A well-built and highly versatile modular controller
The Allen & Heath Xone:K2 is a modular DJ and audio production controller with four faders, 12 pots, 6 rotary controllers, 24 buttons and the ability to output two stereo channels of audio. It also has two Ethernet ports that let you attach your Xone:K2 to another Xone:K2 or to a compatible Allen & Heath mixer so they can share data and power, and a layer button that lets you switch between three layers of controls.
The most obvious use for the Xone:K2 is as a digital vinyl system (DVS) controller to be used alongside an existing mixer and deck setup, with one or more Xone:K2’s being used to control elements of the DVS software, such as hot-cues, loops and effects.
Another use is as a modular controller and audio interface for a DAW such as Ableton Live. Thanks to the audio outputs of its built-in 16-bit audio interface, you could route Ableton Live’s output into your mixer and use it in your regular DJ set.
Even if you’re used to configuring MIDI devices, you’ll still need to read the user manual to configure the Xone:K2. It isn’t difficult to set up, but you do need to understand how to set the MIDI channel it should use and how to configure the layering system.
The Xone:K2 comes with an ASIO driver for low latency performance, but there isn’t much scope for configuration. You can switch between sample rates of 44.1 and 48KHz, and use a drop-down menu to set the sample buffer, but that’s pretty much it.
Conveniently, the Xone:K2 is powered by your computer’s USB bus, so you won’t need to find a spare mains socket to accommodate it, which simplifies the process of setting it up in a club or when taking it to a studio. It also comes with a carry case that doubles as a stand, elevating the Xone:K2 so that it sits between your decks and mixer. When mounted on the case the Xone:K2 stood higher than our Technics SL1210s and Pioneer DJM-909, so don’t expect it to sit flush with your setup.
The audio outputs consist of a stereo pair of RCA connectors and a 3.5mm jack plug, with the RCAs being located on the Xone:K2’s back panel and the 3.5mm jack on its front panel. You can either use the 3.5mm jack to monitor audio with headphones or use a 3.5mm male jack to two male RCA connectors to route audio to your mixer. Although the latter lets you route two stereo channels of audio from your software to your mixer, it isn’t the most elegant solution, as the two outputs are at opposite ends of the unit.
The Xone:K2’s sound quality is great, and easily good enough to incorporate in your DJ set.
The Xone:K2 has four rotary push-button encoders at the very top of its control surface, followed by three rows of four pots and buttons. In the context of a DJing setup, these are best suited to controlling EQs, effects units and filters. They feel very sturdy and we love the generous amount of space between the controls.
The four faders have studio-style fader caps and are pretty smooth, although there’s a bit of side-to-side wobble to them. The obvious control candidates for these are the channel faders, but you could also assign them to channel filters or similar controls.
Below the faders is a bank of 16 buttons that you can assign to hot-cues, loop controls, Ableton Live’s clip matrix or anything else you fancy.