AudioFuse 16Rig - is it comfortable to use standalone for live/performance mixing?

Sadly I’m not sure it is.

While this post contains a bunch of gripes, I want to be clear that I love the 16Rig and it’s a massive improvement in many many ways over the analogue mixer I was using before, but there are some features missing that would make it a fully satisfying replacement for typical live/performance mixing workflows.

Here are the areas I’ve struggled with to arrive at a reasonable workflow:

  • No 2-way communication with MIDI controllers - as discussed in the “MIDI mapping improvements” post by tmoore. There is nothing like Mackie HUI/MCU available for example. But personally I’d be more than happy with a simple sysex extension that would dump CC/button state like many synths support. But without some information flow to the controller, it’s impossible to provide any feedback to the user in the controller, e.g. to indicate mute/solo status of a channel. And certainly any money spent on high-end controllers with motorized faders, status screens, etc. would be completely wasted with the 16Rig. For live/performance this is a significant issue - when you’re supposed to be thinking about music and sound, you have to remember (or hear) the state of the mute buttons etc. or squint at a tiny screen in your 19" rack.

  • Banked/paged mode is required to control the mixer via a MIDI device. I understand that 8 channel controllers are a sort of standard and that paging/banking is the common solution and I’ve used such set-ups but as far as I’m concerned paging/banking only works well with DAWs (which is what most of the controllers are aimed at) where there is a big screen on front of you which clearly indicates which page/bank is active and which channels are being controlled by which physical faders. Without a DAW screen in front of you, paging/banking is very unergonomic made even worse by the lack of the possiblity for the controller to indicate which page/bank is currently active. In my case, I have lots of spare rotaries on my controller after setting up the MIDI bindings for the first bank/page of 8. Why can I not use these spare/unused physical controls to adjust aspects of channels greater than 8? You can set the “size” of the pages via AFCC but it’s limited to a max of 8 channels per page? Why not 16 or unlimited?

  • It’s not possible to adjust the routing via MIDI. I’d like to use some effects/processing units as channel inserts and I also use a looper - and before purchasing the 16Rig, I had assumed I’d be able to re-route stuff “live” - e.g. configure my MIDI controller to select the channel to be sent to an external processor. But this is not possible and changing the routing requires being attached to a computer and running AFCC. So I’m forced to use a pair of Aux buses (stereo) to be able to get signals where I want them to go. But this is annoying given the very limited number of Aux buses available - effectively only 2 stereo buses. I also don’t understand this limitation of the 16Rig - digital summing is a trivially cheap operation - so I don’t see why you can’t have effectively unlimited Aux buses? This isn’t like a hardware mixer where you need actual wires and pots and op-amps to provide an Aux bus.

  • No standalone/direct recording. Many analogue mixers and higher-end audio interfaces allow direct recording to a USB drive or flashcard. This is so important to me that for now I’ve hacked a solution using a Raspberry pi with a spare MIDI controller and around 100 lines of code so I believe this could be added easily with a software update - at least for recording to an attached USB drive. It’s not ideal for me to have extra external devices like a Raspberry pi and a 2nd controller - requiring connections and separate power, etc. - to be able to record the channels or mix.

Thankfully all of these issues could be addressed with a software updates I believe, so I’m hoping that Arturia puts enough resources into the 16Rig to fix these relatively minor irritants which would turn the 16Rig into an instant classic as far as I’m concerned. I’m also optimistic given it’s a new product so there is plenty of opportunity to fix/address these issues in the near future.