As someone who has always had a great enjoyment of less mainstream genres of house such as Tech, Tribal, Disco even a bit of deep house, getting the chance to review the Allen and Heath Xone DB:4 was a great opportunity as the mixer seems to built towards these genres of music.
The effects in the DB:4 are nothing short of overwhelming at first. Itís something I had to play with for a bit before I could really use it well. The big thing I could say about the effects are: know what each of the effects sound like, and set up how you want to use them. They take a bit of tinkering to get the hang of especially the built in menu, these are not knobs you can flip around at will, I found the best way to use them was to plan what effects I wanted to use with breaks or loops. Pumping the dry/wet and expressions too far can make the output sound unpleasant so again you have to know what you can get away with.
That being said the beside-the-fader filter knobs that Allen and Heath love on their mixers handle as good as always. I like these a lot because they’re simple to learn and handle beautifully and sound fantastic on top of it all.
When I first saw the small EQ knobs of the DB:4 I was a bit hesitant. But these are easy to get used too, and I found them comfortable by the time I was done with the mixer. I was extremely impressed by quality of the EQing. When you bring out the lows completely you can really hear it removed from the track. I was also extremely happy to see the depart from the 4 EQ bands on older mixers, I thought the 3 bands handled much better, especially when I was also trying to handle the dry/wet and expression knobs I couldnít imagine also having to mix with 4 bands of EQ.
Although the effects sound very good, the more complex uses took a lot of effort to pull off. Using the dry/wet and expression knobs took two hands and I only felt really comfortable using them on long breaks.
One thing I loved about this mixer was the looping. It works really great. When you create a loop the mixer saves 8 beats, so even if you start a 2 beat loop, you can expand it out or roll it up.
Just in general the mixer itself offers loads of really great features, it has a very good effects unit it it, but it leans towards a very effects centered workflow. The effects offer a lot but it means more time spent at the mixer and less queueing up your next track.
Overall it felt fairly solid, the problem I had with it was the large wet/dry knobs felt pretty flimsy as well as the faders felt like it wouldnít be hard to knock them off if someone’s going crazy on the decks.
Itís easy to see that this is a very effects focused mixer. And the effects live up to this. The big difference I saw with this was that you have to be sparing with the effects, pushing them too hard can sound too sharp. The workflow of the mixer lends itself to long mixes and perhaps longer tracks, this is by no is a drawback as the mixing is extremely smooth sounding. The mixer didnít feel durable like a nightclub standard mixer as it should, but overall the Allen and Heath Xone DB:4 felt well designed and very fun to use.