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Behringer X-Live File Handling

by Drew Brashler in Behringer X-Live, Behringer X32
November 20, 2017 22 comments

Last week, I posted my first blog post on the Behringer X-Live expansion card. This is a dual SD and USB input/output card which you can record to both the USB side AND the SD side at the same time.

Since posting, I have been getting a common question over the last week, “how does the X-Live card record the audio?” or “how does the X-Live card handle the files?” So I wanted to put all of my thoughts and data about that here.

Behringer X-Live - Dual SD Recording Card

X-Live Records 32-Bit PCM multi-channel WAV

The Behringer X-Live card records a 32-Bit PCM multi-channel WAV file. AKA 32 channels within one .WAV file. If you are wondering what PCM stands for, it stands for Pulse-Code Modulation.

The maximum possible size for a file in a FAT32 format is 4 GiB minus 1 byte or 4,294,967,295 bytes. This is also the same for the WAV format itself. This is because of its use of a 32-bit unsigned integer to record the file size header. Due to this limitation, at 11.7 minutes it will create an additional file. The X-Live card will then add data into a log to swap over to the additional file at the right time and does this seamlessly during playback.

The 32-bit PCM multi-channel wav file is encoded as it was a surround sound file, however instead of a 6 channel 5.1 surround sound audio stream, the X-Live has a 32 channel audio stream.

If you want to learn some really interesting information about the Wave Format, there is an amazing page that you can read about it! Check it out here: LINK.

An interesting tidbit that I found on the page linked above, was how the samples are saved with a multi-channel file:

Samples in a multi-channel PCM wave file are interleaved. That is, in a stereo file, one sample for the left channel will be followed by one sample for the right channel, followed by another sample for the left channel, then right channel, and so forth.

The samples for all channels at a moment in time are called a sample frame (also called a block). That is, a sample frame will contain one sample for each channel. In a monophonic file, a sample frame will consist on 1 sample. In a stereo file, a sample frame has 2 samples (one for the left channel, one for the right channel). In a 5-channel file, a sample frame has 5 samples. The block align field in the format chunk gives the size in bytes of each sample frame. This can be useful when seeking to a particular sample frame in the file.

Why a single file with 32 channels?

I have already heard this question, “Why a single file with 32 channels, it would be so much easier to be 32 different channels.”

SD cards are limited to a 4-wire data bus, so the amount of read/writes that can happen at any given moment are limited. Because of this, it is better to write a single stream of data to the card rather than 32 streams of data to 32 different wave files.

I don’t work for Behringer, so this is speculation. However, my guess is that Behringer wanted to ensure dropout free, error free recording, so one data stream into a 32 channel wave file wins.

X-Live SD/SDHC Card Speed

The Behringer X-Live is ‘optimized for write speed ensuring long 32 channel recordings of 48 kHz / 32-bit PCM data, with minimal risk for audio drop-outs on a large variety of SD or SDHC cards.’ With that being said, Recording 32 tracks of 48kHz uncompressed 32-bit audio requires about 340 MB of memory per minute. This makes out to be around 6MB/sec, and while this is less speed than a Class 10, it is recommended and only officially supported by an SD or SDHC card with a Class 10 or higher speed rating. Class 10 has a minimum write speed of 10MB/sec.

While you could get away with using a Class 6 or possibly a Class 4, I would NOT recommend trying.

X-Live Max SD/SDHC Card Size

The Behringer X-Live card uses a FAT32 formatting on the SD or SDHC card. There is a file restriction inside of FAT32 that makes the maximum file size limited to 4GiB and makes the maximum officially supported size to 32GB.

What about SDXC?

To get larger than 32GB you would need to move to an SDXC card which is officially not supported by the Behringer X-Live. SDXC cards use exFAT formatting to allow the much larger capacity as well as an additional row of pins to allow for faster speeds. The X-Live does not support exFAT formatting, only FAT32. So, to get an SDXC card to unofficially work with the X-Live, you would need to format the SDXC card to FAT32.

So what does the file structure look like?

Behringer X-Live File Handling

When you start recording a session, a folder will be created and will be named by the 32-bit timestamp of the recording start as an 8 character hex-string. In this example, we have “4B5C62B0.”

