Cantabile doubling as a multitrack recorder while playing VST's live with Behringer X18 mixer

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Hi All,

I tried out this procedure so I thought I’d give it a whirl at explaining it. The Behringer X18 digital mixer has A/D converters on all 18 channels so it automatically provides the signals needed for making multi-track recordings directly using a DAW or in this case a Live VST Host. The USB connection from the X18 is the only connection need for these audio tracks. The X18 drivers need to be installed on the Cantabile computer which you already have if you are using the X18 to drive your VST instruments and playback tracks digitally on some of the channels. The X18 needs to be set to 18 channel mode in the X-Air Setup window as shown …


and the USB Sends in the IN/OUT window should default to these settings and would ready to use for this purpose …

Next you set up the Cantabile audio input ports for the X18 in Tools>Options>Audio Ports to look like this if you are recording all 18 analog channels. If you have digital channels on X18 then you need to make audio output ports in options that route to the desired X18 channels set to use the D/A feature of the mixer. This is important if you combine analog channels with digital channels so attention to detail is important here. You can do a mix of analog and digital channels this way, all 18 channels or as many as you want to record with C3. I chose to use stereo pairs to make it all easy to see and explain but you could create a mix of 18 separate mono input and output ports if you wanted the tracks to be separated that way when the .wav64 file is bound together using all the individual tracks.

While in the Options window go to the Recordings pane and check the following things. First make sure that the Filename format is the way you want it to identify your audio and MIDI files you make with the recorder. Also check the File Format area to see that it is set to Automatic or Wave-64 for our multi-track needs.

Next you exit to the Song level and do the next steps.

First you need to click the Recordings tab at the top of the side panel on the left. Below it you should see the Ports to Record pane …


go to this pane and check only the appropriate check-boxes for the channels of the X18 you want to record. I checked all of them


Next select the Monitor tab in the left side panel and you should see the inputs you created, each with Gain slider and a meter. This very useful for trimming the input signals if needed before recording.

When your levels are set and you are ready to go hit record and play the song …


When finished hit the Record button again to stop recording and to create the recorded file and then you should have that file appear in the Recordings pane shown in the picture above.

At this point you need the .wav64 Cantabile will create when it records to have the tracks separated out using Audacity, a DAW or other Demux apps like this cool one from from @Torsten

then you can separate it out, re-mix and master etc … I guess I should mention that your PC’s capacity will have some extra load when doing this! :grin:

EDIT: Added more detail to C3 audio port options setup



Nice write up Dave! I think I’m going to give this a shot just because it’s one less piece of software and it’s configurable.

I’ve been using this utility I found on the Behringer forums a long time ago. I’ve used it without issue, other than it’s not configurable at all. Just posting as an option for those that want to keep Cantabile clean.


You could not have posted this at a better time from my perspective. I have an XR18 arriving in the next day or so and this is precisely what I was considering, though I’m wary of trying to make the same laptop handle my Cantabile output AND recording at the same time…

I’ve been considering ways (SoundGrid, Dante, Voicemeeter…) of transmitting the audio from my Cantabile PC over an Ethernet cable and aggregating it with the XR18 to Reaper for recording. The Ethernet route has been disastrous - I can’t get anything to do the job. I’m back to using a second AI and a clutch of cables.

The big problem with your description here is that it assumes recording a song at a time. I need to record a 2-hour set of multiple songs. How would this change things - or does it render it impossible?


Hi The_Elf,

I have done really long recordings of live practices and performances but I use a separate USB interface for C3 and then I use a second laptop connected to the X18 and equipped with Studio One set up to record the individual channels in exactly the same way except it is already sorted into tracks in a Studio One One file so it’s ready to remix and master with little fuss. It works without trouble for me so if you need help setting that up let me know. Any good DAW would achieve the same result. The song at a time way requires the user start and stop the recordings between C3 song changes. I thought it would be good for creating demos so it would be done a song at a time.



EDIT: @terrybritton pointed out that the Recorder runs all the time that it is turned on during a session and records through Song changes. This is an important clarification. Thanks to Terry for his Video below!


Yes, I accept that. It’s very useful start-up information nonetheless. Thanks for sharing!

I’ll get Reaper to handle the recording on a separate dedicated laptop, then dump it all into Cubase back at base. I just wish I could have ditched that second AI.


Thank you for this explanation @dave_dore! It comes two weeks after I purchased an XR18 for my funk band and less one week before I was wanting to try this out for our next concert. Great timing! I will be recording this week’s band practice as a tryout first, following your setup steps. I’ll be recording on the same laptop that runs Cantabile, so hopefully that goes well.


I thought about a scenario like @dave_dore’s with my Mackie DL32R, but I decided to keep things separate to avoid nasty hiccups or dropouts - fortunately, I’ve got enough laptops and PCs sitting around somewhere (I’ve been an IT professional for ages, so there’s always some kit around…)

Usually, during rehearsals, my studio PC runs Reaper as a multitrack recorder straight from my DL32R mixer; I’ve set up a song template so that both an easy mix-down of the rehearsal AND a virtual sound check back through the mixer are possible with few clicks. Our guitarist is especially happy to have practice tracks with the guitar muted.

