Gone are the days of analogue audio, for nearly every device these days has some iteration of digital audio built in, from your phones DSP (Digital Signal Processor) that gives you that ever so satisfying bass kick; to your TV’s DSP (see above) that gives you that ever so satisfying bass back; to your laptop’s (can you guess what’s coming next?)
Seriously, it seems everything is about bass these days (Gregg Wallace would be proud)
But continuing with the main point (did I swerve off for a moment there?) It’s always been a difficult journey for us as media creators, while video has always proven to be a fairly easy concept to work with (especially with all the advances in linear editors and constantly evolving formats) Audio has always been a bit of a wild card, whether you’re working with a small on camera microphone or mixing audio professionally with multiple sources and outputs, you never know what you’re really gonna get. And if you do know what you are going to get, there’s a good chance that “crap” is the answer.
You see analogue audio has always been ridiculed with many different issues, whether it be dodgy connections, ground loop hums, or just the poor support that it’s subjected to, analogue audio is a concept that most media creators end up having one too many migraines over.
When I first started The Callum Sutton Show, I was presenting from under the stairs with a HP laptop (a grievance of mine) a small 8 channel mixer from Alto, and a Behringer C1 microphone (which can actually still be seen on The Round Table, it’s the microphone Tj always uses) This didn’t prove to be an incredible set up, far from it, but it did aid in the creation of some very high quality, and very memorable shows. As I started to outgrow this setup though, I invested in a larger mixer (the Behringer X1622, coming in at just over £180) and a better microphone (the Rode Procaster, coming in at £160) but even still this wasn’t perfect. I would often find myself tweaking the EQ till the signal chain was flatter than Donald Trump’s personality (cheap shot) and I couldn’t stop hearing the ground loop hum prevalent in the background of every show. I had become an audiophile, an audiophile in hell.
But that didn’t stop me, I eventually added literally every commercial piece of audio processing to my chain, and the sound was alright, not great, but alright.
I was disappointed to say the least. And thus, with high hopes, I made my switch to digital.
Behringer recently came out with a brand new line of digital mixers, and they’ve increased their quality by miles. The X32 has been out since I was fresh faced in this industry, and I always dreamed of owning one. Now that I’m a working man, I could easily just go out and buy one. But now that I’m a grown man, I realise just how much I value having space to rest my arms on the desk, so the X32 is off the cards, or at least for now.
This is where the XR18 comes in though, weighing in at barely anything and being smaller than any mixer I’ve ever used, this thing has been a god send from the day I received it.
Not only is it technically cheaper by inputs (the X1622 had four mic inputs at £180, the XR18 has 12 more at just over £600) but it’s small, compact, easy to setup, and just plain awesome.
The main unit itself features 16 XLR/Jack inputs for maximum flexibility, 8 XLR outs, a dedicated headphone port, an additional stereo jack group, and interfacing ports for controlling the device and recording/playback (The XR18 has a 16 in, 16 out USB connection, plenty of USB real estate is on the table with this one) The device itself is completely digital which completely eliminates ground loop hums and what have you. And the device can be controlled from either a phone, tablet, larger touch screen, or a MIDI device with faders on it (shout out to those as stubborn as me who can’t live without psychical control (call me a control freak if you like)
Not only does it have all of this, but the device can add gating, compression, limiting, incredibly detailed EQ and more to every individual channel, and being digital you can swap around sources depending on what you need, and have them run to different faders on the desk (that’s if you have one of course.
At the basis of the units is also MIDAS signal processing, that can make pretty much anything sound hot.
And we’ll be using this mixer from now on, on The Round Table, allowing me to freely control all my sources without having to have the mixer slap bang in the middle of the table, and we can play tootsie with it as well, thanks to it’s rugged design and rubber shock absorption.
Here’s to the future, Behringer, thanks for the memories.