Iconic West Hollywood nightclub Whisky A Go-Go has installed its first digital audio consoles – Behringer X32 consoles in both front of house and monitor positions.
“Our last console was purchased about 30 years ago, and obviously it was analogue. So it was time,” said Leonard Contreras, production manager and front of house engineer for the club, which has served as the launch pad for dozens of high-profile acts over the years. “The X32 is a great-sounding console. I love the Midas-designed preamps, and the FX algorithms are awesome – clean quiet, just amazing. I love it, and everyone else who works at the Whisky is pretty stoked about it, too.”
Contreras, who has been mixing at the Whisky for about 17 years between stints on the road, had been curious about the X32. “The engineering community has been buzzing about the X32, especially the ‘powered by Midas' preamps, but I hadn’t heard it. Then Jerry Lopez, a buddy of mine who also mixes around town, purchased one. He was raving about it, so I asked if I could borrow it. I brought it in for a couple nights at front of house, and it sounded great. Then we swapped it to monitors, and it was amazing.”
Contreras then put the X32 to an even tougher test – life on the road. “I got to explore all the features, and hear it through multiple PA systems in different venues," he explained. "And the sound was phenomenal. I especially loved the ability to record my shows nightly on my laptop, then use the playback as a virtual sound check the next day without the band even being on stage. It made my life a lot easier, and it’s an unbelievable feature at the X32’s price point. After that tour, I was sold.”
The Behringer X32 fitted in well at the Whisky A Go-Go, for several reasons. The console’s intuitive layout proved to be easy for visiting engineers to learn, and the on-board processing power has expanded the venue’s EQ and effects capabilities, while eliminating racks of external compressors, gates, and effects.
“There was some concern with making the change, obviously. We did a training, basically showing the layout, the features, and navigation,” said Contreras. “But one of the attractions for me was that it’s a really easy console to learn. The layout, the routing… it’s just very well thought out. Plus, the engineers at the Whisky are pretty savvy. They understand signal flow and gain structure, so it was a pretty easy change. Additionally, Behringer has excellent tech support and are always there for you.”
The system’s free iPad app, X32-Mix, has proven very useful at both FOH and monitor positions. “The house mix position at the Whisky is upstairs, which has always been a problem, especially for visiting engineers,” says Leonard Contreras. “Now we can go downstairs during the first song and make adjustments on the floor. And the monitor engineer can dial in wedges directly on stage, which is much faster and more accurate. The bands love it.”
Contreras is also impressed with Behringer’s recent upgrades to the X32-Mix app in version 2.1.1. “There are a bunch of new features, including group mutes and another 100 presets through your computer. Storing scenes is now really user-friendly, and navigating is really easy as well,” he said. “You really have access to the whole mixer, including all the features, which is not the case on a lot of other apps I’ve used. All you need is a wireless router and an Ethernet cable and you can literally mix the whole show on your iPad. Great feature.”
Having installed the two consoles in June, Leonard Contreras has no second thoughts. “For anyone who’s playing the Whisky, it’s an important gig, and we’ve had nothing but great success with this console,” he said. “The preamps mean the sound quality is great, and it’s really easy for the band’s engineer to learn. I just give them a rundown on the features, show them the navigation and how to use presets, then just step away and they’re good to go. The X32 is just a great machine, and I’m a happy camper.”