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Your Questions: What DAW would you recommend?

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by Drew Brashler in Behringer X32, Recording, Your Questions
November 6, 2018 11 comments
What is the best DAW for the Behringer X32

Today, we’re starting out a series called ‘Your Questions’ which will be a collection of some of the most commonly asked questions that I receive, my favorite questions, or things I find that should prove helpful to those asking! First, let’s talk about DAW options.

Recently, Byron reached out and asked:

Drew,

What DAW would you recommend for use with X32 / M32?

I have been using PreSonus Studio One, but have not tried it with X32 / M32. Are there issues? Is there a preferred way to configure? PreSonus, of course, wants one to think their StudioLive consoles are the perfect DAW interfaces, but is there really any difference?

Thanks for any insights! All the best,

Best DAW for the X32/M32?

I receive this question (or some form of it) often! When I browse through forums and groups there are a LOT of differing opinions on this too.

The answer is, there isn’t a ‘Best DAW’ for the X32/M32. It truly comes down to personal preference. Now granted, there are some bad DAW’s depending on what your use of it is.

If you are joining in and wondering, ‘What in the world is a DAW?’ I would be happy to clear that up for you! DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation. On the most basic level, a DAW is a program that captures/records multi-channel audio and can play that audio back over multiple channels.

For a live audio engineer, this would provide the ability to record all of the channels of a show for use of ‘virtual soundcheck’ at a later time. For the recording audio engineer, this would be the main program they capture audio from their studio and then mix an album with it.

DAW’s

There are a ton of DAW’s available out there. I still remember using Cubase SE way back in the day with my Roland SI-24 and RPC-1 which was an 8 channel audio interface with 13 motorized faders. You had to manually set interrupts within the BIOS of the computer for the PCI card which would capture eight channels of up to two-way 24-bit/96kHz digital audio using a D-Sub cable.

Roland SI-24

Roland RPC-1It was a MESS to set up but was really awesome to get recording back then.

I look at how easy the X32 is to set up, and it is easy to laugh at what we had to go through only 15 years ago.

But, onto the DAW! Here is a list of the main DAW programs that are out there. In a bit, I will explain my main favorites.

As you can see, there are several available, and I only listed 22! This list can honestly go on and on.

Audio Connections

Once you select your DAW, you need to get your audio interface set up. The audio interface is going to be the main audio input and output of your DAW. The higher quality audio interface you get in this location, the higher quality recordings you are going to produce.

In our case, the Behringer X32 or Midas M32 is going to be our audio console and we have the X-UF, X-USB, X-Live cards to select from to be our physical audio interface.

All three of these cards use USB as the main connection to your computer, so we need to connect up the USB cable from our computer to the card.

DRIVERS… DRIVERS… DRIVERS…

The ‘driver’ is the language for your computer to talk to the X-UF, X-USB, or X-Live card. If you have a Mac, you won’t need to worry about this section because the drivers (CoreAudio) are included with your computer already!

If you have a Windows or Linux machine, you won’t be as lucky and will need to track down and install the correct driver for your operating system and expansion card. This is one area where many people get stuck. Since there are so many configurations out there, Google will be your best friend in regards to specific driver problems. Be careful here as there are different drivers depending on if you have the X-UF, X-USB, or X-Live card! Lastly, make sure you are up to date on all updates for the firmware of the board as well as software updates for your computer.

Once you have drivers installed and working, then you are set and ready to go with using your interface for recording! The X32/M32 with the expansion card gets you 32 channels in and 32 channels out at the same time. This is pretty incredible and will let you multitrack record all of your 32 channels at the same time!

Favorite DAW’s

We are now at the controversial topic – my favorite DAW’s!

  1. Waves Tracks Live
  2. Reaper
  3. Avid ProTools
  4. Ableton Live

SIDE NOTE: This is not in a specific order, but all of these have a main function in my day to day job. I am a live sound engineer WAY more than I am a recording guy, and honestly, that is my preference at this point in my life. I would rather refer recording and mixing albums out to colleagues who are WAY more gifted in this area than I. I love the raw, untamed, and sometimes uncontrollable aspect of live sound. Having random problems arise and working through them to create a live production moving lots of energy through the air, that is what fuels me.

Waves Tracks Live

What is the best DAW for the Behringer X32 - Waves Tracks Live

Because I’m a live sound guy, Waves Tracks Live is my main virtual sound checking tool. I will multitrack any of my live rehearsals or performances with this so that at a later time I can come back and practice, critique, or tweak the audio when the band isn’t on stage.

What I love about Tracks Live is that when you open the program, it asks you for the sound interface, then will calculate the maximum amount of channels the interface support. Tracks Live will then create that many channels (and depending on settings) can arm and start recording right away. It will route 1-1 2-2 3-3 on both the input and output side, with no needed input from me.

The beauty of this is how simple it is to get set up and working. It is fast and it always works. AKA one less thing I have to worry about! Lastly, the other great thing about this program is it is free!

Check it out! https://www.waves.com/mixers-racks/tracks-live

Also while you are at Waves, check out the plugins there! Make sure to click here to receive 10% off any of your Waves plugins! *This is an affiliate link

Reaper

What is the best DAW for the Behringer X32 - Reaper

Reaper is a great inexpensive DAW that is really powerful and simple to use. When I am mixing something down from a weekend or for an album, I will typically use Reaper as it is what I have always used!

There are a few different prices for individual/small business license or a commercial license. The other cool thing about Reaper is that the trial is a fully functional program during the trial period. So, you can fully test the program with no limitations to see if it is right for you.

Check it out! http://reaper.fm

Avid ProToolsWhat is the best DAW for the Behringer X32 - Pro Tools

No list is complete without ProTools. It is the industry standard for DAW and has been around forever. Many recording guys I know use it and I haven’t seen a professional studio use anything other than ProTools.

