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Review: Allen & Heath Xone: 96

How to make the best even better

Last year, and after 15 years since any updates, Xone DJ finally announced the next evolution of the coveted Xone: 92 analog DJ mixer; a staple in clubs around the world. The 92 built a reputation for having a massive fat sound, and military-grade build-like quality. But in an ever-changing world where the cutting edge technology of today will be an after though tomorrow, every brand in every industry has to always be at the top of their game. After years of r&d, and paying close attention to what the consumers were looking for, the 96 came to be. But, how can you improve on something with such a legendary reputation? In this review, we'll be discussing all of the new features that make the 96 a contender for best mixer on the market. 

What is it?

The Xone 96 is a 6 channel analog DJ mixer with a built-in dual-input soundcard, and a vast array of routing options, making it ideal for any type of setup, whether that be DJ, live, or hybrid. 


How does it work?

As far as how it works, it's a standard DJ mixer in the connections, as it carries over most of the features from the 92, such as the 4-band eq, rich analog sound, and of course, the filter with adjustable resonance. New additions include the previously mentioned soundcard and new dual headphone monitoring, making b2bs and transitioning between DJs an absolute breeze. Other new features include the crunch distortion that can be added when the filters are activated, an innoFader crossfader, an adjustable parametric eq on the send channels, which can now be routed through the filter, adjustable booth eq (a really big feature that you'll also find on the PLAYdifferently Model 1), and as also mentioned earlier, more return channels labeled C and D. 

It seems Xone really wanted this mixer to be as all-encompassing as possible, as it's catered to the live setup crowd as much to DJs. Gone is the onboard LFO, but in its place are features you'd actually want in a mixer. Another new feature is a re-arranging of the ports on the backside, with the most obvious change being the REC Out port is right at the top and instantly accessible, removing the paranoia of possibly interrupting the DJ after you's performance. The phono pre-amps have also been upgraded to the top of the line, and stand miles ahead of the 92 in terms of sound and performance.


What do I think? 

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A few years ago, I'd heard a few bits about the 96 while it was in development, although there wasn't much to be said at that point as it was just barely in the early phases of design, what I'd heard got me extremely excited. Fast forward to last year, and there was zero information about it until they finally announced it. At NAMM this year, I finally got to touch it, and it was love at first sight. It looked sleek and fresh, but familiar and inviting. Then, the wait began for one to arrive at my doorstep, and when it did, I was like a kid on Christmas morning. Everything about the 96 is just class. The faders are butter. The crunch is addicting, and all the inputs made connecting my setup effortless. 

The 96 at NAMM earlier this year

The 96 at NAMM earlier this year

I mentioned earlier that the 92 was built like a tank, and the 96 is no different. It's got such a serious and industrial look to it. Everything works exactly like it should, if not better. One of my favorite features hands down is the new location of the record out. At a recent gig, I used another brand's mixer and had to nearly lift the mixer up just to get my cables out of the socket. I've yet to go b2b with someone on the 96, but I'm very excited to do so. I will admit that I haven't used the built-in sound card much, even though it was one of the major draws to the unit, as I received an interface with more than enough ins. But, if you are using your DJ mixer as a line mixer like I was with my 92, gone are the days of having to record channels individually. And, with the added returns, you now have a total of 10 stereo audio channels that can be recorded simultaneously into your DAW of choice. Simply epic.


Should you buy one?

If you are looking for a top of the line DJ mixer that can double as a studio mixer, and that will last you a lifetime, absolutely yes. 

Final thoughts?

Xone has absolutely nailed it. They brought the 92 into the digital age, without losing the analog soul that made it legendary. Every detail on the 96 was painstakingly looked at, and it truly shows. This mixer is just at home in the studio as it is in the booth, and can handle whatever live setup you have going on. This is for sure going to be either on my rider. And if the club doesn't have one, I'll bring my own. While the price might be a bit jarring to some, consider that sales on the 92 have been going strong since its inception 12 years ago. 

Price: $2199

Final score: 5/5

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