After I made a comparison between the Midas MR18 and Behringer XR18 digital mixer, I received a couple of emails asking me to compare the Midas MR18 with the Soundcraft Ui24R. After much hesitation, I finally decided to go for it.
When we talk about compact, rack-mountable digital mixers, two of the most popular options that come to mind are the Midas MR18 and the Soundcraft Ui24R digital mixers. Professional mixing engineers use these two digital mixers in small and midsize events, and they are also a good choice for small churches and studios.
Although the Midas MR18 and Soundcraft Ui24R are similar in many ways, they all have unique features that make one better than the other — depending on the situation and your needs. So this will be your head-to-head comparison of the Midas MR18 and Soundcraft Ui24R digital mixers. Let’s get into it.
|Midas MR18||Soundcraft Ui24R|
|Inputs||18 (16 Combo jacks, 2 1/4″ jacks)||22 (10 Combo jacks, 10 female XLR jacks, 2 RCA connectors|
|Outputs||8 (2 Main L/R, 6 Aux Outs)||10 (2 Main L/R, 8 Aux Outs)|
|Headphone Jack||1 (1/4″ TRS jack)||2 (1/4″ TRS jacks)|
|USB Ports||1 (USB Type A)||5 (4 USB Type B, 1 USB Type A)|
|Built-in Wifi||Single-Band (2.4Ghz)||Dual-Band (2.4GHz, 5GHz)|
|Preamps||16 Mic Preamps||20 Mic Preamps|
|Misc||Ultranet, MIDI IN/OUT||HDMI connector, footswitch|
|Price||Check Current Price on Amazon||Check Current Price on Amazon|
One of the most obvious differences between the Midas MR18 and the Soundcraft Ui24R is their inputs and outputs. It simply makes sense to talk about it first. The inputs and output channels on a mixing console are also one of the most important factors to consider when buying a new mixer. You need to consider whether the inputs and outputs will be enough for your band or whatever you are using it for.
The Midas MR18 has a total number of 18 input channels. 16 of the input channels have XLR-¼” combo jacks. Which means you can plug both XLR and ¼” connectors into these jacks with ease. For those who don’t know what XLR or 1/4 inch connectors, feel free to check out my detailed article on XLR vs. 1/4 inch.
There is also a mic preamp built into these 16 inputs. This means you can choose to use all these 16 inputs for microphones. This is something you’ll definitely appreciate if you’re planning to use your MR18 in an event such as a conference. We’ll talk about the preamps in detail later in the article.
Another minor feature worth pointing out is, all the 16 combo jacks have XLR locking mechanisms. The locking mechanism prevents your XLR cables from accidental pullouts in situations where, for instance, someone trips on an audio cable. I think that’s something worth noting.
The two remaining input channels are Line Inputs, which is a stereo pair. This input jack accepts only 1/4 inch connectors. So, you should definitely keep that in mind.
Now let’s talk about outputs.
There are eight outputs on the Midas MR18. 2 outputs are the main outs, and that will go to your main speakers. And then there are 6 Aux outs.
The aux outs are what you’ll typically use for your stage monitors or in-ear monitors. You can use these aux outs individually as six mono outputs or pair two of the outputs to have a stereo aux output. There is also one headphone jack on the Midas MR18 that allows you to mix with headphones.
There are 22 input channels on the Soundcraft Ui24R. This means you get four extra inputs, compared to the Midas MR18. 20 of these inputs have a microphone preamp built-in. Out of the 20 inputs with mic preamps, 10 have XLR female connectors, and the remaining 10 have an XLR-¼” combo jacks.
The two remaining inputs are paired as a stereo RCA connector. Honestly, I don’t know why Soundcraft decided to go with an RCA connector instead of 1/4 inch jacks. However, that is no big issue, though.
Let’s talk about the output channels on the Soundcraft Ui24R.
You’ll get a total of 10 output channels. Two of these outputs are the main outs for the front of house speakers. And the remaining 8 are aux outputs. Similarly, you can use these aux outputs individually to get eight different mixes in mono. Or you can pair all or some of them to have a stereo output.
8 aux outputs should be enough for a small church planning to use in-ear monitors for their worship band. Soundcraft also gives you two 1/4 inch headphone jacks on this unit.
