Digital mixers ... can anyone compare quality ?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by pfschim, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    I posted about cabs a few weeks ago and am still pondering PA components.

    Pretty sure I will go with EV cabs (ZLX12P or ELX12P mains and an EKX15S sub).

    Now I am considering digital mixers.

    I have had some hands on experience with the Soundcraft UI series mixer as well as the Behringer X12. Just to cover the possibilities I will likely go with the X18 or the UI16.
    The major difference I see (as a newb) is that the Soundcraft only provides 4 AUX outs, where the X18 has 6. I currently don't use any more than 2 monitor mixes (2 AUX outs) and there are no IEM's in my near term future.

    I know that there are others out there too .. Mackie, QSC, Allen & Heath .. probably others too.
    I'm on a bit of a budget and the street price of the X18 is setting the bar at the moment.

    any of you more experienced live sound bass players want to offer insight on digital mixer quality, ease of use, etc etc ?


  2. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    Get the x18.. it's expandable, the Ui is not.
    No matter the choice, get an external dual band router. You'll be glad you did. Use 5G and stay out of the 2.4 clutter.
  3. We use the Soundcraft Ui16. I don’t have much dealing with it, but I like the user interface and it is very simple to navigate and understand. Haven’t seen the Behringer app.

    It has 6 aux outs, the 2 headphone outs can be used as extra aux sends.

    We thought 6 individual AUX was unbelievable, more than enough for our 5 piece band that had been using an analogue desk that had everyone sharing one monitor mix….but once you’ve got individual control of your own monitor mix, IEMs start sounding like a pretty good option, and then the guys that don’t sing also need to go IEM as well to hear anything, then the singers wants stereo IEM, and we should be using an AUX feed to the sub...........and then 6 Aux isn’t enough.

    Other than that, the UI16 has been great.
  4. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009

    always get more channels and auxes than you think you need, because as soon as you do need them and the mixer can't provide then the money you spent on that mixer is mostly wasted.
    DWBass, SoCal80s, pfschim and 2 others like this.
  5. i currently own the Ui12 and Ui16, a QSC Touchmix 16 and I have a Midas MR-18 on the way, but have owned the XR-18... build quality wise, I don't see a big difference. I think each mixer is great in their own way. I tend to gravitate towards the QSC because I am still leery about depending on an ipad for control, although I have never had an issue during a show, so it's more my hang up than the equipment. The QSC and the Behringer (Midas) allow for multitrack recording, while the Ui16 does not (need to get the ui24 for that). The recording on the QSC is the easiest, just plug an SSD drive into the USB out of the mixer. the Behringer needs a laptop to record multichannel. Honestly, I don't think you can go wrong with any of the choices for the weekend warrior band set up. while others with more experience can chime in on quality of preamps, work flow, etc.. I have never had a complaint about sound using any of them, nor have I had an issue figuring out the apps and getting a good, useable sound from any of them, and I mix from stage.
    pfschim likes this.
  6. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Like @NickFromNY said, you can't really go wrong with any of them; my personal experience has been:

    Presonus StudioLive 16.4.2 - loved the form factor (control surface) but remote usability needed a laptop, router and tablet. It was heavy and bulky as well. I liked the workflow (FAT Channel), remote interface was OK. Hardware was good, although recently the main fader has become non-responsive (I use this in my home studio only these days). Once, the whole thing hung on me and needed to be rebooted - probably a firewire issues. Didn't use it live again after that.

    Behringer XR16 Air - very convenient form factor, needed the external router to function in a real performance space. I hated the app - whether on laptop, tablet or phone. Usability sucked. This locked up on me when wireless connection dropped. Unfortunately went into squealing feedback mode until I powered it down. Not fun - thankfully that was during sound check.

    Mackie DL1608 - nice balance between form factor and remote control. Needed external router, app (iOS only) was excellent and very usable. No issues with stability or locking up. Failsafe when iPad was docked into cradle. I like this one the best out of those that I used. I gigged with this unit for 18 months until I gave up gigging (and doing sound).

