Some questions about the QU-16

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This topic contains 19 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Kibosh Kibosh 9 years, 11 months ago.

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    Profile photo of Kibosh

    Hey all,

    I’ve been scrolling through these forums already and many answers are solved, some not so clear yet. But this seems like a very nice community with many people jumping in. Nice to see.

    At the end of last year I have made the decision to go more to hardware then doing everything inside Ableton Live with plugins. I now came to a point that my audio interface is out off analog ins. So instead of buying an expansion through ADAT, I thought why not a digital mixer like the Allen & Heath Qu-16? Then I will also have the hands-on experience when mixing the tracks. The mixer will be used only for studio use with hardware synths, drum machines to make EDM style music.

    But it’s expensive so I want to do my homework and not get a cat in a bag. 😉

    My system: I’m running Ableton Live 9 on a Windows 7 64 bit. So here are the questions:

      How stable are the Windows drivers? Any problems occured?
      I never worked with Allen & Heath before. How is the support?
      How is the build quality? Will it reach 10 years or more (studio use)
      According to the brochure, the QU-16 can send 24 and return 22 channels through USB into a DAW (my case Ableton). Is this simultanously? For example, can I send the analog ins from my hardware synth into Ableton, process them inside Ableton with some plugins, and return them into the Qu in realtime for further processing?
      Continuing on the point before, with that many IO’s, what is the expected latency?
      For the build in compressor and gate: Can you do side-chaining on them?
      How many internal FX does the Qu have? I see 4 slots, but on the side only two buttons?

    To end, I’ll try to explain what I’m truly looking for:

    I want to have a mixer to have more hands-on and use Ableton more and more only for the midi. But for now, I still use a lot off plugins like Native Instruments Massive and others, so I don’t want to loose these. Being able to send them back into the mixer and work hands-on from there would be a dream. But while doing so, I don’t want to give up any off the analog inputs. When I look at my tracks now, I’m rarely go beyond 24 audio tracks in total (hardware and plugins).

    Also for some sounds, the normal route off gate, compressor, EQ and a combined effects channel isn’t good enough. For some sounds I want to be able to send it to Ableton and use much more complex effect racks on the sound to get those special results.

    And last but not least: I want all the above in real-time. I do NOT want to record sounds, and then work from there. No! I want to be able to adapt all sounds continuously in realtime. That’s my workflow and I can’t go another way.

    So my concern is with the USB latency. I’m sure I can stream to ableton, then go back into the mixer and hear everything to my speakers. But what will the latency be between it all? Can I use the inbuild latency adjustment in Ableton to get around this problem?

    A big thanx in advance

    Profile photo of

    Great questions.
    I’ll watch with interest :+)
    I dont know Apleton Live software however some thoughts for you?

    So you want to mix live from the QU to your PC
    then return at the same time via 2 track or per channel back to the QU? (You can do this to 2 track return, that’s basically mixing ITB)
    And is that using the QU faders as midi faders for levels with Apleton?
    Hold on I just re-read what you have written there.
    Are you saying you are wanting to insert the Ableton tracks on your PC within the channels on the QU16?
    At any given time the QU only allows either Mic/Line input. OR USB B streaming. dSnake & the QU drive as well, however you are not asking about those 2
    I know the GSR24 you can do this and use PC or Mac as an insert
    Interestingly I was just reading yesterday the GLD can use other plugins in real time

    Windows driver (Asio 2) are great and have 2 (drop down tabs) settings to adjust latency and samples

    QU is built like a tank so its strong.
    Ten years use in a studio? That’s a how long is a piece of string question…

    You said you want to do all of this in real time?
    You can switch between ITB and OTB however that’s between all ready recorded multi tracks on/from your PC or MAC and that’s not what you are asking about
    Latency? The crunch….

    Bit of a rave there.
    hope some of this is helpful.

