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Author Topic: Digital box mixer?  (Read 1638 times)

W. Mark Hellinger

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Digital box mixer?
« on: February 08, 2019, 09:18:15 am »

Maybe this has been hashed through here... but I couldn't find specifically what I was looking for searching... maybe because I don't know enough to ask an understandable question... so bear with me:

Long story as short as I can make it:  I perform in a 5 piece band.  We're seemingly enjoying local "success" (our product seems to be in demand).  We rarely perform in venues equipped with house systems, so we're generally supplying our own sound and lights.  My fellow band mates' primary interest is in performing/entertaining... "the gear" is simply the means... they just want to plug and play with minimal fussing around (goes without saying), but quality is a truly supported priority, so-long as the pursuit of quality doesn't go past a diminished point of return.

We generally "mix from stage" using a simple box mixer... the box mixer system works well from the aspects that it's intuitive for the band, it's quick, easy, reliable, and works fine for especially dialing in an acceptable stage mix... but the house mix is less sure...  the box mixer "on stage" is a bit of throwing the baby out with the bath water for making the over-all machine function... a compromise solution as with most things in life, but I suspect this aspect is needlessly over-compromised?  Commonly we (I) rely on feedback from spouses or reliable critics in attendance for tweaking the house mix.  But, I'm thinking it would be great if I could hand one of those in attendance that I trust (like my wife Liz) a tablet to tweak the house mix and punch effects in and out as suitable... as opposed to set-it and forget-it.

Any suggestions?

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Dave Scarlett

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2019, 09:40:04 am »

Hi Mark, I'm not sure I can really follow what you are on about. There's a nice selection of small digital mixers these days you can run from a tablet or iPad on you mic stand. I've been successfully using a XR-18 for about fours years and it's worked well for me.
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Barry Reynolds

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2019, 09:50:51 am »

I've done this for years with A&H Qu-SB (only Ipad mixing and phone mixing for individual monitors).
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W. Mark Hellinger

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2019, 12:00:07 pm »

Hi Mark, I'm not sure I can really follow what you are on about. There's a nice selection of small digital mixers these days you can run from a tablet or iPad on you mic stand. I've been successfully using a XR-18 for about fours years and it's worked well for me.
Per exactly Dave:  I've been out of the loop of small digital mixers for long enough to not know enough to ask a good question.  Thanks for the suggestions folks... I'll start reading-up... and likely be back with (better) questions.
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Corey Scogin

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2019, 12:22:42 pm »

Mark, I just realized that you are Mark of audiopile.net. Thanks for the service you provide to lots of folks here.

One point of clarification: When you refer to a "box" mixer, do you mean a powered mixer similar to the one in the attached image?
Do you plan to continue using that as an amp if you get a digital mixer?

Those answers won't change the digital mixer recommendations any but I thought it might help clarify what you're using now.

Options for small digital mixers are:
Behringer X-Air series
Behringer X32 Rack
Soundcraft UI series
QSC Touchmix
Mackie DL series
Presonus StudioLive Rack series
Allen & Heath Qu-Pac or Qu-SB

Lots of power in these small packages. Lots of options too.
I'd start by looking at the Soundcraft UI or Allen & Heath Qu. The latter will require an external WiFi access point.
The QSC Touchmix, while expensive, is convenient because of the built-in touchscreen. If WiFi dies, you still have control.
My personal preference is the Behringer X32 because it's the most capable in my estimation, however, for a small events, I'd be strongly tempted by the Soundcraft UI.
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Craig Hauber

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2019, 04:11:18 pm »

Maybe this has been hashed through here... but I couldn't find specifically what I was looking for searching... maybe because I don't know enough to ask an understandable question... so bear with me:

Long story as short as I can make it:  I perform in a 5 piece band.  We're seemingly enjoying local "success" (our product seems to be in demand).  We rarely perform in venues equipped with house systems, so we're generally supplying our own sound and lights.  My fellow band mates' primary interest is in performing/entertaining... "the gear" is simply the means... they just want to plug and play with minimal fussing around (goes without saying), but quality is a truly supported priority, so-long as the pursuit of quality doesn't go past a diminished point of return.

We generally "mix from stage" using a simple box mixer... the box mixer system works well from the aspects that it's intuitive for the band, it's quick, easy, reliable, and works fine for especially dialing in an acceptable stage mix... but the house mix is less sure...  the box mixer "on stage" is a bit of throwing the baby out with the bath water for making the over-all machine function... a compromise solution as with most things in life, but I suspect this aspect is needlessly over-compromised?  Commonly we (I) rely on feedback from spouses or reliable critics in attendance for tweaking the house mix.  But, I'm thinking it would be great if I could hand one of those in attendance that I trust (like my wife Liz) a tablet to tweak the house mix and punch effects in and out as suitable... as opposed to set-it and forget-it.