    I didn't notice much difference in the quality of the preamps/sound between any of them. Key points for me where: stability of software/hardware, stability of wireless connection and usability of the software/app. Rest was gravy.

    I had enough channels to run 16 inputs and 6 mono IEM outputs on all of these. Served my 5-pc band well for the time that we used them.
    pfschim likes this.
  7. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    ah, yes .. I do remember that when I had the chance to use the Soundcraft a few years ago. Of course, those additional AUX OUTS are 1/4" and not XLR, but still usable.

    all good comments/insights so far .. thanks!
  8. filmtex


    May 29, 2011
    I have had a UI16 for about a year and it has been trouble free and easy to use. I don't use an external router-yet-but keep the mixer right at my feet. The app is good too. I bought a Mackie DL16 a few weeks ago and have used it on several shows. Same thing-good sound, easy to use and the iOS app works great. I am currently beta testing the MacOS app which should be released in a couple months. It has several interesting differences.
    I also work at/book a venue here in the Hill Country and we installed a PreSonus PA system a couple months back with a StudioLive III board and it is, as has been mentioned, very nice. Moveable faders and 16 Aux mixes as well as a ton of other features. If I had the money for my personal systems, I'd grab one of these for sure. Maybe next year!
    I have used the Behringer on several occasions and I must admit it is a nice piece of gear. I don't think you can go wrong with just about any of the current digital boards. Features and price will likely be the determining factors, but take a look at the apps for yourself. YMMV
  9. 4Mal

    4Mal Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    For ANY digital mixer where you are going to do table/phone remote control. External router jacked up high on a mic stand is the way to fly. I use a TP-Link Archer C9 for about $100. It has been rock solid for me and I can wander a long way off ... dual band 2.4 and 5 ghz, beam forming.

    Ui -24r is best in class design, ui and sound quality. It is truly next level in comparison to the others... My opinion but a reasonably informed one. I’m on my 5th generation of digital boards...

    UI-16 vs 24. The 24 is a different internal design. Upgraded preamps, expanded I/O. As far as growth path. A single Ui-24 may be cascaded with another. Lot’s of I/O for the dough...

    As a native mode software guy, the concept of building you mixer as a web server obsoletes the whole download an app and hope it works with your version of whatever os your device is on. If your device has a browser that supports html 5, you are in the club. When you upgrade, everybody gets the software. Everything else is Plug ‘n Pray...

    As an FOH guy, the sound quality of the Ui-24 smoke the B-Box... yes I have mixed on both and on the Xr-18’s big brother, X32. To my ear Soundcraft has it.

    As an FOH guy and software, the Ui-24 user interface/user experience is the most sensible software I have seen yet. I wish it were portable to my SI rig...

    It is completely worth the spend up. B-stock (think of it as pre-burned in) is often available in the 600 to 700 range if you look carefully.

    One way to consider B stock is... the device made it through the initial QA but had an issue. (Often the real issue was actually user unfamiliarity I expect). So the unit was returned and went through another more rigorous QA pass - manufacturers do not enjoy paying in bound freight or a second instance of outbound so generally they try like heck to get it right... My experiences with B-Stock, including Soundcraft have been good.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
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  10. s0c9

    s0c9 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    1964 Audio artist, Fractal Audio Beta Tester
    When I was recently in the market for a rack mount digital mixer it came down to the X32R and the UI24R. I went with the X32 PURELY because of expansion capability - adding digital stage boxes and personal monitor capability, built in. Other than that, the SC won in every other category.
  11. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

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    the soundcraft Ui24R sounds outstanding! the X32 will take you a little farther: if PA work is your thing. i'm getting ready to order my second Ui24R so that i can keep one in my basement studio instead of tearing it out for PA gigs. they just wor so well and they sound great.

