Matrix inputs have been a feature of Denon mixers for many years now and have also been seen on Korg’s ill-fated Zero series, but they can now be found on the hallowed top panel of an A&H mixer.
With so many input options it’d be easy to implement a confusing, illogical array of options, but A&H have, thankfully, avoided this by separating the various inputs into three sets of four. The three input sets are analogue, digital and USB and you select the set you’d like to use on a channel via a toggle switch. Once selected, you can route inputs 1-4 of that set to a channel via a rotary selector. The input currently selected is denoted by a green light, making it easy to see which input is in use with a quick glance.
As a verbal example of this, let’s assume you want to use the device connected to the 2nd analogue input on channel 4. To make that happen you push the input assign toggle switch on line 4 to the far left and turn its rotary selector to the 2nd position. It’s that simple. You won’t have to worry about managing your inputs ever again.
The input matrix is much more than a simple convenience. With the DB4 you can have one track routed to all four channels and record four different loops, apply separate effects and filter different parts of the audio. The input matrix opens up a lot of creative possibilities.
One of the most striking elements of the channel EQ area is the odd layout of the EQ pots.
Rather than the linear placement seen on most mixers, A&H have placed the mid-range pot to the left of the other pots. Directly between the high and low pots is a switch that lets you switch between isolator, filter and standard EQ modes. The isolator cuts all frequencies for a band and when all pots are turned fully to the left the channel is silent. Standard EQ mode cuts frequency bands by 26dB. Both modes boost audio by 6dB.
In filter mode the high frequency pot becomes a low-cut filter and the low frequency pot a high-cut filter. The mid-range pot controls the resonance applied to the filter and whilst it’s a welcome feature it doesn’t provide the generous amount of resonance granted by the main Xone filters.
Neither do the EQ filters themselves operate or sound as good as the main filters. They are similar in sound and effect to the channel filters on Traktor Pro and the INST FX filter on the DJM2000. They are, however, a welcome addition and will get a lot of attention from the DB4’s target market of EDM DJs.
To help you quickly identify the EQ mode to which a channel is set each EQ pot is illuminated either red or blue. In isolator mode all pots are coloured blue, in standard mode they are red and in filter mode the high and low pots are blue whilst the mid pot is red.
This is an invaluable feature that demonstrates the careful thought and consideration that has gone into the design of the DB4. What could have been a confusing and complicated feature is made accessible and user-friendly by simple visual cues. Exactly what you need in the heat of battle when your mind is focussing on everything else except the position of a toggle switch.
A further demonstration of A&H’s care and attention to detail is the instant change in colour when you move the toggle switch. I know it seems like an insignificant thing to mention, but I’ve used a lot of equipment that employ dual lighting on a particular control to signify its state. Often, the light that should be off is illuminated slightly and whilst it isn’t functionally detrimental it is irritating and distracting. This doesn’t happen on the DB4’s EQ pots, they’re either red or blue. There’s no confusion.