The lack of a professionally built 2-channel mixer has long been evident in a market that is seemingly overcrowded with entry level units. Often these companions of the bedroom retail just above or below the £200 mark and lack the level of robustness, circuitry and sound quality found in their nightclub-worthy siblings. A round of applause then to Denon for embracing this task with aplomb, with the DNX-600.
Even before the box is opened, expectations are high. A quick pre-flight glance at the specifications sheet boasts of an internally fitted 24-bit 96kHz USB 2.0 audio interface with 4-in/4-out stereo channels. Internal 32-bit floating DSP processing and 32-bit DAC output should ensure that sound quality will be veritable bliss, and the control surface can be fully MIDI mapped. Other features include Denon’s hi-fi quality microphone and phono amps which, we are told, realize a studio console classic low noise level (EIN -126dBu), and high-output headphone amplifier.
“The DNX-600 passes the two standard Juno Plus quality checks: it sits perfectly flush on the table and it’s not possible to pull any of the knobs or switches off when exerting everyday force”
The mixer has a decent weight to it – at 4kg it must be packing some high-end components. It stands 90mm tall and the grills on the solid steel side panels instantly make you feel as if you’re in safe hands. The build quality is thorough and finished in metallic black paint. More importantly, it passes the two standard Juno Plus quality checks: it sits perfectly flush on the table and it’s not possible to pull any of the knobs or switches off when exerting everyday force. The back panel looks professional, featuring XLR master outputs and mic input with standard silver quarter-inch jacks taking care of the two phono inputs, two CD inputs, two AUX inputs, effects send/returns, stereo and booth outputs. There’s a USB B connection, two fader start ports for connecting to CD players and the signal ground nut locks your Technics in place tightly. Last but not least there’s a sunken master output stereo/mono selector switch.
Moving on to the top panel, the layout is sensible, the centerpiece being the 10 segment type level meter which sits between the avenue of channel strips and is crowned with a large master output knob. Either side of this you’ll find the so-called matrix input assignment selectors, which allow you to allocate CD, phono, mic, aux 1, aux 2, USB or DVS (the direct mode for DJ applications using platter control signal operation) to each channel. The 3-Band EQs give you a total kill right through to +10 db, the knobs are firm with a rubbery finish making for accurate adjustments during those sweaty nights. The level gain goes up to +20db which is perfect for matching up vinyl to the louder digital mediums. Below there are the effects sends for each channel, then the two 45mm Alps style channel faders with independent contour controls which sound and feel smooth, and although there is a little sideways wobble to them it’s not enough to trigger any alarm bells. The crossfader really sets the DNX-600 apart from others in this price range, as aside from the extremely precise 32-point contour manipulation it features Denon’s Flex Fader – essentially a tension adjust – and is executed by means of a very satisfying rubber nipple on the front wall of the unit.
“Put into practice, the sound quality is as good as anything else on the market – and that includes some machines that cost double the price”
The DSP effects take up the right hand side of the mixer. The large BPM display with beat/time parameter indicators is crisp and bright. Denon have served up delay, echo, loop (with beat lock and tap modulation) flanger, filter, reverb, beat scratch and beat breaker effects. These are controlled via a large illuminated on/off button, dry-wet mix and cross over frequency and isolator (low pass /high pass) filter knobs with independent send assignment. Put into practice, the sound quality is as good as anything else on the market – and that includes some machines that cost double the price. It can be mastered in a few minutes which is very handy for DJs who may not be familiar with this mixer. The tap button feels loose and is made from slightly wobbly rubber – one can only assume that this is intentional due to the vigorous amount of hammering it will undergo.
The remaining features on the mixer include the microphone and headphone monitor control room occupying the left side of the unit. The microphone has high and low EQ with a -15/+15 db range, mic trim and mic level from kill to +10db. It has an on/off switch, ducking and the signal can be routed to the effects bus. The split cue headphone control pans from cue to master with 10db max output and operates exactly as it should. There’s also a booth send level knob which is a nice touch on a mixer in this class.
The Denon DNX-600 may not quite have the durability of the Pioneer or Allen & Heath alternatives but it comes very close, and makes up for that with its professional specifications, crisp sound and ease of use. It’s fun to drive and we expect it will stand the test of time in the clubs. What you’re effectively getting is a high performance audio soundcard, MIDI controller and near perfect DJ mixer for under £600.
Review: Dicken Lean