    Profile photo of Kibosh

    Hey Dhak,

    I guess you are on the right track on what I want. I guess it something like an insert but it does not need to be.

    I’ll give an example:
    On inputs 1 to 4 on the QU there is a hardware synth that just will go into Ableton live and comes back out at the main mix from Ableton to the Qu. Just like I’m working now with my audio interface, a Steinberg UR824. So that should work fine. (I think)

    But on input 5-6 on the QU I have some drumsounds I want to heavilly adjust with lots off stuff. I want to send them into Ableton, process them there, and then back into the QU on for example one off those custom channels where I can then process them with the QU’s EQ and compressor as a final stage mix.

    On other custom channels, I then want to add some software synths from Ableton, for example NI Massive, into the QU, maybe also processed first in Ableton, but final processing on the QU.

    And yes, all the above should be playing at the same time.

    I do not want to first go into the QU, record into Ableton, and then playback recorded files. Nope, all realtime. I guess like you have put it, ITB+OTB a the same time. Let’s call it open box mixing, LOL.

    Seeing the routing options I think it might be possible. But I only saw some video’s on Youtube and read some. Real life is always something else.

    Also therefore my concern about latency. To give an idea: I now reach an overall latency of 14ms (in+out) with a buffer of 128 samples with the Steinberg, which has 8 ins and 8 outs. It’s set at 48KHz.

    The thing is, Ableton Live, just as other DAW’s, are very flexibel. For example in Ableton live I can create effects rack without limit on each seperate channel. The limit comes when the CPU get’s hot. I don’t want to loose that just to have some hands-on mixer. Nope, the mixer needs to work together with Ableton.

    And having midi control on Ableton’s faders is for me just a nice extra, but I’ll probably use all channels for audio.

    Profile photo of

    Hi Kibosh
    I use Reaper where I could do what you are saying or asking
    So long as you have enough channels on your desk you can do that Via
    routing matrix within the software in your PC or MAC to other channels to return the mixed signals.
    I am talking the Reaper thing here where you can assign any input and out-put to anywhere.
    Hopefully Ableton has a matrix where you could do this as well?

    Of course there would be issues of latency or are you talking out of time-ness (phase) due to latency of which case every channel has delay however the delay in the desk is in ms

    If you can assign out-puts to non corresponding channels then you can return the 1st four tracks to the master return being anywhere and also some pre-recording tracks to 5 6 7 8? and then also add some other synths to 9 10 11 12 but you would have to return those to 13 14 15 16 as you are already using the mic/line inputs on the desk.
    As i say I dont know Ableton and its in’s and out’s however if the software is similar to Reaper then you could mix tracks into a sub group and return those into ST1 2 & or3 as well as returning the ITB masters to a channels or ST1 2 &3 as well.. or anywhere back into the QU so long as the channel those channels in the QU are not being used as a FRONT END or anything else.
    Its either / or when it comes to channels and assigning the source

    So with all this said
    the page or TAB on the QU you should be interested in is the assignment or config page 23 of the PDF, (source tab its called)
    use either
    Local dSNake USB B streaming or QU drive.
    hope this helps

    The 4 effects are really good.
    They can be inserted on channels
    driven from a mix send
    or used as per the 2 buttons over on the right withing the QU

    I think you should study the system block diagram

    So does Ableton have a matrix routing system where you tick boxes or swipe etc?
    attached is the Reaper example of the matrix router
    I use the QU as a side car to mix channels on the fly which can be used like dubb mixing
    The QU controls tracks from 25 through to 40
    But I experimented with the QU and MAC (& PC) ins and outs and I just couldnt break it.
    Fader control loading and flicking between ITB and OTB however that was all a pre recorded multi track.
    However on PC there is no return drivers to move faders . bi driectional I think they call it.
    And I did have to make template and midi map the faders.
    Hope this helps you

    dave NZ

    Profile photo of

    Hello Kibosh
    I had a quick squizzy at Ableton Live 8 on youtube
    That was quite impressive
    Not sure how the 9 is different to the 8 but I can kind of see where you are coming from.
    I was thinking about your scenario and I think the QU will do what you want
    However you might want to think in the long term scenario of getting the QU24 (more money but long term… )
    More channels to return to QU channels
    if you mix live you would have 2 subgroups to your main outs’

