Monday, November 9, 2009

Allen & Heath Xone 4D Mixer

I just fell in love, for the second time.

I got a new piece of equipment today, the Allen & Heath Xone 4D mixer. Check it out:

Let me preface by clarifying a few thoughts on mixers. DJ's always seem to have a favorite mixer. As do any real audio engineers or producers. I also have a favorite, the Pioneer DJM-600. And why not - it's an industry standard, and there is a reason for that. It's easy to use, well-built, has good effects, and is fairly versatile in terms of outputs, etc. I can use it in pitch black conditions, simply by feel and familiarity. However, I have also been a fan of the Allen & Heath mixers, because the sound quality has always seemed to be slightly better to me (more noticeable in bigger sound systems).

Do you like more than one type of cheese? Or more than one type of ice cream? Then you can appreciate more than one type of mixer.

So anyway, I was kind of excited to get a Xone 4d, but it took a month for it to arrive because I live in such a backwater town in Atlantic Canada, so some of the excitement was subject to deflationary pressures during the past several weeks. However, the mixer arrived today. And once again, after unpacking the beast, I'm all revv'd up with no place to go.

At this point, if you're not a DJ or audiophile, you may as well just give up on the rest of this post. It doesn't get any better. Scroll to the bottom, take a quick look at the other pretty picture, then surf to Spankwire or something more exciting (and be careful, that site is not office-friendly). But for those of you who like the technical specs on high-end audio equipment, stick around and check this out. Basically, the 4D is a combination audio mixer and MIDI controller. Specifically:

- Start with the audio specs of a Xone 92 (almost). Add 105 MIDI controls.
- 96/24 20-channel USB 2.0 sound card.
- Only four channels, but all triple input (line/phono/soundcard). And with the decline in popularity of tech 12's, four is enough.
- 3-band EQ's (not double-mids), a slight compromise.
- Two SFX sends.
- BPM counter, although you can always put a piece of duct tape over that. Of course, admittedly, it can probably be useful when merging with Ableton.
- 105 basic MIDI controllers, HOWEVER, they are shiftable, giving 227 total. I haven't figured out yet where the extra 17 come from. But it has everything from faders to rotaries to switches to jog wheels. And by the way, I'll admit that no DJ in their right mind probably needs more than 105 controls, except maybe the nutbars like Deadmau5 (and I mean that in a completely appreciative manner). And I bet that Nic Fanciulli could make this thing sing, except I assume that he plays mostly on CDJ's.
- Integration between some of the mixer controls and MIDI, which I think must be where the other 17 MIDI triggers come from.
- Inherent ASIO driver for USB communication, naturally.
- And most importantly, UV Paint!! Ok, I'm showing my geekiness here:

And all this for slightly less than the price of a failed marriage ...

Late Note, March 20th, 2013: I've just put together a very detailed and comprehensive YouTube video about this mixer:

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