Review: Allen and Heath XONE:PX5

Designed to bridge the worlds of digital and analog DJing, Allen and Heath's latest club mixer is loaded with features. Sara Simms was eager to put it through its paces.  

It's been quite some time since I've had a Allen and Heath mixer to play on. As a longtime fan of their flagship XONE:92, I was excited to find out what the XONE:PX5 would be like. The XONE:PX5 is a four plus one channel mixer that combines together analogue XONE sound with modern digital connectivity, a range of FX and Allen and Heath's legendary filter. After many sessions and gigs with the PX5, here's what I discovered about this unique mixer. 

Overview

The XONE:PX5 is designed to be a club mixer that's a hybrid between analog and digital worlds. The mixer features Allen and Heath's famous XONE:VCF filter, a three band EQ and XONE's new Xcite FX. The send/return features allow DJs to connect external effects hardware for send/return and master insert connections. Each channel has its own send control for external effects processing and can be routed to the internal XONE:FX engine. Inside the mixer there's a 20 channel/24bit/96kHz USB2 sound card and the PX5 is Traktor Scratch Certified, meaning it can be used with Traktor. The mixer also features X:LINK connectors for connecting Xone:K Series controllers for software MIDI control. The XONE:PX5 has warm analog sound and an intuitive layout that make the mixer a solid choice for many styles of DJs. 

Rear Connections

On the back of the mixer there are XLR and RCA Master outputs, a microphone input and Line/Phono RCA inputs for each of the mixer's four channels and USB Line/Phono switches for channels one to four. There are two balanced TRS 1/4” jacks for FX Send and Return, and an X:LINK connector that can connect to the XONE:K Series controllers. There's a 1/4” booth output, a 1/4” master insert for connecting to dynamic processors and a microphone input. Lastly, there's a 1/4” Line input that allows Line level sources to be connected to the Channel A Line input. Allen and Heath has pretty much covered all their bases with the input and output connections on this mixer. 

Layout

The Xone:PX5 features a classic layout that's easy for DJs to navigate and use. One of my favourite features of this mixer is the long channel faders and Allen and Heath fader knobs. On each channel, there's a Channel FX Mode select switch that allows the Channel FX to be routed to Internal, External Send/Return or Dual (both). Next there's the FX Send control, which controls the amount of channel audio sent to the XONE:FX bus or external FX. The additional control of the wet/dry on the channel sends means more acute control over the the changes to the sound of each channel's audio. More traditional features include a switchable Phono/USB/Line select switch and three band EQ. Lastly, each channel features a Filter select switch, a channel meter for monitoring and 60 mm fader.   

Filter 

The XONE:PX5 features Allen and Heath's well-known filter. I like the sound of the filter and enjoyed using it for sweeps during my mixes. The filter section has a 'Mild to Wild' Resonance control, a High Pass Filter (HPF), Band Pass Filter (BPF) and Low Pass Filter (LPF). There's also a Freq Sweep control that ranges from 20 Hz – 20 kHz. To use the filter, the ON button must be pressed and the Filter button on the channel you'd like to apply the filter to needs to be pressed as well. At the top of this section is a Filter button that can be pressed to route the EXT RTN input to the filter. This gives the mixer even more versatility, as external effects can affect the wet signal of the Filter. 

XONE:FX Control Section

The PX5 features sixteen different digital effects, including delays, delay/reverb, echo, reverb, a flanger, vocal shifters and distortion. The FX section begins with the FX assign switch, which allows the FX to be sent to any of the four channels, the Master channel, or Send/Return. The FX can be set to Pre or Post fader and assigned to either side of the crossfader. There's a small screen that displays the FX, BPM and MIDI Clock details. The FX can be controlled by the Level control, and the Focus and Decay switches above it. The Decay adjusts the time based parameters, and the Focus controls adjusts the tonal parameters of the FX. Each of these parameters change colour when active and these colours are helpful as they display the settings in dark lighting. 

To be perfectly honest, the FX aren't my favourite feature of this mixer; I found the FX to be slightly overpowering. Used in small doses, they could be useful but are a little digital sounding for my taste. I also think the coloured lights make the mixer look a little more amateur than it actually is; personally I would have preferred the FX section to be more minimally styled.  

Mic/USB/Line Input Channel A

In the upper left hand section of the mixer is the Mic/USB/Line Input Channel A Section. The Channel FX can be routed to INT, EXT or DUAL. The FX Send Control controls the amount of audio that's sent to the XONE:FX bus or external hardware connected on the rear panel. Below this is a switch that allows Channel A to be switched between Mic, USB or Line input, a Gain control, a three band EQ and an ON/OFF switch for the channel. The mixer's Filter can be routed to Channel A by pressing the button and this channel can also be cued in headphones. As there is no independent fader for Channel A, this section on the mixer would be best suited for an extra line-level source or microphone, or used to creatively route FX.

Crossfader 

One thing I like about this mixer is the fact that it has a crossfader on it. (The last mixer I reviewed didn't have one and as a turntablist, I missed it!) The crossfader has three switchable curve settings for mixing or scratching and can be upgraded to the innoFADER Pro2. The innoFADER upgrade would make the PX5 a great mixer for club/mix DJs and turntablists alike.

Headphone Section 

The headphone section on the mixer is fairly standard; there's a split cue switch from on to off, a cue/mix control and Phones level control. Lastly there's both 1/4” and 1/8” headphone outputs, which allows two DJs to use the mixer at once. The dual headphone outputs are becoming more common on mixers, but it would be great if there were two independent cues included on each channel as well. A DJ can dream, can't they?

