitors.  In fact we sometimes use both, especially if there are other bands/musicians on the same evening.

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  • bob21bob21 Frets: 115
    Roland said: What do you record into? It would be handy to record 16 channels directly to a USB drive. Is that possible?
    You would need to use a laptop. At the current time, the only desk that record multitrack straight to hard drive is the Allen Heath QU-16 - which whilst rather good is substantially larger and more expensive than the XR18!
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 2632
    bob21 said:
    Roland said: What do you record into? It would be handy to record 16 channels directly to a USB drive. Is that possible?
    You would need to use a laptop. At the current time, the only desk that record multitrack straight to hard drive is the Allen Heath QU-16 - which whilst rather good is substantially larger and more expensive than the XR18!
    The Allen and Heath QU-SB is the surface-less version of the QU16 and only cost about £300 more than the XR18 .... it does however have a lot more features and monitor mixs than the XR18 though. If I had to use a surface-less mixer that would be my choice of the current crop
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • John_PJohn_P Frets: 1337
    @glt56   @BahHumbug ;  A few months on are you still happy with the behringer?    I'm close to buying the x18 version and wondered if you've had any issues I should be aware of. 
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  • BahHumbugBahHumbug Frets: 114
    @John_P I've been working with it for over a year and it's been fine thanks.  I'm still happy with it.

    @Roland, apologies for not replying earlier.  I was recording direct into Cubase on a laptop, via USB.  This is fine , although the recording level is quite low and I had to apply several dB of gain to each track after recording.  Couldn't find another way around that.

    We use wedges.  The Behringer was our cheap alternative to paying for IEMs.  The idea was to have a wedge each and a separate mix in each so you could mix your own monitor, so everyone ran the app.  However I must say that certain members of the band lost interest in having their own mix when they realised it wasn't going to done for them ;)
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1147
    BahHumbug said:
    certain members of the band lost interest in having their own mix when they realised it wasn't going to be done for them
    Well, that is a surprise! I'd expect a similar response if they have to buy buy their own IEM transmitter too.
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  • John_PJohn_P Frets: 1337
    Thanks - pretty sure I'll buy one this week,  X18 format I think will work fine, but it's nice to hear the behringer is still working fine. 
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  • andyozandyoz Frets: 611
    edited November 2016
    Danny1969 said:
    bob21 said:
    Roland said: What do you record into? It would be handy to record 16 channels directly to a USB drive. Is that possible?
    You would need to use a laptop. At the current time, the only desk that record multitrack straight to hard drive is the Allen Heath QU-16 - which whilst rather good is substantially larger and more expensive than the XR18!
    The Allen and Heath QU-SB is the surface-less version of the QU16 and only cost about £300 more than the XR18 .... it does however have a lot more features and monitor mixs than the XR18 though. If I had to use a surface-less mixer that would be my choice of the current crop
    I've had the QU-SB for a few weeks and impressed by the build quality, software, etc.  It was a close call between it and the XR18.  I liked the QU's full rack width format though.

    The QU's Android app (3rd party) is a bit crap so you have to have an iPad to access all features.  Overall, I think the XR18 has the better developed software as Behringer have thrown more money at it (the XR18 probably outsells the QU-SB by say 5 or 10 to 1??).

    I did originally like then idea of the XR18's on board router but it's no big deal with the QU-SB not having one.  Get a shallow 4U rack and just velcro any old router that everyone has lying about.  It gives you mores scope to upgrade to a stronger router if you're someone that wants to wander about the venue more.

    I'm yet to read a bad word against the XR18 and lads I know in the industry don't scoff at their products the way they did 5 or 10 years ago...
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 2632
    edited November 2016
    andyoz said:
    Danny1969 said:
    bob21 said:
    Roland said: What do you record into? It would be handy to record 16 channels directly to a USB drive. Is that possible?
    You would need to use a laptop. At the current time, the only desk that record multitrack straight to hard drive is the Allen Heath QU-16 - which whilst rather good is substantially larger and more expensive than the XR18!
    The Allen and Heath QU-SB is the surface-less version of the QU16 and only cost about £300 more than the XR18 .... it does however have a lot more features and monitor mixs than the XR18 though. If I had to use a surface-less mixer that would be my choice of the current crop
    I've had the QU-SB for a few weeks and impressed by the build quality, software, etc.  It was a close call between it and the XR18.  I liked the QU's full rack width format though.

