Link: Allen & Heath – Price: $1799/€1499/£1198
Allen & Heath have long battled Pioneer for the industry standard club mixer, and A&H die hards cite studio quality sound and an unbeatable filter as the main draws. As the competition heats up with increasingly powerful effects channels – an area Allen & Heath had hitherto left unexplored – A&H have had to launch a counter attack, and the Xone:DB2 is the little brother to their flagship, the discrete effects on every channel behemoth that is the Xone:DB4. Stripping back some of the DB4’s capabilities to allow them to undercut the competition but still provide more in the way of effects, in the DB2 Allen & Heath have created a mixer that will appeal to the DJ that wants studio quality effects capability without the super-club price tag.
As you might expect, or at least hope in the case of a mixer that breaks the £1000 barrier, the DB2 is very solidly built. It features solid, easy to manipulate knobs and faders, a tough chassis and fascia, and whilst there aren’t any buttons that you might need to hammer on the ones that are featured are smooth with a short and quick action. There’s a little bit of a hollow feel to the mixer, but in use any reservations fade away immediately.
It’s not all glory though; the fader select switches are a bit fiddly and shaky. They might not be the most important switches on the mixer, and certainly having them a little bit awkward to fiddle with reduces the risk of any butterfingers moments, but they do somewhat belie the overall quality of the mixer.
As you might expect from A&H, the filters really make the DB2 shine – or sing, as the case may be for the colossal resonance bump available on the filter setting of the tri-modal EQ. An entire knob for each of the low/high pass filters, leaving a third free for adjustable resonance, means that if you’re prepared to sacrifice EQ you can have two of the best sounding filters I’ve heard on a DJ mixer on every channel.
All channels use the same EQ mode, so there’s no mixing and matching modes across channels, but if per channel filtering is less important to you than EQ you can also select either standard EQ or isolator models. The standard EQ is a +6/‐26dB adjustment on each band, facilitating the kind of tweaking you’ll love if you’re a smooth mix kind of DJ. I prefer the isolator mode, though, with full kill to +6dB operation that despite the steepness of the 24dB/o frequency cut manages to sound very musical and comes away as perhaps the best isolator style frequency mixing solution on the market – except for dedicated (and unbelievably expensive) active isolators.