Multitrack Recording and Virtual Soundcheck with Free Recording Software on the X/M32 Series and WING.
Multi-track recording is recording multiple different audio tracks independently at the same time so they can be manipulated or mixed at a later point. Virtual soundcheck is playing back individual tracks at the same time so that they can be mixed, processed, and routed without needing performers to generate the signal themselves. This is a great way to practice mixing, figure out routing and other setup issues, or let the performers hear how things sound and get their feedback.
Behringer’s X/M32 and WING consoles both have a built in USB computer interface.
On the X/M32 series, the included expansion card has a USB-B port (early versions of the X32 had a card with both USB and Firewire, and although not as common anymore firewire had its advantages) and can provide 32×32 digital audio over USB to and from a computer. The Behringer X-Live Expansion card includes the ability to record/playback from Dual SD cards and maintains the USB-B port interface.
The WING console comes standard with an Expansion Card with dual SD card slots for recording and playback of up to 64 channels and has a permanent built-in USB-B port that acts as both an audio interface (48×48 channels) and as a disk connection to the console.
The nice thing about the SD card recorders is that you can multi-track your shows and/or do virtual soundcheck without needing any extra equipment. The drawback is that the cards record to a single multi-track wave file that needs to be split using computer software before you can do anything with it outside of the mixer.
Since the X/M32 have a built in audio interface over USB, you also have the option to multitrack directly to a computer. There are many advantages to recording directly to a DAW via USB. First, is that with enough storage space on a drive connected to your computer, your recording time is virtually endless. One advantage is that since you can record onto individual tracks in a DAW, no other processing or conversion is necessary to work with the files in a DAW. If you setup and recorded tracks and after the show realized that you had empty tracks that were not used you could delete just the individual track and cut down on storage space. Another major advantage is that you can easily build, change, and organize your multitrack files in a way that works best for you. You can import files into a session and create a virtual soundcheck session or show playback session without having to record onto the SD card and, by using the computer DAW you have addition transport and editing power that you do not have with the SD card recording setup. The downside to this setup is needing to bring along a computer as well as channels used for recording/playback over the USB interface cannot be used for something else. What do I mean by that? The USB interface can be used to run other software, for instance Waves Multi-rack or SuperRack software that can integrate Waves plugins into your mixer.
Waves Tracks Live
I highly recommend Waves Tracks Live for both multitrack recording and virtual soundcheck. This is a FREE program from Waves and has been built solely as a multitrack recorder and playback DAW What does that mean? It does not have all of the editing/processing functions of a standard DAW, it operates more like a digital tape machine- but it is incredibly efficient and rock solid, designed to run forever and use the least amount of system resources. Also it is FREE, easy to use, and you don’t have to worry about updates or licensing dongles. It records the tracks to individual .Wav files and you can easily import them into your DAW of choice. Did I mention it is FREE, easy, and rock solid?
See the below image to see what Waves Tracks Lives looks like with a session going. You can see the meter bridge across the top, which makes it easy to see where you have audio recording or playing at any given time.
Waves is phasing out support and moving towards Reaper for use with their Soundgrid systems, but for Mac systems up to 10.14 and Windows systems running Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10 it is an excellent software recording and playback solution.
See the link below to go to the Waves Tracks Live website and check it out.
I will have more in-depth how-to articles for multi-track recording and virtual soundcheck for both the X32 and WING in future articles, as well as different routing possibilities for the USB interface including plugin processing, direct digital sends from Spotify or iTunes or Qlab.
See the following post about how to set up Waves Tracks Live to record multi-tracks or run a virtual soundcheck.