Besides the usual audio input and output channels, both the Midas MR18 and the Soundcraft Ui24R have other ports, and I think they’re worth talking about.
The first port you’ll probably use most of the time when you purchase the MR18 is the Ethernet port. It allows you to connect an external router to the Midas MR18 and create a Local Area Network for your control surfaces. You’ll understand why you’ll probably use this port a lot later in the article.
There is also MIDI IN and OUT jacks on this mixing console. Not many people are aware of this or even care to use it. But the Midas MR18 allows you to its parameters using a MIDI controller. You can plug a MIDI controller in your MR18 and map some mixer parameters to the controller’s knobs and faders.
If you are looking for a cheap way to have real knobs, faders, and buttons to control your Midas MR18, you can try this out.
Another important port on the Midas MR18 is the USB Type B port. This port allows you to plug your MR18 into a computer. Once plugged in, you can send audio from your digital mixer to your computer. This will be further explained in the multitracking section of this article. Let’s continue.
The last port on the MR18 is Ultranet. Ultranet ports are exclusive to Midas and Behringer digital mixers. But what are they used for?
Ultranet is mainly used for personal in-ear monitoring devices like the Behringer P16-M Digital Mixer (on Amazon). This device will receive up to 16 channels of audio from your Midas MR18 or any other Midas or Behringer mixing console through the Ultranet port and allow you to create your personal mix.
So, if you’re planning on having a personal in-ear monitoring system using the P16-M for your band right now or perhaps in the future, then the Midas MR18 is a safe choice. That’s because you won’t get this in the Soundcraft Ui24R mixer.
Soundcraft Ui24R comes with some unique ports which make it stand out from all of the other rack-mountable digital mixers on the market right now.
There are two USB Type-A ports and one USB Type B port on the front panel, and they all have different functions.
The first USB Type-A port, labeled “Play,” is used to playback audio files on a USB drive. So you can connect any USB stick containing audio files and play them directly on the Soundcraft Ui24R. More on this later.
The second USB Type-A port, labeled “Record,” is used to record all of your input and output channels on a USB drive. We’ll also talk more about this in the Multitracking section of this post.
And then there is the USB Type B port labeled “USB I/F.” This is how you are able to connect your Soundcraft Ui24R to a computer, and it will work as a standard audio interface.
But there is more.
On the side of the Soundcraft Ui24R, there are 5 additional ports — Two USB Type-A ports, an HDMI connector, a Footswitch connector, and two ethernet ports.
I’m sure you are wondering why Soundcraft decided to have two ethernet ports instead of one. Let me explain. One of the ethernet ports allows you to connect your computer to your Soundcraft mixer and control it directly; no wireless network is required. This means you’ll never have to think of losing connection to your digital mixer in case your wireless network experiences dropouts.
The second ethernet port is made to be used with an external router if that’s what you prefer for your wireless connection.
What’s the deal with the HDMI connector? Well, this allows you to connect a monitor directly to your Soundcraft and be able to see the mixer’s control surface without the need for a computer. And with the two USB Type-A ports on the side panel, you can connect a mouse and a keyboard and control your mixer’s parameters.
These are some of the features that make Soundcraft Ui24R stand out from its competitors. That’s because no other digital mixer manufacturer out there is adding these features that can save you in times of need.
And then there is the footswitch. Soundcraft decided to add a footswitch pedal port instead of a MIDI controller port, and I’m not sure why. However, the footswitch is assignable to many parameters in the mixer. For instance, it can be used to mute groups of inputs or can be assigned to the play button to play audio from your USB drive. Not many people use this feature, but it’s there when you need it.
I think one other important thing people care about when it comes to rack-mountable mixers is their preamps. A good preamp can contribute tremendously to a good sounding mix, so yes, we definitely have to talk about the preamps of the Midas MR18 compared to the Soundcraft Ui24R preamps.
I’m just going to say it right from the start that if you are better sounding preamps, you should go for the Midas MR18. That is not to say Soundcraft Ui24R preamps are bad or anything. You’ll find out why soon.
The preamps used in the Midas MR18 mixing console are the Midas PRO preamps. These are the same preamps used in some of the most successful Midas digital mixers like the M32, M32R, PRO1-IP, MR12, as well as some of their stage boxes.
This means you are getting the same quality sounding preamps from Midas line of professional mixers in a compact digital mixer like the MR18.