Any suggestions?

Many of the current digital rack-mixers could be mounted in a small rack case with class D amp and would probably be the same size and weight as a typical box mixer.  The amp of course could be eliminated by going to self-powered speakers.

Functionally they differ in that you now have to tote your tablet, screen or laptop to run the thing as there usually aren't any physical controls on them. 
Similarly if while playing you used to reach over and tweak a knob almost by feel alone, you would now have to give a touchscreen much more attention and a careful steady hand so as not to slide across other controls or move the control you want too fast or too much.  (sometimes not easy to do while picking/strumming/keyboarding or drumming with your other hand)

I have experienced some performers using the Behringer X-touch midi fader panel running an XR18 to restore some of that tactile feel to the musicians while still allowing a simultaneous tablet out in the house.
 
The little Presonus 16-ch console-type mixers also can provide that analog knob/fader feel while allowing a house remote.  (I however don't know if the current models have adopted moving faders yet because the original ones surface could get out-of-sync with remote adjustments.)
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W. Mark Hellinger

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2019, 06:19:14 pm »

Mark, I just realized that you are Mark of audiopile.net. Thanks for the service you provide to lots of folks here.
Thank you for the compliment Corey!

One point of clarification: When you refer to a "box" mixer, do you mean a powered mixer similar to the one in the attached image?
Do you plan to continue using that as an amp if you get a digital mixer?
Yes, we've been using a couple of hybrid powered box mixer based systems.  I have two identical systems for back-to-back shows and such.  The hybrid part is that I've been powering the FOH speakers with IPR-3000's, and just use the box mixer amps for monitors.  I'll rack up another couple more IPR's with the digital mixer and kick the box mixers to the curb.


Options for small digital mixers are:
Behringer X-Air series
Behringer X32 Rack
Soundcraft UI series
QSC Touchmix
Mackie DL series
Presonus StudioLive Rack series
Allen & Heath Qu-Pac or Qu-SB

Lots of power in these small packages. Lots of options too.
I'd start by looking at the Soundcraft UI or Allen & Heath Qu. The latter will require an external WiFi access point.
The QSC Touchmix, while expensive, is convenient because of the built-in touchscreen. If WiFi dies, you still have control.
My personal preference is the Behringer X32 because it's the most capable in my estimation, however, for a small events, I'd be strongly tempted by the Soundcraft UI.
Thanks for the recommendations.  I'll likely go with the X32 Rack since it should play nicely with my Midas mixers if need be.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2019, 06:22:12 pm by W. Mark Hellinger »
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W. Mark Hellinger

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2019, 09:40:14 pm »

Functionally they differ in that you now have to tote your tablet, screen or laptop to run the thing as there usually aren't any physical controls on them. 
Similarly if while playing you used to reach over and tweak a knob almost by feel alone, you would now have to give a touchscreen much more attention and a careful steady hand so as not to slide across other controls or move the control you want too fast or too much.  (sometimes not easy to do while picking/strumming/keyboarding or drumming with your other hand)
Understood, and that's certainly a bit of my concern, but the band has been using an IEM system sporadically for a few years and are comfortable with adjusting their monitor mixes on their phones... on bigger shows when we're utilizing on of my Midas mixers and such.  I think they'll warm right up to-it... just a matter of getting used to... kind of like explaining to Liz (my wife) the first time she took my car for a spin:  "Those levers?  Those are paddle shifters.  Yes, it is an automatic... no, you don't need to shift it manually, but you can if you'd like, or you can totally disregard... likely best you disregard them for now.  Those two buttons?  Those are for manual deployment of the aerofoilÖ otherwise it will take care of itself.  Yes, there's lots of buttons and such... but here's all you really need to know... key in your pocket... push this button to start or stop the engine... steering wheel, brake pedal, gas, lights, turn signals, seat belt.... yes, that knurled dial is for the seat heater."  She did return from the spin around the block, with a smile... and said "I could get used to this." :)
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Lee Douglas

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2019, 10:20:10 pm »

Mark!  I just replaced an all in one and failing Mackie 808S powered mixer with a Soundcraft Ui16 and a stereo amp I had laying around. The Ui12 would have done the job I needed it to do, but I wanted something rack mountable.  The whole package resides in an eight space roto rack with a pull out handle and poly wheels.  I'm up in Spokane and close enough to you to arrange for you to demo it, if you're interested.
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Weogo Reed

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2019, 12:01:01 am »

Hi Mark,

For your use my first choice would be the Mackie DL16S, as I find the interface easy and fast to mix with.
The new app is almost ready for prime time...

Midas MR18 has some features the DL16S doesn't have, and is missing some that I use.

