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Behringer x32

ideas for broadcasting online using the Behringer X32

June 29, 2018 • Derek

“One thing I’ve found to be true over the last week is that if you want to get to know a device or piece of software well… teach people how to use it. You’ll probably learn something too.”

This observation, which I posted as a tweet, seems to hold true for several others. As I continued to help nick with his x32 broadcast configuration, which I began discussing in my last post, we made some interesting discoveries. These discoveries lead me to a fresh sound for my streaming setup as well.

The desire to revamp my broadcast configuration started with Nicks discovery of a rather disturbing problem with the combinator, which I will discuss in a bit. However, to fully appreciate this oddity, it’s a good idea to understand how multi-band compression works.

A multiband compressor allows you to split a track into different frequency ranges (called “bands”) and compress them independently.
You can choose to compress only a certain part of a track’s frequency spectrum, or apply different flavors of compression to several areas of the spectrum.

This effect is useful in a broadcast environment because, if used correctly, material from a wide variety of sources can be molded in to a uniform sound. If you listen to most terrestrial radio, you’ll hear how everything is at the same volume, has the same amount of base, etc. We weren’t trying to take the combinator to the extreme of some stations though. We wanted a more subtle version of that effect.

Nick and I discovered that there were two major contributing factors as to why the combinators defaults make this impossible. These problems effected him more than I, as his configuration is more reliant on the combinator than mine, so it will be discussed in a future post, as I said above.

Band separation

I had initially discovered The first, and biggest problem, which you hear in Drues video. The combinator uses a 48 db crossover between each of its 5 bands. This means that very little sound that one band processes is evaluated by the others. The results are a hollow and brittle sound, as the frequency components of most voices and music are brutally sliced apart by the crossover. The brittle quality comes from the fact that when sound falls through the proverbial cracks, you can tell. It’s basically the audio equivalent of having a group of people sing in harmony, with the problem of each person being in there own practice room! Naturally, the people will sing much better together if they are close to each other, and can hear those around them. So, the first thing to do is narrow the isolation of the audio on each band by changing the crossover from 48 DB to 12 DB.

Now that the harsh hollow brittle sound is eliminated, its time to configure the combinator as if it were a standard single band compressor.

All of your standard parameters are available for your tweaking pleasure… Threshold, ratio, attack, release etc. However, other parameters exist for further sculpting of sound.

Crossover Frequency:

This parameter adjusts where the audio is divided. If the material the combinator is to process has a lot of base, letting it focus more on shaping the lows may be ideal, same with the highs. Fortunately, its possible to make the distribution such that a very nice balance is achievable.

Band solo:

It is possible to isolate the audio processed by each of the 5 bands. If the audio is pumping or being crunched, the problem frequencies are obvious. Granted, that may be the desired effect, and if it is… use something else, there are software plugins that let you do hard clipping.

Band specific threshold and gain:

This lets the combinator be used as a dynamic eq.
Do fun mastering tricks like compress the highs, then turn them up, or play with the low bands so that you compress tracks until they have less base than you want, then boost the low gain until the base has came back. Then notice that material with less base gets more, and base-heavy tracks lose a bit of it.

spectral balance control:

This parameter is enabled by default. It does more harm than good, as Nick discovered.

the idea behind SBC seems to be that the overall output should increase if the differential gain of any band drops by a specified amount of DB. The degree of auto-makeup is governed by the Spectral balance controls threshold and speed settings.

Nick discovered a big problem created by SBC which, in his case, broke more than it fixed. The mock scenario was a voice break with a quiet music bed in the background. His voice was driving some of the bands in to limiting, and the SBC was trying to keep the combinators overall output gain the same as its input. The result was a strangely equalized bed being boosted in volume when he talked! No good!

So like a good tutorial-following person, he went to layer 1 of the combinator, and pressed the third knob below the display to disable SBC. However, nothing happened! So, I started playing around with a freshly instantiated combinator, and due to being in a hurry, accidentally pressed the fourth knob.

, that did it! The change was almost as amazing as that made when adjusting the band separation.

The rest of the story, as such.

After a bit of coaching from me, Nick was routing channels to sends, pairing them to create single stereo outputs, and processing each of them the way he wanted.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments so that the answers benefit others. Plus, embedding a twitter conversation that starts with the same text as a post title looks ugly to me. So, I’d rather not.