These preamps are also able to capture audio at a 96kHz sample rate. This may not be such a big deal if you are planning to use your Midas MR18 live. But in the studio, capturing audio at a 96kHz sample rate is gradually becoming the standard.
So if you want a digital mixer to use in the studio for recording, Midas MR18 seems like a better option than Soundcraft Ui24R.
There is a lot of hype about Midas preamps by many engineers online, and I’m sure you’ve also come across them. It seems like many mixing engineers just love how they sound. So that’s something you should keep in mind too.
The preamps used in the Soundcraft Ui24R are Studer-designed preamps. And if you’ve been in the audio world for quite some time, then I’m sure you’ve heard of them. They are known for making analog audio equipment like mixers and preamps.
And all I can say about the preamps on the Soundcraft Ui24R is: they get the job done. After hours of researching, one thing I realized was everyone who uses a Soundcraft Ui24R is pretty happy with the built-in preamps. I didn’t see any complaints by Ui24R in regards to the preamps.
I did, however, find a few complaints on the Soundcraft Ui16 and Ui12 preamps. The preamps in these mixers pick up noise when phantom power is switched on for a condenser mic. But this is not an issue found on the Ui24R.
As we all know, both the Midas MR18 and Soundcraft Ui24R digital mixers have no physical knobs, faders, and buttons for mixing. So what are the different ways to control the mixers? Let’s take a look at them.
The official control surface for the Midas MR18 digital mixer is M-AIR. This is an app made to access and control everything in this mixing console from a phone, tablet, or computer. It’s compatible with Android, iOS, Mac, and PCs, and they are available for free to download.
With this app, you will have access to all the necessary controls for every individual channel, such as volume faders, pan knobs, mute and solo buttons, FX send knobs, and anything you would expect on a traditional mixing console.
It’s the same app you’ll use for your channel routings, adding and editing effect settings, and many more. As I mentioned earlier, this is the official control surface for the MR18, so you can find anything on this app, literally.
The interface is very well laid out, so after watching some videos and using it in a while, you’ll get used to it in no time.
Another device worth checking out is the Behringer XTOUCH (on Amazon). This device is purposely made for Midas and Behringer rack-mountable mixers like the Midas MR18, M32 Rack, Behringer XR18, and M32 Rack. But it will also work the Behringer and Midas with physical knobs, buttons, and faders.
The XTOUCH will give you full access to all of the mixer’s settings and parameters, which is really cool. Watch the video below to see how it works.
So if you want the possibility of controlling your rack-mountable mixer with physical knobs, faders, and buttons, then you should go with the MR18. That’s because there is no dedicated hardware controller for the Soundcraft Ui24R.
However, at the end of the day, it’s just a controller. It’s definitely a nice-to-have for people who care about physically controlling their mixers. But if you’re not that type of person, you shouldn’t factor this in your decision.
Another app you can use with the Midas MR18 is Mixing Station. This is a third-party app designed to work with many digital mixing consoles, including the Midas MR18.
Based on the reviews of the people who have chosen this app over the official app from Midas, this is a much better option because it gives you more functionality.
One of the features of Mixing Station that stands out the most is the ability to make your own custom layouts. What does this mean? Let me
give you an example.
Let’s say there are five input channels that you usually control during a live setting — two vocal mics, pastor’s mic, guitars, and backing tracks.
Instead of flipping through your input channels back and forth to locate these channels and make changes, you can simply create a custom layout with only the channels you need access to. This makes it very quick for you to make changes during a live setting.
This is just one example. There are more features in Mixing Station I could talk about, but that’s not the point of this article.
Lastly, as I mentioned earlier, the Midas MR18 can be controlled by a MIDI controller. I don’t think there’s much to say about it because we’ve already talked about it.
So in total, there are four different ways to control your Midas MR18 — M-AIR (official Midas MR18 app), Behringer XTOUCH, Mixing Station app, and by using a MIDI controller.
There is no app for controlling the Soundcraft Ui24R, which is actually a good thing. Let me explain
Soundcraft has installed a web application on all of their Ui series digital mixers, including the Soundcraft Ui24R. This web app allows you to control your Soundcraft from an ANY device with a web browser installed on it.