We can see that we have a session log file “SE_LOG.bin”. Because of the 4GiB max file size, when the X-Live records longer than 11.7 minutes, it will create an additional .WAV file. As these new .WAV files are created, the log file will keep track of where all of these wave files go.

The .WAV files are 32-bit multichannel PCM wave files, they are recorded at either 44.1kHz or 48kHz depending on what the board is set to for sample rate. (see Setup>Global) Depending on what you have your channel count set to (under Setup>Card) it will record 8 channels, 16 channels, or 32 channels in each .wav file.

Behringer X-Live Max SD Card Size

As you can see the wave file is titled “00000001.WAV”, when a second wave file is created it will be titled “00000002.WAV”, then “00000003.WAV” and so on and so forth.

X-Live on Playback

The X-Live takes care of lining up all of the files seamlessly, so there is no drop in audio at all when moving between all of these files!

Working inside of Reaper

If you wanted to drop these files into Reaper to edit them, you would need to import the multiple wav files and line them up 00000001.wav, 00000002.wav, 00000003.wav, etc. Then you can Right click on the files, ‘Item Processing’, then clicking on ‘Explode Multichannel Audio or MIDI items to new one-channel items’

 

Hopefully, this helps clear up a lot of questions regarding how the X-Live works with files. This is still the easiest setup that I have ever done for any DAW and I am excited to see how churches, venues, and sound techs use it in the future!

22 Comments
  1. Torkel Hasle says:

    I know that X-Live card offcially is supported up to 32 GB SD-card. Have you tried a 64 GB or larger card, formatted FAT32 (on a MacBook or free Windows program guiformat from Ridgecrop Consultants)? Windows will not format SD-cards larger than 32 GB with FAT32.

  2. Neal S. Munson says:

    So Drew, other than having to take along a laptop, what are the obvious reasons to get the x-live.
    I think I just answered my question…. Please correct me if I’m not fully understanding this issue.
    Using a laptop with “Reaper” loaded up to record, I would have to route through the card, so I would lose my connections to the digital snake on aes50a. (I really don’t want to feed through the pc and back into the x-32.).
    So using the x-live I could record without having to lose my routing to the s-16?

  3. Joe Rivera says:

    Hi Drew,
    Great info!
    Can you still record a full 2 track mix to the USB stick plugged into the USB port on top of the X32 at the same time you are recording mult-channel audio to the X-LIVE cards?
    Thx,

    Joe

  4. Justin says:

    good day.

    1) it states up to 3hours of 32 channel/48k. would that mean, up to 6hours of 16 channel/48k? or 12hours of 8 channel/48k?

    2) can a x-live work in a m32 (officially supported) or would we need wait for a DN-Live card or something?

    Justin, South Africa

  5. Robert says:

    Drew,

    Can you please include references to the official FAQ and the official forum when you post informational tidbits like this so that interested people can find out more or ask questions?

    https://forum.musictri.be/showthread.php?20181-FAQ-for-the-X-Live-Recording-and-Playback-card-for-the-x-m32-line-of-mixers

    https://forum.musictri.be/showthread.php?20636-X-Live-Feature-Request-and-Issue-Reporting-Thread

    https://forum.musictri.be/forumdisplay.php?70-X32-General-Discussion

    Tnx,
    /—robert

  6. George Lanum says:

    Is it possible to use the multi-channel PCM waves in Studio One? I’m not familiar with using them. I just run USB out and record separate tracks right now.

  7. MMM671 says:

    Great info! Thanks! Do you know if you can split the multichannel wav to 32 separate tracks in other DAWS as easily as in the Reaper example that you showed? For example I work in Presonus Studio One.

  8. Bob Carney says:

    Hi Drew.
    Another outstanding video.
    Quick question I hope you may be able to resolve.
    I use Presonus Studio One 3 as my DAW.
    Do you know how to explode the wav file in it?
    I have REAPER and it will do the job, but I prefer to use the plugins and processing that Studio One offers.
    I appreciate your input.
    Thanks

  9. Lance says:

    Can you import these 32 channel wav files into Pro Tools HD I wonder? Or is there a utility to export the individual tracks from the 32 channels wav files.
    Just found this, might do the job. https://www.sounddevices.com/products/accessories/software/wave-agent and its free.

