Midas MR18 digital tablet mixer
It’s M, not X, and there’s a BIG difference
By Jason Allen.
Uli Behringer’s ‘MUSIC Tribe’ now manufactures audio products that are remarkable similar, and separates them into ‘Behringer’ or ‘Midas’ branded product. Before reviewing the Midas MR18, I was very familiar with the Behringer equivalent, the XR18, having used it and its capable automixing functions for some simple video production duties.
When I pulled the MR18 out of the box, there it was, identical in almost every single way, except the branding on the very compact box. A lot of the market have initially reacted the same way I did – this is exactly the same product, but with a bigger price tag. We’re all wrong.
MUSIC Tribe set very strict internal delineations between what is a ‘Behringer’ product and what is a ‘Midas’ product. These are mainly differing standards of signal to noise ratio, and common mode rejection.
I once did a double-blind listening test between three mic preamps that had EXACTLY the same circuit design but were made with differing quality components. The difference was stark. Even blind, the preamp built with the most expensive parts easily came out on top.
In a nutshell, a Midas branded MUSIC Tribe product has vastly superior CMR and SNR to a Behringer branded one, and it’s obvious when comparing the MR18 to the XR18.
There are two Midas ‘M’ tablet mixers; the MR12 and the MR18. The MR18 has 16 Midas preamps and two TRS line ins, the MR12 four preamps and eight line ins. The MR18 has 10 outs analogue, the MR12 four. The other big difference is the USB interface – the MR18 boasts a bi-directional 18×18 interface, the MR12 2×2.
The MR18 gives you six busses and LR with inserts, full dynamics processing and 6-band parametric or 31-band graphic EQ over each, and four FX processors with processing options for days.
Considering their RRPs are but $600 apart, they are very different beasts.
Apart from the CMR performance of the preamps, which Midas is justifiably known for, the MR18 has an improved power supply compared to its X cousin, producing less system noise overall. It also has a superior built-in WiFi router, leading to less dropouts experienced by users who ponied up the extra dough for the Midas name.
The M AIR app for iPad and Android (you can also use PC or Mac) is also superior to the X equivalent. Menus and functions are easier to get to, layout is more logical to my eye, and there are more display options for different work styles.
While it seems wrong to use the word ‘tactile’ to describe a tablet interface, the M AIR app definitely ‘feels’ better than the X AIR, and certainly looks more professional, even though we shouldn’t judge such things with our eyes. And yet, we do. Other goodies include Ultranet connection for Behringer P-16 personal monitors, with a Midas version mooted to be announced soon. It’s always nice to see MIDI in and out, so various propellerheads (me included) can joyously look up tables of CC values and get a weird assortment of controllers to make it do things.
With the modest MR12 retailing at $749, I find it hard to believe that any professional couldn’t put together the extra $600 to pick up the MR18. It is more than capable of handling 90% of average, workaday gigs, can send 18 channels to multitrack, costs almost nothing compared to the gear of yore, and fits in a backpack.
And it DEFINITELY sounds better than its cheaper stable-mate.
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