This is one of the reasons why people love Soundcraft. As long as you connect your device and the Soundcraft Ui24R on the same network, you’ll be able to control the mixer. And you don’t need the latest and great computer, tablet, or phone to control the Ui24R. All you need is a device that has a web browser.
The interface of Soundcraft Ui24R’s control surface is also very easy to navigate. Everything is laid out so well; I’m sure you’ll be able to use it without going through the manual or watching videos on it.
And just as any other control surface, this web app gives you full control of your mixer. The routing, gain staging, mixing, adding effects, and more can be done on the web app.
And then there is the footswitch, which I have already talked about. So, basically, you have two ways to control the Soundcraft Ui24R — by using the web app installed on the digital mixer itself and by using a footswitch.
Let’s talk about the mixing environment on these two digital mixers. I think that’s also a critical part of every mixer. You want to be able to make incredible-sounding mixes on your mixer, else what’s the point? So let’s get into it.
On all of the input channels on the Midas MR18, there are three primary effects that are necessary for mixing — Gate, Equalizer, and Compressor.
And there are four effects rack slots on the Midas MR18, which means you can load up to four different effects in its own rack and send audio to it.
When it comes to effects, there are a total of 41 different types of effects on the MR18. It’s quite nice to have a ton of options for creativity purposes, perhaps in the studio. However, you’ll probably stick to a few essential effects like Reverb, Delay, and Chorus in a live setting. Many times, the musicians on stage will have their own effects pedal to process the instruments so that you wouldn’t have to go wild on using effects. But as I said, they are nice to have.
Soundcraft Ui24R also has the same standard effects (Gate, EQ, Compression) on every single channel, not just the input channel. So there is no winner there.
Similarly, there are four effects racks in the Ui24R. So you can load up to four effects and send audio to them however you choose. The Midas MR18 wins over the Ui24R because the Ui24R has only three effects, compared to the 41 on the MR18. The three effects you can use in the effect slots of the Ui24R are the Reverb, Delay, and Chorus, all by Lexicon.
In a live setting, you’ll do just fine with these three effects. They will easily get the job done for live gigs.
So when it comes to effects, the MR18 wins by a mile.
Multitrack Recording and Playback
Both mixers allow you to multitrack record, and they offer very similar features in this regard. However, there are a few differences that need to be highlighted.
Multitrack recording with the Midas MR18 is a very easy process that takes a few minutes to set up. You’ll need a computer which has a digital audio workstation (DAW) installed on it. This will work with any DAW out there.
You can record all of the input channels, aux output channels, effects channels, and Main Left and Right channels directly on to your computer. What I liked most about multitrack recording on the Midas MR18 is that you can choose which audio path the DAW receives audio from.
What do I mean by this? Well, using the tap point feature, you can choose to record the audio directly as the mixer receives it with no processing. Or you can choose to record the audio before or after the EQ processes it. Or you can record the audio after it is processed through the EQ and Compression in the mixer. This will all be done in the M-Air app.
And just as you can send audio from the mixer to the computer, the mixer can also receive audio channels from the computer.
This is a very nice-to-have feature for a couple of reasons. But the most useful one is you can record your entire band as they play and then route the recorded audio back into your mixing console for a virtual soundcheck. Meaning you can take time to mix your entire band even if they’re not around and save the mix as a template or snapshot.
The Soundcraft Ui24R also allows you to do multitrack recording and playback as well. But there are even more ways to do it. Let me explain.
Firstly, you can connect the Soundcraft Ui24R directly to the computer, open any DAW of your choice and set it up as an audio interface. From there, you can record all of the input channels, Main Left and Channel, and the Aux Channels, making a total of 32 channels straight to your DAW. Unfortunately, you can’t record the effects channels on the Ui24R.
Ui24R also gave you another way to record multitrack — via a USB stick. By plugging a USB stick in the “Record” USB port, you can record all the 22 input channels to the USB stick. You’ll need a USB drive with large storage if you want to record for hours. This is an excellent way to multitrack if you don’t have another computer to record your channels.
You can also playback your audio channels from your DAW through the Ui24R. It works the same way as that of Midas MR18. However, Soundcraft Ui24R gives you another way to playback tracks — once again, via a USB stick. There is a USB port labeled “Playback,” which is dedicated to this feature.
