The Xone series of mixers from Allen & Heath are seen in booths and studios around the world, and they're often the first choice for DJs who expect a certain level of sound quality and features (the great-sounding filters especially). Xone mixers have been made in many different sizes and channel counts over the years. The most recent addition, the Xone:23, is a two-channel, four-input mixer that should appeal to studio usage, portable rigs, bars and battle-style setups that want the same analog quality in a smaller footprint. And its very fair price point should appeal regardless of how you want to use it.
Starting at the inputs, the Xone:23 already packs a feature that makes the two-channel design more versatile. There are two separate inputs per channel, each with its own level controls rather than the more common switch between sources, so ultimately four sources can be mixed at once. These two inputs come stock as one phono and one line per channel, but with a little work internally, a resistor can be removed to make both inputs line-level. The three-band EQ that follows the inputs is thankfully designed as "total kill," or full cut. Post-EQ, there's a button that both enables the voltage-controlled filter and simultaneously sends the signal to the external effects output. These send and return RCA jacks on the rear panel allow both channels to be sent to an external stereo effects processor. The fact that the filtering and effects are engaged with the same button can be seen as a good thing from a simplicity standpoint or as a hinderance if you prefer more flexibility. However, there is a button below the LED meters that turns external effects on for both channels.
Following the filter button is a cue button per channel, and a VCA fader with a nice feel for mixing. Battle DJs who want something loose, though, may find the resistance a bit strong with no contour control as well. All of the buttons on the top panel of the Xone:23 are backlit and illuminated for easy indication of their position in dark or light settings. Another feature is the use of UV sensitive silk-screened ink, which also helps you see the front panel better in club environments.
Between the faders are knobs and buttons that control the Xone filter. There are two buttons that choose between high-pass and low-pass filter shapes. Next are knobs for resonance, featuring Allen & Heath's signature "mild to wild" range, and cutoff frequency with a range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. The filter sounds good, but its limitation is that it's shared between the channels, unlike the bigger Xone mixers that have multiple filters for mixing. At the bottom is the crossfader. It has a decent feel, and users who are serious about cutting can easily upgrade to the compatible Innofader. Rather than a curve adjustment knob, a simple switch toggles between gradual and sharp crossfader curves.
On the front panel, there are jacks for both 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch headphone connections. The headphone preamp cranks on this mixer, with enough gain for any environment. The master outputs are XLR connections, and there are also RCA monitor and record outs. The power supply is a pretty unique one that would make swapping it out in a pinch difficult; the upside is it's also universal for use in any country. Finally, there is an XLR jack on the top panel for balanced microphone connection, with a gain adjust and 2-band EQ.
I found the Xone:23 to perform well and sound excellent. Although small and slightly limited when compared to its bigger siblings, for $299 USD this mixer has little competition in its class. For a small rig or cramped booth, this is the perfect solution for anyone who wants to add the Allen & Heath analog quality without breaking the bank.