Every once in a while a company will come out with something that is ground breaking in design, functionality, and packed to the brim with new technology. Allen & Heath is one of these companies that is fully capable of releasing products like this, and they have once again proved they can do so with the released of their Xone DB4 mixer. Benefits of owning a Xone mixer include high-end sound quality, professional features, and bullet-proof build quality. The new Xone DB4 represents the best of Allen & Heath as it sits on top of the range as the flagship mixer. The evolutionary step up from the Xone 92 can clearly be seen with its full sound card and built-in digital fx. Input selection has been improved to include analogue, digital, or USB input which can be assigned to each channel of the four channels. This is nice because now you can route one signal to four different channels, with each channel manipulating the signal in a different way. Each channel also has its own fx unit as well as a loop/roll function and individual BPM counter. The mixer isn’t Traktor certified yet, but you can bet on that happening sometime in the near future, probably before its official release. The one thing that I’m sure many will miss is the 4-band eq, which has been reduced to a funny looking staggered 3-band eq. The overall design is also questionable as it looks a little bit too cluttered, which is an unusual characteristic for an A&H product. Here is the official description from the A&H website:
The Xone:DB4 is a truly ground-breaking mixer and by far the most advanced product that we have designed. Every feature has been meticulously researched with a view to offering DJs ultimate creativity. Based on the iLive pro-touring FX system, we developed FX algorithms with BPM conscious parameters and tight spectral control, customised to perfectly fit the DJ environment.
As the loops and FX are automatically synchronised to the tempo of the track, it is very easy to build some amazing grooves and soundscapes without problems of latency, low fidelity and the general hassle often associated with using software and laptops.
The icing on the cake is the flexible input matrix, where any audio source can be selected on any or all of the channels. Different processing can be applied to the same track on separate channels and you can fade between them, or a phrase sampled in the looper of one channel can be added to the mix later in the track. Our digital design team has done an incredible job to ensure that this is one of the most innovative and exciting DJ mix tools to date.
Quad FX Core
The heart of the Xone:DB4 is the powerful Quad FX Core DSP engine, enabling each channel to have its own FX bank and BPM detection system, which automatically adjusts all time-related FX and loops to the tempo of the music. There are 5 studio quality FX types optimised for DJ use – delays, reverbs, modulators, resonators and damage – plus each FX type has a patch library of different effect variations. Each FX bank has a dedicated expression control and a rotary pot to set the wet/dry level, whilst further tweaking can be performed using the global controllers in the FX master section.
Each channel has a built-in looper, with selectable loop length from 1/16 beat to 4 bars.The DB4 will always record the full 4 bars, so the loop can be expanded or shrunk at will.
Xone:DB4 comes equipped with the Xone dual filter system.
Each music channel can select any of the available stereo music sources: Analogue Line 1-4 (switchable to Phono on 2-3), Digital 1-4 or USB 1-4.
EQ / Filter
Each music channel has a 3-band EQ that can be configured as standard asymmetric EQ (+6/-25dB), Isolator (+6dB/OFF with a 24dB/octave slope), or reconfigured as a High-Pass/Low-Pass filter system with adjustable resonance. EQ knob pointers change colour to show which type of equalization is active.
The Mic/Line input has 2-band EQ, gain, cue and mix level. This can also be routed to channel 1 for adding FX.
A built-in, high quality (24-bit / 96kHz), multi-channel, fully patchable USB2 soundcard allows replay and recording from audio software for 4 stereo sends and 4 stereo returns.
But with all of these exceptional features comes an exceptional price tag. With an estimated retail price at around $3000USD, this will be one of those most expensive mixers on the market. However, with this price you are pretty much getting a mixer with a complete audio interface, as well as a full effects board and midi capabilities. So is all of this new technology worth the price? Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get my hands on one yet, but from the long list of features, I think the price is justified if you are looking for a complete hybrid mixer and don’t want to spend more money on a full setup. Obviously this will be targeted towards club owners, but for those bedroom DJs who can afford it, you can expect these in your Christmas stockings by the end of the year.