• Price: US$1299
  • Rating:

Allen & Heath Xone:PX5 Mixer Review

Pro
Last updated 11 June, 2018

0

743

The Lowdown

A fully featured five-channel club mixer with cutting edge digital effects, industry leading connectivity and that signature creamy Xone sound. The PX5 is an immediately accessible mixer but with a lot of features, and beginners and experts alike will get a lot out of it. The lack of dual VCO filters may be a drawback for some; but those used to Pioneer mixers may be swayed by the PX5’s rich, warm sound. A great looking and sounding mixer combining top quality analog sound and cutting edge digital effects.

Video Review

First Impressions / Setting up

Setting up the unit was easy. Inside the box are the mixer itself and two three-pin power cables for UK/Europe, plus some handy replacement plastic pots and faders along with the instructions. Out of the box, the PX5 has a pleasing textured matte black finish with some purposeful looking (though entirely aesthetic) grills and scoops. Rather like a matte black Porsche Macan Turbo. Sort of.

The layout is easy on the eye too, and easily understood: a four-channel mixer with a built-in sound card, onboard FX module. a three-band “kill switch” EQ per channel, and the famous Xone VCO filter (yes, just one; more on that later).

Each of the four channels has a switchable phono / line input, as well as USB. There’s also a fifth channel with mic / aux input with its own EQ section. Unlike say a Xone:DB4, this is all pretty straightforward – you can get to grips with it immediately and start to mix creatively within seconds.

Plenty of I/Os including an FX loop give lots of flexibility when setting up.
Plenty of I/Os including an FX loop give lots of flexibility when setting up.

At the back of the unit there are XLR and RCA jacks for the master out, 1/4″ booth outputs, and RCA and USB rec outputs. There are also FX sends and returns for using external effect units, as well as a pair of insert jacks for connecting effects to the master output.

In Use

The unit is much lighter than the ’92 and overall it feels pleasingly well put together. The switchgear itself however, particularly on the rotary pots, lacks a little bit of resistance, and the pots can move quite freely. After a little while though, I have to say I didn’t notice this as a problem.

One of the great things about this mixer is you can literally get mixing within seconds, and this intuitive feel is something Allen & Heath has stated as an objective for the PX5 so top marks there. Pots and faders are nicely responsive, the sound is fabulous, and the controls are instinctively and ergonomically laid out.

However, the lack of a second VCO filter is contentious. Allen & Heath has gone for a single filter toggled on and off by Pioneer-esque blue buttons on each channel. But unlike the Pioneer bipolar filter pots on each channel, the PX5 buttons toggle a single VCF filter on or off. Having used Xone 92s extensively I must admit I was constantly reaching for the non-existent second filter!

This means you can no longer use independent filters per channel, which in practice takes something away from the experience for me. Of course if you’ve never used a Xone mixer before this will be less of an issue, but looking at the mixer layout, it does seem a rather curious omission.

The three-channel EQ is in line with the newer Xone products as opposed to the older 92/62 four-band EQs. The PX5, as befits its performance tag, features new, total EQ kill with adjusted attenuation to provide more relevant EQ control in a live environment. In tandem with the VCF filter, it gives you tons of audio shaping capabilities. Just be careful with the pots as the EQ response curve may be a little sharper than you’re used to (due to the attenuation kills).

the mixer's layout will be instantly familiar to DJs used to club installation mixers.
The mixer’s layout will be instantly familiar to DJs used to club installation mixers.

Connectivity is key: send and return options abound. Lovers of external FX pedals and legacy hardware are catered for with the LINE/hi-Z input switch on the back panel for the eternal returns. Each channel including the Aux can send and return to external devices via 1/4″ TRS connectors and there’s an ingenious FX mode toggle switch on each channel offering internal, external and dual FX processing, with dual mode allowing you to combine external FX processing with the internal Xone FX. Neat.

The Xcite FX suite is housed on the top right of the mixer and the effects are really good, specifically tailored for DJ performance. It’s great to hear some fresh sounding, studio orientated onboard FX. The scroll wheel “push once to select, push again to deselect” takes a bit of getting used to, but after five minutes feels very natural.

True to Allen & Heath’s filter-focused ethos there is also a nifty way to control the frequency band of the effect via the “focus” knob – essentially a band pass filter for the FX.

There’s a Midi clock engine which can send messages to external equipment and sync external instruments via 3/4″ jack inputs. The PX5 can also send/receive Midi through the USB out, which also allows for full digital connectivity via a 10-in/10-out 96kHz, 24bit sound card.

The sound card offers seamless integration into digital DJ workflows including full DVS control for Native Instruments Traktor Scratch Pro. There is no second USB port however, which would have been a welcome addition for additional syncing possibilities. But you can free up USB space on your computer by using the dedicated XLink input to control additional Xone controllers.

Conclusion

Overall the PX5 certainly fills a gap in the Allen and Heath product range, providing a serious option for those looking for a mixer with top quality sound yet catering for the modern DJ in terms of digital effects. I love how you can plug and play and get a lot out of it straight away, or you can delve much deeper into its myriad connectivity options and create some really unique sounding set-ups.

The faders offer less resistance than some designs, but you get used to them.
The pots offer less resistance than some designs, but you get used to them.

Those used to existing Xone mixers may find some features not to their liking: the redesigned three-channel EQ perhaps, or the lack of two VCO filters. But for most others, these are compromises that are more than offset by the new Xcite effects suite and digital connectivity options. It’s a smart move for the company and offers DJs a serious alternative to a Pioneer DJM-850, even a DJM-900 Nexus. It’s also priced competitively.

 

Click here for your free DJ Gear and software guide