I own and use and old NUO 3 (the all black one without the silver bits) and it's still my mixer of choice. The sound out of them is just so musical, one way or another.
I got it about ten years back, and at the time I had exactly the same question, I think it was about the time everyone was buying XZones and Pionerr 400's.
Everyone was telling me I must get an A&H. The Ecler just seemed more organic.
They are very basic, but they do actually feel like a musical instrument. I would heavily recommend a NUO3.
They're not perfect either - they have a couple of quirks, but that only seems to add to the charm rther than being annoying like on other mixers.
Only thing is - didn't they go bankrupt a while back? Or are they in business?
Edit - they have the best eq's hands down. This is the main reason you buy an Ecler.