Categories: Behringer x32 • Tags: , ,

letters to audio equipment… or… typing to my mixer

June 24, 2018 • Derek

Did you know it is possible to access some equipment through other means than its physical controls, an app of some description, or skills for the various AI assistance such as alexa? It is! Even in the 21st century there are many uses for a command line interface, and a program called MX terminal makes one available for the Behringer x32.

In fact, MX terminal is described by its author as “A chat style app for the M32, X32, M-Air, and X-Air digital consoles.” What this means is that you have an interpreter which takes language which is easy to write and understand by an average user, and converts it to OSC (Open sound control.) So depending on your approach, you could write something as simple as “set channel 1 fader to 0” which would move the fader of channel 1 to unity gain, or bypass the interpreter and write “/ch/01/mix/fader I 0.749755621” and get the same result. That having been said, have a breakdown OF why this is the case.

  • “/ch/01/mix” is OSC for “set channel 1 fader.”
  • “I” is OSC for “I’m going to specify an integer between 0 and 1,
  • 0.749755621 comes from setting proportions like you would have in an algebra class. The possible range of the fader that the English interpreter understands is -90 to +10, but OSC likes its values as integers expressed between 0 and 1.

Fortunately, in most cases, we don’t have to solve such equations because we can use mx terminal to set fader values on any send, Matrix or DCA group we like. What we can’t do are things like insert effects at specific points and change the effect type unless we use OSC to do this.

My friend nick, who is one of the hosts of the Digital Domain online radio show, is now the happy owner of the x32, and has been able to do all of the routing and editing he needs for the broadcast as well as other projects. All of this work was able to be done with a combination of mx terminal, the manual, and information gathered from Drue brashlers effects tutorials.

Today, for example, he was able to use the following commands to

  • take one of the effects processors, and assign it to the combinator effect to get master compression,
  • specify that the left and right channel inputs were to be assigned to an insert,
  • rout the insert on the main out to that processor, and enable it.

/fx/4 i 39
/fx/4/source/l i 0
/fx/4/source/r i 0
/-insert/fx4L i 55
/main/st/insert/sel i 7
/main/st/insert/on i 1

After that, it was time to address the hardware to edit the effects parameters. That was simply accomplished by pressing the effects button, pressing the right arrow key 4 times to get to the relevant processors parameters, and following the tutorial linked above.

I’m not documenting this as a demonstration of why I should get out more. What I’m trying to convey is my appreciation for the resourcefulness and consideration of the developers and content creators which have enabled me to use the x32, and teach it on location, and remotely.

Categories: Behringer x32

Announcing the Behringer X32 WhatsApp group

October 25, 2017 • Derek

The Behringer X32 line of mixers are, in the words of Hugh Robjohns, “products that look set to completely overturn the market for budget digital mixing consoles.” In my opinion, they have been successful. Not only are they used by many theaters, churches, and small studios, but have also been used by several well-known bands, as discussed by this forum post. One thing which has not been
publicized anywhere is the fact that Behringer unknowingly made several UI decisions which rendered the x32 mixers accessible to blind users

  • Dedicated View buttons exist for each feature, so you can jump to specific parts of the software
  • None of the menus rap! So if you have 10 options in a menu, and you scroll to option 10, scrolling one more time does not rap you back to option 1.
  • The X32 software has a home screen, and a home button to get there. This is another nice way to keep from getting lost.
  • Although its a bit clunky, the Ipad app is accessible with VoiceOver.
  • Open standards are used to control the x32.
  • If you leave a screen, go somewhere else, then go back to your previous screen, you are returned to the exact point from which you left
  • If you power-cycle the board, it will still contain all settings as you left them, but each view button will take you to page 1 of its function.

Another thing which makes the x32 accessible and easy to use is its very well-written, though slightly out-of-date, documentation. Therein lies the problem. Most of the information is relevant, but the setup, scenes, eq and library screens have changed dramatically in the 3 years sense the manual was updated.

In order to both give and receive assistance with the orientation and use of the x32, in a way which I personally find both convenient and easy to archive, I have started The X32 Crew Whatsapp Group. The idea is that any one can join and share what they know about the x32, and get help when they need it. If/when any material is generated from this group in a published form, I’ll edit this post and link to it.

Categories: Behringer x32 • Tags: ,