This post is dedicated to all of you looking to get the most out of your Midas M32 (or Behringer X32), those who are tired of scrolling through forums trying to figure out if Waves MultiRack is worth it, and those wondering how to implement MultiRack on one of these fantastic consoles.
In November of 2014 I finally took delivery of my most prized possession: a Midas M32. Over the last few months I've been slowly learning how to dial it in. Learning the EQ, tweaking compressor settings, and having fun seeing what the internal "plugins" do to my channels. However, in the back of my mind I've always wanted more. I've been mixing (via Logic Pro X) with Waves plugins for some time and I've loved what I've gotten from them. I've always known there was ways to use plugins live, but they've always been just out of reach. Until recently.
In early March, Waves announced a new program called Track Live [link]. A FREE application that gives rock solid multi-tracking and playback for those wanting a simple to use program. But wait! For $99 you can get the "premium service" AND MultiRack Native. So for $99 you can buy MultiRack Native and you get another cool app you might use some day. Needless to say, within 10 minutes of getting the email I had made the purchase.
I have the wonderful fortune of having over 6 TB of live recordings that I can use for virtual sound check and that has helped me immensely. If you're not currently using virtual sound check (or recording your gigs for that matter), go out and buy or borrow a computer with a USB port and start tracking your sessions! I knew to get started wrapping my head around MultiRack I'd need to rely on some one-on-one time with the M32 and virtual sound check.
After spending about an hour thinking about it and another 30 minutes experimenting I found what would be the best way to implement MultiRack. To understand exactly why, you need to understand how I use the console. I (typically) run FOH and monitors from the same console. The primary band I work with uses the P16 mixers and in-ears so I knew having any additional latency would not work. I run the P16 system either postEQ or pre-EQ depending on the channel and the artist's desires. I also demand that I'm able to multi-track the inputs, so that also weighs in. Therefore, I decided to run MultiRack as an insert on the channels.
Do to the M32's lovely patching system (sarcasm), I am limited to 6 true inserts. The system is designed to use the ¼" ins/outs on the back of the console for physical patching to external gear, but the same concept works for patching digitally to MultiRack via the USB. To configure this, you need to patch both ends of the Insert.
Step 1: Outputting
Under your routing section, go to the card out page. Patch Expansion Card Outputs 25-32 to Aux 1-6/Mon. This effectively routes the "send" portion of the Insert to card outputs 25-30... Channels 31 & 32 and then patched to the monitor system. Not real helpful, so thanks Behringer/Midas for making us patch in blocks of 8. It should look like this:
Step 2: Inputting
Now you have to patch the Insert's return. To do this, arrow over to the home tab of the routing section. Here you probably have inputs 1-32 set to be Local x-x or AES50 if you're using stage boxes. The last column is the Aux In Remap. This is where you need to tell the Aux Inputs to be Card 1-6. Again, thanks for this semi-constricting routing option. If I could suggest allowing to patch from any of the card returns that would be splendid. The problem with using Card 1-6 for Inserts only is because it mucks up Virtual Sound Check possibilities. I'll talk more about that later... The other issue is that you can no longer use the physical Aux Ins on the back which is a bummer because I used those to plug in my iPod. Now I resort to going through a DI...
Step 3: Inserting
Now you need to choose what channel you put the inserts on. This is where you get to be artistic, but keep in mind you only have 6 inserts so choose wisely. For the band I work with, One Brick Shy, I'm using MultiRack for vocals primarily (although I'm toying with the idea of using it on guitars). In this image you can see I've chosen to put Insert 1 on channel 16 which happens to be our lead vocalist. I've chosen to put the insert point after the EQ because of how we use our P16. I don't want them to get the MultiRack signal because of potential latency issues with their in-ears.
Step 4: MultiRacking
To set up MultiRack for this configuration, you'll first want to make sure you're connected to your M32 via USB and that it's set as the audio device in MultiRack. Then, create 6 mono racks. Set the inputs of the racks to channels 25-30, and the outputs to channels 1-6. To the right is a look at the setup I used at this past weekend's gig. I chose not to use the VocalRider because I couldn't get it dialed in quite right and I ended up fighting it early on.
You now have 6 fully routed and usable inserts with MultiRack! Just add your favorite Waves plugins and have fun! If you want to take it to yet another level, I did figure out one more thing you can use MultiRack for: time based effects... aka reverb & delay. I tried this on my own time but I couldn't find a reverb that I liked more than the built in options of the M32. That's my opinion, but you can try it for yourself. To get this to work without using inserts I routed busses 9-12 to outputs 9-12, and then routed outputs 9-12 (actually 9-16 because you have to patch in 8s) to card outs 17-24. I then routed them back to inputs 25-32 (although you could do inputs 17-24 if you want to keep the numbers straight). Why 8 returns? Because I wanted my mono busses to return stereo for stereo reverbs and delays. The downside to this is that you loose 8 physical inputs. If that's not too critical then go for it.
But can I multi-track and virtual sound check AND MultiRack? I could honestly not find an answer to this on the old WWW. So I tried it. I will add a disclaimer, I have a brand new Macbook Pro 15" with the 2.5 ghz i7 and 16gb of ram. If you have an ancient machine I wouldn't hold your breath for this to work. I actually tried it first at my church via their Soundcraft Si3. I simultaneously used Logic Pro X to track 36 channels and MultiRack to process 8 channels of mono audio and another 4 of mono to stereo all while making MultiRack run at a buffer size of 32 samples. I don't generally suggest subjecting one's self to that much stress, but it worked!
There might be some out there that claim it's not a good idea, but I haven't seen or heard a logical reason yet. For me, Logic Pro X tracks inputs 1-16 or however many inputs I'm using (no need to record blank channels!) as if I wasn't even using MultiRack. The M32 and it's USB Mac driver didn't seem to have a problem sharing itself between two applications. Virtual Sound check (aka playing back what was just recorded) is a little more tricky in this setup. As I pointed out earlier, outputs 1-6 from the computer are used for insert returns (and 7-8 are wasted). In a typical Virtual Soundcheck scenario you'd route your inputs 1-to-1 back to the outputs. Input 1 to output 1, input 16 to output 16, and so on. For this to work I had to route my first 8 channels in logic to output channels 17-24.
On the M32 I had to work some more magic. I ended up creating some Snippits to swap between Mic and Card inputs. The trick is changing the "Source" of the input channel from Mic 1 to Card 17. If you just change routing you'll end up just changing between Mic 1 and Card 1. To get past this you need to real the Config of channels 1-8 and the Routing of the console. The only hitch with this plan is that it'll also set your scribble strips so you might need to set the snippet up for each show you have. Pain in the butt but if you get to use the same layout over and over it'll make things fast and easy. I hope that Midas/Behringer wake up and make it easier to make these changes!
Here is a song demo from the evening. Keep in mind this is a board mix at a (horrible sounding) bar. I was mixing amongst a large-ish crowd that probably had a 80-90 dB background noise level. I've done some post-processing to this to tighten it up and clean up the balance a little. Let's face it, board mixes never really sound that great with out a little love. Especially from a bar.
This is whole MultiRack Native thing is definitely still a work in progress as I try new plugins and am faced with new scenarios. If you have any questions, comments, or helpful tricks to share, make sure to comment. I hope you enjoyed this!