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Digital mixer for live theater. X32 vs Qu-32 vs TF5 vs Impact?
Old 4th January 2016
  #1
Digital mixer for live theater. X32 vs Qu-32 vs TF5 vs Impact?

Sorry if this is a duplicate post. I've read every similar thread I can find on the subject but most are somewhat old and I'm hoping to get some fresh / current opinions on these mixers.

I have a small theater company in the market for a digital mixer. The X32 seems like the obvious choice as far as price and features go. But I am a bit worried about build quality. There are many reports of them failing, people buying two so they have a backup when the first fails, etc.. I'd rather buy a better brand than two X32s (though that isn't totally out of the question).

Currently I'm also looking at the Qu-32, Si Impact, TF5, and maybe even M32.

The board will be used for small theater shows, around 30 inputs. The most important features we need are scene memory/recall, remote control of both the mix and monitor mixes for the engineer and musicians, and decent onboard compression for all the vocalists.

I'd like a mixer that can be controlled by Android devices (X32) and not just Apple devices (TF5) but that isn't absolutely crucial, as I could just buy a few used iPads to go with it if necessary.

We don't do many shows a year (maybe 20?) so I am not too worried about the X32 crapping out, but I'd sleep better spending a grand or so on a better quality brand. I've read reports of people using their X32s several hours a day nearly every day of the year with no problems. And of course several reports of control surface failures.. Which lead some to suggest just getting a rack unit or two and mixing all by iPad. I am not opposed to that but it seems like it would be so much easier to program complex scenes with a full physical mixer instead of all on a tablet.

I also realize a rack unit and digital snake or two would be great for the price, though we already have a couple analog snakes, so digital snakes, while they'd be great to have eventually, aren't crucial now.

We were just awarded a grant to buy new gear. It's enough for any of the mixers we're looking at, but whatever we don't spend on the mixer will go to wireless mic systems, so the more we save on the mixer, the better quality wireless mics we'll be able to get.
Old 4th February 2016
  #2
Gear Head
 

I work on an SI Performer 3 all the time and love the hell out of the board. Going to be picking up an SI Impact very shortly for my own live rig. They have built in DBX Compression and it sounds great. I am an android guy myself so i am bummed that there isnt an android app out yet, BUT i talked with my Harmen Rep yesterday. They are working on a multi-platform app that will run and both platforms, phones and tablets both so that should fix that issue. I have mix a few time on a Behringer X32 and though it has some cool features, the soundcraft sounds warmer and all around easier to work on. The routing on the X32 is somewhat clunky compared to the ease of routing on the impact. The midas M32 has their Pro preamps and pro faders but other than that its an X32 for all the software so i just dont see it being worth the cost when you can pick up and impact for less than 2500. To me workflow on a console is one of my biggest areas i look at other than how it sounds overall and hands down the Soundcraft beats the Behringer and day of the week. I havnt messed with the other boards you have on this list so i can speak to those but i have worked on plenty of analog A&H boards and the soundcraft sounds warmer than those did as well. Hope this helps!
Old 5th February 2016
  #3
Thanks for your input! The Soundcraft looks really great. I love the faderglow and scribble strips. But I also really like the simplicity of the Qu 32 and the fact that it has the full amount of faders and all the extra I/O it has. If Soundcraft made a 32 channel board with 33 faders I'd get it for sure but for now I think I'm leaning toward the Qu 32.
Old 5th February 2016
  #4
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JoaT's Avatar
I have been using x32 for live theatre on daily basis for a year now, and have nothing but good to say about the experience. Flexible board with good and intuitive workflow except for some of the routing that took a little manual browsing to get into my head. As for the studio console, it wouldn't be my first choice, mainly because of somewhat limited io. That can be remedied with addditional io, so if you must, you can.
As a workhorse mixer it has done what it has supposed to, and without a single hickup or component failure. For the price... A steal.
Old 5th February 2016
  #5
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackchandelier View Post
Thanks for your input! The Soundcraft looks really great. I love the faderglow and scribble strips. But I also really like the simplicity of the Qu 32 and the fact that it has the full amount of faders and all the extra I/O it has. If Soundcraft made a 32 channel board with 33 faders I'd get it for sure but for now I think I'm leaning toward the Qu 32.


