Video & Opinion: Why The Xone:DB4 Mixer Shows Us The Future

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 2 mins
Last updated 29 November, 2017

The Xone:DB4 controlling Ableton Live at the heart of a custom DJ set-up.

Last year we reported from the BPM Show in the UK on Allen & Heath’s new DJ mixer, the all-digital Xone:DB4.

While you’re unlikely to go out and buy one right now (it’s insanely expensive – US$2,899 / £2,323 / €2,758), we think it marks a milestone for digital DJing, which is why we’re glad to have Allen & Heath’s Andy-Rigby Jones talk us through it in our exclusive video below.

But first, let’s quickly look at why we should be interested in such kit, given few of us are likely to own one any time soon.

New kit for the new world of digital DJing

We’ve talked recently about how in the future of DJing, it’ll be the people who master new technology in order to do exciting things with music who will shine – the geeks, if you like. If beatmixing is no longer the holy grail, what are the new skills that will stand DJs out from the crowd?

We’re starting to understand that they’re in how intelligently you assemble your unique blend of kit; how you map and program it; and how you combine music production, programming and electronics with the immediacy of DJ performance. You need musical skill, passion and drive (that’s a given), but you also need to be able to master the ins and outs of insanely powerful music gear.

Which brings us back to the Xone:DB4. It’s equipment like this that is going to help the best digital DJs step up to the mark. Because on its own, this is an expensive box of nothing! You have to have the vision to pair it with hardware, software, controllers and Midi devices of your choice.

Then, you have to map your chosen gear with your software to do what you’re envisaging. No mixer is as configurable as the Xone:DB4 for technically creative digital DJs. This is the kind of gear Ritchie Hawtin was talking about in his recent NAMM interview with Ean Golden.

I’m scared just looking at it…

The Xone:DB4: Don\’t try and master it in a day…

Yup, so were we! It is, frankly, hard to get your head around on first encounter. There’s so much going on it’s overwhelming, to say the least.

Last year we interviewed Andy Rigby-Jones of Allen and Heath about the mixer in order to try and begin to understand its potential, and now he’s been kind enough to talk us through it on the floor of this year’s NAMM show. Taken together, these two resources are useful in starting to understand it.

So enjoy watching the video. If you’re serious about pushing the boundaries of digital DJing, this is exactly the kind of gear we suspect you’ll find yourself slowly getting more and more interested in.

The video

• Recorded exclusively for Digital DJ Tips by DJ Urkel Dee – many thanks.

What do you think? Can you see yourself with such a pricey and capable piece of kit at the heart of your DJ set-up? Is is important to hack together hardware and software in search of that elusive sweet spot where the gear helps you to express yourself and push boundaries musically? We’d love to know your thoughts.

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