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Is the Behringer X-Touch any good ?

greggybud

Member
I'm afraid this is very product-specific. And Behringer manual is about useless too.

At least this means it might be possible for Behringer to update my X-Touch in such a way... But I wouldn't hold my breath. (I suppose their low prices come with economy-class support too ?)

However, if you can find that thread again, and if you think it can be relevant to the X-Touch, I would appreciate a link.
I would think it's product specific too. But here is the link:
https://s3.amazonaws.com/assets.icon-global.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Qcon-proX-Fader-Calibration-procedures1.pdf

These instructions even forgot the final step which is.. you have to save the new changes. I can't remember that combination right now, but I doubt any of this matters because I would guess it's product specific.

This is why I suggested it's worth a try to see if Behringer has hidden functions as well. I have been using the QconPro for many years, even asked the USA designated tech support about noisy faders and they gave no solutions. A forum member found the above on line.
 

novaburst

Senior Member
PS Avoid Icons DAW controllers. My feeling is they have been around long enough to make a change in the market and IMO they haven't made an impact. I feel they are being squeezed by the X-touch on one end and the Mackie MCU Pro on the other end. In other words, you still pay for what you get.
Disagree: the Qcon is an excellent controller, never had your issues, built like a tank very heavy, aluminium casing feels like a tank can roll over it and it will still will function, plus they look out for the not so popular DAW Reaper. never had any issues as long as you have the latest software.DSC_0100.JPG
 

whinecellar

Jim Daneker
That is one purdy setup. Wish I had that kinda audio budget :)
Ha - well let me tell ya, those PMCs were bucket list items for me. They ruined me for anything else once I heard them - I truly wish everyone could experience that kind of audio performance. It’s jaw-dropping!
 
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Fredeke

Fredeke

Active Member
@whinecellar : Beautiful setup !
@greggybud : Thanks for the link :)
@novaburst : The X-Touch doesn't feel like it's built like a tank, on the other hand. But it's not too flimsy either.

After I've worked a few days with the X-Touch, here are a few quirks I stumbled upon:

- The faders are decidedly noisy. I haven't done some proper mix automation yet, but just project changes, when all faders have to abruptly adjust at once, is very noisy. Of course, I suppose this is the worst case. I still have to try make them move slowly, to appreciate the noise.

- The first (and only for now) function that doesn't work directly out of the box is the pot assign. I could I dig a little for a way to make that work, but it's not too bad anyway, since the pots are stuck on the pan function by default, which I suppose if the one I'll want most of the time.

- There is no "pause" button: only play and stop (and rec, and previous/next marker). I could have seen that in the promo pictures, so there's no point complaining about it now.

- The faders align well enough with each other, but they don't align with the markings on the panel. At 0dB they seem to sit around -2dB. This is the only thing that bugs me a little, so far. [UPDATE: the offset seems to vary from day to day (What!?)]

- Only 6 characters per track name brings me back to 1995. [EDIT: this is in fact a limitation of the protocol]

All in all, I don't regret the purchase, because getting a control surface is still a life changer, and there's no real competition in that price range anyway.
 
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Dewdman42

Senior Member
- The faders are decidedly noisy. I haven't done some proper mix automation yet, but just project changes, when all faders have to abruptly adjust at once, is very noisy. Of course, I suppose this is the worst case. I still have to try make them move slowly, to appreciate the noise.
Associate one of the faders to a fader in your DAW and then move the fader in your DAW up and down with your mouse and listen to the noise.

I also sent back a Midas M32R because of the same noise, presumably has the same stuff inside. When I went to Behrinnger forum and inquired some more and googled about it, I found other people with the same problems, see people had written a custom little program to smooth out the communication between your DAW and the box..which supposedly made it quieter...so the problem seems to be that the fader is made to move up and down a little bit..I actually video taped it at the time and saw it in slow motion... so some kind of protocol quantization or something like that...causes it to be noisy.
 
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Fredeke

Fredeke

Active Member
Associate one of the faders to a fader in your DAW and then move the fader in your DAW up and down with your mouse and listen to the noise.

