The mixer can handle up to 32 channels, it has 16 internal busses and eight aux sends as well as dynamics and gates plus four-band parametric EQ on every channel but not the busses. It also includes four onboard effects processors based on the Behringer Virtualizer algorithms. Sample rates of In this respect, the output arrangement is very like that of the smaller Yamaha mixers and recorders.

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The mixer can handle up to 32 channels, it has 16 internal busses and eight aux sends as well as dynamics and gates plus four-band parametric EQ on every channel but not the busses.

It also includes four onboard effects processors based on the Behringer Virtualizer algorithms. Sample rates of In this respect, the output arrangement is very like that of the smaller Yamaha mixers and recorders. The digital out always follows the main stereo mix and may be 16, 20 or bit with or without noise-shaped dither. Phantom power is switchable in two banks covering channels one to eight and nine to A small gain trim pot completes the input stage, after which the signal is digitised and routed to the floating-point DSP mixing engine.

Before leaving the top section of the mixer, where the majority of the sockets and input controls are located, I should also mention the Phones out, with separate level control, and the control-room level control with 'Mon dB' button above the master fader plus two-track playback switching. The operational paradigm of the mixer is sufficiently similar to that established by Yamaha that existing Yamaha O-series owners should have little problem finding their way around the DDX The most obvious initial differences are that some aspects of the routing are arranged differently and there's no EQ or dynamics on the 16 Groups, but in other areas there are operational improvements over most competing lower-cost digital mixers, such as the rotary encoders in each channel strip with 'ring of LEDs' read-out, separate compressors and gates that can be used simultaneously, full-length faders and the sheer number of possible inputs and busses.

There are also four effect processors rather than the usual two. One operational nicety that impressed me very early on was the use of the context-sensitive prompts that appeared whenever I tried to do something that might not be entirely obvious — such as when copying settings from one channel to another.

In fact most aspects of the console are refreshingly clear, including the unusually concise manual. The front-panel layout is encouragingly straightforward with all the function access buttons set out in clearly-defined sections to the left of the display: Fader, Channel Control, Proc essor , General and Auto mation.

As with most assignable consoles, variable levels relating to channels, busses, aux sends and so on are handled using the channel faders and rotary controls, while EQ and processing is controlled via the display and the physical controls associated with it.

A step, stereo bar-graph meter monitors the main output. The rotary encoders can access any of the eight aux sends or the channel pan, the function being switchable from the Channel Control section using dedicated buttons.

Whenever the function is changed, the LEDs surrounding the controls change to depict the value of the currently selected function. Channel levels are shown by element meters alongside each fader and these can be set in the Meters menu either to follow the fader designation or to show the values on one fader bank while adjusting another. The meters read pre- or post-fade as is appropriate for the selected fader bank function.

Solo works conventionally, feeding the control room outs when active, but is rendered inactive when the Solo Enable switch is set to off. Solo Enable can also be switched off to cancel all current Solo settings. Channels may be routed directly to the stereo mix buss or to any of 16 group busses, which are arranged as eight stereo busses for routing purposes.

When feeding the busses, the channel signal can be set pre- or post-fader, which is useful when working with an external multitrack machine, as it allows the monitor level to be adjusted without changing the 'to tape' levels. Buss outs may also be routed back to channel inputs if necessary, but care must be taken not to set up feedback loops by routing something to itself.

The default routing for the expansion cards can also be changed, but only on blocks of eight channels. As with most of its competitors, the DDX makes use of libraries to store settings for its internal effects and processors EQ as well as dynamic plus the complete settings for individual channel strips. The EQ section is fully parametric, with all parameters displayed on screen and controlled by the knobs beneath them.

Up to 18dB of cut or boost is provided in each band. I was impressed to find that every channel's in-built compressor can have its side-chain controlled from any other channel as well as from its own input, which enables the user to set up ducking effects quite easily.

