Review: Behringer X Touch Mini
|Table of Contents|
|Intro||Who is this for||How I use this||Whats to like|
|Whats to hate||My Verdict||Where to buy||Alternatives|
The Behringer X Touch mini is a desktop midi controller used to interface with DAW and MIDI controllable musical instruments. The X Touch mini connects to your PC (or Mac) via a USB cable. Why is this controller important? Well, MIDI is short for Musical Instrument Digital Interface and DAW is short for Digital Audio Workstation). So now we have a device with knobs and buttons that can interface with a computer. All we need now is some software to bridge the gap between the controller and our intended software, Lightroom. The bridge we need to make the Behringer X Touch Mini work with Lightroom is call MIDI2LR by rsjaffe and is available FREE.
There are more photos on our Flickr page HERE if you're interested to have a look.
This controller is for Lightroom (Mac OS X 10.9+ and Windows 7/8/10. Lightroom 6/CC) image editors / photographers who find using the mouse and sliders in Lightroom too tedious and or those of us looking for a faster, more convenient workflow. For me, I find my fingers getting tired, the mouse slider option is not precise enough, process not fast enough (having to move through panels and find items). At the time of this writing, The Behringer X Touch Mini plus MIDI2LR is the cheapest controller image editing system available. Some of the others are Pfixer from Pusher Labs, Palette, ctrl+console, Paddy, Loupedeck, knobroom
Where to buy (also alternate versions)
Once you've plugged in the Behringer X Touch Mini to your computer with the supplied USB cable and downloaded/ installed MIDI2LR, the MIDI2LR window should pop up. It auto opens when Lightroom starts up. When you exit Lightroom MIDI2LR takes a few seconds to do its thing and close as well. Now back to the MIDI2LR window. when you press a button or turn a dial, an entry in the window shows up and you can assign a Lightroom function to that button/dial. This is can get a bit tedious. Patience, pen and paper is suggested. I roughly drew a row of 8 circles and 2 rows of 8 squares and wrote what I wanted to do with those dials/buttons. I have setup profiles to enable the usage of the dials and buttons for more than one action. For example, profiles 3 to 6 are for setting the dials to adjust the colors in the HSL panel. So in profile 3, the dials change the hues, profile 4 changes saturations etc. I've set my profiles to use the same button for the same purpose at the moment because not being able to label the X Touch Mini right off the bat makes it difficult to remember what does what. Some small stickers and a fine tip marker will solve that. For now, I just have to use my drawing.
It works, it was relatively cheap and it comes with a sticker (I like stickers). I kind of got it on sale on Ebay but it ended up more costly than if I had gotten it locally. Details, if you're interested, are here. Seriously now, the buttons are raised, firm, responsive, and light up when depressed. There's no audible or physical clicking when the buttons are pressed. The dials on the other hand do click (but aren't audible), they have led markers to keep track of how much the dial is turned. The dials are "infinite" meaning they keep turning, there's no start or end point. This is THE major selling point. "infinite" dials are called rotary encoders. This is important for us when it comes to photo editing as it means the current setting (on the rotary dial) is not transferred as you move to the next image. The rotary encoder's setting gets reset back to null when you move to the next image. For example, if you have a regular dial that goes from 0 to 10 and you have the dial set to adjust exposure. If you turn the dial to increase the exposure by 1 and then you move to the next image, that image's exposure will be increased by 1 as well. Not so with a rotary encoder because the value registered stays with the image it was used on. Rotary encoders is the way to go, you don't want to waste programming a button to reset all values everytime you move to the next image but you could.
There are also 4 rubber pads on the bottom of the controller to prevent it sliding around when using.
There's only 8 rotary encoders so to cover all the colors and variations you'll need to create profiles and switch between them. Which means extra button pressing. More rotary encoders would be ideal but those models get way more expensive. It's not that big a deal since you can create profiles (in MIDI2LR) to reuse the same button or encoder. NOTE: to get the profiles working right after saving them is to go into settings (see photo in slideshow) and configure in the window (see image at left). The size of the Behringer X Touch Mini is a bit big if you're tight on workspace, it's bigger than I imagined and I use a book prop to stand it up even though I have enough desk space. I wish that it comes with little label stickers. Also, I haven't a clue what to use the slider or 'mic mode' or the two layer buttons but those are not faults of the controller.
This is not really a hate but more like too bad it didn't do. I'm referring to the LEDs on the encoders, they don't go all the way around.
I absolutely love this setup. It makes my editing more enjoyable as I "feel" more professional. Seriously though, it does make my workflow slightly faster even though I need to refer to my diagram at the moment. I'm sure once I've memorized and or labelled the buttons and dials, I'll be even quicker. For me, using the rotary encoders feels more precise, I feel more in control where as using the mouse and sliders feels arbitrary and just clicking a point on the slider is even worse. So far I haven't experienced any lag between turning an encoder to viewing the changes on the screen but frankly the lag when using the sliders was infrequent as well. My frustration level is way down since I don't have to fidgit with using the mouse to move a slider for a small change but maybe my usage is too low thus far and I haven't come to a situation when I need a change smaller than one click of the encoder.
I think if you have to edit a lot of images, so many that your fingers and hands get tired then you will want to have a look at getting a controller of sorts. For starters, the Behringer X Touch Mini is a great starter controller.