Introduction

Aeons End consists of four members and the following instrumental line up:

  • Pat – Git 1 (Kemper A)
  • Oli – Git 2 (Kemper B)
  • Konni – Bass
  • Rapha – Drums

Besides our common love for enjoying, writing and performing atmospheric and rhythmically complex music, we’re dedicated to the idea of maximum independence at all artistic- and technical areas, by reducing the level of necessary intervention from external influences like back line situations, FOH engineers, monitor engineers, lightning engineers etc.

Our goal is to deliver a high quality performance at a constant and reliable level in songwriting, music production, live performance including band sound and live lights, as well as visual content and the overall presentation of the band. 

So, basically we’re just giant music loving tech nerds on the quest for the perfect independent plug&play band setup, hoping you enjoy our music, too.

In the following rundown we will show our whole current live setup as well as explain the thought process that went into building it. In part 1 we talk about the core components of the setup, which means we give an overview about most of the equipment that we use and that will be explained in detail later. The focus will be on our live rack as well as our analog routing. Part 2 deals with our mixer and IEM setups and will provide information about how we use our Behringer X32 Rack Mixer. The Kemper setups as well as other guitar stuff will be discussed in Part 3. In Part 4 we show our Logic session and how it controls pretty much our whole setup. Part 5 will be all about our light show: which hardware we use, how we program and control it etc. In part 6 we talk about how the setup is brought to the stage in an actual live situation. And part 7 and 8 will show the bass and drum equipment in a little more detail.

1. Core Components

1.1 MacBook Pro

The core of our whole setup consists of a MacBook Pro in combination with a Behringer X32 mixer. Currently, we’re using a 2014 MacBook Pro (15-inch display, 2,5 GHz i7 Quad Core, 500 GB SSD, 16 GB of RAM) with a copy of the latest Logic Pro X version (at this point it is 10.6.1).
In addition to stock Logic plugins we have some Waves plugins and also a copy of db audioware DMXIS installed. Additionally, we use the X32 Edit Software for controlling the mixer on the laptop as well as the latest Rig Manager version for our two Kemper Profiling Amps.

1.2 Rack

Rack components from top to bottom

  • Kemper B (Git 2  – Oli)

  • Kemper A (Git 1  – Pat)

  • LD Systems MEI 1000 (Oli)

  • LD Systems MEI 1000 (Pat)

  • LD Systems MEI 1000 (Konni)

  • LD Systems MEI 100 (spare)

  • Behringer X32 Rack

  • output panel (DIY)

  • input panel A (Behringer MS 8000)

  • input panel b (Behringer MS 8000)

1.2.1 Rack Case

We’re using a 12U hard plastic double door rack case for our main rack. The case is solid but still lightweight. Our two Kempers are also mounted in similar hard plastic rack cases, so everything can be transported independently and stacked together safely and nicely. We always carry our Kempers back and forth between our home studios and our rehearsal spot, where the main rack is staying all the time. As you can see in the picture above, we have 2U left in our main rack for future extensions.

1.2.2 Behringer X32 Rack

The centerpiece of our rack setup is a Behringer X32 in rack format. It manages all analog and digital in- and outputs. Serving as an audio interface, it handles and routes our backing arrangement in Logic Pro X, our premixes and separate outputs for FOH.  Additionally, we use the X32  as a mixer for our five independent stereo in-ear monitoring (IEM) mixes – all controllable independently via app-remote (Mixing Station). In fact, we’re using all 16 XLR inputs, all 8 XLR outputs and also all 6 AUX outputs. We also intended to use the X32 for sending MIDI commands for controlling our Kempers, but came to realise that the X32 isn’t able to do dedicated MIDI-sends (which nearly every other cheap interface does in a handslight). The X32 is connected to the MacBook Pro via USB hub. A network cable connects the X32 to our wifi router, as the X32 lacks an internal router, different to the X-Air series, too. All mentioned aspects and solutions will be explained in the following articles.

1.2.3 Behringer MS 8000 (input/split panel)

All connectors of the X32 are located at the backside. Just the imagination of plugging 30 different cables in a dark rack full of different equipment in a turbulent changeover situation caused pain in our heads. So the goal was clear: we have to bring all connectors, except the permanently   connected IEM systems, to a color-labeled panel at the front of the rack. First idea was to solder an appropriate panel for all 16 inputs, but then the Behringer MS 8000 appeared on our horizon.