The soundcraft is layed out even more simple than the Qu-32 IMO. and with the flip of 1 button to layer B you have all the other channels at your finger tips. I prefer the 24 fader set up due to the size. Its amazing how small the impact is ive you've seen one in person. Gotta love the faderglow and scribble strips man. It makes a huge difference for making your work flow just FLOW that much easier.
Old 6th February 2016
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyramid City View Post
The soundcraft is layed out even more simple than the Qu-32 IMO. and with the flip of 1 button to layer B you have all the other channels at your finger tips. I prefer the 24 fader set up due to the size. Its amazing how small the impact is ive you've seen one in person. Gotta love the faderglow and scribble strips man. It makes a huge difference for making your work flow just FLOW that much easier.
Those are all really good points. I definitely need to get to a store where I can try them both out. But now I'm leaning toward the Soundcraft!
Old 7th February 2016
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoaT View Post
I have been using x32 for live theatre on daily basis for a year now, and have nothing but good to say about the experience. Flexible board with good and intuitive workflow except for some of the routing that took a little manual browsing to get into my head. As for the studio console, it wouldn't be my first choice, mainly because of somewhat limited io. That can be remedied with addditional io, so if you must, you can.
As a workhorse mixer it has done what it has supposed to, and without a single hickup or component failure. For the price... A steal.
Yea I've definitely heard great things about the X32, but since the price of the other mixers is now the same (or less honestly if you find a deal on eBay) it seems tough to go with the X32 over the others. Though the idea of getting two X32 racks instead for a full FOH/BOH setup sounds pretty good. Especially if most of the mixing is done from a computer or tablet anyway...
Old 8th February 2016
  #8
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackchandelier View Post
Those are all really good points. I definitely need to get to a store where I can try them both out. But now I'm leaning toward the Soundcraft!
Yeah man! I mix in a Performer Si 3 all the time and have just grown to love it. Favorite board ive worked on in that range period. And the impact is really the same minus the global encoders and extra 6 faders. Also, i have mixed on an X32 a few times now and just simply like the workflow and effects on the soundcraft better. You get actual hardware Lexicon MX400 effects built right in, not emulated effects. And DBX for the dynamics. mmm mmm Not to mention how warm the preamps are on the soundcraft. i have not mixed on any new digital A&H Boards but had a few analog ones for a while. those sounded good, but just not as warm.
Old 9th February 2016
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyramid City View Post
Yeah man! I mix in a Performer Si 3 all the time and have just grown to love it. Favorite board ive worked on in that range period. And the impact is really the same minus the global encoders and extra 6 faders. Also, i have mixed on an X32 a few times now and just simply like the workflow and effects on the soundcraft better. You get actual hardware Lexicon MX400 effects built right in, not emulated effects. And DBX for the dynamics. mmm mmm Not to mention how warm the preamps are on the soundcraft. i have not mixed on any new digital A&H Boards but had a few analog ones for a while. those sounded good, but just not as warm.
I'm definitely deciding between the Impact and the Qu-32 at this point. I thought I was all set to go with the Impact but then I saw the Qu PAC 32 touch screen rack unit. I do really like the idea of getting a rack unit and a stage box for the same price as a mixer, especially if most of the mixing is going to be done on a tablet anyway. I just don't know.. ! I've called around to shops in my area (Seattle) and no one has any of this stuff to demo. So I could just order something and then return it if I don't like it but I'd be out a hefty restock/shipping fee..
Old 9th February 2016
  #10
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Wyllys's Avatar
 

For theater you should pay particular attention to how well the scenes work and if the board has an off-line editor.
I own and use a Qu but would never use it for theater. The scene recall is just not up to theater and there's no off-line editor.