QSC Touchmix is ok, and the interface is getting better.  Analog gains.

A&H Qu-16 is a bit limiting for me.  Qu-SB looks like it could be useful.

Yamaha TF-Rack looks a bit stripped to me.

Soundcraft Ui24R looks interesting, have yet to use one.

Presonus is not my cup of tea.

For most of these you can download the app for free and give them a try.


Any of these have features we didn't dream of thirty years ago,
in the small space we couldn't have imagined.

Thanks and good health,  Weogo
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Dave Pluke

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2019, 02:04:16 pm »

Soundcraft Ui24R looks interesting, have yet to use one.


I recently took possession of one and am very pleased.  It is sonicly and feature-wise, an upgrade to the Ui16 and, with V3 firmware, can be cascaded with a second unit for more inputs & outputs.

FWIW, I've used an XR18 and prefer the Ui24R.

Dave
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Steve Garris

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2019, 03:08:23 pm »

Hi Mark,

For your use my first choice would be the Mackie DL16S, as I find the interface easy and fast to mix with.
The new app is almost ready for prime time...

Midas MR18 has some features the DL16S doesn't have, and is missing some that I use.

QSC Touchmix is ok, and the interface is getting better.  Analog gains.

A&H Qu-16 is a bit limiting for me.  Qu-SB looks like it could be useful.

Yamaha TF-Rack looks a bit stripped to me.

Soundcraft Ui24R looks interesting, have yet to use one.

Presonus is not my cup of tea.

For most of these you can download the app for free and give them a try.


Any of these have features we didn't dream of thirty years ago,
in the small space we couldn't have imagined.

Thanks and good health,  Weogo

I'll second the Mackie for ease of use. The software is very intuitive, and the unit sounds great.
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W. Mark Hellinger

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2019, 03:12:02 pm »

I'm up in Spokane and close enough to you to arrange for you to demo it, if you're interested.
Thank you for your offer Lee.  Depending on the weather, I may take you up on it.  Right-now, I'm not venturing too-far away from my shop's wood stove.  I suspect the same for where you're at.
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Mal Brown

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2019, 05:47:01 pm »

I consider the Ui-24r to be best in class.  I have used most of those with the exception of the A&H.  The ui interface is awesome and the sound quality sets it apart. 

The other important  aspect of the UI-24r is that it is a web server.  Any device that supports HTML 5 in a browser is a potential for a controlling device.  When you upgrade the firmware in the board, the most you have to do on any device you want to use is clear your browser cache.

Compare that with everybody else and you have to use an app. Which means you have app level and OS compatibility issues to deal with.  I canít tell you how painful that was for me a few years back...

That said if there truly are integration possibilities between the x32 and other stuff in your inventory, there is a powerful argument.

I personally did not care for the XR-18. Either from a workflow or sound quality perspective.

My second favorite was the Mackie dl-1608.   I did hundreds of gigs on mine and it was great. They do suffer from the whole app and OS thing but the UI of their app is very good in my opinion.  If I were not happy with Soundcraft, I would likely be using a DL-32r.

Regardless of the digital mixer you pick, do use an external router.  Preferably a good one.  Get it up high on a stand.  TP Link Archer C9 is what Iím using today.  I use the 5ghz side for mixer control.

When you are out front mixing on an iPad surrounded by bone and water bags, that will save your bacon...
« Last Edit: February 10, 2019, 06:32:33 pm by Mal Brown »
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Rick Powell

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2019, 07:37:49 pm »

One advantage of the X32 rack is that it can function as a mixer if something happens to the tablet or its connection, whereas a lot of the small digital mixers would be non-functional.
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Steve Garris

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #15 on: February 10, 2019, 01:34:33 pm »

I consider the Ui-24r to be best in class.  I have used most of those with the exception of the A&H.  The ui interface is awesome and the sound quality sets it apart. 

The other important  aspect of the UI-24r is that it is a web server.  Any device that supports HTML 5 in a browser is a potential for a controlling device.  When you upgrade the firmware in the board.  The most you have to do on any device you want to use is clear your browser cache.

Compare that with everybody else and you have to use an app. Which means you have app level and OS compatibility issues to deal with.  I canít tell you how painful that was for me a few years back...

That said if there truly are integration possibilities between the x32 and other stuff in your inventory, there is a powerful argument.

I personally did not care for the XR-18. Either from a workflow or sound quality perspective.

My second favorite was the Mackie dl-1608.   I did hundreds of gigs on mine and it was great. They do suffer from the whole app and OS thing but the UI of their app is very good in my opinion.  If I were not happy with Soundcraft, I would likely be using a DL-32r.

