- have a small 4 or 6-channel mixer and you need more
- want to add stereo USB functions
- want to add compressors, effects, and a feedback-controlling graphic equalizer
- are ready for entry to intermediate level mixer.
The Behringer Xenyx brand emerged from its small mixers about 10 years ago. Their little Eurorack line of mixers morphed into Xenyx about the time that onboard effects started to appear in the under-$200 mixer category. The QX1832USB comes in at the $300 price point, and it has the features to support the cost. This is a pretty versatile little package. You could consider the QX1832USB if you’re looking for a medium-sized studio mixer, a DJ setup or a small band. Though it’s technically an 18 channel mixer, only 1/3 of those have XLR inputs, limiting you to six microphones. This is probably not enough to run everything through a PA, though it may be plenty for smaller clubs. Depends on your band, really.
I DON’T REALLY CARE ABOUT RACK MOUNTING, SO SHOULD I BUY IT?
There’s nothing stopping you, nor will I talk you out of it. The QX1832USB’s performance is spot on for its price tag, and its features make it a deal. It looks kinda spiffy too.
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Setup and Usability
I said “technically” it’s an 18 channel mixer. There are the six XLR inputs and four additional stereo channels that accept ¼-inch plugs with a switchable input level that allows matching for both professional and consumer equipment. Me, that’s where I would stop counting. That’s at 14. Behringer includes the two USB tracks and the stereo RCA plugs, which used to be where you’d hook up a cassette deck. That gives 18, however there’s no control over level of these inputs on the QX1832USB, and the USB and 2-Track sources are treated together as a group, over which, again, you have no control other than on/off. I call dirty pool on the 18 channel designation. It’s like calling a car a 5-seater because you can stuff your buddy in the trunk. Sure you can, but it’s not really a seat is it? That’s a quibble though, and most manufacturers are playing that game nowadays anyway. As long as you’re not holding 18 XLR cables waiting to plug them into the board, you’ll be fine.
What I like about the QX1832USB is that it’s a one-stop shop for so many applications. No need for a separate audio interface to use this mixer with a computer, there’s a direct stereo USB connector on the back panel. There’s a Klark Teknik multi-effects processor built-in, directly connected to the second auxiliary on, ahem, 14 channels. This includes 32 effects, including reverb, delay, modulation, combinations and special effects, with some parameter editing onboard. A 9-band graphic equalizer with feedback detection is great for notching out squeals at live gigs. Yes, 15 bands would probably be more effective, but real estate and price, remember.
Here are a couple bonus features that caught my attention. The XPQ Surround function is a spatial effect that applies across the left and right Main channels. Essentially a stereo imaging processor that gives an enhanced 3-D quality sound image. It’s a useful effect that gives an increased sense of directionality in live gigs. Overall, there’s just a sense of more polish and more interest, a nice touch that’s available (or not) at the touch of one button.
The first two channels are ready for an upgrade to digital wireless Behringer mic systems. Using an USB dongle as a receiver, it’s simply a matter of plugging in the device and firing up the mics. No outboard receivers, antennae, etc. I didn’t have access to the digital wireless mic, so I can’t speak to the sound or effectiveness of the mics and receiver. I didn’t see anyone complaining about it in user reviews though, either.
Behringer has always been fond of “British preamps” as a marketing touch. Since the debut of the Xenyx line, the parent company of Behringer has acquired high-end British sound board maker Midas. We’re starting to see Midas preamps in Behringer equipment, most notably the Behringer X18 (Read this review). However, the company still calls these Xenyx mic preamps and calls attention to them as notable. “British” in this case is reserved for the EQ section.
The sound of the board, overall, is adequate to good. I find a bit of a feeling that the “punch” is missing over more expensive boards. I didn’t have the opportunity to use the board in a club situation though, so you won’t pin me down as complaining. I had a slight feeling there could have been headroom, but no basis in fact to support it. At the very least, this board sounds like a $300 board should, and it may well outperform others in its class.
The effects presets are usable and have editable parameters, their own fader and multiple bus assignments. Want to give your singers reverb through the monitor mix? That’s a one-button task. There’s one curiosity that came up after I was done playing with the QX1832USB. I found 32 effects presets. The same 32 effects are screened onto the surface of the mixer right above the effects section LCD. Behringer’s QX1832USB page mentions 32 effects. Major music retailer Sweetwater credits the QX1832USB with 100 presets, several times on its otherwise informative page. I suspect some copy-and-paste problem there, as I really don’t think I missed 68 presets for which the manufacturer doesn’t even take credit. And remember, they want to take credit for four questionable channels.
HONORABLE MENTION: The one-knob compressors on each of the XLR strips are handy and sonically useful. For those of you who think that the compressors are noisy when you turn them on, that noise isn’t from the compressor, per se. It’s the room noise being boosted. There is a little diagram to the right of the compressor knob. There is a straight diagonal line with a curved line overlaid. These lines represent graphically what the compressor knob does to your signal. The diagonal line represents quiet sounds (down) on the left and loud sounds (up) on the right. The curved line indicates how the signal is altered. As you turn the Comp knob between 0 and 10, the compressor boosts quieter sounds and lowers louder sounds. Compresses them, get it? Compression, limiting and expanding are actually rather complex dynamic treatments that aren’t inherently easy to grasp. This little pair of lines is actually one of the more intuitive representations I’ve seen. And yes, if you’re not in a specially soundproofed room with all noise sources suppressed, that stuff you hear when you turn up the compressor is your room, not electronic noise from the mixer.
In keeping with its mid-level market target, the QX1832USB is mid-level in build quality. It doesn’t feel like it will hold up to being run over by a tank. Nor does it feel like the parts were scooped out of bins in a surplus store. All of the essentials are here:
- XLR and ¼-inch main outputs
- a footswitch for effects
- channel inserts on each XLR strip
- control room, sub and monitor outputs
- aux sends and returns
There are a few more quibble points, such as why no XLR out for monitors? It’s important in the case of this class of mixer to consider what the manufacturer includes, rather than excludes. At the $500 price point, I want a mixer to have 100mm faders, even if it’s supposed to be compact. At $300, I’m fine with 60mm faders. Behringer has packed a lot into the QX1832USB and I think they made good decisions.
Users love it. Five-star reviews all over the place. One user docked the QX1832USB stars because it’s not able to rack mount. I think this is a buying decision, not an after-purchase disappointment. There’s nothing that says a compact mixer must rack mount. Complaining after purchase simply reveals inadequate shopping habits.
The sound of the QX1832USB didn’t immediately get me all tingly. That’s not necessarily a problem as there’s personal taste involved. Also, mixers are complex and have personalities. Some are brash, others are laid back and some make you want to abuse the minibar in your hotel room. The QX1832USB is definitely not the latter. I’m not over the moon, nor would I hesitate to work with it. I suspect I’d find settings that give me what I want.
If you’re one of the people I called out in the intro, this is definitely a mixer you’ll want on your comparison list. It will do what you need, and then some.
Have you found the missing presets on the QX1832USB? Tell us where to find them in the comments below. You can get all the latest Hear the Music reviews delivered to your inbox with no worries about spam. Subscribe today!