I would seriously encourage you to look elsewhere and get these essential features.
Old 9th February 2016
  #11
Gear Head
 

Well if you were to order from someone like sweetwater there is no restocking fee. You just pay the shipping back to them. Here's a tip regarding the shipping. Ask them to send you a return shipping label as they get way better rates then you would just walking into a FedEx or UPS. When the item arrives back they will just deduct the shipping charge.
Old 9th February 2016
  #12
Gear Addict
 
emfrank72's Avatar
 

I don't have a QU32 but have a QU16 and a QUPAC. I really like both boards. I have done a couple of productions on the QU16 and it worked great. I have ran a few plays on an X32 and a couple on a GLD80. I don't really consider myself a theater sound guy but seem to end up mixing 2-3 shows per year at either small theaters or a couple of local high schools. I'm not sure what Wyllys doesn't like about QU scene management but I found it fine. That being said, my favorite mixer that I've used for theater so far has been the GLD80. It worked really well on a recent production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The best feature is how flexibly the control surface can be laid out and it has great scene management. The X32 has great scene management but 16 channels per layer kind of sucks or at least for me. I haven't used an Impact but have mixed on a Performer for church worship services quite a bit. While it is a great sounding mixer, it is probably my least favorite for layout and flexibility. The fader glow is ok but it causes the board I use to buzz slightly. If I was in your position, I would maybe look into something that could be tied in QLab and use that for your automation. I have only used it for sound effects so far but am intrigued by its ability to automate almost every aspect of a show.
Old 9th February 2016
  #13
Lives for gear
 

The difference between an SI, X32, and Qu are relatively academic. The X32 has by far a wider user base, the best tablet remote support by a disgusting margin, and great resale value if you decide it's not for you. Here you are fussing about which X32 alternative you should buy when all you have to say is "I've used an X32 and here's what I liked and didn't like" and we could sort you out instantly. Even the Behringer haters can't argue with that.
Old 9th February 2016
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AC2SPL View Post
The difference between an SI, X32, and Qu are relatively academic. The X32 has by far a wider user base, the best tablet remote support by a disgusting margin, and great resale value if you decide it's not for you. Here you are fussing about which X32 alternative you should buy when all you have to say is "I've used an X32 and here's what I liked and didn't like" and we could sort you out instantly. Even the Behringer haters can't argue with that.
The OP understands this, but explains why the hesitation in his original post.


"The X32 seems like the obvious choice as far as price and features go. But I am a bit worried about build quality. There are many reports of them failing, people buying two so they have a backup when the first fails, etc.. I'd rather buy a better brand than two X32s (though that isn't totally out of the question)."
Old 9th February 2016
  #15
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Wyllys's Avatar
 

emfrank...

To answer your question about Qu scenes, they're limited to 100 with no automation and no off-line editor while the X32 has quite a bit more scene capability, automation and programability. I would go for the GLD as you say just because I personally do not like Behringers past questionable practices, but just note in the OPs comparisons that the X32 does theater better than the Qu..but not better than the GLD.
Old 9th February 2016
  #16
Gear Nut
 
anadelman's Avatar
I, too, would recommend the GLD80 over these 3 boards.

One of your criteria was compressors. I find the compressors on the X32/M32 to be very harsh. To the point that anytime I work on one, I cringe when the kick in on a loud vocal passage.

You won't go wrong with a QU-32 or QU-Pac and a stage box.

However, another criteria was the ability to connect "around 30 inputs". What if you need 3 more. You are getting close to max on all of these boards except the GLD80.

Do yourself a favor and look at the GLD80. You won't be sorry that you did.
Old 9th February 2016
  #17
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackchandelier View Post
I'm definitely deciding between the Impact and the Qu-32 at this point. I thought I was all set to go with the Impact but then I saw the Qu PAC 32 touch screen rack unit. I do really like the idea of getting a rack unit and a stage box for the same price as a mixer, especially if most of the mixing is going to be done on a tablet anyway. I just don't know.. ! I've called around to shops in my area (Seattle) and no one has any of this stuff to demo. So I could just order something and then return it if I don't like it but I'd be out a hefty restock/shipping fee..