But, I said I’m not a recording guy! Yes, this is true – however – I use the Avid VENUE series of consoles a LOT. Avid ProTools has a great function called ‘Venue Link’ that links the live console up with ProTools HD. Venue Link will automatically do all of the routing and copy all of the channel names into the separate tracks inside of ProTools. Not only that but when I recall a snapshot during a live show, it will mark when I recalled that snapshot. At a later time when I am doing virtual sound check, when I recall that snapshot on the console, it will automatically take ProTools to that specific spot in the recording.

The workflow of that alone is amazing and is a huge time saver for me.

Check it out! https://www.avid.com/pro-tools

Ableton Live

This program is a beast. Ableton is one of the most popular backing tracks programs out there. At CCV (Christ’s Church of the Valley) we use this for our backing tracks and click track for the band to play along with supplementing the live instruments. There is a ton of functionality of this program and I couldn’t make a list without mentioning it!

Check it out! https://www.ableton.com/en/live/

Internal DAW?

If you are looking for a way to record audio from the Behringer X32 and play it back internally without the need for an external computer, you should check out the Behringer X-Live Expansion Card. This card allows you to record and playback 32 channels of audio on SD cards plugged directly into the X-Live card. I have a blog post about it here!

Wrapping Up

As you can see, there are a lot of different DAW’s out on the market. All of them bring a different flavor of functionality and workflow. To find your favorite, start downloading some and try them out! Next week we’ll be diving into that deep snare drum sound.

11 Comments
  1. Mark Rufino says:

    I use tracks live with mine, as well as reaper. I have the x-live card, but importing the tracks to a daw can be a bit of a pain because of the way it records as a 32 channel (or 8 or 16, depending on what you specify) wav file with multiple files due to the 4gb FAT32 card format. However, it is nice not to have my laptop tied up and it’s nice to have remote control over starting and stopping (I have the x32 rack onstage and mix from a balcony with a tablet and an x-touch connected wirelessly) the transport.

    However, I also use an x32 rack that is not mine at one church gig, so that has the standard usb card. I like tracks live because it is a version of ardour, which means I can open the files right in harrison mixbus 32c without any conversion or importing needed. The downside is that tracks live doesn’t support any remote that I’ve found (admittedly I haven’t searched that much), so I have to let it run the whole time since it is onstage, meaning I also track a lot that is not needed.

    I found out this week that reaper has a server built in, so you can enable that and control the transport from anything with a web browser, which makes those old ipod touches I have useful as a remote. The downside is that I then have to import the tracks to mixbus, which isn’t difficult but does take some time. Also, tracks live is so easy to just hit play and have the tracks play back through the PA, where in reaper it is a little more routing that’s involved.

    Still, it all works.

    Audified recall looks interesting, but it is mac only, which means I can’t use it when I record from the auvitran streamer on a Yamaha m7cl at another gig because that only works with pc.

    Anyway, my 1.5 cents

  2. Detlev Möhring says:

    I am using reaper for recording with the x32 – at least it works great, but reaper is a bit overwhelming in configuration possibilities 😉
    The most beautiful thing about reaper with the x32 is the X32Reaper software, programmed by a french user (forgot the name, sorry – google for X32Reaper)
    With this great software the x32 console can be used as a controller for reaper! So f.e. if you are moving a fader on the x32 you can see the move of the fader in the reaper software and vice versa! With the buttons on the x32 you can control the reaper functions f.e. start / stop recording or move to markers – absolutely fantastic!

    1. dbbaudio says:

      Amazing! Thanks for the suggestion on that software!

  3. Enoch Ransome says:

    Good day, Mr Drew. Please i would love to know more about drums and how to equalize each of them on an audio mixer. Thanks for these info

    1. dbbaudio says:

      Enoch, make sure to keep an eye out for next week’s post as I am taking on the topic of snare drum!

  4. MARIUS PERRON says:

    Great job as usual, Drew. Keep ’em coming.
    Is there a place where we might post our questions for you? The ones we would like you to address.
    For example, I would love to see you attack the sonic differences between the X32 and M32 (if there are any…)
    Thank you,
    Marius Perron
    San Antonio, Texas

    1. dbbaudio says:

      That would be an interesting topic indeed, I will have to put that one on my radar! You can submit any suggested topics/questions to me at drew@dbbaudio.com. Thanks so much!

  5. Daniel K says:

    Are you able to get 32×32 on a Mac? We have an M32 with Logic Pro installed and I am able to record the 32 tracks, but the computer only shows 2 available outputs, not 32. The mode is setup properly on the board and it works fine to my PC using Adobe Audition. But the Mac interface seems to only recognize 32×2. Any idea what I’m doing wrong?

    1. dbbaudio says:

      There is a configuration screen by pressing the ‘Setup’ button and then tabbing over to ‘Card’. On this screen, you are able to select from different configurations of input/output channel quantities. But yes! You are able to get 32 channels in and out from the X32. I would suggest looking up documentation about your specific recording program.

  6. Bob Turek says:

    Your side note hits home for me, trying to break into the DAW world!

    1. dbbaudio says:

      DAW’s are a great tool for lots of things! From critiquing your mix to practicing while the band isn’t there. Jump on the DAW wagon!

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GET THE X32 ROUTING WORKSHEET FOR FREE!

I FOUND THAT OVER THE YEARS, HAVING MY ROUTING WRITTEN DOWN NOT ONLY MADE MY JOB EASIER BUT IT MADE ME FASTER AT MY JOB!

AS A THANK YOU FOR COMING TODAY, I WANT TO GIVE IT TO YOU!

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