Gear Review: Allen & Heath Xone:23C

We put Allen & Heath's budget mixer to the test, but does it hold up?
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Kane Michael
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We put Allen & Heath's budget mixer to the test, but does it hold up?

So you’ve decided to get into DJing, or you’re now ready to step it up from your controller into more standard club gear. Unfortunately, you don’t have $3000+ to buy a proper club setup. What do you do? In a world flooded with products of all prices and capabilities, the options are overwhelming. Fortunately we are here to make it easy. 

You’ve decided that you want a simple setup: Two turntables and a mixer. You want to keep the cost low, but quality high. Enter the Allen & Heath Xone: 23C, A&H’s intro DJ mixer that provides top quality for killer price.

The 23C is a simple 2+1 channel mixer that gives you the robust sound of analog, with the convenience of digital. What does this mean? Analog, to put it simply, generates sound through actual circuits that create a warm and thick sound due to them being physical signals. Whereas digital uses microchips, like a computer. Both have their pros and cons, but fortunately for you, you get both!

The clean and simple Xone:23C mixer

The clean and simple Xone:23C mixer

So what makes the 23C a great option? Well for starters, it’s simple. No frills, no unnecessary knobs or buttons, just a clean and easy to understand layout. Everything does exactly what is says it does. The build quality is “tour grade” as A&H states, meaning it’s built to take a beating. An all metal casing provides a sense of great craftsmanship and longevity. One of my favorite things about the mixer upon first play was the faders. They feel fantastic. Just enough resistance to give a nice smooth transition. As an owner of a DJM900, I’m actually a bit envious of this. Next, the 23C features the legendary Xone filter with high and lowpass options, and a controllable resonance. This is a killer feature because it gives you the ability to decide how intense of a filter sweep you would like to do. For scratch DJs, the crossfader comes ready for upgrading to a Innofader. The three channel EQs are smooth, and allow for a pleasurable mixing experience. It also comes with two headphone ports for dual mixing.

As for the digital side of things, as stated, this mixer comes with a built in 96kz sound card. To put that into perspective for those that find it confusing, most tracks you listen to are approximately 41kz resolution, meaning this mixer has the ability to record about 2.5x that. In other words, this thing sounds good. The mixer comes with an intro version of Mixvibes Cross DJ software, and the X-Link, which allows you to directly connect with other Allen & Heath controllers. The built in sound card allows you to record straight from the mixer and into an audio recording program without anything more than the provided usb cable.

It’s hard to find negative things about this mixer, because it's an intro level piece of equipment. It’s not MEANT to have loads of bells and whistles, which I keep needing to remind myself. That being said, there are a few little things I can pick out. First, I personally don’t like that the crossfader can’t be completely bypassed. If you leave it on “curve mode” and keep the fader in the middle, it allows for no interference. Problem with that is if you accidentally knock it to a side that's opposite the deck playing the track, the sound is lost. Second, if you're going to put two headphone ports, why not make them BOTH 1/4 inch? Again, not a big thing, just a minor complaint.

Overall, I am extremely impressed by Allen & Heath’s offering. A simple, well built, great sounding piece of DJ equipment is hard to come by as it is, and the fact that the price is so low is extremely attractive. So much so that this mixer has already won an award for “Best Mixer Under $600” by DJ Mag. My complaints were minimal, and only added for the sake of correct reviewing. If you are looking for your first DJ mixer, and want something that easily trumps the rest, the Allen & Heath Xone: 23C is your best choice.

Pros:

  • Analog/digital mixer
  • Great price
  • Simple layout
  • Has internal soundcard
  • Legendary Xone filter
  • Unobtrusive dual headphone jack
  • Interchangeable crossfader

Cons:

  • Barebones
  • Only two external channels
  • Only has filter effect
  • Only one 1/4 headphone jack
  • Crossfader can’t be bypassed