Allen & Heath Xone 3D
please note: this mixer is now discontinued - thus can be picked up for bargain prices
I bought a 3D last year, second hand from someone on DJF. I bought it for a hugely discounted price thanks to a broken set of faders - these turned out to be simply disconnected, so absolute bargain at the time!
Anyway, on to the review;
The Xone 3D is a 4-channel digital DJ mixer / MIDI controller / soundcard.
Based on the Xone:92, the 3D features 4 channels, each with a three-band EQ, LED meters, and selectable sources (phono, line & soundcard)
It also features two banks of MIDI controls, based on the A&H 1D controller. This configuration equals 8 MIDI faders, 16 rotary controls, 10 encoders and 50 push-switches, as well as two jog wheels.
It also features a BPM counter, two multi-mode filters, variable VCA crossfader, LFO with depth control and a "comprehensive" cue system.
The soundcard is eight-channel, which means either 6 channels from a PC and 2 returns or 4 channels from a PC and 4 returns. The sample rate can be set to either 44.1kHz or 48kHz, and will interface with any digital audio source up to 192kHz.
It was neatly packaged, although my device was second-hand; it included a manual, rack ears and some extra knobs. Handy. The manual is fantastic - with the soundcard being rather complex, the manual makes the whole thing a bit more understandable. It also includes Ableton Live Lite, and the Windows XP drivers.
So, the 3D combines Mixer, Controller and Soundcard - the ideal solution for digital DJ's who want analogue flexibility, DVS users and Ableton Live users. Does it work?
The mixer itself is of excellent quality - exactly what I expected from Allen & Heath. The faders are smooth and noiseless - the crossfader is responsive, although probably not sharp enough for really complex scratching on the closed end.
Each channel has a switch for selecting which end of the crossfader they are assigned to - it's a smooth system which allows for selection of the filters, too. Each channel also features a selector switch for selecting soundcard channel, phono or line.
The three EQs are full kill, and are great quality.
The trim controls give plus or minus 10 decibels of input gain, which is excellent.
The output is ridiculous - 22dB of headroom, and is more than enough for me.
The MIDI controls are well built and work fine - sometimes it feels like there are too many. They are quite tightly spaced, although I haven't really found that to be a problem. The jog wheels are sturdy and work excellently.
Soundcard & Compatibility
The soundcard is fantastic, once you get it working. My main beef with this device is the soundcard; the drivers are notoriously difficult to get working. When I had Windows XP, it was a simple matter of downloading the drivers and plugging it in (which is how it should be), but with 64-bit OS's, you can forget having an easy time. It took me four attempts to get the correct drivers, and Allen & Heath make it heinously difficult to even obtain them - thanks to the 3D being discontinued, you have to spend a good twenty minutes browsing around their site before you find the correct page (which is here, incidentally) and figure out which drivers to download. Should be easier now, since A&H have finally released the correct 64-bit drivers. A&H spent about 4/5 months working on their 64-bit drivers, which I think is completely unacceptable.
Once you have it working, the configuration utility makes it easy to select which outputs go where, and which configuration you want your 3D to function in. Like I mentioned earlier, you get either 6 channels from a PC and 2 returns or 4 channels from a PC and 4 returns - which equals 3 output channels and an input, or 2 outs and 2 ins.
I stick with 2 outputs, and 2 inputs, since I can use two inputs for TT's or CDJs, should I choose.
Using the 3D with Traktor
The 3D is perfect for Traktor. I use a two deck output mode, and use the MIDI controls on each side of the 3D to control it. With 105 possible MIDI messages, there's plenty of scope for controlling programs. Traktor is easily configured, and the 3D comes with overlays specifically for it. The traktor maps included add layers to the control surfaces - for example, holding the scratch button stops the track like a record, and the jog wheel then scrubs the audio. The shift button lets you scan quickly through the track, and holding alt lets you subtly push or pull the tempo.
I'll admit, the 3D has actually met all of my needs. I don't think I could ever have more than four sources (maybe, one day), but using it solely digitally through Traktor has been fantastic.
Build Quality = 5/5
Ease of Use = 3/5
Sound Quality = 5/5
Controls = 4/5
Overall = 4/5
It's a great mixer, marred by compatibility issues. If it wasn't for the fact that I actually had to stop using it for 3 months because I purchased a 64-bit laptop, I'd be giving it a 5/5. Still an absolute bargain.
You can now buy the Xone 4D, which is essentially the same mixer with better features and a better paintjob, for more money. The 3D is often available at heavily discounted prices now, so look out for a cheapie!
Main Outputs: +4dBu XLR Headroom +22dB
Booth Output: 0dBu Jack Headroom +22dB
Effect Send output:-2dBu Headroom +22dB
Maximum output: +26dBu
Mic Pre-Amp Sensitivity: -45 to -15dBu
RIAA input sensitivity: 7-100mV 47K/330pF
Stereo Line input sensitivity: -10 to +8dBu
Frequency Response (20Hz-30KHz):
Mic to Main output: (+40 dB) +0/-12dB(lo-cut filter)
Line to Main output: (0dB) +0/-2dB
Distortion at 1KHz +0VU out
THD + Noise (mic in +40dB gain) <0.04%
THD + Noise (line in 0dB gain) <0.02%
Common Mode Rejection @1KHz:
Mic Input +40dB gain >-50dB
Adjacent Channel <-90dB
Mute Shutoff N/A
Fader Shutoff <-90dB
Noise Performance (22Hz-22KHz unweighted)
Mic EIN with 150ohm source -126dB
Residual output noise: - main outputs <-97dBu
Main Mix noise: <-80dBu (84dB S/N)
Mic Inputs: <2K5 ohms
Line Inputs: >15K ohms
Outputs: <47 ohms
Record out N/A
Gain (each band) Stereo EQ +6dB/OFF 3 BAND TOTAL KILL
Gain (each band) Mono (mic) EQ +/- 12dB
Filter 30Hz-20KHz Dual VCF with LFO
Reading referred to Main outputs 0VU = +4dBu (9 point channel, 9 point master)
Peak indication threshold 10dB before clipping
Power supply: Internal Universal input
Power Consumption: 30W Max 20W nominal