ALLEN & HEATH | XONE V6 | DJ MAG January, 2004 Review

DJ MAG January, 2004 Review
Four-Channel Install Mixer
Words: David Eserin
An extensively enhanced successor to Allen & Heath’s celebrated Xone:62 club mixer, which acts as a MIDI controller to boot.
Price (fader):
Price (rotary):
Contact:Allen & Heath 0870 755 6250
Available:Mid Feb, but heavily
ith their brand new Xone:92, Allen
& Heath bridge the gap between
the product’s fundamental
purpose as an audio mixer and the provision for
control over tools that create or effect the music all by the magic of MIDI. This enables external
effects units such as the Korg Kaoss Pad and
even software to be controlled straight from the
mixer. This sets it apart from any other mixer
available, while quashing any assumptions that
this is just a spruced up Xone:62.
What’s Changed?
The Xone:92 has been built on continued
research and feedback from users of all the Xone
92 DJmag
mixers – top DJs the world over including Richie
Hawtin who played a major role in the
inspiration. The result is a combination of
valuable refinements to the Xone:62, technology
from A&H’s top of the range V6 mixer and a
completely new MIDI concept which is perfectly
suited for advanced DJing and use in live sets.
There are two auxiliary output channels. Two
independent LFOs and filters (with cross-fader
assignment) and the aforementioned MIDI
controllability. The look of the whole mixer is
dramatically different to its predecessors with
attention to detail such as illuminated buttons
and controls. It also has the same sexy VU level
lights, cue buttons and switches found on the
Xone:V6. The new lights are clear and bright,
while not taking up much room on the mixer or
distracting attention. The unit still sits at the
same height and depth as most decks and
simply looks great, especially with a pair of
There are two separate filters, both with high
pass, band pass or low pass settings. Once
selected and activated the frequency is
controlled with a knob on either side of the
cross-fader. The resonance can be increased
from ‘mild’ to ‘wild’, although we thought it
could actually be a little more wild. A&H have >>
considered the heart conditions of installers here and kept
it tame; it can also be turned off internally for the super
The filters do not have any effect on the signal to either of
the auxiliaries, so when applying external effects and using
a filter at the same time there is no correlation in the two
sounds. The filters cut some of the high frequencies and
low frequencies in their fully open state. However, with the
resonance up half way this flattens out the frequency levels
to normal. One of the greatest things about the filter, apart
from its sound, is that the frequency controls can be joined
together. They can also be assigned individually or paired
to the cross-fader. When controlling both filters using the
frequency knob or cross-fader, one channel can be set to a
hi pass filter and the other to a lo pass filter. On one
complete rotation it creates a unique ability to mix between
tracks using the filters and it sounds wonderfully slick. For
example, in a middle setting one channel will have
everything below 1kHz filtered out, with everything above
1kHz filtered out on the other.
All channels can be set to either filter and can even be
switched from one to the other. By using drastically
different settings on each, the DJ can achieve some pretty
awesome results. There are also two sine wave LFOs (low
frequency oscillators) with a tap tempo feature. The tempo
can be doubled or halved. LFO depth can also be adjusted.
Each filter can even be controlled by the cross-fader with
the LFOs still interacting. >>
Sander Kleinenberg on the Xone:92
Aux Sends
At the top of each channel strip there are volume
controls for each of the stereo auxiliary sends. These
can be set to send the signal regardless of the
channel volume fader level, cross-fader and filter
controls. However, the EQ has an effect over the
auxiliary send regardless of the pre switch. Below
that is the phono and line switch. The gain on the
main channels has a notch in the centre position,
almost urging you to set it at that volume. However, it
seems to provide the perfect signal at its lowest
setting to achieve an average of 0dB. The mic/return
channels simply have the equivalent to a volume
control on a knob
All channels have four-band EQ for Hi, Mid 1, Mid 2
and Lo. On the main channels these all have a
maximum gain of 6dB, which will again please the
installers worried about their precious rig. The DJs
will be happy to see total kills, but only on the Hi and
Lo’s – the two Mids have a drop of -30dB. The actual
separation of the frequencies is much better than on
previous Xone mixers and the extra Mid to the norm
really helps smooth some awkward mixes out.
