skratchworx news
skratrchworx monthly archive


Skratchworx DJ equipment reviews
skratchworx skratchlounge dj forum
skratchworx downloads
skratchworx links
contact skratchworx
skratchworx RSS
SKratchworx twitter


Custom Search




Skratchworx Dj gear reviews DJ gear reviews DJ Mixer Reviews DJ Turntable reviews DJ CD deck reviews Digital DJ Gear reviews DJ Cart needles review DJ Slipmat reviews DJ accessories reviews
Ecler NUO2.0 2 Channel Mixer
Reviewer: Gizmo • Date: August 2008 • Price: $429/€398/£299 • Link: Ecler

Introduction

Ecler NUO2.0 Review

Ecler are unusual in the DJ scene. Where other companies seek to diversify and make (or source) a range of different product, Ecler only make mixers. They are doubly unusual in that they make them all themselves in Spain, rather than get them made in the far East. This allows them to have a very hands on approach in the design and build, as well as ensure that quality standards are high rather than hoping that they come off the boat from China in one piece.

So when you get an Ecler mixer in front of you, it’s a near guarantee that it’ll be special. And this is very true of the NUO2.0. I didn’t spend any time with the previous NUO2, so I’m making my review based on my virgin adventures with the point release 2.0, rather than making comparisons.

First Impressions

Ecler NUO2.0 review

Clearly it’s unmistakably Ecler. The now standard brushed steel faceplate, grey and red colour scheme and fat knobs scream Ecler, specifically NUO. It’s heavy and chunky with the trademark chunky EQ knobs in place. But despite being a common complaint, the pots are still plastic. I’ll balance this with never hearing of a pot snapping - feel free to correct me if you have, so perhaps it’s not such the issue that people make it out to be.

Ecler NUO2.0 review

Despite the appearance of 2 plates, the faceplate is a rather sturdy one piece construction. It’s anodised so they’re no risk of markings wearing off. And the brushing goes in the direction of the crossfader travel, so you knuckles won’t be worn away with excess scratching. My only complaint would be the sharp edges, especially in the fader slots. I caught my fingers more than once, but it’s easily fixed with some wet and dry paper.

Ultimately, everything feels like it’ll last rather than having to use it gently for fear of bits coming off in your hand. I’m impressed with the build quality for the money.

Layout

Ecler NUO2.0 review

The stark staringly obvious thing about the NUO2.0 is the size. Taking design cues predominantly from the Vestax 06 and Gemini UMX-5, the NUO2.0 has a narrow form factor - 165mm or 6.5 old fashioned and nearly illegal inches. Some may consider this too narrow for use, but due to the especially clever use of space, the NUO2.0 is very easy to use.

Ecler NUO2.0 Review

The bottom third is devoted to nothing but the faders. All fader and cue controls - like the HAK range - are on the front face. Slapped between the line faders are the level meters - very cool looking they are too. But for some reason, despite the logical placement of the meters, the line faders have been moved even further apart than usual. The majority of line faders in 2 channel mixers are around 70mm apart. On the HAKs, they’re a slightly more awkward 80mm. But on the NUO2.0, they a full 95mm apart. It’s probably a small thing, but for DJs like me with small hands, operating both faders with one hand is even more tricky. I’m sure it’s an aesthetic consideration though as the faders are in line with the EQs. If they’ve been offset to move the faders nearer, the NUO2.0 wouldn’t have looked anywhere near as good as it does.

Ecler NUO2.0 Review

The top two thirds of the NUO2.0 is where real thought has been but in. Well when I say thought, the symmetrical layout is almost self created. On such a narrow mixer, where space is at a premium, you have to think carefully where the extra controls can go. So logically, the main channel controls are on the outside, leaving the rest in the middle. But this has the effect of making the mic channel much more accessible. The mic channel is switchable between line and mic and has 2 band EQ plus gain control. But while it has no line fader or crossfader assign feature, I found myself using it properly like a third channel and running a CD deck and Korg KAOSSILATOR though it. Very nice work with the layout here Ecler.