    Question: so do you mix live and record down to another 2 track out of the main outputs of the desk?
    If you set the QU up as a studio desk with the ALT out puts going to studio monitors, i’m pretty sure you can record out though the 2 track out.
    hope i have helped
    rave rave


    Profile photo of Kibosh

    Hey Dhak,

    Already a big thanx for the help. It was pleasent to see your reaction after a frustrating day at the office. Your explanations sounds very promising.

    About Ableton Live 9. What you can do with Live 8, you can do with Live 9 and a bit more. I love it because off the “scenes”. You can create all different paterns, with all kind off variations and stuff. And when done, you can then copy paste or simply record them into the arrangement view. You can download a free trial if you want to check it out. Like you probably saw in the YouTube video, you can for each channel in Live the input source and output source independed from each other. There is no matrix, it’s direct on the channels. For example on channel 6 I can choose the input from the QU, send the output to another channel in Ableton (for example a bus), and then send it back to the QU. It’s very easy. Here is nice video about it:

    About your question: I don’t mix live. I only will use two outputs for my speakers. It’s only for EDM, so only to hook up hardware synths, drum machines and maybe a microphone.

    I’ve also downloaded the manual but I’m a bit confused about that “custom layer”. With that custom layer you get another 16 faders, on those faders you can then select “mono or stereo input channels”. But with the Qu-16, are there then more then 16 mono channels? For example channels 17-24 from DSnake and 25-32 from USB?

    It’s not clear from the manual. So with the QU-16, do you only have 16 channels (for example 10 analog ins and then 6 from USB) or does it have more, (for example all 16 analog in + the custom layer faders with 8 from DSnake and 8 from USB?) If it is the second then I’m fine with the Qu-16, if not, I guess that can be a deal breaker because the Qu-24 is probably to costly. I would find it strange that you can add an expansion with a DSnake, that you only would have 16 channels. I would think 16 + Dsnake or the USB inputs from the DAW.

    The Qu-16 doesn’t have a bus, but if the above is like I hope, I can use the custom layer with the USB inputs as a bus.

    Another import question is side-chaining. Can you do this with the compressor and gate? For mixing EDM, you need the duck the bassline when the kick comes in. Especially for club tracks. Without side-chaining it all gets to muddy. At this point I don’t think it’s possible, which I find strange because I would think with other styles of music, you also want to side-chain the bass.

    Again a very big thank you. You’re input surely helped.

    Profile photo of HansvdL

    Hi Kibosh,

    I can’t help with the Ableton Live questions (although most seem to have been answered already), but I will try to answer your custom layer and channel count question.

    The Qu mixer range (Qu-16, Qu-24, Qu-32) has the indicated number of mono input channels (so 16 for the Qu-16, 24 for the Qu-24, etc.) plus three stereo input channels. That’s it, no additional spare channels like on some other digital desks. However, where the signals for these channels come from is configurable. Using USB or dSnake doesn’t add channels, it only provides additional sources for these channels.

    In addition to the input channels, there are auxes, effects, and for some desks also subgroups and matrices, occupying the same faders as for the input channels, but on the second fader layer. The custom fader layer is simply a way to select faders from the first and second fader layer into a single layer, so you don’t have to switch between the layers all the time. It doesn’t add anything new that isn’t already on the existing fader layers.
    (That’s how it works on my Qu-16. I’m not familiar with the Qu-24 or Qu-32, but I would think it works the same way there.)

    Hope this helps.


    Profile photo of Kibosh

    Thanks Hans,

    You confirmed what I already thought.