You can playback multitrack recording and route them in your Ui24R’s input channels and mix them as you normally would. This is perfect for virtual soundchecks where the entire band is not available. And you don’t need a computer for this as well, which is awesome.
So, in essence, you can record and playback multitrack with a DAW, or you can record and playback multitrack using a USB stick. This is a feature you’ll find in only the Soundcraft Ui24R.
Both the Midas MR18 and Soundcraft Ui24R mixers have a built-in WiFi router. And that has become a standard feature in every rack-mountable digital mixer. That’s because they are controlled mostly over a wireless network. So we definitely have to compare the built-in WiFi router in these two mixers.
I’ll just go ahead and say that Soundcraft Ui24R has a much better built-in WiFi than the Midas MR18. And you’ll understand why in a moment. However, I’ll always recommend you buy an external router for your digital mixers.
An external router will give you a longer range so that you’ll still be able to control your mixer when you are hundreds of feet away from it. Also, and most importantly, external routers will provide a more stable network so you’ll have control of the digital mixer at all times. Here is a blog post where I compared the best wireless routers for digital mixers. Feel free to check it out.
Midas MR18 has a 2.4GHz band wireless router built-in. I’m going to be honest; they are not great. There are many issues related to the built-in wireless router in the MR18.
There are many situations where you can be as close to the MR18 as possible, but your device won’t be able to connect to the built-in WiFi. Many Midas MR18 users have experienced this issue one way or the other.
Also, the built-in wireless router is simply not stable and reliable. You can easily lose connection to the digital mixer at a time when you need it the most. You’ll experience many network dropouts if you rely on the MR18’s built-in WiFi.
For this reason, if you decide to go for the Midas MR18, I highly recommend you purchase an external wireless router along with it. That is the best way to save yourself the hassle of network issues.
Soundcraft Ui24R, on the other hand, has a much better built-in wireless router. It’s a dual-band router, meaning; it transmits both a 2.4GHz WiFi signal and a 5Ghz WiFi signal. If you don’t know the difference, then you should read my post on wireless routers for digital mixers.
For this reason, Soundcraft’s wireless routers provide a much stable and strong WiFi reception. Many Soundcraft Ui24R users have used the built-in WiFi signal for countless gigs without any issues.
However, I’ll still recommend you get an external router even if you decide to go with the Soundcraft Ui24R.
Which One Should You Buy? My Opinion
We’ve covered a lot about these two mixers, and I’m sure you’re already leaning towards one based on your needs. However, here are my two cents.
Personally, I’ll go for the Soundcraft Ui24R because it gives you more input and output channels. And also, because it gives you the ability to record multitrack directly to a USB stick, so I can use my computer for other things.
Also, because it is controlled with a web app installed on the Ui24R, I wouldn’t have to worry about the devices band members use. All of them can connect to the Ui24R and mix for their in-ear monitors, even if they are using crappy smartphones or tablets.
Another reason why I’ll choose the Ui24R over the MR18 is I can control the mixer directly without a wireless connection. Obviously, controlling your mixer over a wireless network is more convenient. However, things can go on very fast if you ever lose connection to your mixer in the middle of a gig.
Being able to plug my computer directly into this mixer and control it seems like the best way to eliminate this problem
The Midas MR18 is also great for many reasons. The first is, having many ways to control this device is quite useful. Along the line, if you decide to control this mixer with physical faders and knobs, you can always get a Behringer XTOUCH (on Amazon) to do that. Which I think is really cool.
Also, Midas MR18 may be the better option for a studio. That’s because, as I mentioned earlier, 96kHz sample rate is gradually becoming the standard. Although it hasn’t been adapted fully worldwide, some industries require audios at a 96kHz sample rate. So it’s a good idea to go with the MR18 for future longevity purposes.
If you already have the Behringer P16-M as your ear monitoring system of choice or are planning to use it, then the Midas MR18 is definitely the option to go for. You can’t use the Behringer P16M (on Amazon) with any digital mixer except the Midas and Behringer range of digital mixers.
Obviously, we didn’t talk about some minor features. However, I made sure I covered all the essentials you need to know when buying a rack-mountable mixer.
Both the Midas MR18 and Soundcraft Ui24R are excellent mixers and get the job done for most mixing engineers. So, as I mentioned earlier, consider your needs before making a choice.
If you found this comparison, don’t hesitate to share it with someone who needs it.