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Ecler NUO4.0 4 Channel Mixer
Reviewer: Gizmo • Date: January 2009 • Price: $749/€688/£479 • Link: Ecler

Introduction

Ecler NUO4.0 review

And here we are again, looking at the final new NUO in Ecler’s range - the mighty 4 channel NUO4.0. As the NUO range has transformed, the NUO4 has perhaps shifted furthest from its original format and specification. It has been brought into line with the NUO2.0 and 3.0 and has lost a key feature - MIDI - to put some distance between the NUOs and EVOs.

So having laid out before you that the NUO4.0 has been rationalised to match the 2.0 and 3.0, this review is largely going to be a rehash of the existing 2.0 and 3.0 reviews. You can take it for granted that the 3.0 and 4.0 are simply 2.0s with extra channels, so refer to the 2.0 for detail on build, quality and suchlike. I’ll simply be looking at things that are different from the 2.0 and existing NUO4 model.

First Impressions

Ecler NUO4.0 review

Having spent much time with the 2.0 and 3.0, the 4.0 comes as absolutely no surprise to me at all, as if meeting an old friend who's put on a bit of weight. It’s the natural progression from its smaller siblings and fits perfectly into the family. Essentially it is a NUO2.0 with 2 extra channels. But there are quite a few differences, enough for me to dwell on them more than in the NUO3.0 review.

Firstly, the loss of MIDI has enabled Ecler to significantly tidy up the layout and bring it in line with the 2.0 and 3.0. The NUO4.0 layout is a massive improvement on the old one. I have a thing for grids - the brain naturally follows straight lines and the NUO4.0 tidies up the layout into a hugely more logical and natural grid. And the faceplate markings have been made much more unobtrusive.

Ecler NUO4.0 review

The loss of the MIDI controls has allowed the channels to be placed together and all shifted left, making room for the gains and headphone controls to be bunched over on the right. One big change is the relocation of fader controls to the top, meaning that 3 sides of the NUO4.0 are flat and give you greater flexibility with flight cases.

Overall, the NUO4.0 is a much more useable mixer in this new format. Top marks to Ecler here.

Channels

Ecler NUO4.0 review

Without wanting to sound like a broken record, the NUO4.0’s channel mirror those found on the 2.0 and 3.0. You get 4 full channels given over to switchable line and phono connection, 2 of which also switch between line, phono and mic. You do however only get 1 mic input, but at least you get the choice of 2 channels to drop it into.

The layout of the channels is the same as well - switch, gain control from -15 to +15db, 3 band EQ with kill, PFL button for monitoring, FX send knob with pre/post fader switch and finally the line fader. And you get the 12 part LED meter as well. It’s a completely logical clutter-free layout. When you have so much going on in a small space, you need it to work, and the NUO4.0 certainly does. And although the NUO4.0 doesn’t exactly light up like a fireworks display, the layout really does help in a darker environment too.

The EQ still has the emphasis on the mid range i.e. it does a lot of work, leaving the low and high to just tweak the sound a little. The target audience is likely to be a little more demanding of the EQ as mixing is more of an EQ game than just simple crossfading.

Faders

Ecler NUO4.0 review

Like the rest of the new NUO range, the NUO4.0 comes complete with the VCA Ecler Pro fader. but it Eternal ready i.e. can take the utterly wonderful Ecler Eternal crossfader and be transformed from good club mixer into great scratch mixer. The one I had has the Eternal fitted and it performs just like an Ecler HAK.

The change from 4 to 4.0 has seen some fader features being removed. As previously mentioned, the fader controls have been relocated from the front to the top, but somebody forgot to move the line fader reverse control and the crossfader switch/fader control. To be honest, it’s no great loss as scratch DJs aren’t likely to be looking at a NUO4.0 anyway. It is simply a great club mixer with a high crossfader spec for those who need it. Most people would like the fader to be very scratchable, but way less people would worry about reverse switches on the lines. The line curve control is still there, and the sharpest line curve is still that little bit too soft for scratching anyway. But you do get the more mix friendly 60mm faders on the NUO4.0.