    First I thought because off the USB and that DSnake, you could expand the board, but reading more about it, the Snake is for remote audio, not for expanding it. It’s a bit off a shame because then I would need the Qu-24 to reach my needed amount channels. And that one costs €2500.

    Also if I’m correct you can not do side-chaining on the gate or on the compressor in the channel strip. For making club music, this is a must have feature. I’m a bit surprised they didn’t implement this.

    At this time I’m also looking into the Behringer X32 Producer. It only costs €1300 and with that I will have full 32 channels ins and outs with 16 on board analog ins expandable to those 32 through DSnake, full routing possibility and side-chaining on the gate and compressor, 8FX channels. Also with 16 motorized faders and channel strip for the basic dynamics.

    If you compare the possibilities of the X32 vs the Qu-24 with a price difference off €1200, it’s hard to look beside it.

    Also what I have read now, the X32 sound quality isn’t bad. The pre-amps are designed by Midas and on the forums nobody complains about the sound quality and also the FX works good. It’s also harder to find comments on the A&H Qu’s on other forums.

    I saw Allen & Heath reduced the price of the QU-16 to now match the Behringer X32 Compact, but it even doesn’t have the functions off the X32 Producer. I guess they know that Behringer is kicking all others.

    The only thing that holds me back from the Behringer is… It’s Behringer. Their reputation isn’t good. But with that difference in pricing, even when it breaks down in 4 years… I can buy two X32 Producers for the price off one QU-24. And with actual amount off channels, we should be comparing it with the Qu-32.

    It’s a real shame, because I thought I found my match with the Qu-16, but after digging deeper it’s seems I need the Qu-24 but that one can’t do side-chaining in it’s channel strip.

    Another strange thing is, I can’t find a local vendor in Belgium that actually has a QU displayed. So I can not get a real feel off the board.

    Damn, it’s seems to be very hard for me to come to a conclusion. But at this time my head is turning to the Behringer X32 producer, or someone should give me a good reason why I should pay the double and have less features?

    Profile photo of

    Both mixers are what they are.
    They both have slightly unique different features
    What ever suits you will work.
    I personally went the QU over Behringer because of back up here down-under in NZ

    You need to see the 2 mixers side by side and listen if you can?
    When I 1st listened to the QU. I was stunned how damn good it was. And now I have used it both quietly and at about !!0db at the FOH desk.
    Ive heard the Behringer up loud as well and that seemed ok as well. Na it didnt …only joking man!
    The Qu has 4 more XLR outputs on the desk. That I like.
    The X32 Producer looks like it has a future option with their AES50 which interests me. That I like! linking more than one unit from the way it looks from the video.
    If you want a mixer to last 10 years I think we all know that the A&H build is right up there for that to happen.
    Moving faders… Ive heard the X32 in a local school here has wearing out faders? scarry!
    IF..I had to replace faders I would choose the A&H as they look “individually mounted” (with screws) where on the X32 Producer they look like they are in sets mounted on one board? hard to tell from the video.
    Its a fierce market out there on this planet that is changing exponentially!

    Anyone care for a couple of new slightly used GL 40 channel desks? Only 2 years old. Driven to church only 5 Sundays in 2 years. Not quite obsolete. Just need to find the right buyer.
    I paid top dollar at the time but that’s how the cookie rolls.
    Good luck with your choice.
    dave NZ

    Profile photo of

    Hi Kibosh
    Forgot to mention:
    It was the EQ and board layout of the EQ that sold me on the QU range.
    Just like using Sound-Forge in the studio for all of those editing years!

