by Gary Williams
With the expanding use of DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software to enhance live worship, whether self-produced or purchased from a third party such as Loop Community and other providers, we see an increasing need for tools that speed up your workflow.
The Behringer X-Touch is both a highly visual, intuitive, surface controller with 100mm moving faders, and also serves as a remote surface for any Behringer digital mixer up to and including the popular X32. Here's how I use mine:
Home Studio aka as "The Living Room" (No, I'm not married.)
The X-Touch gives me complete control of Logic X running on a Mac. It performs all the critical, repetitive functions quickly without having to navigate a mouse around a large screen. More detailed functions like EQ adjustment, and fine tuning effects can be performed on the X-Touch, but I still prefer to drag EQ filters with a mouse and to manage plug-ins directly on-screen, although it's nice to know that I can make a quick adjustment on the controller with its function and value labeled on the backlit scribble strip.
If you're like me, one of your favorite things to do is memorize complicated keyboard shortcuts. Well, maybe not. Thankfully, the team at Behringer gives us clearly labeled buttons and knobs for all of the fixed functions, and backlit labels that change according to the function. This makes the X-Touch easy to navigate at a glance.
I also appreciate the large transport control buttons and jog wheel. In a short amount of time, I found that I didn't even need to look at the X-Touch. My fingers find those buttons on their own.
The jog wheel makes it simple to put my playhead right where I want it, alleviating one of the frustrations of every DAW I've ever used. On-screen timeline rulers are small and require precise mouse movement. For the number of times each session that I have to grab that mouse, the time savings add up quickly.
The biggest time saver for me is the ability to mix down multiple tracks at once. Even with some purchased tracks, certain sounds and parts cut through the mix better in different environments and within different sections of a song.
If you create your own loops or tracks, this is even more critical
Good mixing often involves making adjustments to multiple tracks simultaneously. Increasing something in the mix often means that you have to decrease something else so those tracks aren't competing for the same space in the mix (that's the subject for another article, someday).
The X-Touch gives you the ability to mix organically without having to predict future results. You can loop a section and practice mixing before you do your take -- with instant access to read-write modes per track at your fingertips. This was the number one factor in my decision to purchase an X-Touch, and the results do not disappoint.
I use the X-Touch as the main interface to the X32 Rack mixer. Since I play and mix at the same time on a lot of small tight stages, the portability of the X32 Rack gives me options. If it's a small channel count, a tablet is quite often all I need. If it's a full band with more than 16 channels, it's great to have the X-Touch with moving faders right there on stage. Using the X-Touch, I can adjust mix volumes while dedicating my tablet to control other functions like scene selection, or effects tweaking.
One way to use the X-Touch in a worship environment would be as a dedicated monitor mixing console if you use a Behringer digital mixer as your front of house console. The X-Touch will remotely mix on faders any output buss you have selected. This lets the front of house engineer focus solely on the main mix, allowing someone else to control everyone's monitor mixes from stage with a single CAT5 cable connected to it. Simple, clean, and highly effective.
One more idea. As a consultant working with churches, I often find that one of the strongest musicians on the platform is also the most capable sound tech in the church. Their skills are really needed in both places at the same time.
The X-Touch gives that musician the ability to monitor what the volunteer tech is doing in the tech booth, to make additional tweaks as needed, or help troubleshoot an issue without having to leave the platform. The X-Touch allows the more experienced sound tech to help the new trainee while they build confidence.
I feel that it's important to acknowledge what the X-Touch is not. The X-Touch is not a programmable MIDI-controller that allows you to map each button, knob, and slider to whatever midi function you desire. It's not mappable at all, so each function does what it says it does, as both a DAW controller using either Mackie or HUI protocol, or as a direct control surface for your Behringer X-Series mixer.
If you need to map buttons, knobs and faders, the X-Touch Compact fits the bill better, but you give up scribble-strips and both HUI and Mackie protocol control. The X-Touch Compact is simply a MIDI surface controller.
In a DAW rig it's the perfect complement to its big brother as a mappable surface controller for instrument and effects plug-ins. With programming, the Compact can do a lot of the things that the X-Touch can do, but it's a lot more work getting there, and without the scribble strips, there will be a lot of assignments to memorize.
We're all about technology for worship. Let us help you put together technology solutions that make sense, alleviate stress, and free up time to do more important things.
The X-Touch and X-Touch Compact are valuable and versatile tools that cover a multitude of functions. $599.99 and $399.99 respectively. Give us a call and we'll help you determine how these tools make sense for you.