I also sent back a Midas M32R because of the same noise, presumably has the same stuff inside. When I went to Behrinnger forum and inquired some more and googled about it, I found other people with the same problems, see people had written a custom little program to smooth out the communication between your DAW and the box..which supposedly made it quieter...so the problem seems to be that the fader is made to move up and down a little bit..I actually video taped it at the time and saw it in slow motion... so some kind of protocol quantization or something like that...causes it to be noisy.
I tried moving a fader from the DAW like you suggested, and noticed two things :
- the friction noise is about acceptable
- but there is a lot of quantization (multiple tiny starts and stops, which must be what you saw in slomo) making slow movements as noisy as fast ones, which is very noisy. The problem is way worse on the way up than on the way down. This renders the motors basically useless in mix automation !

This can be due to one of two things I can think of :
- bit depth : basic MIDI controls only have a 7-bit resolution. That's 128 steps, which is too few for a 100mm course (each step spanning across 0.8mm - supposing the resolution is linear, er I mean logarythmic like the dB scale - well anyway).
I knew this before buying, but I though this would only be a precision issue, not a smoothness issue. I would have expected the device to smooth the movements out internally.
(Some control surfaces have a 10-bit resolution. I don't know what standard that corresponds too, but it's probably enough.)
- temporal precision : I won't call it "resolutoin" or "frequency" because the MIDI date is probably sent in erratic bursts rather than at constant rate. MIDI's bitrate is rather low, but it's still fast enough for smooth sweeps (as we all know), so it must be a software issue, which I suppose could be improved. But where would you insert the improving software or device ? The DAW addresses the MIDI port directly through the USB driver, I don't see any software or hardware point where the stream could be intercepted and smoothed out.

So, could you (or anyone) tell me a bit more about this? In case it matters, my DAW is still Reaper.

(Note: MIDI is sent through USB, and USB itself works in bursts, but I don't expect this to be the problem, since it's still smooth enough for transmitting multichannel audio with acceptable latency.)
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
Your description is exactly the same experience I had. I had that quantizing problem with the M32R, and with the X-Touch Compact, but in addition the X-Touch compact made an electric buzzing sound (like an electric train set), when moving the fader slowly. When the faders snap quickly they were super quiet on both units. Its more the "sliding" that was rackety. On the M32R I would also get the quantized "juddering" when linking two faders on the mixer and moving one of them....(no software involved in that case).

Here's a video I made of it for the Behrinnger user forum when I was trying to diagnose whether to keep or return the unit. turn up the sound. This was actually the M32R, not the XTC, but the XTC was even louder with the transformer buzz. In slow motion you can actually see the fader moving up and down as its slid down.



Some guy made some kind of program (windows) that he can insert in line to interpolate or smooth it out, i never tried it, all I can find now is his video on you tube, which appears to have a download link:

 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
As a final note, I would have kept the XTC as a CC controller with the motors turned off, *IF* behrinnger had provided a mac editor to configure the CC assignments, which they don't. In that mode of operation, on a PC, I think its good value. The non-compact X-Touch has some limitations about that, by the way, the compact is the one to get if you are going to use it in that capacity, but just bear in mind you need a PC to configure it for that use, and when in HUI mode, it will be rackety. Well some people don't seem to mind the racket, but I do.
 
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Fredeke

Fredeke

Active Member
Great !
Here's the download link that goes with the video you posted : https://www.dropbox.com/s/2nzbk6zskek6jar/MackieFaderFixer.zip
(In case it goes offline and I'm still around, just PM me for it.)

I will test that tomorrow. At first glance, it looks like either a Windows background program (which would be great for me), or some DAW-specific script (which would be not so great). His thing is called "Mackie Fader Fixer" but the video demoes it on an X-Touch. So it might work with all Mackie-compatible surfaces, or possibly all 7-bit ones.

As for noise levels, it is all subjective. I might be a bit more intolerant, but we both agree that fades are noisier than instant adjusts. (That's because instant adjusts are just one movement, while fades are a multitude of tiny badly quantized movements.) So at least we're hearing the same thing.

[UPDATE: MackieFaderFixer works in conjunction with another (apparently) free program that you'll need: LoopMIDI. Here's the link: http://www.tobias-erichsen.de/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/loopMIDISetup_1_0_13_24.zip . Oh, and they are background tasks, so they should work with various WinDAWs. Now off to bed, more on this tomorrow.]
 
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Fredeke

Fredeke

Active Member
I still have to test the Fader Fixer, but meanwhile here's something else: This guy seems to have succeeded in assigning colors to track displays (like in the promo pictures !)

