I can’t help feeling that the channel faders let the DB4 down a little. They just don’t feel like they belong on an £1800 mixer. I mention this not because they’re useless, but because I’m disappointed. I expected more from A&H. (See official comment from Allen & Heath at the foot of this review)
As an example, the channel faders can wobble slightly when you move them. I stress the slightly, but it’s still unwelcome. In terms of feel they’re similar to the faders on the Xone:42, Xone:3D and Xone:4D, on account of them being the same type of fader, and exhibit no lag. You move the fader and the volume changes accordingly, at that instant. That’s not as common as you’d expect these days. Channel fader curves can be switched between 3 settings that adjust the fader from a linear curve to a sharp one where the sound rapidly rises to full volume when the fader is pushed from the off position to 1/3 open.
Crossfader cut-in is shy of 3mm when set to the sharpest setting. Three curve settings are available, thus catering for all styles of DJing. The DB4 is unashamedly aimed at the vast majority of EDM and mix DJs, not turntablists, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a bit of cutting on it (just don’t expect to crab – Gizmo). After all, despite the claims of marketing men the vast majority of DJs are not polarised to one extreme or the other. Just because a DJ uses their DB4 to play trance one night it doesn’t mean they can’t play old-school hip-hop and funk the next, or indulge in a bit of recreational scratching at home. It’s not designed for hardcore scratching, but the crossfader is surprisingly capable for a ‘regular’ club mixer and will support the needs of the vast majority of DJs.
When I first noticed the channel FX buttons on the DB4 I thought scratching would be impossible without accidentally engaging them, but that proved not to be the case. Of course, the possibility remains and I’m sure it will happen to someone, but my medium sized fists never once made contact with them.
In terms of its faders the DB4 is a truly versatile club mixer that supports many different styles of DJing. I’m not happy with the feel of the channel faders, but my criticisms are an expression of my opinion and personal preference based on the cost of the mixer. There is too much play in the channel faders and I don’t think they’ll hold up well to continued punishment. You might feel differently and I have to admit, in use the faders gave me no problems, but the DB4 is aimed primarily at EDM and house DJs, many of whom use the channel faders exclusively. Any weakness in fader design or construction will be exposed by them.
Every channel fader is accompanied by a peak meter and in keeping with the DB4’s immense scope for customisation you can change the behaviour of it via the menu. You can choose to view the regular line of dancing lights, a dot denoting the current peak or a couple of dancing dots to denote the current peak. I’m sure most people will be happy with the default behaviour, but it’s nice to have the choice.
MIC/ Aux Section
The microphone section features one XLR input for a microphone and a pair of RCA connectors to which you can attach some auxiliary device such as an iPod, sampler or another mixer. You can switch between the two inputs using a switch.
In their normal state the MIC and AUX signals are post fader and phones, but you can assign them to channel 1 so that they can be mixed with other audio and be subject to effects. Whether the audio is routed through channel 1 or not, the CHANNEL ON button must be lit in order to activate the microphone or auxiliary input. There’s no ducking of the audio to make way for the MIC signal, which might annoy some jocks, especially if they’re mobile or playing in a more commercial pub/club setting where chatting on the MIC is the norm.
The MIC section features two EQ controls, one for high frequencies and the other for low. The EQ isn’t as sweet as those on the regular channels, being a bit brutal and uncivilised, but is plenty good enough for a MIC channel on a DJ mixer. You also get gain and level controls. There’s no peak meter, but you do get a red light that will illuminate if the audio is clipping.