This unit provides 8 XLR Inputs splitted to 16 XLR outputs with ground lift and Phantom Power Link. This is just perfect, because with this gem it’s possible to route all input signals into our X32 while splitting certain signals, e.g. kick and bass, directly to FOH. All for less than the material price of a self made panel. 

Like mentioned above, we’ve labeled all cables and affiliated inputs with the same colored marking tape. This way, everyone is able to get the routing safely.

In conclusion we’re running two Behringer MS8000 as input panels. All 16 XLR inputs of the X32 are available at the front and can be splitted directly.

1.2.4 output panel

Of course all external outputs (to FOH & the wired IEM system of our drummer) needed to be transferred to the front as well. Because we’re utilising the XLR Outs and AUX Outs (jack-sockets) of the X32, no fix hardware was available. So we decided to build an DIY panel. We’ve used the opportunity to convert all jack sources (AUX Outs) to XLR Outs.

Our first iteration was a cheap and straight panel. We put sockets in and soldered them with Cordial cables with Neutrik connectors. Long story short: nearly every physical contact resulted in cable break at the open soldered socket points. Frustrating as hell. After some search we found the Adam Hall 872215 U-shaped Rack Panel 1U. The clou is that the u-shaped cable holders work as a strain relief. We’re using cable ties to fix the soldered connections to the panel and never experienced a cable break since that. Highly recommended!

We’ve also labeled all cables and affiliated outputs with the same colored marking tape.

In fact, we run some certain splitted input signals from the input panel directly to the output panel for providing them to FOH. A detailed explanation will follow later on. So our output panel consists of the Adam Hall 872215 U-shaped Rack Panel 1U, 16 Neutrik XLR male sockets, symmetric cordial cables and different Neutrik connectors matched to the output signal socket source.

1.2.5 IEM systems

Pat, Oli and Konni are using LD Systems MEI 1000 G2 in stereo mode. Rapha is using a Behringer Powerplay P1 also in stereo mode. The fact that we all use stereo IEM mixes is a good part of the reason why we have to use all the XLR and AUX Outs of the X32. We tried mono IEM mixes in the past but were not satisfied with the results. With an LD Systems MEI 100 G2 (labeled as IEM Vox), we have one stereo wireless IEM system as a spare and backup unit.

1.2.6 Rack tray

We acquired the Thon Rack Tray 1U for small but necessary equipment in our main rack. All following parts are mounted nicely and safely with cable ties to the numerous drill holes. This thing is a steal for the price. Maybe we will move all mounted parts to a rack drawer some day for better accessibility, but at the moment everything works fine the way it is.

1.2.6.1 USB hub

All the following parts on the rack tray are connected to an 7-Port USB 3.0 hub also mounted on the rack tray, which is connected with our MacBook Pro. The USB hub is supplied with a 10W power adapter.

1.2.6.2 MIDIface

In fact the Behringer X32 isn’t able to send MIDI commands, which is a real bummer. So we are forced to use a MIDI interface and decided for the Miditech MIDIface 2×2, which is working like a charm and mounted to the rack tray. Connected via USB to the USB hub, it handles all MIDI commands related to our Kempers. Pat is using channel A and Oli is using channel B. We went for different colored MIDI cables for minimizing human errors while connecting.

1.2.6.3 DMXIS

We run a MIDI-triggered lightshow which is programmed and controlled via Enttec DMXIS hard- and software. The DMXIS interface, which is converting MIDI to DMX commands, is mounted to the rack tray and connected to the USB hub. A dedicated explanation to the process of programming light MIDIS and our own lighting hardware will follow in a few weeks.

1.2.6.4 WIFI router

Like mentioned above, the X32 does not have an internal wifi-router, so we are forced to operate an external router to use the possibility of wireless remote control via app. The router (TP-Link TL-WR841N N300) is connected via ethernet cable to the X32. You have to set the same parameters as IP address and gateway on both units to get them communicating properly.

1.2.7 Power supply

We’re running ten electrical consumers in the periphery of our main rack. Therefore we’re using two parallel mounted t.racks Power 8 S straight power distribution strips on the backside of the main rack. Small but efficient life hack, if you’re in need of a lot of power slots.

list of power consumers

  • MacBook Pro

  • X32 Rack

  • Kemper 1 (Pat)

  • Kemper 2 (Oli)

  • IEM LD Systems MEI 1000 (Oli)

  • IEM LD Systems MEI 1000 (Pat)

  • IEM LD Systems MEI 1000 (Konni)

  • IEM LD Systems MEI 100 (spare)

  • USB hub

  • Wifi Router

1.2.8 Num pad

All important events in our Logic session (like songs, sound- & light checks) have markers on their starting points, which allow us to toggle between them with a simple push of a button. Additionally to the programmed trigger pads on our master MIDI keyboard, we also installed a simple wireless bluetooth num pad with an USB receiver on the USB hub, which triggers each event. More on Num Pad and MIDI keyboard later.