Ecler NUO4.0 review

A small note about the line curve. The bottom half of the line fader curve appears to have no effect and only kicks in after the 12 o’ clock position i.e. the first half of the control keeps the line fader linear and then only kicks in after that. Not too much of a concern but worth noting anyway. The NUO3.0 curve has a more linear manner in comparison. Perhaps it’s a side effect of the Eternal mod.

The FX Loop

Ecler NUO4.0 review

I’m having déjà vu here, as if I’ve written this before... oh yeah, I have. Twice before in fact. You see such is Ecler’s desire to make the NUOs as close to each other feature wise as possible, writing the reviews for each really is like repeating myself. So here goes...

Each channel can be routed out into an fx loop, and this can be switched pre or post fader with a wet /dry control on each. Now on the 2.0 and 3.0, you get a channel wet/dry control on the return, and the NUO3.0 gives you a master return, but the NUO4.0 also gives you a master send wet/dry control as well. That's quite a ridiculous level of control of the fx loop.

Having this extra level of control is cool, and for DJs wanting to add an effects unit to the NUO4.0, you’ve got a lot of controls to play with.

Ins and Outs

Ecler NUO4.0 review
Ecler NUO4.0 review

As befitting the more club oriented nature of the NUO4.0, there are a few more ins and outs to deal with. Obviously you get the extra channel but the booth output also gains XLRs alongside the existing RCAs. And let’s not forget that you get an extra mini jack headphone socket as well.

Summing up

Ecler NUO4.0 review

Approaching the NUO4.0 was an interesting review. Seeing as the previous model had MIDI as well as a couple of extras, I should really knock the NUO4.0 for being less of a mixer than the old one. But in bringing the NUOX.0 range into line with each other, the rationalisation has made the NUO4.0 a more focussed mixer, albeit for the same price as the original NUO4.

What is odd is that the NUO4.0 is becoming an increasing rarity. When I was looking for comparable mixers, I found almost none that where simply 4 channels without effects.The lower end of the market has a large number simple 4 channel mixers, but once you get into the £400+ region, effects become the norm. For some this mightbe an issue - for others though you get to add your own effects into the very well equipped fx loop.

I think that we gadget freaks get all tied up with wanting more. And more. And more. We get all dewy eyed about the pages of nextlevelness spoon-fed to you guys by yours truly and immediately feel the need to make it ours, When we talk with other DJs, we feel socially inadequate when others talk of MIDI and Firewire. But you know what? You probably just want, rather than need all this extra fluff and have forgotten that what you really actually need is a good 4 channel mixer - probably with an FX loop - that feels good, sounds great and gives you all the options you need for a price you can afford. That mixer is probably the NUO4.0.

Being able to drop an Eternal or Innofader in there and get real scratch performance is a real plus, and the rationalised layout and extra fx loop features makes the NUO4.0 a very hard 4 channel mixer to ignore.

Ratings

Build Quality
Just like the other NUOs, the build is sharp and pretty solid.

Sound Quality
Sounds good, although the wide middle EQ can mean a certain amount of relearning your sound.

Features & Implementation
The loss of MIDI means less fuss and a more focussed mixer.

Value For Money
It's more or less the same price as the old model so the loss of MIDI doesn't make this as attractive, but it still fits favourably in the price group.

I Like...
• The quality
• The improved layout
• The ins and outs

But not so keen on...
• Loss of MIDI = same price
• Still not sure about the wide mid band EQ

If this is your kind of thing, you might want to check out...

Vestax PMC280
Numark 5000FX
Denon DN-X1500

or...

• Ecler NUO4 (it's still in some shops and will save you some cash and you get MIDI)

The Bottom Line

High quality frills free 4 channel mixers are few and far between. The Ecler NUO4.0 ticks all the right boxes and gives you a solid FX loop if you need effects.

Gallery

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