As 2022 draws to a close and we look ahead to 2023, we’re bringing you our picks of the best new gear this year, from drum machines to turntables.
Union Audio’s Orbit.6 is an obvious choice for our favourite new DJ mixer but a clear winner in a hotly contested category. Developed by engineer Andy Rigby-Jones – the man responsible for classic DJ mixers including the Allen & Heath Xone:92 and MasterSounds Radius series – the Orbit.6 is the first release by Union Audio, but one which sets a new benchmark for rotary mixers.
The design of the Orbit.6 is fairly unsurprising, a six-channel rack-mounted mixer based on the fundamental principles which were established decades ago by iconic mixer brands like Bozak and Urei. There’s also more than a hint of Rigby-Jones’s own design for the Allen & Heath Xone:V6 in there, but the Orbit.6 is an entirely new design from the ground up, both in terms of physical design and all the electronic circuits within. With twelve inputs spread across six channels, high-pass filters, aux sends and a three-band isolator, the Orbit.6 ticks all the boxes in terms of functionality and versatility.
Based around a proprietary discrete op-amp developed specifically for the mixer, the sound of the Orbit.6 is exceptional. Rigby-Jones explains that the Union Audio team engineered the mixer for vibes and engagement just as much as they focussed on measurable performance such as low distortion and noise. The result? In their own words, “sweet, clear highs, warm, forward mids and an extended, driving low end”. Above all else, the Orbit.6 is engaging, with sweet character in its high-pass filters, dramatic tone shaping from its isolator and clear summing.
There are a few clever touches in terms of features, like the unique damping system fitted to the level potentiometers, giving a weighty, slow feel to the main controls in order to encourage smooth, organic blends. But it’s not just one single feature which defines the Orbit.6 so much as the alchemy of all the elements combining to create something that’s much more than the sum of their parts; design, layout, sound, build quality, feel and functionality work symbiotically to create something very special.
The Orbit.6 is not cheap. There’s no getting around the high price tag, but it’s fair value for a serious audiophile tool, unashamedly aimed at club installations, pro DJs and very serious vinyl enthusiasts. The Orbit.6 is a thing of beauty.More info/buy