The EQ on the mic/return channels can be increased
or decreased by 15dB. This gives greater control over
voice and effects which usually require slightly more
attention than vinyl or CD and can also be used to
alter the sound more radically as part of a
There’s a wide Q (frequency width) for cut and a
narrow Q for boosting, which prevents accumulated
gain. Needless to say they sound great, but it’s a
shame there isn’t the ability to punch the EQ on and
off as on the 62.
There’s a switch below the EQ on the mic/return
channels which activates the talkover function; again
this is a three position switch. In the middle the
sound is off, flick it towards you and the channel is on
full. Push the switch back and the channel is on but
the main mix is brought down by 20dB. This enables
perfect control and use of external effects to get a
really pronounced sound above the dry signal. It can
also be used for mic talkover, but there is no
reduction gain control and it’s not automatic, ie. as
the volume of the return or mic changes it does not
automatically reduce the main mix at those times.
Finally, the switch flicks back to the middle position
when released.
"It's a great and solid looking machine. The new features are a welcome
improvement to the already exceptional sound quality of Allen & Heath’s
mixers. If you look at price, sound and versatility, I would say that this unit
is at the top of the current game.
"I was pretty impressed by the change of how the High, Mid and Low range
is better handled by this mixer. Previous models used to cut a frequency
dead right at the end of the frequency. Now with the new steps it's much
smoother and better to handle.
“However, if there’s one complaint, I talked with the engineer of the mixer
for a while and told him that I would like to see the tab function for the
MIDI clock to be changed to an automated one."
Cue Control
All the faders are incredibly tough while remaining
wonderfully smooth in operation and have new
slimmer knobs attached. The cross-fader has been
upgraded from the 62 with the addition of curve
control. This allows everything from a long, smooth
mix to a very sharp curve for chopping in and
scratching, a facility many DJs had complained was
lacking on previous models. There’s about a 2mm lag
before the sound kicks in on the sharpest setting, but
the action is intuitive and precise.
A&H have not only surpassed themselves with great control over cue for each
vital part of the mixer, but managed to inject some humour in there too –
albeit unintentional. The volume knob actually goes up to 11 compared to
every other numbered volume knob which go up to ten - how Spinal Tap. Nice
work! On a more serious and pleasing note, the Xone:92 has two headphone
outputs (small and large), so you won’t be stuck out if you lose the adaptor.
The output can be set to hear the music before the effect of the cue and after.
Split monitoring changes the master VU meters to display cue and master
separately. Each channel is selected by an illuminated push button. When no
channel is selected for cueing, the main mix is played through the
headphones. The two auxiliary channels can be selected for monitoring and
the cue channel can be blended with the main output to check the mix.
Channel Assign
There are two three-position switches for each channel
(main only), the first sets which filter the channel will be
passed through and the second assigns the channel to
either end of the cross-fader. There’s a set of lights above
the cross-fader that indicate if a channel is assigned, but
it doesn’t signify to which side.
Hidden Features
Levels can be set inside the unit to suit a particular
installation and to avoid damage to any PA
equipment. The unit can also have some ‘ears’ bolted
on the side to mount it in a standard 19in rack space.
The internal settings are described in the manual and
include the ability to reduce the filter resonance and
even turn it off completely. The phono inputs can be
switched to line level. Even the gain can be
deactivated on the main channels. As default the mic
channels are not routed to booth or record, but this
can be changed, but to both only.
Each of the four main channels has both line and phono inputs on
RCA. The two auxiliary sends and the returns use jacks. Mic inputs are
XLR only. The master section has two independent Mix outs - one on
XLR and one on jacks with separate volume control. The booth output
is also on jacks and can be muted and even set to mono. There’s also
the standard MIDI output port and a record output on RCA.
DJmag 93
Custom Control
The inspiration
for the Xone:92
Initially, Richie Hawtin
worked with A&H to modify
his Xone:62 – creating his
‘62 CTRL’ which was, in
part, the inspiration for the
Xone:92. With invaluable
help from his father
Michael, and cooperation
from A&H designer Andy
Rigby-Jones, Richie built the
most advanced DJ mixer
and live controller in the
Richie: "We changed the mic
channel EQs into the same
ones on the normal
line/phono channels, then
added cross-fader assigns
to all the channels and a
second auxiliary send for
more EFX. Then my father
and I added the second
series of modifications that you can see on the left-hand side of the mixer. We replaced the fader and
EQ knobs with new MIDI control knobs and faders. We added extra buttons and mounted a MIDI
input jack for using a foot controller/switch for further controls. The final assortment of MIDI added
was; six rotary MIDI knobs, six on/off MIDI trigger switches, two toggle on/off MIDI switches (with LED
feedback lights), MIDI fader, MIDI LED activity light and MIDI output jack on the rear of the unit. A few
other things were added, but that was the bulk of it."