Faders

Ecler NUO2.0 review

UPDATE: Previous visitors to this page will remember that I was less than happy with the crossfader curve on the NUO2.0, especially when fitted with their own Eternal fader - the very pinnacle of fader perfection. The subsequent OMGness that surrounded my review made Ecler rethink this situation and via a small factory mod, the NUOX.0 range now has a pin sharp curve with the Eternal fitted. So I've subsequently rewritten the fader section to reflect this.

As readers will be aware, I’m quite a stickler for faders and their controls. It’s my belief that faders are one of the most important features of any mixer, and there’s no reason why at least the crossfader shouldn’t be highly spec’d and have a sharp and adjustable curve. Everybody likes to scratch and thus a mixer will live or die by the crossfader. So no doubt when Ecler read that opening statement, they must have started to shuffle uncomfortably in their chairs, because they know what’s coming.



Let’s get the technical stuff out of the way first. The stock faders are Ecler low profile VCA faders that do a good job and keep the price down. They’re great for mix DJs and should provide long life provided you don’t beat the crap out of them. The fader controls are on the front, giving full curve and reverse controls to the crossfader and shared controls for the line faders. The crossfader also gets the extra controls found on the HAK range - a “cut in” control (the distance from the edge of the fader to the beginning of audio) and a fade switch - essentially sharpening up the fader curve some more.

Ecler NUO2.0 Review

For the more demanding scratch DJs out there, you can swap out the stock crossfader and put in either an Ecler Eternal or the new Audio Innovate Innofader. Both are plug and play and give better performance than the supplied crossfader.

Ecler NUO2.0 curve

But it’s the crossfader curve that is the issue here. I know it’s a relatively budget mixer that’s not necessarily aimed directly at hardcore turntablists, but the curves are soft when fitted with the stock VCA. On the line faders, the curves are like the HAK360 - a little soft but acceptable. However, the crossfader curve is a little too soft for the more demanding scratchers out there. When moved slowly, the cut is sharp, but increasing the speed makes for softer cuts. And crabs simply become a fuzzy memory.

The NUO2.0 is also Eternal ready, and when you drop one in, the NUO2.0 suddenly ventures heavily into scratch heaven territory. As if by magic, the curve sharpens up and gives you pin sharp crabs every time. And the same is true with the Audio Innovate Innofader too.

Ecler NUO2.0 Review

If I were to round this section up, it would be to say that for mixing and very casual scratching, the NUO2.0 is ideal. I had no issues at all using the NUO2.0 for mixing music and doing basic Hip Hop blends. But for scratch DJs, you really need to be investing in the Eternal or Innofader to get the performance you truly need to bust scratchy moves.

Sound

Ecler NIO2.0 Review

Ecler have big fat knobs. There - I got the sniggerworthy pun out of the way. But they do make using the EQs much easier. You get the standard 3 bands, each cutting to kill, as well as a gain control, that surprisingly doesn’t kill but instead cuts to -15dB. While I couldn’t verify it, the mid band seems to be very wide - when turning to 0, the very life was sucked out of the music, leaving the low and hi having a much narrower band to work on.

Ecler NUO2.0 Review

Complimenting this are the isolator buttons - essentially kills switches for the 3 bands. The buttons are pretty tough to press, but that’s good so you can’t accidentally kill a band mid mix. What I can’t work out is why they’ve been run from hi to low, left to right. Is that just my own abstract way of thinking or should it run from low to hi? It doesn’t really matter - you get used to it.

Ecler NUO2.0 Review

The meters are very nice indeed. The 12 part LEDs sit behind the faceplate, peeking through a plastic strip that diffuses the light, giving a continuous feel to the light show. On one side you get a pre-fader level, that assuming you have the PFL buttons switched on will show what will be playing when you drop the channels in. On the right is the post fader levels, i.e. mixing all 3 channels together. You don’t get individual channel meters, but you can only expect so much from a narrow form mixer in this price bracket.

Ecler NUO2.0 Review

Cueing is straightforward - your selection control goes from hear pure PFL volume audio to hearing the full master mix. There’s a volume control too, but I would have loved a split cue option. Oh well...

So how does it actually sound? To be honest, all gear above a certain price bracket sounds great. I could use all kinds of adjectives such as full, crisp, bright etc etc but audio is extremely subjective anyway. All I can say is that the sound was clear with full control over the whole spectrum. I pushed the gains right up and the NUO2.0 wouldn’t distort which is a real plus.