1.3 Analog Inputs

As shown in the table, we have to handle a lot of signals from different sources. We also send them to different destinations with different demands: The FOH doesn’t need all the signals that we want for our IEM. And we all have different preferences for our IEM mixes. The result is a pretty complex routing. At the end of part 1 we will show a complete routing scheme, but for clarity’s sake let’s start with the input panels. 

Input Signal Source Phantom
1 Git 1 L Kemper A XLR Output L
2 Git 1 R Kemper A XLR Output R
3 Git 2 L Kemper B XLR Output L
4 Git 2 R Kemper B XLR Output R
5 Bass Line6 Helix
6 Kick the t.bone BD 500 Beta yes
7 OH L AKG P17 yes
8 OH R AKG P17 yes
9 Snare Sennheiser e904
10 Crowd Beyerdynamic MCE 86 S ii yes
11 Floor Tom L AKG P4
12 Rack Tom L AKG P4
13 Rack Tom R AKG P4
14 Floor Tom R AKG P4
15 FOH Return L FOH
16 FOH Return R FOH

The following scheme shows the front and back of our MS 8000 input panels with all the signals:

As you can see, 8 of the 16 inputs are used for drum mics. Originally we didn’t plan to mic the whole drum set but we found it to have some benefits: (1) We have a complete IEM mix for rehearsal as well as potentially live. In-ear monitoring can make you feel a little isolated (which also led us to use a crowd mic, more on that later) so having all instruments present is very pleasing. We plan to use Input 15 and 16 in upcoming live situations if the sound engineer can’t provide all the single drum inputs. This way he can send us his stereo mix of the drumset. (2) We can record complete band mixes for demos as well as getting an impression of how our set will sound. As mentioned at the beginning we want to operate as independent as possible and deliver a high quality performance at a constant and reliable level.
The drawback is that we don’t have any inputs left for other sources, e.g. vocals. But since we’re currently playing instrumental it’s not so bad. Besides we can always extend our input possibilities in the future, e.g. with stage boxes.

As mentioned above, the MS 8000 provides two outputs for each input. We use these in different ways. For example, the bass signal gets split: The Link Out is sent to the output panel (which will be shown later) and straight to the FOH; the Direct Out is sent to the X32 for our IEM. There is another important point with the Link Outs: only they can accept Phantom Power from the X32!  So for example the kick drum mic is sent to the X32 via Link Out to get Phantom Power; the Direct Out is sent straight to the output panel and to the FOH.

Let’s take a look at the input section on the back of our X32:

We organized the patch cables in a way that the inputs of the MS 8000 match with the inputs on the X32. For example, Input 1 on the MS 8000 is patched to Input 1 on the X32 and so on (at the beginning of our rack journey however, we were less organized and everything was a little bit messy).
To the USB input of the X32 we send different digital signals from our laptop and Logic Pro X. They are shown in the final routing scheme at the end of this part and explained in detail in part 2 and 4 of this rundown.

1.4 Analog outputs

Let’s take a look at the output section of our X32:

As you can see, all the input signals are pretty much merged into a live stereo mix and the stereo mixes for our IEM. We merge the live guitars, additional guitar layers, synths and live VSTs into one mix because (1) it makes sound checks easier and (2) it keeps the individual levels as well as the panning the way we want.  To achieve this we had to, among other things, change the Main Outs of the X32 to be regular outputs. The routing and mixing inside the X32 will be explained in detail in Part 2, so let’s leave that for later. The “Spare Outs” were used for vocals earlier and we left all the routing in place for days to come (resoldering cables for the output panel is also quite a pain).

Last but not least, here are the back and front of the output panel:

So these are the signals that we send to the FOH in the end. Remember that bass, kick and snare are sent here directly from the input panels via Link- or Direct Outs. The IEM outputs for our drummer are positioned on the front because he uses a wired IEM system unlike the rest of us.
That pretty much wraps up our rack and the analog signals we run for our setup.

Part 2 will explain how we route and mix all our signals inside the X32. To conclude part 1 we show the announced scheme with the complete routing which hopefully will be understandable with the explanations given so far: