Review: Allen and Heath XONE:K2

The XONE:K2 is portable, durable and features X:LINK to enable you to connect two mixers together. Sara Simms added it to her DJ rig to find if it could do the business.  

The Allen and Heath XONE:K2 has been on the market for several years, yet it's still a relevant controller that offers many creative options for DJs. The XONE:K2 is a slim, compact MIDI controller that incorporates a four channel sound card and can be mapped to any DJ software. With over 52 controls and three layers of mappings available, the XONE:K2 provides up to 171 MIDI commands and the ability to link multiple units via X:LINK. I was curious to find out how the XONE:92 would perform with my DJ software and tried out a variety of MIDI mappings in an afternoon session. Here's what I learned. 

Overview

At first glance, the Allen and Heath XONE:K2 is a slimline controller with a minimal look. The controller features a variety of rotary knobs and soft touch controls that include steel nuts on rotary controls that protect the circuitry from impact damage. The touch controls feature LED illumination that make the controller easier to see and use in dark environments. The unit itself features a light plastic base with a steel front panel that make the XONE:K2 a controller capable of withstanding the rigours of the road. 

There are 52 hardware controls that provide up to 171 MIDI control commands across three layers. The controller layout includes four rotary encoders, twelve rotary potentiometers, twelve soft touch controls, four linear faders, eighteen pressable buttons and two rotary encoders at the bottom. All of the knobs and controls can be MIDI mapped and used with DJ software. Housed inside the XONE:92 is a four channel 48kHz/16-bit internal sound card, which makes the XONE:K2 a versatile controller for many types of setups. The XONE:K2 includes a hard case for transporting the controller that doubles up as a stand for the controller. 

Front And Rear Panel Connections

On the back of the XONE:K2 are RCA Phono connectors, a USB connector and X:LINK In/Out sockets for connecting to a XONE X:LINK device, such as a XONE DB mixer. On the front facing panel there's an 1/8” (3.5 mm) headphone output that can be used to monitor DJ mixes.

Setups

There are a wide variety of setups that the XONE:K2 can be used in, including a single XONE:K2 with headphones, a single K2 with an external mixer, dual XONE:K2’s with headphones, dual XONE:K2’s with an external mixer, or dual XONE:K2's with a XONE DB series mixer. The possibilities for this controller in traditional or non-traditional DJ setups are limitless. 

Mappings And Latching

Made for the creative artist, the XONE:K2 allows users to create a customized layout or use one of the mappings that have been provided online by Allen and Heath. The controller features a unique latching layers system where the controls can be assigned to multiple layers, meaning a single physical control can have up to three functions. The way the layering system works is fairly unique; individual sections of each part of the controller can be assigned to different layers.  

X:LINK

The X:LINK is a useful feature on the controller that can be used to join two K2's together. One advantage to using the X:LINK for two controllers is that only one USB needs to be used to connect both controllers to a computer. The X:LINK feature allows users to connect the K2 with XONE:DB2 or XONE:DB4 mixer. 

Conclusion

Overall the XONE:K2 is a versatile controller that can be used for a variety of DJ purposes. It's completely customizable for DJs who want a personalized way to control their software and easy to use for those who want to use the available mappings. It's a small, slimline controller that comes with a practical carrying case that fits nicely into a touring or studio setup. The XONE:K2 is slightly similar to Traktor's Kontrol X1, although the fact that the K2's buttons are not labelled give it more of a universal appeal. Since the XONE:K2 is completely mappable, it can be used with any popular DJ software, including Traktor, Serato, Ableton Live, Virtual DJ, MixVibes and for other purposes like controlling lighting. Its durable construction, stylish design and versatility make this controller a great fit for an intermediate-to-professional level DJ's rig.

Price: $269 USD

Pros: Minimal design. Completely customizable. Durable enough for the road. Includes a storage case.  X:LINK allows users to link two K2's together.

Cons: Creating or using mappings could be intimidating for beginner DJs. May include more features than many DJs actually need in a controller. 

Webhttp://www.allen-heath.com/ahproducts/xonek2/

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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

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