The only downside is a lack of pan control. I have very directional studio monitors and usually adjust the balance on the mixer for my seating position in the skratchlab. I couldn’t do this on the NUO2.0 and since having monitors, it’s the first time it’s been a problem for me. You need to decide for yourself if you do actually use pans and if it would be a problem if they weren’t there.

The FX Loop

Ecler NUO2.0 Review

When speccing a mixer, an FX loop is becoming a box that must be ticked for many people. And the NUO2.0 is no slouch in this area. Both channels can send post EQ to the FX loop, and via a handy toggle can switch between pre or post fader sends. You also get a send level control for each channel as well.

The audio goes to the loop and comes back in again straight into the master bus post fader, EQ and gains. So it’s important to make sure you get the sound right before dropping it back into the master bus. This is a pretty good implementation - I worried that the loop would be like the HAKs, but thankfully this works much better.

Ins and Outs

Ecler NUO2.0 Review

You’d think that being so small that the NUO2.0 would be deficient in the ins and outs department. Well it’s not, and puts bigger mixers (yeah I’m looking at you Rane 56) to shame.

The power supply is an all encompassing auto switching internal PSU operating from 90-264V. So should you want to take your NUO2.0 on the road, a locally sourced kettle lead will see you up and running. No ugly wall warts here.

Ecler Nuo2.0 review

Channel inputs are all RCA - line/phono on the main channels as well as RCA line and 1/4” for the microphone. The FX loop is RCA as well - the majority of the market uses 1/4” but RCA makes for cheaper cabling. Just be sure you have the right cables or enough converters if you use this with an external unit of some sort. One last thing with the FX loop - you can use the return as another input, albeit with no gain controls.

Outputs are well catered for, with balanced XLRs and unbalanced RCAs for the master, as well as separate RCA for booth output (with gain control as well) and one more REC RCA output for linking to an external recording device.

As far as getting audio in and out of the NUO2.0, it’s hard to not be impressed, especially given the diminutive size of the mixer. Thumbs up Ecler.

Summing up

Ecler NUO2.0 review

The NUO2.0 is impressive. It packs a lot into a small box and does what it sets out to do very well indeed. Given the small footprint of the mixer, I’m surprised just how much has been shoehorned into the NUO2.0 and just how well it carried off the demands of the skratchworx review cycle.

Given the narrow format, this is clearly aimed at giving turntablists a solid alternative to the Vestax 06, but to do this, you need to invest some more cash in an Eternal or Innofader to get the really sharp HAK like curves. If you do, the NUO2.0 becomes a seriously good scratch mixer.

Ecler NUO2.0 review

But for the mix fraternity, who let’s face it are in the majority, the NUO2.0 is ideal. I see so many people who are mix DJs thinking that they absolutely must have 4 channels. Well actually you don’t need 4 channels at all to mix 2 decks, so the NUO2.0 could well be an excellent alternative that will save you money and space in your setup.

The NUO2.0 out of the box is a solid performer for a wide range of DJs, but with some more investment, it becomes a truly great mixer.

Ratings

Build Quality
Despite Ecler's continued use of plastic pots, everything feels like it's last for a long time. Has a reassuring feeling of quality.

Sound Quality
Given that every mixer costing more than a couple of hundred (insert current here) sounds great these days, the NUO2.0 sounds impressive though my monitors.

Features & Implementation
I love the layout and it makes me treat it more like a 3 channel than plain 2.And now it's even better with the better curve.

Value For Money
It certainly offers a lot for the money and sits happily in the price bracket.

I Like...
• The quality
• The layout
• The price/features ratio
• The ins and outs

But not so keen on...
• The lack of pan controls

If this is your kind of thing, you might want to check out...
Vestax PMC-06
Vestax PMC-05 Pro III
Stanton SA-5
Audio Innovate AEM-100i

or...

• Ecler NUO2 (it's still in some shops and will save you some cash)

The Bottom Line

For a general purpose 2 (almost 3) channel mix DJ biased mixer, the NUO2.0 is well worth a look.

Gallery

Want some pretty pictures? Click here...



© 2011 skratchworx.com and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.