    good luck on your digital mixer quest! :thumbsup:
  12. dannylectro

    dannylectro Supporting Member

    Aug 2, 2010
    Hartsdale, NY
    I’ve mixed on the Behringer and the Soundcraft.... but I bought the QSC TouchMix 16. The sound is brilliant, and the instrument presets are just fantastic.
    It has 8 aux sends and two TRS outs that can double as additional aux busses.
    There is a mobile app for the iPad that can be used to roam the room (haven’t used this) and a phone app each band member can use to adjust individual aux sends (monitors).
    Finally, the recording capabilities are nothing short of amazing. Too much to go into here, but it really serves perfectly well as a full featured mobile recording studio. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
  13. alembicguy

    alembicguy I roam the earth and I know things Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    One of my bands uses the Ui24 and we love it. We are a 5 piece band and have more than enough available for us.
  14. kevk

    kevk Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2014
    Napa Valley
    I’ve had the SC UI24r for almost a issues—love it! The software is extremely intuitive/easy to use. Have been using it with 2x EV Evolve50’s. I mounted it in a 6ru case (1ru vent above it)... 61CD8676-B57B-424B-B520-93E982054F4A.jpeg
  15. Pedalnetics

    Pedalnetics Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 11, 2016
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Just to call it out, the Behringer Xair and the X32 mixers do use different software.

    The XAir software is HORRIBLE compared to the X32 software on Apple products, in my opinion. I've ran them both, and prefer to never touch Xair again.

    If you're on android, Mixing Station is worth the purchase and makes the same software for both series of mixers. Custom dashboards/layers on the app make mixing easy.

    The x32 rack's expansibility was great, and did everything we ever needed: 12 P16 IEM monitors, aux feeds for video recording and subwoofers, 16track in/out into a laptop via USB. And, you could do everything from the front screen if needbe.

    I know someone who runs an XR16 and does love it for portable use, and sound quality is everything you'd ever need.
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  16. Spent


    May 15, 2011
    Upstate NY
    Big fan of the soundcraft ui16. Great app, 4 aux can give you personal mix options. We record right off of it, and although it only outputs in stereo (can’t record multi channel, but I believe the ui24 can) the sound quality is decent. The WiFi will reset sometimes. Doesn’t take long and it doesn’t effect the mix, but it’s definitely a drawback. Not a deal breaker, and easily remedied with an external router.
  17. sawzalot

    sawzalot Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2007
    I have an X32 Rack and have owned an X18r. I like the X32 Rack because it's very powerful, sounds fine, and most of all pretty much every venue in my area runs one. So I have no problems bringing it in as a monitor desk and no shortage of people who know how to run it. It has a great feature set, good interface, lots of inputs/outputs/aux busses, lots of FX channels, sounds decent, and gets the job done.
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  18. Sid s

    Sid s

    Dec 22, 2016
    Western NC, USA
    Yamaha makes some pretty darn good digital mixers, too. For instance, the 01V96i.
  19. 4Mal

    4Mal Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    UI-24 will record multitrack to a High performance USB stick. And yeah. Whatever digital board... external router, a good one is a must!
    Spent likes this.
  20. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    Sorry, no.
    The O1V96 hasn't been in production for several years now. It was a good compact digital mixer for the time, but it's woefully dated now, lacking so many features that we take for granted now. But they can be had for a great price if the feature set suits the needs at hand.

    Yamaha makes the TF series of compact mixers and rack-mount design mixers. They are really good mixers and nothing is built more solid and runs more reliably than Yamaha gear. But it's a little more expensive than the popular compact mixers and just hasn't quite caught on with everyone. Maybe it will. We do see a fair amount of TFs in the wild.

    If I were to build touring monitor rig for my band (and the day may be coming), and had that kind of budget, I would step up to the Yamaha QL5 mixer. But to be honest, my X32 rack has been reliable and done everything I need just fine. No complaints, other than the clumsy way files are transferred back and forth the between the unit and the desktop editor.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
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