Link: xone  Price: $2899/£1899/€2099

The Mutt’s Nuts?

Allen & Heath xone:db4 mixer

It often seems that unless DJ gear has a pressing need to join Weight Watchers and quit biscuits it’s considered worthless, a mere toy. You hear that opinion expressed on the internet often and I’ve been guilty of it myself, which makes the cognitive dissonance on picking it up all the more unbearable. The DB4 is incredibly light, so much so that if the DB4 bore the logo of any other manufacturer I’m sure the die-hard A&H fanboys would pillory it mercilessly.

Were it a basic analogue mixer I could understand the size zero lightness, but this is a digital mixer that packs a 16 channel audio interface, 4 separate loop recorders and FX units, two Xone filters and a PSU within its 12.6” x 14” form factor. How have they managed it?

Moody titanium off some dodgy mush in a pub car-park?

It’s certainly not because they’ve cut corners, as you’ll find out.

Allen & Heath xone:db4 mixer

In the box you’ll find nothing but a trendy black bag bearing the Xone logo, which will cause you to panic like a nonce with his nuts in a vice until you open it up and take a peek inside, at which point you’ll find the DB4. The bag is well padded and the sides are rigid to keep the expensive contents safe. There are also pockets for headphones, cables and USB drives, et cetera.

You might find the inclusion of a carry-bag odd for a club mixer, but the DB4 is much more than that. This is a personal mixer, a device that is intended for use at home, in the studio and at the club. Wherever you go to perform the DB4 goes with you.

Allen & Heath xone:db4 mixer

The unit itself is intimidating when you see it in the tin. There’s such an overwhelming amount of controls it’s tempting to put it back in the bag and ignore it, but to do so would be madness. The DB4 is fundamentally a four channel digital mixer. You can happily use it and not have to worry about the advanced functions it boasts. If you just want to mix audio and you’ve used a mixer before, you can use the DB4.

It’s a busy control surface, though, and working out where everything is and what it does will take some time. Mastering it will take even longer as it is a complex device.

I/O

Allen & Heath xone:db4 mixer

The inputs and outputs are as comprehensive as you would expect from an A&H mixer and it’s pleasing to see that they’re neatly arranged, as this makes finding connectors in the dark or if you can’t see the back panel a lot easier.

Allen & Heath xone:db4 mixer

There is a row of four stereo RCA inputs with lines 2 and 3 switchable between line level and phono. But perhaps the most exciting feature of the back panel is the presence of four digital inputs – a first for A&H mixers, which have traditionally featured a single digital input at most. It’s exciting because owners of CDJs, samplers, et cetera will now be able to make use of their digital outputs with an A&H mixer. If you’re a fan of fader starts you’ll also be pleased to note there are four inputs for the control cables of your CDJs on the back panel.

Allen & Heath xone:db4 mixer

Balanced outputs come in the form of one pair of XLR connectors and one pair for the insertion of 6.3mm jacks. There are two further outputs in the form of a stereo pair of RCAs and a coaxial digital output, both of which are used to record the output of the mixer. These are not your typical auxiliary outputs, however, and ably demonstrate the myriad ways in which this mixer can be customised to your own personal taste. They can be switched between the master output, headphone output and ‘cleanfeed’ (master audio minus microphone audio) via the DB4’s menu. You can also set trim levels while you’re at it to attenuate the signal that is output.

This is a generous level of control that is easily put to use.

Allen & Heath xone:db4 mixer

There is a type B USB connector resident on the back panel with which you can attach a computer, all too predictable in this day and age, but to the left of this is a rather interesting connection called X-LINK. It does nothing at the moment, but will be used to input data from future A&H accessories. The connection itself is an RJ45 Ethernet connector, a connection type that has become common on DJing devices over the last few years. Let’s hope it is actually put to use. Pioneer has proved such a system can work with their PRO DJ LINK and it’d be great to see A&H offer the same interconnectivity with their gear.

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