He doesn't explain how, though. It might or might not have something to do with him using Cubase 9.
 

greggybud

Member
Disagree: the Qcon is an excellent controller, never had your issues, built like a tank very heavy, aluminium casing feels like a tank can roll over it and it will still will function,View attachment 19324
I would suggest if any DAW controller is "built like a tank very heavy" it would be the Mackie MCU. But I wouldn't even describe the Mackie MCU as anything like "built like a tank" when comparing studio gear. Perhaps more solid than QconPro, QconProX, QconPro G2 and Behringer X touch...absolutely.

Here is a 9-year old and 16-page link to the evolving Qcon and it's issues.
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/electronic-music-instruments-and-electronic-music-production/557777-new-icon-qcon-controller-any-good.html
Note the price differential between the Qcon and the Mackie MCU in Europe vs. the USA. In Europe, the price difference was more substantial than in the USA creating much interest in Europe. As a matter of fact, for years there was only 1 USA distributor suggesting a low demand.

Taking so long, and a constant struggle to address common issues, plus release the following QconPro, Qcon Pro G, and Qcon ProX, suggests Icon isn't thriving today relative to the MCU or Behringer.

Here is 17 more pages addressing the QconProX with less than stellar replies. I'm not dissing it, I'm suggesting when it comes to DAW controllers, you pay for what you get.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/product-alerts-older-than-2-months/1109779-icon-pro-audio-qcon-pro-x-now-shipping-13.html

While all these are MCU protocol, there are substantial differences between the Behringer X Touch and Mackie MCU Pro...some of them noted in this post. Again, IMO, the IconQcon Pro and IconQcon ProX is being squeezed by the low price Behringer, and the higher priced Mackie. Trust me, I want to like my QconPro, and with the newly discovered fader noise reduction adjustments I still do. I like the adjustable angled scribble strip. But if I were to choose MCU protocol today, I would save for the Mackie MCU Pro.

And finally, while the MCU protocol issue of only 7 characters is completely out-dated, Behringer X Touch makes it a bit more clear than the QconPro scribble strip. With the QconPro, if you want any spacing, you are limited to 5 characters. This is something Icon should have addressed with the original Qcon.
 

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Fredeke

Fredeke

Active Member
Ok, here's my experience with MackieFaderFixer:

I was wondering where it would insert itself in the protocol's path to the unit, well it uses another soft called loopMIDI which creates virtual port. I may very well adopt loopMIDI to replace Bome's MIDI Translator which I'm using for addressing the same MIDI ports from multiple softs simulteanously, and which I'm not very satisfied with.

But as for the X-Touch motor noise, it didn't make it any better. Possibly even slightly worse. I've tried fiddling with the variables, but noting helps.

MFF's documentation explains that the problem comes from too profuse MCU data overloading MIDI's slow bitrate, and MFF is supposed to streamline it. Except it doesn't work. Maybe a problem with my computer ? Everything else works fine enough though.

And my motors' noise is worse than what you hear in the video. To the point of making them useless for mix automation.

So I'm now considering returning the X-Touch, and get a (probably cheaper) motorless control surface. I would miss the instant page updates, but at least I'd be able to use the surface for mixing. Does anyone have a motorless, yet professionally featured, control surface to recommend?

Meanwhile, I'm going to try using Bome and/or loopMIDI to filter out outgoing fader data. That would allow me to turn the motors on and off at will, which would be a passable compromise.

Back to you soon.
 
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Fredeke

Fredeke

Active Member
I finally arrived to a satisfactory solution.

All motorless controllers I could find online had tiny toy faders, so I decided to keep the X-Touch. But I found a way to turn the motors on and off. I used Bome's MIDI Translator, which like loopMIDI, allows you to create virtual ports - though it is more limited than loopMIDI in that way. But it also helps you intercept and modify MIDI messages on the fly (like what MackieFaderFixer does but much more general and customizable - and with a real GUI though it looks like it's from 1990 - oh, and it's not free). I could have used a combination of Bome and loopMIDI as well, but Bome was needed to create the rule that pitch bend message (which are what controls the faders - so I was wrong when I said MCU has a 7-bit resolution, btw) are discarded.

All I have to do is turn that rule on and off to turn the motors off and on.

If there's a way to get them to move smoothly, I haven't found it, and I've got no more time for this.
Problem solved, moving on.

Thanks everyone for your help and patience.
 