  10. Curt Blood says:

    So, Drew, been in the industry for years both church and pro from Keith Green to Earth WInd and Fire so appreciate your dedication to this group of people.
    I do have a question, can you actually take individual files from a non x32 session ie. reaper and put them on the SD card and Xlive X32 read them instead of using the X32usb to reaper for that feature?
    Hope that makes sense

  11. Alan Lovejoy says:

    Is there anyway to take a multichannel recording that was recorded in Tracks Live and get it into a format that the xlive card would read? I almost always record using Track Live on my laptop, but I’m going to install an xLive card for recording which will allow me to use my laptop for Multirack. It would be nice if I could somehow play back the tracks I’ve already recorded so I can setup and configure multirack and plugins for that band. I don’t want to be trying that in a live show. Thanks!

  12. T.Morgan says:

    How do you actually import these files into reaper? Do you have to take the SD card out of the xlive and import via an SD card reader?

  13. dave says:

    is the volume control on playback only the master volume?

  14. Samuel Kiberu says:

    Hi Drew,
    I am such a blessed student of yours to learn everything I know about x32 from you. I recently purchased an XLive card and I also use Ableton Live; I’ve tried to call the XLive card in the output of ableton and it does show but I don’t no audio returns to the mixer even if everything in the daw is setup as it should. How can I resolve this. I have been using the default Card and I’ve been able to playback ableton tracks through the card to the mixer successfully, so what has changed or what am I missing?

  15. kevin hinds says:

    Hi Could you do a blog on X-Live card and the same error message appears … Error 14
    if possible. it happened to me in a recording session and i didn’t know why it came up and what was the fix… i reformatted the card.. didn’t fix issue… swapped recording session mid way thru eg started on card 1 … card recording just stopped mid way thru a song.. i lost that recording.. swapped to card 2 … started recording… system 14 error . all didn’t go until i pulled the card out a couple of times. then recording went thru to the end of my session.. but when i tried to playback. it recorded.. buy all the wheels went but recorded nothing..i m thinking these cards are starting to be very temperamental. also drew i hate the fact you really have no way of knowing in the record page thats its actual recording? we assume i is.
    regards kevin.
    ps due to the error message i got no recording on the night.

  16. Paul says:

    Would be great to have step by step on how to use larger SDXC cards – I bought a 64GB one and am having trouble getting it formatted in the MAC os world to function and record in the behringer x32. 32GB is just not enough.

  17. Mike McAllister says:

    Drew,
    I have audio files on my laptop in Waves Tracks Live that I use for sound checks. Is there a way to connect my laptop thru the usb in X live and record them on the Sd Card so I don’t have to take the laptop with me.

  18. Mirco says:

    Hi folks!
    However, this is quite complex and doesn’t go any faster than with Audacity.
    I’m looking for a variant with ffmpeg, but it’s not that easy, I’ve already tried x commands. It becomes real work if you have 2h on 2 SD with Reaper, in a total of 6 wav-files. Because you have to make them exactly together. Since I make a recording here https://unplugged-wohnzimmer.de/ several times a month, we simply need a simpler solution. So, can’t you just program a special tool that gets exactly the channels you need from the x wav-files? I’ll keep trying ffmpeg, if I have something, I’ll gladly share it here. Thank you! Greetings from Berlin/ Mirco

    Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator

  19. Don says:

    Hi Drew,
    Would love some help getting these files into Logic. I’ve been messing with this for hours. Problem is when I import the files from SD card #2 it just overwrites the files of the same name from SD Card #1 ?!
    Any clues would be greatly appreciated.
    Cheers
    Don

  20. Chris says:

    Hi, can i rename files or folders for playback witch xlive card?

    Thanks!

  21. Dan McMahon says:

    How do you lace the files together in Logic please. Is there an easy way???

    I really appreciate your videos Drew.

  22. Amiracle says:

    How does this Process work with MAC and Logic? Im having issues with converting the single channel file to a Multi channel file in Logic so I can Edit them.

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