As the digital age showers the world with more and more buttons, knobs, switches, flashing lights, faders, cue point selectors, effects options, card slots, etc., it's nice when you find those rare machines that simply work well. To say the Xone:V6 works well is an understatement for sure. This box has become the Holy Grail for DJs in search of pristine sound quality, smooth transitions, and several flexible channels to work with-for good reason. Clarity throughout the entire frequency range is noticeable when compared to other boxes. Highs seem much cleaner and more dynamic. Lows seem to cut through, making the V6 seem punchier than other mixers. There's plenty of headroom and the noise levels are extremely low, and correspondingly, the available dynamic range is huge (116 dB). All this is due to the fully-discrete, Class A signal path with a 60 volt power rail (from a separate, external power supply). Additionally, tube preamps on every channel provide that extra bit of musical presence (even-order harmonics) that's crucial for digital sources, which tend to have a much flatter sound than vinyl recordings. Connectivity is also a breeze and options are plenty. The Xone:V6 gives you six stereo channels in several configurable combinations of line and phono ins. Clear standouts on this box are the oil-damped rotary faders. For a DJ or producer into long mixes (electronica or those using several channels to layer samples over songs), the touch of these faders is without comparison. The accuracy in going from fully off to fully on is a true thing of beauty as many mixers out there have sudden spikes in various areas of the fader, whether around the top (which is no problem for scratch DJs who need to go to full volume quickly and do not want the subtle range at the top end of the dial), or at the bottom where it's possible on some boxes to go from zero to substantially in-the-mix in a super short distance. The resistance on these faders is in perfect balance allowing smooth variations in gain with ease but preventing smaller unintended movements from drastically changing levels.
LEDs that show output level are bright green, turning to blue, and then red, and are easily visible for quickly determining the relative output between tracks. The brightness of these LEDs is a great feature when compared to some mixers whose output meters can get lost (or at least take a hair longer to find) in the myriad of other LEDs showing the thousands of other options at your disposal.
Another great set of features available on this box specifically tailored for DJs are the EQ and tone settings for the booth out and the headphone out respectively. More specifically, the headphone out has controls for cue versus mix (allowing you to monitor what's going to the house system, what's only going through the cue channel, or any mix of the two in between) and gain level. The booth out features faders for 100 Hz and 10 kHz and gain level as well. These features are great for getting into your specific comfort zone with respect to your individual way of mixing-also priceless to have for extended sets where your ears get worn down and you may want to cut out some of the highs in your headphones and/or monitor signal to just catch what's important for bringing in your next track-or to simply save your ears from the outset. Again, both features use the oil-damped faders and are amazingly precise.
A further selling point of the Xone:V6 is its high-pass filter. Amazingly, you get one on each channel, with the same silky smoothtouchofanoil-dampedfader. Thefiltersweepsfrom30Hz to 600 Hz, a great range for some really dramatic effects in taking outlowend,wobblingitabit,andslammingitbackin. Youalso have the option of switching this filter off completely.
Cue buttons are clearly visible and easy to get to, giving you a blue LED when activated. Activating one deactivates the previously activated channel unless you hold both down simultaneously. I personally prefer to have each button activate and deactivate only when pressed, allowing me to monitor many channels simultaneously by simply pressing each button once.
One drawback to this piece of gear is the fact that the only EQ'ing for the house system is done on the master out, and the only options are for highs and lows. The two EQ gains are for the 80 Hz and 10 kHz range, so there are no mids to tweak. A staple of many DJs is sweeping the mids and highs, and this simply isn't possible on the V6. It's always nice to have EQ control over each channel independently, but the trade off is that it would certainly clutter this box, taking away from several of its other advantages. However, each channel has an insert, so you can add EQs or other external processors easily, including two options designed specifically for the V6: a 1RU-height EQ module that can switch into any two stereo channels for three bands of EQ per channel, and a rack module that utilizes a high-quality P&G conductive-plastic linear fader for DJs that need a cross-fader. Also, the mic input does have a two-band EQ included, and as the well-written user-manual explains, there are a number of internally-switched options for configuring operating levels, enabling phantom power, and inserting RIAA filtering. Clearly, the type of mixing you're into will determine your level of love for this piece of gear. Undeniables are the sound quality; sniper-accurate, amazingly smooth faders; clutter-free, ultra club-friendly layout; and "made for DJ" features. Drawbacks are lack of bells and whistles, and of course price (at $4799 street, you could put together a pretty impressive full rig). Still, this piece of gear is in high demand, and it's likely to stay that way. Definitely worth looking into for all DJs out there, and even mixers and producers could benefit from the warmth that the Xone:V6 imparts on tracks summed through it. ($5999 MSRP; allen-heath.com)
Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.