• Donny

Going over to the dark side

Updated: Mar 5, 2019

I swore I never would do it. I'm never going to have a mixer with no physical faders.

Sigh But I did it. The amount of channels and features available per dollar spent just got the better of me. I've always travelled light when providing PA for my band. Mixer, powered speakers---done. That's fine if you never want to EQ the monitors or the mains for that matter. I was getting by. My these days my not-so-trusty Soundcraft FX8 I'd had since the 90's (no not 1890's---c'mon) has needed repair three times in the last couple of years and as much as I love it's simplicity, ease of use, and the pure English sound quality, with tears in my eyes and fear in my heart I ordered a Midas MR-18. It's intended for live band mixing. Essentially these are upgraded Behringer X-Air mixers. You get a box with inputs and outputs and precious little else. Oh yeah---you get an app. An app that can run on your laptop, iPad, Android or iPhone, and many various tablets.


From the back of the room.


With no wires attached to your control surface. So,

you have to touch your finger to glass (or a mouse or trackpad, if it's a laptop) to move the faders, change the EQ, the gate, the compressor, one of the four FX banks (with what? 30 or so different effects? a lot that's for sure) the built in RTA, the graphic EQ and compression on each of the sends (my model has two main and six bus outs) the snapshot you just saved of all your parameters, the labels of each channel, the sends, the 4 mute groups, the 4 DCA groups, the..... oh gosh it just keeps on going and going----there's so much in there for what you pay. If the app were analog it would fill up 3 or 4 giant racks.

M Air software for Midas MR-18

How does it sound? So far using headphones through the on board head phone jack it sounds great. I'll report back after my first live gig with it this weekend. Is it easy to use? On a laptop, yes. The larger screen size makes navigation a lot easier than on the pad. I plan to only use the iPad when I'm walking around checking the room. When I'm onstage (I'm the bass player, don't judge me) I'll use the laptop. Now a bit of a humble brag---I built a board that sits on the rack to support the laptop, keep it from sliding around and being close to use and connect. "Connect, you ask---I thought this was wireless." Well----it CAN be, but all the research I did on this lead me to believe an external wifi router will work way better than the built in. Me, I don't trust wifi so much, so my laptop is connected via TB adapter hard wired to the router. This should be a stable and reliable connection. If I want to walk around with the iPad I can, but if it messes up, I'm still connected through copper.


But back to my board..... You know how SKB racks have those indents on the top? I had some wood lying around in the garage (the kind my wife always says why are you hanging on to that crap---ha!!) that fit perfectly in the indents and keep the board from sliding around. I added some self stick cork to the top side to keep the laptop and mouse from sliding away to complete the package. Here's a couple pics.


Midas MR-18 with home built top board

Board upside down showing stabilizing rails

Alright so now I have double the mic inputs as before, and a gajillion more toys and colors to paint our mix with. What's the down side? Two things.

The manual---what manual? It has a couple short pages of how to configure it's three wifi modes. A crap ton of legal mumbo jumbo, a few third grader what-you-can-hook-up-to-it diagrams and that's it. I spent a LOT of time googling YouTube videos. Some of them are pretty good, but you really have to hunt to find the one you need. Some of them are by Behringer and in general the guy makes it look like falling off a log when it ain't always so----and some are by third party. YMMV OK----update. There is a manual for the app but you have to search for it online. Here it is: https://media.music-group.com/media/PLM/data/docs/P0BI7/X-AIR-Series_M_EN.pdf

Configuring the Wifi and the App. Not easy folks. Oh that it was. So I admit I'm not an IT guy, but I'm pretty good at following instructions. Now if I just had some instructions. My Apple geek MIT grad buddy and I spent two hours puzzling over the thing. And we got it going---but I wouldn't call it easy by any stretch. All that said, I'm really excited to dial it in at our tech rehearsal this week and then take it out for a spin at a real live honest to gosh gig. It's at the Rosebud Cafe in Scappoose OR March 1 at 8:30 if you're interested, our band is called Brooks Hill and we play original and cover alt country. Cheers!

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