    Profile photo of robbocurry

    Hey Kibosh,
    Remember it’s a Behringer……..
    Opinions vary across the web as to which sounds better, I’ve never owned an X32, but all my A&H stuff has always sounded great.
    Of course all the X32 owners think they’re great, being the “King’s New Clothes” et al:)
    I’ve heard that the X32 can run out of processing power, maybe a consideration?
    I was stage managing a big festival last weekend and the headlining act had two (that I could see) X32s, one Mons, one FOH.
    I asked their soundman “why?” given that money was no object. He said “they’re great” and “cheap as chips”.
    What he didn’t tell me was that one previously sh@t itself in the middle of a gig.
    What price that scenario?
    I know no piece of gear is infallible but I know which brand I’d trust more for reliability.
    So ask yourself these questions:
    Can you afford to carry a spare Behringer? There’s a good chance you’ll need it at some stage….
    How long will it last?
    What will it be worth when you’re selling it somewhere down the line?
    Will you be holding your breath everytime you hit the power button at the start of a setup…..?

    Anyway Kibosh, I’m biased, but I think you get what you pay for in the long run.
    Good luck with whatever you buy:)

    Profile photo of Kibosh

    Hey robbocurry,

    You have off course good points, but I won’t be travelling with the console or doing live mixing. It’s just for my home studio, so when it does break, yes, I’ll be angry, but it won’t kill someones gig.

    About the sound of the X32, I found just an hour ago an article comparing a PreSonus AI vs the old PreSonus, The X32 and a Soundcraft. I have to admit after 25 years having a lot off pumping bass through my ears, I might miss some subtle differences, but listening to the 24bit WAV’s you can download from that article through SoundCloud: Soundwise the X32 holds up perfectly against the Presonus and Soundcraft. The older PreSonus is actually the one that sounds less then the others.

    It’s a shame the Allen & Heath wasn’t in the comparisation, maybe it does sound better? But PreSonus and Soundcraft aren’t junk boards either.

    Another thing is that I emailed Allen & Heath through their website with a bunch of questions last week. Still didn’t got an answer. Maybe everybody is on holiday, or it’s too busy, or they think I’m not important enough. But some off my question still remain unsolved.

    It is still not clear to me wether I can use my DAW as an insert point. And if it can do side-chaining on the compressor and gain.

    But all that: The reason I didn’t decide yet is in fact the build quality off the Behringer and the reputation they have.

    Profile photo of robbocurry

    Hey Kibosh,
    In fairness, the mix via the X32 last weekend sounded great – I couldn’t fault it.
    To my ear it sounded much better than the mix from the Yamaha CL3 on the second night.
    Same rig, two different bands and soundmen.
    Maybe I’m comparing apples with oranges but the X32 guy definitely had the better sound IMHO.
    I wonder what he could have done on a GLD or QU32…..
    If you aren’t going on the road, reliability probably isn’t as much of an issue for you as it would be for me.
    I’d like an X32 to play with to see what it can do, but I just couldn’t see me spending more than £150 on anything with a “Behringer” label.
    If someone gave me an X32, I’d take it lol!

    Profile photo of eotsskleet

    Hey Kibosh
    Actually there are no sidechains for gate or compressor!

    You can’t use your DAW as an insert point! (correct me if i’m wrong) what you can do is either use the Qu-16 as DAW to control ableton OR you use the Qu-16 for Multitrack-Recording and use ableton to record the tracks into it! While this recording you can use all internal dynamics and effects of the Qu-16 as well as use the dynamics and effects from ableton for POST Processing!
    But i don’t know any board that can do everything that you want to achieve!

    Profile photo of Kibosh

    Thanks eotsskleet for clearing that up…

    Actually the PreSonus StudioLive Series (AI versions and also the ones before), and the Behringer X32, can use the DAW as insert points. The Behringer also can do side-chaining on both the gate and compressor. The StudioLive only on the gate I think. Here is a video about a X32 webinar about that, just replace “Waves Multirack” with a DAW of your choosing:

    Damn, I really liked the setup off the Qu (Nice channel strip, touch display,…). I guess Allen & Heath has some work to do. Looking at the feature set: Behringer is kicking the others big time.

    That said, I want to thank all off you for your help.

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