    The QU's Android app (3rd party) is a bit crap so you have to have an iPad to access all features.  Overall, I think the XR18 has the better developed software as Behringer have thrown more money at it (the XR18 probably outsells the QU-SB by say 5 or 10 to 1??).

    I did originally like then idea of the XR18's on board router but it's no big deal with the QU-SB not having one.  Get a shallow 4U rack and just velcro any old router that everyone has lying about.  It gives you mores scope to upgrade to a stronger router if you're someone that wants to wander about the venue more.
    ire
    I'm yet to read a bad word against the XR18 and lads I know in the industry don't scoff at their products the way they did 5 or 10 years ago...
    Glad you like it. We at 2020 have been using the QU series products for live work and live recording since they became available. We have also used them for installations and hire. It's a mature platform now and as you say the build quality is impressive.

    Never tried the Android ap as when these products were released it was iPad \ iPhone only. I do feel manufactuers do give the Apple platform more attention with desks and other audio products. All the engineers I  work with all use iPads for that reason. As the iPads aren't used for anything other than running the remote ap it doesn't particularly matter if they don't normally use Apple stuff

    As I mentioned before I don't like built in routers, better to have the router high in the air in my experience, mine normally sits on the stacks. Bog standard BT type. 

    Yeah Behringer really did turn their rep around with the x32, you do sometimes see no X32's on tech spec riders but only by people who have no idea about what they are talking about
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • andyozandyoz Frets: 611
    edited November 2016
    I got an iPad Air for £200 off Apples UK refurb store with 1 yr warranty so no big deal.

    Just a warning to those with Android only, watch out when using the A&H QU series.
    Also, A&H only give 1 year warranty and Behringer give 3 year.

    Behringer will take over this end of the market as they have a killer set of products and I would have bought one if I didn't get a great price on the QU..  They should have made the XR18 standard rack width in my opinion though (not possible as it wouldn't have fit in with their lower down XR series).

    One thing I don't like about the QU App is the way the RTA is displayed over the GEQ.  It's pretty useless as there's virtually no vertical resolution unless I'm missing something @John_P. ;; On the XR18 it shows underneath the QEQ faders so there's alot more resolution.  That's one thing the QU series Android App does well.
     
    On the QU App you get a fuller RTA only on the meters summary display (second image below) but you can't view that on the same screen as the QEG display...can you?





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  • CabicularCabicular Frets: 1900
    edited December 2016
    andyoz said:
    I got an iPad Air for £200 off Apples UK refurb store with 1 yr warranty so no big deal.

    Just a warning to those with Android only, watch out when using the A&H QU series.
    Also, A&H only give 1 year warranty and Behringer give 3 year.

    Behringer will take over this end of the market as they have a killer set of products and I would have bought one if I didn't get a great price on the QU..  They should have made the XR18 standard rack width in my opinion though (not possible as it wouldn't have fit in with their lower down XR series).


    To be fair the XR18 comes with a rack kit so its pretty useable in a rack. Particular brownie points given for no connections on the back 

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  • CabicularCabicular Frets: 1900
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  • andyozandyoz Frets: 611
    edited December 2016
    Yep, they are generous including the racks ears (A&H cost extra).

    Having the full rack width A&H is nice and logical though.  The 16 inputs scan better visually from left to right (and you've got space to stick on a scribble strip if required).  It would have meant a more expensive casing for XR18 so can see why they've done it that way.

    i can see future generations have digital scribble strips (like the Line6 Helix pedal).  No confusion with band members about their channel inputs.

    I'd personally prefer the RJ45 network connector at the rear though.
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  • CabicularCabicular Frets: 1900
    I only use the RJ45 if I'm having wireless issues so I'm happy enough where it is but if I was racking it for a more permanent installation I totally agree
    I do like just using it as a stage box though, shove it on the deck in front of the drum kit and it saves me using a snake. It gets booted about a wee bit but it seems pretty robust so far 
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  • andyozandyoz Frets: 611
    edited December 2016
    In summary, these things are fecken ace IMO.

    if they could figure out a way to send the isolated channel audio to the tablet so you can monitor away from the main unit through headphones, would be even better.
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  • CabicularCabicular Frets: 1900
    never thought of that.. thats a great idea
    I wonder if a low latency bluetooth transmitter in the headphone socket....
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  • andyozandyoz Frets: 611
    Hmmm, interesting idea...
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1147
    We've just bought an X18. I'm looking for advice on doing an initial setup in preparation for a full dress rehearsal next month. Any advice is welcome. Things were particularly interested in:

    Are you satisfied with the inbuilt wifi, or do you use an external network hub, or cat5 cable?

