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Urei 1601e Mixer with effects
Reviewer: Gizmo • Date: June 2006 • Price: £449/$649 • Link: Urei DJ

Urei 1601e mixer - logoA full year ago, Urei (or whatever they're called - still no nearer getting a pronunciation guide) brought forth not one but 2 high quality scratch mixers. As you might expect with a solid heritage in the pro audio market, these mixers - the 1601 and the sampler endowed 1601s - wowed the scratch scene, not just for being chokka with features and having amazing sound but for looking like nothing else around.

The faders have not been received too well but when Urei officially announced and demonstrated how a Pro X fade could be transplanted into the Ureis and the subsequent price tumbles (a 1601s can be had for £275 in the UK), suddenly the Ureis have become the new 707 - quality scratch mixer at a turntablist friendly price.

But Urei decided that 2 mixer weren't enough - oh no - we now have a third in the shape of the 1601e. Can you guess what the "e" stands for? Correct - it's effects. Essentially the 1601e is identical to the 1601 and 1601s but instead of the groovy sampler, it has a compact but fully featured effects unit. So rather than cover old ground and describe every feature in detail again, check out the previous Urei reviews for reference as this one will only cover the new effects unit.

Overview

Urei 1601E - fullAs previously mentioned, the 1601e is just the same as it's 1601 and S siblings. It's still got the same enormous and imposing size and styling. But this is irrelevant for any mixer - it's all about what it does and how well it does it. The only differences are the whole effects unit and a wet/dry fader on the right hand side.

Like the S model before it, the 1601e packs a whole load of power into a very small area. It's very complex to explain so bear with me. Effects can be applied to each or both channels, but only one effect to both - you can't have a different effect on each channel. And there's a strange pre/post fader setup as well. If you apply the effects to single channels, it's pre fader - it only becomes post fader if you apply to both. This would be OK if there were individual channel wet/dry faders but there's only one. So if you want to add a little delay to your scratches and leave the beat untouched, you're screwed. Not good.

Urei 1601e - FXAt the core of the effects is the BPM detector. It needs a little help to determine the BPM itself and this done with the low, mid and high buttons. On the whole though, the mid settings will cover most eventualities with a 90-180bpm range. The BPM detector is also sensitive enough to track changes in pitch as well. But if this auto detection isn't your thing, you can still tap the BPM in as well.

Another cool feature is the isolator EQ. Using the mid/low/high buttons again, you can pick out 3 bands to apply the effects to. You can turn them all on but not off - I would have liked to have that option rather than using the channel switch. Your attention is focused in the effects area, so why make it so that you have to move your hands away to turn them off? It's claimed to be a feature, but I'm not convinced.

Urei 1601e - fx adjustNo effects unit is complete without parameters and the 1601e has 2 with knobs to adjust them. What they adjust is dependent on the effect (more on those next). Unusually, these knobs are weighed so that the faster you turn them, the more the parameter is changed, but on the whole, 1 rotation is a full sweep.

And keeping in mind that the effects are BPM based, there's also a timing control. This allows you to adjust the way the effects interacts with the beat and you can change the timing with 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1 and 2 bar variations.

The Effects

Urei 1601e reviewThese are split up into 2 types, single and multi effects. The single effects are just as they sound - one effect with full control over the parameters. Multi effects are factory preset and designed to offer you a broad selection of multiple effects.

The 1601e has 6 banks of effects - bank A is for single effects while B-F are for the multi presets. Using the X and Y knobs, changes can be made to the multi effects and these are only remembered while the unit is turned on so remember to make a note of a particular effect combination that you tweaked.



Urei 1601e ReviewNow to the effects themselves. There are 5 effects as follows:

Cutter: Like a Vestax Samurai fader, this is an on/off effect. You can control the on/off ratio as well as the slope.

Pan: Pretty self explanatory - left, right and somewhere in between. But you do get some cool spatial EQ based pans as well.

Filter: De rigour for the dance scene but still useful for scratch heads as well. And the 1601e gives you tremendous control over resonance, frequency and even the wave shape.

Flanger: Classic sweeping sound, but with the 1601e, you can take it to some seriously metallic extremes.

Delay: Standard stuff here, but the addition of 3 different types that emulate old analog and digital styles gives you a lot of variety.

Rather than go into the full detail of each effect, full details can be found in the 1601e manual on the Urei site and a PDF shows the different combinations of effects in multi mode.

Summing Up

Urei 1601e reviewBuilding on the fully featured 1601 is a good foundation. As a mixer, you're hard pushed to find a product that has such quality and so packed with features. The quality of the effects is second to none and the level of control that can be achieved is outstanding in such a small unit. Urei have clearly concerned themselves with giving the user a fully featured effects section to play with.

But...

My fear is that they tried too hard and squeezed too much in there and at the same time made some fundamental mistakes. While the effects are good, in use it's a bit complex with all sorts of key combinations to remember to get the best from the unit. The stock faders aren't that great but thankfully Urei now provide full details on fitting a Pro X Fade into it. And despite providing such a great range of effects, there's only a single wet/dry fader - not individual channel faders. And finally the pre/post implementation could be a whole lot better. Pre-fader delay is utterly pointless in any mixer, let alone a scratch mixer.

And there's another issue right now. The 1601 and S have just taken a price tumble. The S in particular is a truly wonderful mixer and the 2 channel sampler/looper makes it worth so much more than the £275 currently being asked for it. And then the E model gets released and has to try and compete at £449. The smart money would buy the S model and add a Pioneer EFX-500 and use the fully featured external FX loop.

Ratings

Build Quality - 9/10
A great big hunk of mixer that looks like it'll withstand a nuclear attack.

Sound Quality - 9/10
Wonderful as you'd expect from Urei. And the effects matches the sound quality as well.

Features and implementation - 7/10
Overall really good, but there's some big mistakes with the key feature of this mixer.

Value for money - 8/10
You do get a lot for your money but if you really want effects, spend a few more notes and get a better setup with an external effects box.

Pros:
• Build and sound quality
• Packed with features
• Highly specified effects options

Cons
• Pre/Post implementation
• No wet/dry per channel
• Price isn't in line with the rest of the range

The Bottom Line

Make no mistake - the 1601e is a really good mixer especially if you want to tinker with effects a little, but you'll soon come to realise its limitations when you get into the detail of using effects. If Urei drop the price in line with the rest of the range, the shortcomings can easily be overlooked. But if you really need effects but want a Urei, buy the 1601 or S model and get an external effects box.




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