Regardless of the digital mixer you pick, do use an external router.  Preferably a good one.  Get it up high on a stand.  TP Link Archer C9 is what Iím using today.  I use the 5ghz side for mixer control.

When you are out front mixing on an iPad surrounded by bone and water bags, that will save your bacon...

Same here! I just picked up the Ui24 but still mixing on my DL1608. I'm router shopping now, and learning the Ui. Can't wait to actually start mixing on it. I have wondered in I should have just purchased the DL32.

It should be noted that you can hard-wire a touch screen PC to this mixer, and they have a display setting that shows more parameters & channels that can be applied. See the pic from the Ui24 user group of FB.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2019, 01:40:56 pm by Steve Garris »
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Jay Barracato

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2019, 02:51:41 pm »

Maybe this has been hashed through here... but I couldn't find specifically what I was looking for searching... maybe because I don't know enough to ask an understandable question... so bear with me:

Long story as short as I can make it:  I perform in a 5 piece band.  We're seemingly enjoying local "success" (our product seems to be in demand).  We rarely perform in venues equipped with house systems, so we're generally supplying our own sound and lights.  My fellow band mates' primary interest is in performing/entertaining... "the gear" is simply the means... they just want to plug and play with minimal fussing around (goes without saying), but quality is a truly supported priority, so-long as the pursuit of quality doesn't go past a diminished point of return.

We generally "mix from stage" using a simple box mixer... the box mixer system works well from the aspects that it's intuitive for the band, it's quick, easy, reliable, and works fine for especially dialing in an acceptable stage mix... but the house mix is less sure...  the box mixer "on stage" is a bit of throwing the baby out with the bath water for making the over-all machine function... a compromise solution as with most things in life, but I suspect this aspect is needlessly over-compromised?  Commonly we (I) rely on feedback from spouses or reliable critics in attendance for tweaking the house mix.  But, I'm thinking it would be great if I could hand one of those in attendance that I trust (like my wife Liz) a tablet to tweak the house mix and punch effects in and out as suitable... as opposed to set-it and forget-it.

Any suggestions?
Hey Mark,

The rolling rack plus drawers etc. that you just sold me are the basis of my FOH work box which serves as a support for either a x32 rack, a x32 compact, or a m32.

While I have a fondness for having faders available, I have over the last month become fairly comfortable with the rack and tablet mixing. I have the key show components on dca's on a 10 inch tablet and effects buttons on a 7 inch. What else fine while show is engaged. Troubleshooting is a tad more difficult

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk

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Mal Brown

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2019, 06:38:25 pm »

Same here! I just picked up the Ui24 but still mixing on my DL1608. I'm router shopping now, and learning the Ui. Can't wait to actually start mixing on it. I have wondered in I should have just purchased the DL32.

It should be noted that you can hard-wire a touch screen PC to this mixer, and they have a display setting that shows more parameters & channels that can be applied. See the pic from the Ui24 user group of FB.

Yep.  When I do an FOH position I have a Dell 21.5Ē All In One pc as my interface.  I wander with an iPad a lot though.  Iíve gotten quite comfortable with that approach.

I still have an SI-1, an Impact and 32x12 stage box for when a guest engineer needs faders or if I just need more channels.  I will probably pick up a second ui-24r a couple of months out.
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Chris Grimshaw

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2019, 10:31:05 am »

One advantage of the X32 rack is that it can function as a mixer if something happens to the tablet or its connection, whereas a lot of the small digital mixers would be non-functional.

... Which is why I went with a TouchMix16. If the iPad or WiFi dies for whatever reason, I have a reasonably functional backup.
At this sort of price-point, you pick your compromise and pay your money. The TM16 does a lot of things right for me, but the touchscreen from the early 2000s, analogue trim pots and limited routing are low points.

Chris
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Mal Brown

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2019, 12:54:46 pm »

I just donít have tablet or comms failure with my rig.  With the UI 24 you also have the option of a hard wired connection over ethernet.  For me it has been bullet proof what way.

I also have the board and the pc and router on a UPS. And I carry at least 1 spare iPad.

Importand to recognize that ALL of these mixers are essentially computers and if something goes down - with no recovery strategy - you could be in trouble.  In my case an old analog emergency board lives on the truck.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2019, 01:00:18 pm by Mal Brown »
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W. Mark Hellinger

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Re: Digital box mixer?
« Reply #20 on: February 12, 2019, 06:06:43 pm »


Importand to recognize that ALL of these mixers are essentially computers and if something goes down - with no recovery strategy - you could be in trouble.  In my case an old analog emergency board lives on the truck.
Understood.  I'll likely leave our existing analogue box mixer rack intact and pack it along especially when we're quite away from home base.
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Re: Digital box mixer?
¬ę Reply #20 on: February 12, 2019, 06:06:43 pm ¬Ľ


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