Mixer for home rehearsal/practice studio

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Sournote, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. Sournote

    Sournote Senior Member

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    Hi guys,

    I should have done this earlier but better late than never. For those of you with jam bands, ect and doing home recording, how have you equipped your practice studio? For anyone playing at live jams or gigs, what sort of mixer are you using/have access to?

    I had to give up the Behringer XR18 I had been using, as a band mate is moving away and someone was going to have to buy his share of the band's mixer. I had opportunity to buy the others out, but due to a bout of "grass is greener", decided to let another band mate buy my share, while I looked for a better unit and used my small but highly reliable ProFX FX8 for personal practice. I considered going with a larger Pro FX (FX22) board or another XR18, but ended up ordering a Presonus AR16, which looks great on paper. The Presonus seemed to offer the best features of both my Mackie and the Behringer I had access to.

    It offers real sliders and buttons instead of the somewhat iffy tablet control surface, but retained the ability to send multi track to a DAW if I ever got into recording. It even upped the ante with a capability to record the main output straight to an SD Card for a quick and easy way to record practices etc, without having to use a DAW. However, the negative reviews online have me concerned that maybe I made a bad choice, the unit it hasn't even arrived and I'm already having buyers remorse.

    It seems maybe Presonus cut to many corners on the quality of the physical sliders and knobs and they are not robust enough to handle the treatment I'm likely to put them through in garage and back yard jam sessions in hot, dusty, sweaty outdoor, situations. Conversely, Mackie stuff is known for handling those situations problem free for years but the ProFX units in my price range lacks the ability to send each track to a DAW.

    After a lot a frustration, I got the Behringer to work reliably at my house, but I never got to try it in a traveling situation, so I don't know if I'd be as happy with it on the road. The only concern wiht the XR unit is dropping the wireless connection. I was able to find a 100% reliable solution for my home studio but that was going through my home network which I obviously can't take with me. The XR18 does have a large following doing shows with it and they seem content that it works well if you set up a remote router for it, but I never got to test that aspect. So now I'm leaning towards sending the Presounus back un opened, and having them ship a Behringer or Mackie ProFX22.
     
  2. John Scrip

    John Scrip Senior Member

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    Fellow '13 Trad Caramel owner - Possibly my favorite LP I've ever had (and lemme tell ya... long friggin' list there). [/LP Stuff out of the way]

    Been on staff at - and was recently made Technical Supervisor of - a local performing arts facility. Several XR18's in the place for quick portable rigs (offsite, lecture hall, etc.). Ain't no doubt, the built-in WiFi has been problematic at best. Workaround was to use whatever WAP you might have lying around (I still have one of my old Apple AirPort Extreme units on 'perma-loan' at the facility). So if you're comfortable with the otherwise surprisingly decent Behringer stuff, there you go.

    That said - Was working with Colin Hay (Men at Work) a small bunch of years ago and was somewhat shocked that he was using a Presonus mixer to get his signal through *and* to record the performance.

    He's a stickler for "pretty freaking good sound" -- He was using outboard preamps, but the fact that he was using the Presonus as an interface left an impression. And to throw more confusion on the fire, there was a point around ('05? 06?) where I was switching monitoring controllers here (MASSIVE Mastering - I'm also a stickler for "pretty freaking good sound" to the point where my monitoring chain is worth more than my first three cars put together). I was waiting for Crane Song to build me the Avocet that I'm still using to this day. A quick interim was a Presonus Central Station.

    I wasn't expecting much out of a $500 monitoring controller. It was a temporary means to an end. But I remember talking to Crane Song at one point (things were taking a bit longer than expected to get my Avocet cranked out) and I said something like "The unit I'm using at the moment is treating me just fine, so don't rush it" -- I mean, the thing was shockingly decent. The built-in converter stood toe-to-toe against the Lavry unit I was using in the previous controller (even A-B'ing was eye-opening) and although there were obvious component differences, the thing served me well for a good bunch of projects.

    Long story short - The Presonus stuff - although certainly not built like a tank - might otherwise surprise you in the sound quality checkbox. If you're trying to avoid the (admittedly, unbelievably "clunky") Behringer interface and you can treat your gear with a bit more care than some, it might do you just fine.

    Dunno if that helps at all, but there you go.
     
  3. Sournote

    Sournote Senior Member

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    It was helpful. The Presonus AR16 arrived yesterday. I quickly set it up and plugged in my POD HD500X and a few mic's and played around with the unit a bit. Without cracking a manual I was able to figure out how to route each channel to a track in Studio One (Already was using that DAW) and make a down and dirty recording.

    Through my EV PA speakers I thought the POD and vocals sounded pretty darn good to my ear. I don't remember detecting much difference going from the XR18 back to my ProFX8, but at first blush, the AR16 seemed to sound noticiably better to my ears. I'll examine that closer the next couple of days to see if my ears are properly calibrated.

    I wasn't able to try the SD recording bit as I couldn't find an SD card laying around but it looks like handy feature.

    The downsides are the AR16 is surprisingly heavy and the knobs and faders are generously described as "wobbly" and a critical person might say they are straight crap. I worry about their longevity if this board gets moved around much. They may be quite robust and just feel cheesy, but being that sloppy when brand new does not inspire my confidence in the products long term durability. Since I will (hopefully)play out with this gear occasionally, I'm feeling I'll have no choice but to spring for a roadcase of some sort, plus I'll need a snake with more I/O's than my 8 channel which would drive up my costs and result in a pretty bulky and heavy object to cart around.

    I am feeling more and more the Behringer's pro's outweigh the Cons. I only wish I'd taken the opportunity to set up the one I had access to at different places to determine if I could get a reliable enough wireless connection. Most other features I feel are a wash or advantage to the XR18. The compact size/weight and comparable feature set may convince me to send the AR16 back for a XR18. Dropping wireless connections occasionally on on a wireless mixer is a problem, but definitely not on the level of a Pot or slider failing a week after the unit is out of warranty.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
  4. mmd

    mmd Senior Member

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    We use a Studio Live 16.4.2 as our PA mixer. It has been amazing. No issues, and the sound is killer. It only gets moved a few times a year - sometimes we host parties/jam/benefits - and it has been fine. Ours is installed in a slant top rack with our crossover, drive rack and sub power amp. It's heavy because of all that other stuff. We're pretty pleased and haven't thought about upgrading.
     
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  5. Sournote

    Sournote Senior Member

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    Conflicted. lol
     
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  6. Sournote

    Sournote Senior Member

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    Well I sent the Presonus back and exchanged it for Behringer XR18.

    I also dodged a huge bullet, as I got a pinhole leak in pipe in my basement/studio over the weekend. I had put some thought into the possibility of leaks and placed all my guitars, amps. PA speakers, computers, mixer, etc. a safe distance from any overhead pipe. The pipe that leaked was not above any of my gear. However the water ran 12'+ along a beam to drip on my desk including my mixer, which is now toast. Fortunately it did not get my near field monitors, Macbook or Windows desktop. If I had not packed up the Presonus to return it the day before, I'd have a $600 paperweight instead of a $200 one. I figure that was a hint, I did the right thing sending it back. I am bummed, as I expected to sell the small board to help offset the cost of the new one, but shit happens, right?

    Given this experience I've decided the XR18 will get installed in a rack case, so it will be fairly well protected from unforeseen mayhem, even at home.
     

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