When playing live, I rarely record (makes everybody too nervous), but when I do, I plug a USB drive directly into the mixer (it has a direct-to-disk feature). But it would also be pretty easy to just connect an old laptop via USB and record directly - wouldn’t want to do that with my Cantabile machine. In fact, I connect my Cantabile laptop to the digital mixer the old-fashioned way: analog out via my BabyFace and connect to a plain old analog in on the mixer. This is the most robust way - plus it works everywhere with every desk, so no matter whether we bring our own kit or PA and mix are provided by the venue, everything works without any changes.

For me, robustness beats technical wizardry any day. Playing VSTs live is wizardry enough…




Hi Torsten,

I do my recordings in the same robust way as you but i was thinking of folks that have their music PC using the X18 to act as their sole USB audio interface. Some folks have their VST instruments and backing tracks from Cantabile routed to X18 channels that are set to USB on the inputs. If using the ASIO drivers from Behringer a multi-track can only be produced in Cantabile because its management of the ASIO driver would already be in effect in order to do the normal C3 things and it has the ability to simultaneously record the selected ports. Like you noted the capacity of the PC involved would possibly be a limiting factor along with the complexity of the routing arrangement. I have tested it and it was fine here. I think for making demos it would be OK to risk a possible burp but for live work it would not be recommended!




100 % agree!

BTW: Great how-to (as always)! You’re spoiling the kids here :wink:




Hey @dave_dore - what is the round-trip latency on the X18?

At this price, this could be a reasonable multi-output audio interface with its 6 aux channels AND include any hardware synths still left in a setup in an integrated 8-channel output scenario. Nice gadget for “hybrid” keyboarders.




Hi Torsten,

I tested it with my performance rig at 128 and 256 samples and it was no clicks or pops. I use a Babyface at 128 samples like you for shows but I did perform tests on the X18 at the mentioned settings when helping a user set one up this way. At 256 samples he runs Vst instruments for his live keyboard sounds and has C3 media players on separate X18 channels for individual backing tracks for Bass, Drums, backing Vocals etc … and is getting good results while also mixing live vocals, keyboard rack modules and a stereo guitar pedal input. So quite a load but it doing the job as I said at 256 samples for him so you are right on the reasonable multi-output audio interface for the price! Plus the aux outs are a dream.The optional additional P16-M personal monitor boxes using the cat 5 cables are incredible if you use in ear, I have one and love it. You can easily check the mains mix and switch quickly back to your preferred monitor mix that you can create on the interface box. I mostly use the main mix though since I mix for the group. Now, if I could only get the money for more P16-M boxes lol :grin:




Just sold mine (had two of them) - I’m now fully tabletized with the Mackie mixer, with a phone preamp driving (wired) in-ears via its 12 aux outputs. So easy creating monitor mixes just like the main mix - no more fiddling with aux dials. I just need to make sure that other band members are locked out of the main mix, so they don’t erroneously fiddle with the mains…




:laughing: yea, there’s a chance of that …

Now we’re talking!


@The_Elf - just mentioning this for a data point - In December I completed a full year of daily live-streamed shows capturing on average 8 to 15 stereo tracks using Cantabile to record during each show (VSTi’s and VST effects all going to separate tracks, plus it captures all the MIDI from 5 to 7 keyboards plus pads). Cantabile performed flawlessly for every single one! And there was never any CPU issue that I could blame on having the recording running - it is passing digital audio around inside its system at all times anyway! I have recorded over 1600 original live pieces using Cantabile during that time (each performance lasting 1/2 hour to 80 minutes), and it has become my recording software of choice because the setups are FAR FAR FAR easier to bring back up and configure than any of my DAWs permit. (I used a different setup every single performance.)

I use Audacity to split up the .w64 end result into stems and bring them into Samplitude to mix and master in a single swoop.

I cannot speak highly enough of the recording capability included in Cantabile 3. So, there’s my 2-1/2 cents worth! :slight_smile:



Thanks for the great input Terry, you might have the most logged experience with the recorder I’ve heard from. It’s worked well here too. :smiley:



I’m sure it works great, Terry, but I would be switching songs and that would scupper the recording.

It would be great to do it all from one laptop, but the reality suggests that’s not going to be possible. It’s a shame, because the XR18 would be ideal for a hybrid rig like mine.


@The_Elf - I do have all my songs including the output to recording in every VSTi and effect output. It may take a bit of work up front, but it is entirely doable. Then switching does not affect the recording at all. (I hope you were not under the impression that switching songs interrupted the recording - it keeps going once you press “Record” until you hit “Stop”. The outputs have to be in place in each song, though.)



I suppose you knew about this video?



Yet another great post Terry, I wasn’t aware the recorder kept running once a Cantabile session was started. My earlier posts were mistaken. Sorry @The_Elf. :frowning: But it’s great to know this! The_Elf could do what he desired with this being the case. :smiley:



Thanks, Terry! :star_struck:

I will definitely give it a try. The XR18 should be here in the next 48 hours.

I remain a bit nervous about having one laptop running the whole shebang, so I will run it at rehearsals and see how it goes. It will be so much neater if it can be relied upon.