PAC 32 looks interesting. Im still old school and want those faders in front of me. Ill use an Ipad to go on stage and just handle poeple's monitors. Always nice to be right next to them when giving them the feed. Just seem easier sometimes. Or heck if they have an ipad they can mix their own as well. To me the PAC touch screen looks like mainly for routing but i just checked it out so im not sure. I live just south of Sacramento, they guitar center in Sac had an impact so i was able to see one there. Have you checked the one in Downtwon Seattle? Ive been to that one and if i can remember had a decent pro audio area.
Old 9th February 2016
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyramid City View Post
PAC 32 looks interesting. Im still old school and want those faders in front of me. Ill use an Ipad to go on stage and just handle poeple's monitors. Always nice to be right next to them when giving them the feed. Just seem easier sometimes. Or heck if they have an ipad they can mix their own as well. To me the PAC touch screen looks like mainly for routing but i just checked it out so im not sure. I live just south of Sacramento, they guitar center in Sac had an impact so i was able to see one there. Have you checked the one in Downtwon Seattle? Ive been to that one and if i can remember had a decent pro audio area.
Yeah I definitely want the faders too.

Like I said I called around shops in Seattle and no one has any of these boards to demo. Looks like I'll just be ordering an Impact and checking it out in person once it arrives!
Old 9th February 2016
  #19
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackchandelier View Post
Yeah I definitely want the faders too.

Like I said I called around shops in Seattle and no one has any of these boards to demo. Looks like I'll just be ordering an Impact and checking it out in person once it arrives!
Nice dude! Once you feel that thing out I doubt you'll want to return it. Good luck!
Old 11th February 2016
  #20
Gear Nut
 

most importantly, qu32 is on sale now for only $2799:

Allen & Heath Qu-32 | Sweetwater.com
Old 11th February 2016
  #21
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cxhawk View Post
most importantly, qu32 is on sale now for only $2799:

Allen & Heath Qu-32 | Sweetwater.com
The impact goes for $2299. Better gear with a better price IMO. its gonna be hard to beat the dynamic processing and effects on the impact for all the boards in this price range.
Old 12th February 2016
  #22
Here for the gear
 

Si Impact all the way. Having used a performer in the past i knew the sound quality of the soundcraft. got to use the x32 recently for a two week musical run. never got a nice sound, ( to my liking) the i pad app looked very outdated. picked up an impact last month. i nearly go to bed with it. the app is sweet to use, an additional meter bridge during the show, etc etc etc, so easy to use, great sound, great effects, great gate, comps. this is the business, in a flight case that i can bring into any gig and not take over the control room or lose 10 seats from the auditorium.
Old 12th February 2016
  #23
Here for the gear
 

ps. my local rehearsal room bought a q32, very cheat buttons on it, tap tempo button not responsive at all, the work around for effects etc is slow.
Old 12th February 2016
  #24
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hbphotoav's Avatar
 

Just a side note, re: X32/M32 choice. Last summer I had the opportunity to mix two stages at an annual summer festival gig side-by-side on M32 (main stage) and X32 (side stage). Even though the main stage channel count was higher, I much preferred it to the X32 at the end of a (fairly long) day. Delbert McClinton's (the headliner) tech was also pleased to be on the M32, as it was his "normal" desk. Sounded great... although the side stage sounded fine, as well.

As my 5-year-old SL24.4.2 gave up the ghost in Texas earlier that week, I was in the market for a replacement. No question: M32 was it. I haven't yet had opportunity to side-by-side (passive split) compare it with the Apogee Ensemble FW I've used since 2008 for my classical/choral gigs... but my guess is that there won't be a significant difference for the regular clients I serve in that market.

As to the cost difference... coming from a Soundcraft Series TWO (my last analog desk, 2003-2011) and the Midas Pro2C (client desk at a private school...deep and wide features set, and great-sounding and -feeling after the learning curve, which is substantial) meant there was no question: the additional $2K for the mechanical, ergonomic and preamp upgrades was a non-issue. Most of the X32 failures I've heard of directly have been related to faders and connectors.

FWIW... YMMV... etc.

HB
Old 13th February 2016
  #25
Gear Addict
 

Note: I am affiliated with Yamaha.

I have personal experience with TF and X32 and I wouldn't consider any of them to be very well suited for theatre given the automation requirements. These are desks mainly made for live concert use. I don't how the other consoles fare.

Also, I've experienced an X32 that recalled parameters THAT WERE SAFED!! This occurred several times. This was in November 2014 on the latest firmware at that time. If I were looking to buy an X32 for theatre use I would at the very least check if this has been addressed as that's an absolute showstopper for me.
Old 13th February 2016
  #26
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mojo filters's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dog Boots View Post
Note: I am affiliated with Yamaha.

I have personal experience with TF and X32 and I wouldn't consider any of them to be very well suited for theatre given the automation requirements. These are desks mainly made for live concert use. I don't how the other consoles fare.

Also, I've experienced an X32 that recalled parameters THAT WERE SAFED!! This occurred several times. This was in November 2014 on the latest firmware at that time. If I were looking to buy an X32 for theatre use I would at the very least check if this has been addressed as that's an absolute showstopper for me.
I don't really think any of the consoles being considered here are suitable for the typical theatre applications. However not all theatres need or expect the number of scenes, automation facilities etc we commonly associate with theatre use.

As the OP is looking for something sturdy and with simple workflow - I'd think the Yamaha TF are well suited. Plus the inexpensive Tio stageboxes are due soon, plus the Dante card.

Given the OP mentions getting a grant, in my experience that often means not having enough money in the future to properly service expensive assets. The best option for the OP might be the desk that comes with a multi year service contract from a reputable supplier local to them, rather than buying cheaply from a big box web store. In that situation I would worry about getting the best service for the money first, and the actual make and model second.
Old 14th February 2016
  #27
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Aisle 6's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyllys View Post
For theater you should pay particular attention to how well the scenes work

I would seriously encourage you to look elsewhere and get these essential features.
Best advice you have been given so far. The scene recall parameters are all important for theatre application.
Old 14th February 2016
  #28
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Aisle 6's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyramid City View Post
The soundcraft is layed out even more simple than the Qu-32 IMO. and with the flip of 1 button to layer B you have all the other channels at your finger tips.

Gotta love the faderglow and scribble strips man.
It sounds like you have spent a lot of time on the Soundcraft and this definitely has influenced your perception.

I use them all very regularly and they all have strengths an weaknesses. It is a matter of getting to know them all intimately and working out what suits the application.

I would argue that the QU is much simpler to use than the SI. Also, there are several other weaknesses with the Soundcraft SI series that make me prefer the QU in general. Having said that, I do not think that the QU is correct for this application and I do think that the Impact has addressed some of my issues with earlier SI models.

In the end, we are all only offering opinions.
Old 14th February 2016
  #29
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Aisle 6's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyramid City View Post
The midas M32 has their Pro preamps and pro faders
and you know this how? It is this misinformation that Behringer leaks out that is both marketing genius and reprehensible all at the same time.
Old 14th February 2016
  #30
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mojo filters's Avatar
 

If you read carefully they clarify the M32 uses the preamps from the Pro 1 and 2 desks. Since you need to buy the proper DL stageboxes to use the Pro 2 / 2C, they are really just talking about the preamps onboard the Pro 1.

To be honest while I think the desks sound fine, if I never hear anyone mention Midas preamps again it'll still be too soon. They've been blown out of all proportion by people who mostly appear to have had very little experience with them.

Personally I don't care about their supposedly marvelous soft clipping sound - I just don't let my inputs clip. Basically Midas are just boasting about providing a safety buffer for inexperienced users!
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