Not so long ago I had a chance to play with Behringers’ new X32 digital mixing board. Number of reviews were produced and posted on youtube about x32. While I was posting videos I would wonder if any other pro audio manufacturer can take up the challenge to produce an alternative digital mixer around the pricetag of Behringer’s X32. Well, looks like there is a new digital mixer coming out soon (by the time of writing this article) about the same price range and similar sets of features as X32. It grabbed my attention, and I thought I will spend some time researching Roland m200i. I had mixed feelings about the board (roland m200i) so decided to share some comparison points that in my opinion could be important in choosing a digital sound mixer.
As mentioned, I did have a chance to play around with Behringers’ X32, but didn’t get any chance to try Roland m200i yet, so this comparison will be focused on features and not the feel or durability. Also, I am going to compare only stock products, without any modifications and add-ons.
Dimensions and weights: Overall dimensions. Behringer x32 is bigger in size then Roland m200i. X32’s dimensions are 35.442″ W x 20.75″ D x 8.7136″ H while Roland m200i is designed to fit into a standard 19” rack, so dimentions are 19.6/16W x 19.5/16D x 7.13/16H. Obviously x32 (45.5lbs) is heavier than m200i (21lbs).
Built in Display: Both Units have built in displays, however Behringer x32 has a 800×480 high-contrast color TFT display, while Roland m200i has a smaller graphic LCD 132 x 64 dots display with backlight. None of the mixers have built in touch sensitive displays.
Faders: Both mixers are equipped with motorized faders. Behringer has 16 faders providing access to channels 1-16, 17-32, Aux inputs/USB playback/Fx returns and 8 more faders to control DCA groups, bus masters, and matrixes. So all together, Behringer x32 has 25 (one for master volume) motorized faders. On the other other hand, Roland has only 17 motorized faders including master volume.
Access to controls: Access to channel strip controls (eq, compressors, gain) on is more convenient Behringer x32 than on Roland m200i V-mixer. Behringer x32 has dedicated X channel strip which is activated as soon as the channel is selected. So, for the live environment it takes less time to tweak the sound on x32 in real time. There are small LCD displays that can be customized to different colors, thumbnails and text to identify the channel on every fader of behringer’s x32. Roland m200i doesn’t have this feature, so don’t forget to bring a board tape and Sharpie to the gig to label channels.
Compare I/O Count.
Behringer x32 has 32 build in analog inputs, 16 assignable outputs, two studio outs, and 8 AUX sends and returns. No additional equipment is required to access these I/Os. All XLR inputs built into x32 can accept microphone and line level signals (there is a pad for each channel to match the signal level).
On the other hand, Roland m200i has only 24 inputs build into the board. Out of these 24 inputs, 16 are XLR inputs and 6 are ¼ inch jack inputs and 2 rca inputs. I assume that only 16 mic level signals can be connected to the board. The mixer has 10 assignable outputs, 6 XLR and 4 ¼ inch jacks plus 2 XLR for main outputs.
Looks like Behringer is more flexible with it’s I/O architecture, though both digital mixers expandable to add more I/O sources.
External Control Options (iPad, Computer etc. )
Both units can be controlled from iPad or iPhone. Behringer x32 has a dedicated place for an iPhone(iPod) and Roland m200i has a dedicated stand for iPad. Apps for both units allow access to almost all features of their respective boards. Roland m200i has a dedicated spot to set the tablet comfortably.
Compare I/O interfaces (soundcard)
Multitrack recording during live shows, in a studio, or rehearsal places became more standard and sound interface is a crucial part to new digital mixers. Behringer has an expansion board that allows to add 32 inputs and 32 outputs for multitrack recording and playback from DAW. So far all Behringer x32 boards shipped with this expansion board. As for Roland m200i, I wasn’t able to find any specs on this functionality. There are expansions for it, but it doesn’t look like it’s built in or ships together.
Effect Processors (DSP)
Behringer x32 has 8 separate DSP processors while Roland m200i has only four. Not much information on Roland’s m200i Dsp so far. Behringer has already a number of effect plugins developed for x32 board and there is a rumor that company will release SDK to developers (or public, not sure). Since we got the board, number of effect plugins increased with new firmware updates, so looks like Behringer is on top of it.
Not much to say here, both units work with 44.1kHz and 48kHz.
Roland m200i alone (without any extension) is slightly more expensive then Behringer x32 (with digital firewire and USB sound interface built in). In fact, closest digital board that will match all Behringer’s x32 features costs almost four times more than x32.
So, it feels like Behringer X32 is a better value and believe or not I do not affiliate or endorse either Behringer or Roland. This conclusion is based only on comparing features, but not the quality of those products. If I ever get a chance to put my hands on Roland m200i, I would probably make more precise conclusions. We all know that Roland’s products are well respected for their quality and perhaps that can have a dramatic impact on the value of Roland m200i.
Check out table below were I tried to summarize main comparison points.
|Comparison Points||Behringer x32||Roland m200i|
|Dimensions||35.442″ W x 20.75″ D x 8.7136″||19.6/16W x 19.5/16D x 7.13/16H|
|Display||800×480 high-contrast color TFT||LCD 132 x 64 dots|
|Physical Inputs||32xlr and 6 1/4inch and 2rca Aux Returns||16 xlr, 6 1/4inch and 2rca|
|Physical Outputs||16xlr, 2 main xlr, 6 1/4inch and 2rca Aux sends||8xlr (2 main) and 4 1/4inch|
|Digital Audio Interface||Ships with 32in 32 out usb or firewire interface||None|