After previously reviewing the Allen & Heath Xone:DB2, I wondered how much different its more robust cousin, the Xone:DB4, might be. The two look similar, and the DB2 was already one of the more thrilling units I’ve encountered in a while, so I wondered just how much better the DB4 could get. To my surprise, the Xone:DB4 is considerably more advanced than the DB2, and is probably one of the greatest dedicated mixers I’ve ever had the honor to mix with.
As always, Allen & Heath has provided excellent build quality and impeccable style in the Xone:DB4. The look and feel of the knobs and casing suggest expert craftsmanship with a touch of a DIY electronics aesthetic, combining for a wholly satisfying user experience. The DB4 uses top-notch faders and rotaries, just grippy enough to ensure you don’t slip without feeling sticky. The color scheme, particularly that of the plentiful LEDs, is simply breathtaking, especially in a dark club setting. The DB4 also has an entirely intuitive layout, and doesn’t require any effort to understand exactly how the audio is being routed. The fact that each channel has its own effects unit certainly helps with this, but more on that later. Having two variable-state filters is also quite handy, and gives this mixer its classic Allen & Heath sound. Putting each filter on one side of the mixer is a great touch, preventing assignments from being confused. I only wish that the filter knobs were a little bit bigger. As important as the filters are, they deserve to have knobs at least as big as the dry/wet knobs on the effects units.
Of all the adjectives to describe the Allen & Heath Xone:DB4, featureless is not one of them. The DB4 has so many audio routing and manipulation options built into its sturdy frame that it almost seems like a whole suite of DJ equipment has been laboriously packed into one box. As I mentioned before, maybe the most exciting feature of this mixer is the four dedicated effects units, providing delay, reverb, resonators, modulators, and damage effect capabilities to each of the unit’s four channels. Within each of these five categories is a plethora of further options, allowing for infinite combinations of effects that will never become boring. Another feature which further enhances the DB4’s sonic capabilities is the input matrix, allowing for the selection of any one of twelve audio channels on each of the system’s audio lanes. This permits exceptional creative control; for example, two effects can be applied to one audio stream by simply loading the audio into two separate channels! Faders then control the relative amount of each effect. The Xone:DB4 also includes MIDI capability for use with Traktor and other MIDI-enabled DJ software, but honestly just using the mixer itself far outshines anything you could hope to do on your computer.
Though perhaps this is reflected in the unit’s price, the Allen & Heath Xone:DB4 is probably the best DJ mixer available today, in terms of audio and effect quality, user interface, build quality, and style. Pulling this beauty out of your DJ case guarantees you to be the envy of your local club scene.