Mucusman

Enthusiastic hobbyist
I'll just chime in to add that I have the X Touch One (one single fader), one of the early batch. It is built like a tank, and the motorized fader is very quiet. I use it mostly for CC automation and some DAW navigation with Studio One.
 
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Fredeke

Fredeke

Active Member
I'll just chime in to add that I have the X Touch One (one single fader), one of the early batch. It is built like a tank, and the motorized fader is very quiet. I use it mostly for CC automation and some DAW navigation with Studio One.
Cool! Count your blessings ;)
 

Dewdman42

Senior Member
a free alternative to Bome that might do the trick also is Transmidifier. Bome has the advantage in that it can also listen for keyboard commands if that is something you need.

Another free tool that might work for this is MidiPipe.

Interesting that its using PitchBend messages to move the fader...I would be curious to see a log of those messages to see if we can spot why it judders..
 
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Fredeke

Fredeke

Active Member
a free alternative to Bome that might do the trick also is Transmidifier. Bome has the advantage in that it can also listen for keyboard commands if that is something you need.

Another free tool that might work for this is MidiPipe.
Thanks ! I'll check them out.

The original reason why I got Bome is that it does virtual MIDI ports. But it can do maximum five of them, which is still a bit short for my needs.

Interesting that its using PitchBend messages to move the fader...I would be curious to see a log of those messages to see if we can spot why it judders.
Pitchbend has a better resolution than CC. I can't remember how many bits, but surely more than 7. It's coded over two bytes.

As for the MIDI log, it's on another computer, and mine doesn't log timing. But I can tell you what I saw (We're talking messages from the DAW to the controller) :

Pitchbend/fader messages are not outcrowded by other messages (like display etc.), contrarily to what MFF's documentation suggests. In fact, Reaper only sends bulk updates every couple of seconds, and we're only talking about a handful of messages each time (when it runs, of course there's the song position or timecode display to update too, but that too is minimal load).

The problem is pitchbend/fader messages are just too few to express a smooth movement. Indeed, Reaper sends a fader update every 15ms, though this can be configured. (I'm baffled: What's the point of having such a good bit resolution if you're gonna skip most steps anyway???)

MFF is supposed to interpolate what's missing, but it's just making the jerkiness even worse: More messages but still not enough for a smooth movement. Increasing the fader update frequency in Reaper should do the trick as well, but there's a limit to what a computer can do in real time. I don't suppose I could get intervals shorter than my shortest clean audio buffer size, for example, and it's about the same order of timeframe. Plus, my system isn't terribly efficient that way, I must confess. It used to be, but some cleaning is overdue.

I think the only way I could possibly improve the situation would be to tweak my system for best realtime performance (lowest possible latencies), which is something I've been planning to do for over a year now.

But of course, that's only assuming the motors are capable of smooth operation at all. After all, no matter how finely grained, the data stream will always be discrete by nature. I naively thought it was the control surface's job to smooth it out. Apparently I was wrong. It's the computer's job... as if it had nothing better to do !

So, for now, the ability to switch the motors on and off at will is still a good enough workaround. I turn them on when working on the general balance (because they're still convenient for that), and off when actually automating the mix.
 
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Dewdman42

Senior Member
In my view it absolutely should be the job of the hardware to smooth out the interpolations. also, when I look at the slow mo video it almost looks like the fader is moving up and down a bit..not just jumping down, but literally moving up and down...which would infer a bug in their software somewhere...but weould need to see a log of the midi...regardless of whether it has timestamps...just be in the correct order.

I think its ridiculous to think you would need to have a more realtime computer for this task, why spend so much time on it...use it as is for consider other options...
 
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Fredeke

Fredeke

Active Member
In my view it absolutely should be the job of the hardware to smooth out the interpolations. also, when I look at the slow mo video it almost looks like the fader is moving up and down a bit..not just jumping down, but literally moving up and down...which would infer a bug in their software somewhere...but weould need to see a log of the midi...regardless of whether it has timestamps...just be in the correct order.

I think its ridiculous to think you would need to have a more realtime computer for this task, why spend so much time on it...use it as is for consider other options...
Maybe other protocols rely less on the computer. I don't know. But Reaper's config box's layout makes me believe not.

Tonight it's late, but tomorrow I'll check wheter the PB messages are in the right order. I'll see if I can select, copy and paste the 'log', too. (It's not an actual log, it's just that Renoise, another DAW I use, can display incoming and outgoing MIDI messages.)
 
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