In other respects, the compressor is similar in concept to the one found in Yamaha mixers, with variable threshold, ratio, attack, release, knee and gain. A small area to the right of the display page shows the compressor curve and gain reduction. Delay is available only on the first 16 channels, though all 32 channels have switchable phase.

It's also possible to record and replay fader movements and mutes over MIDI and to use the DDX to control software devices, such as sequencer mixers, using MIDI Continuous Controller data — note, however, that some remappng will probably be required at the sequencer end, as Controllers 1 to 32 relate to channel volume levels 1 to There are no dedicated hardware transport controls, though — when the transport screen is open, the push switches in the controller knobs below the LCD screen fill that role.

It can also save and load up to static snapshots. Dynamic automation may be run against SMPTE, MTC at all standard rates including drop frame or the mixer's own internal clock, and virtually any parameter change other than the analogue input gain can be recorded for later playback.

A start snapshot of the current desk setup is created automatically when you clear the previously stored mix. Unmoved controls remain in play mode so you don't have to keep disabling automation recording functions, such as dynamics or effects, to keep them safe from unplanned changes when you're working.

In Relative mode, the faders move to their 0dB position, which means you can increase levels by up to 12dB or reduce them by as much as you like. There are also global Record and Play switches that affect all channels when dynamic automation is switched on. This system doesn't relate back to the original snapshot data, but rather copies it in real time while recording mix automation, so if the snapshot is subsequently changed or deleted, it won't affect the recorded automated mix.

When the global Write switch is pressed, all channels go to record-ready status, so if you need to make any safe or place them immediately into write, you must do so manually before proceeding.

To prevent abrupt transitions when editing mix data, there are three 'release' options available when dropping out of mix record. Finally, you can opt to Write To End so that your final automation level is held until the end of the song. Note that the console stores just one automation file, which must be purged from the internal flash memory before you can do another after backing up to PC or PCMCIA card if you need to go back to it.

The channel delay can also be set up to produce basic repeating echo effects independently of the effects section. Because of the intuitive operating system, I was able to find my way around this console pretty quickly and, where help was needed, it was either forthcoming from the context-sensitive display prompts or easily found in the manual.

The PC software is not included, as it is subject to frequent revisions, but the latest version may be downloaded at www. Unfortunately, it is available for PC only, so I was unable to test it.

Starting with the mic amps, though they are not as sensitive or as clean as good outboard mic amps, these are adequate for most jobs and are comparable to those fitted to the budget Yamaha desks. Digital desk EQ varies enormously according to design. Cutting the high end on an aggressive violin, for example, results in the aggressive element of the sound being pushed down in level, but it doesn't sound as smooth or as rounded as when doing the same thing with an analogue EQ.

My impression of the Behringer EQ is that it falls somewhere in between these two extremes, and it's certainly very usable in most situations. It's also very easy to adjust, with one knob for moving between bands and others for directly adjusting the selected band's parameters.

Having access to four internal Virtualizers means you're unlikely to need external effects, though you can patch in others easily if you need to. In terms of automation, although there's no fancy off-line mix editing, it's actually easier and quicker just to record the relevant mix moves again in most cases. I like the long-throw faders and the dedicated hardware buttons for accessing the main automation modes, and, of all the mixer automation systems I've tried, this is perhaps one of the easiest to use.

The routing system offers sufficient flexibility without going overboard, and the internal structure means that it won't feel underpowered if you fill up both expansion slots. I was also favourably impressed by the smooth fader action when running automated mixes. While the mic amps aren't the best I've heard, they're adequate for most applications and comparable with the competition.

No digital console will satisfy everyone, but I have to admit that the DDX gives you far more than you might expect for the price, with surprisingly few compromises. The DDX appears to meet virtually all the needs of someone wanting a cost-effective digital mixer to accompany their eight or track digital recorder.

Pros Supremely attractive price. Long-throw motorised faders. Generous number of channels, busses and processors. Easy to use, with clear manual. Mix automation only holds one song at a time. Summary The DDX appears to meet virtually all the needs of someone wanting a cost-effective digital mixer to accompany their eight or track digital recorder.

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