XONE:Sync

The XONE:PX5 has an internal BPM engine that is used for synchronising the internal XONE:FX to the incoming audio signal. This feature is also used for sending or receiving MIDI clock information through the XONE:Sync engine. The BPM source is derived from the Channel that the FX Insert effects are sent to; 1, 2, 3, 4 or A. When the FX Assign is set to SEND or MASTER, the XONE:FX BPM is derived from the main LR MIX clean feed. This is important information, as the FX must be set to the channel you wish to derive the BPM from. The mixer's BPM engine is quite accurate; it reads the BPM of the track within 0.1 BPM and can easily be adjusted if necessary.

The XONE:PX5 can create MIDI clock signals which can be sent to a DAW via USB, or to external hardware via the MIDI SYNC/OUT port. The XONE:PX5 is also capable of receiving MIDI Clock. 

MIDI Clock 

I connected my Roland TR-8 to the XONE:PX5 via MIDI and played a track through one of the channels on the mixer. I made sure to set the FX to the same channel, so that the mixer would pick up the BPM of the track and configured the TR-8 to receive MIDI Clock. When MIDI Clock is sent using this method, the XONE:PX5 can control playback of the external device. I found the XONE:PX5's Clock transmitted MIDI information accurately. The mixer includes MIDI Clock Tempo bend, which can be used to adjust the external hardware's tempo. The XONE:PX5 also features DIN Offset, which can be used to compensate for inherent latency in milliseconds. The DIN Offset works well, though I found it wasn't necessary for me to use this feature with the TR-8. As a side note, sending MIDI Clock from the mixer to the hardware is not my preferred way to control the tempo of hardware, as the machine will need to be stopped and re-started every time the BPM signal sent from the mixer changes. 

The XONE:PX5 is able to receive MIDI Clock. I tested this by sending Traktor's MIDI Clock to the mixer and applying the mixer's internal effects to the track playing from Traktor. I found the MIDI Clock Receive function performed very accurately. Lastly, I tested the MIDI Clock by sending the XONE:PX5's MIDI Clock to Ableton. I found that the mixer's MIDI Clock worked precisely and Ableton played in sync with the BPM set on the XONE:PX5. In order to send MIDI Clock from the mixer to a DAW, the DAW needs to be configured properly in order to receive MIDI Clock. To test out the various ways the XONE:PX5's MIDI Clock can be used, I had to refer to the manual many times. It always pays off to read the manual when learning new equipment!

Wrap Up

I have been gigging and practising with the XONE:PX5 for a few weeks and see this mixer as a versatile club/studio mixer that will appeal to a wide range of DJs. It has a straightforward design that's minimal and stylish yet tough enough for frequent use. My favourite features include the Filter section, long channel faders and the Allen and Heath channel fader knobs. The PX5 is Traktor Scratch ready, which makes it a good choice for Traktor users. The flexible routing options for FX and audio will appeal to creative DJs who want to take their artistry further and the mixer's solid construction will attract those looking for quality. The XONE:PX5 is an exciting new mixer from Allen and Heath that's sturdy, stylish and reasonably priced.

Price: $1499 USD

Pros: Flexible routing options for FX and audio. Built in audio interface and Traktor Scratch Certified. Legendary Allen and Heath Filter. Classic layout.

Cons: FX sounded fairly digital. Lighting buttons in the FX section make the mixer look a little more amateur than it actually is. Channel A (Aux Channel) has no fader or overall volume control.

Web: http://www.allen-heath.com/ahproducts/xonepx5/ 

Sara Simms captivates the world as an innovative DJ, turntablist and electronic music producer. She's a multi-instrumentalist who is known for her love of music technology. Sara's unique blend of EDM has rocked audiences around the world; she has recently toured through North America, Japan, and Europe. Her DJ career began in Toron... Read More

Discussion

Kyle
No one seems to want to try out how effective the PX5's internal MIDI clock is in all the reviews I've read and in this review there is no mention of this feature at all! I've got my eyes on the PX5 for this exact reason and would really love someone to test how solid it's MIDI clock signal is when sending out to other drum machines & synths for example
sarasimms
Hi Kyle, thank you for bringing this to my attention! I will test out this feature and post up an update to the review.
Kyle
Hi Sara, just wondering if you'd had a chance to test out the MIDI clock on the PX5 as of yet? Cheers
sarasimms
Hi Kyle, I'm working on this for you. :)
Kyle
Thank you Sara! I really REALLY do appreciate it!
sarasimms
Hey Kyle, we've updated the review above. :)
Kyle
Again I thank you Sara for taking the time and revisiting your review with the updated info.
After reading the added info am I right in that it seems if you use the PX5 as the MIDI clock to control external hardware then even the slightest change in BPM from the PX5 would mean that all the external hardware would have be turned off and on again for it to be re-synced? If so this seems hard to wrap my head around as it almost makes syncing to hardware with the PX5's internal clock a bit redundant. Maybe this feature was only ever meant to be used by syncing to a DAW and not external hardware.
Would just complete my setup so nicely to have a mixer that would be able to send AND receive a MIDI clock to and from all my external hardware. I have all my hardware connected to an E-RM Multiclock so would be perfect to be able to send out the clock from that to all gear, including mixer, from a production standpoint and then back the other way from the mixer into the multiclock and then out to all the gear from a sort of DJ/performance standpoint.
Any ideas or assistance that you could provide would be great? Thanks again :)

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