MIDI Control
The Xone:92 has a very subtle feature that could
almost be overlooked with just a casual glance,
but its potential control over external devices is
something to be revelled in. The MIDI controls on
the 92 have been designed specifically to work
with the Korg Kaoss pad. All the faders on the
mixer are voltage controlled (VCA), including the
filters (VCF). The faders not only control
components internally but they can also
manipulate virtually any external MIDI gear via
the internal MIDI converter.
A standard MIDI output connector is situated on
the back, so care should be taken to keep the
rear panel accessible if installed into a booth (or
fit a breakout box for convenient access).
In Sync
There are six controls on the Xone:92 that control
MIDI output. These are the cross-fader, both
filter knobs, the LFO tap button, a start/stop
button and one dedicated MIDI data knob at the
top of the unit. When a tempo is tapped into the
LFO button the 92 instantly starts pumping out a
MIDI Clock. This can be picked up by most effects
units and sequencers that have a MIDI input and
enables timing to be set remotely from the mixer
for delays, chops, etc.
The Data knob is defaulted to act as a fine tuning
tempo controller (also controller 94). Set initially
in the middle (with a dip), turning it to the left
decreases the speed and to the right increases
it. This allows the DJ to hook up a drum machine
94 DJmag
and set its tempo straight from the mixer. The
start/stop button uses the standard controller for
all MIDI machines and the stop action also sends
a rewind message to bring the track to the
beginning. This is the only mixer that actually
supports live performance in this way.
The cross fader is set to controller number 92,
which turns the effects on and off on the Kaoss
Pad. The two frequency knobs on the filters also
control the X and Y of the Kaoss Pad (controller
12 and 13). The Xone:92 can actually be opened
up to change certain MIDI setting, as described
in the manual. These are modified using little
micro switches.
Remote control
Phono: 4 (RCA)
Line: 4 (RCA) 2 return (Jack)
Mics: 2 (XLR)
Master: #1 (XLR), #2 (Jack)
t Booth: Jacks
t Auxiliary: 2 (Jack)
t EQ: 4-band
t 2 Filters: Hi, Lo and Band pass
t 2 LFOs: Freq, Res. and Depth
t LFO tap tempo + MIDI Clock
t Fader options: Rotary/Linear
t Size (mm): 320 x 358 x 83
t Weight: 6kg
good points
MIDI control + Clock
Great sound quality
Two filters and LFOs
Two master outputs
bad points
No BPM recognition
No EQ punch facility
MIDI control can be turned off on the cross fader,
as some will not use this. The global MIDI
channel can also be set to either 15 or 16. And
the data knob can be switched to control effects
depth on the KP2 (controller 95) insted of fine
tunimg the internal MIDI clock. When using a
computer, most software – namely Ableton Live
– can map any controller input number to any
control in the software so the 92 is not limited in
this way. The standard controller numbers set to
each feature on the mixer might not work with
every FX unit, but you can check the
specifications to see which ones match up.
Professional - Installation
value for money
build quality
ease of use
Richie Hawtin
on the Xone:92
sound quality
"The 92, is a huge step
forward in the development of
mixer design. To have a mixer
in production with all its
capabilities is still somewhat
mind blowing. "My 62 CTRL
has 16 controllers, so once
you get used to so much
control and all the
possibilities it’s hard to go
back. But for the rest of the
people out there who don’t
have the luxury of a 62 CTRL
(only two exist), the 92 is not
a step back, its a huge, huge,
huge step forward over the 62
and everything else out there.
"Saying that, I'm waiting for
the 92 CTRL version, which
Andy, my father and I are
currently working on. Ha ha!"
The Xone:92 is rock solid in both
build and sound quality. The
improvements over the Xone:62
are very valuable, particularly the
new MIDI clock/control which is
a leading concept. The new dual
filters are also very useful - the
first mixer capable of blending
two tracks with two filters using
one knob or cross fader. The
Xone:92 is the perfect club mixer
for today’s forward thinking DJ.
Many of the features may never
be used by some, but even for
conservative DJs, the filters and
EQ alone add unrivalled polish to
any set.
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