    What are you using to control the main mix? iPad, Mac, android or PC?

    What are are band members using to control their monitor/IEM mixes?

    Do you use gates and compression on the incoming channels? One of the articles I've read said that the inbuilt drum settings are a bit too tight.

    Which reverb models do you use for FOH and IEMs?

    We currently send bass and kick drum to the sub using an external crossover in a graphic EQ which sits after the mixer. Any thoughts on doing this from the X18, using an internal graphic and one of the aux/bus outputs?

    @glt56 @BahHumbug @Cabicular ;


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  • John_PJohn_P Frets: 1337
    Roland said:
    We've just bought an X18. I'm looking for advice on doing an initial setup in preparation for a full dress rehearsal next month. Any advice is welcome. Things were particularly interested in:

    Are you satisfied with the inbuilt wifi, or do you use an external network hub, or cat5 cable?

    What are you using to control the main mix? iPad, Mac, android or PC?

    What are are band members using to control their monitor/IEM mixes?

    Do you use gates and compression on the incoming channels? One of the articles I've read said that the inbuilt drum settings are a bit too tight.

    Which reverb models do you use for FOH and IEMs?

    We currently send bass and kick drum to the sub using an external crossover in a graphic EQ which sits after the mixer. Any thoughts on doing this from the X18, using an internal graphic and one of the aux/bus outputs?

    @glt56 @BahHumbug @Cabicular ;



    I've only used mine with the built in wifi but my mates have external for theirs,  no issues at all so far but apparently it is faster and more responsive through a router so I'm going to get one soon and compare.  

    I've  only run mine in iPads but I've done the sound for bands on an android tablet.    Slightly different but near enough the same.   I was toying with getting a cheaper tablet so I'm less bother about damage.  

    I sometimes use gates and comp if I feel it's needed, I just program up my own settings,  nothing amazing compared to my old racks but they do a job so I think of them as a bonus.  

    Using an aux for subs is straightforward enough and I've done it a few times.  There are plenty of aux outs.  
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 1147
    Doesn't time fly, especially when you need to get the band together for a full day rehearsal. Today we did that, and actually got to use the X18.

    The sound quality is a definite improvement over our analogue desk. Two things really stood out. 
    1. The ability to configure individual IEM mixes on our iPads, without calling 'a bit more, a bit less' to someone on the desk. It's possible to get a much better mix this way. Our singer said it is the bet monitor mix he's ever had. Personally I was glad to get an IEM mix that gives me confidence about my levels in the FOH mix.
    2. Being able to record15 tracks into a DAW while we rehearsed, then play back through the desk, and adjusting the mix. We're so pleased with the recordings, which we can now mix down, that we've dropped the idea of booking a recording studio later in the year.
    We used a MAC book, wired into the X18 with a USB cable to run the mixer app and Logic, and an external wireless router to connect our iPads. I think we'll use the MAC book at gigs to guard against wireless problems.

    The X18 offers a lot of controls over individual channels. Aside from the faders we made one other change. We used a PEQ to boost the bass guitar by 1.7 dB around 725 Hz.

    Problems? Nothing major.
    1. The wireless dropped out once or twice, even 'though we're using a commercial quality router, not a domestic unit or the X18's internal wireless. This is obviously something to watch out for at gigs, but not a major issue because any failure would only prevent us adjusting IEM mixes personally. We could still do it through the hard wired MAC book.
    2. Both the drummer and sax player managed to plug their mics into the wrong sockets on the snake. Easily solved because the X18 shows a meter image of the incoming signal on each channel. With the old desk this would have taken a little more effort to trace. 
    3. When switching between rehearsing and play back you have to go through 15 channels changing input from Line to USB, which takes a few minutes.
    The mix is now saved off. We'll use it at our mid week rehearsal, and as the basis of the mix at the next gig.
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