Allen & Heath XB-14 Shines for QRockRadio

User Report: Small-form mixer is the right size for Internet rocker
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RALEIGH, N.C. — QRockRadio is a full-time, Web-only radio station created as a tribute to Myrtle Beach’s WKZQ(FM), “Rock 102," as it was in the 1970s and '80s.

At QRockRadio it’s always sunny and you’re always at the beach. “Bringing the best summer of your life, back to life,” is our motto for an eclectic 1960s–1980s mix.

We found out about the XB-14s as they shipped, pleased to learn that Allen & Heath was entering the broadcast market. We were looking for a mix of small form factor, functionality and price; the XB-14 nailed all three. The installation was easy and the XB-14 has the right number of inputs and outputs we needed.

Useful features include separate host and guest headphone feeds (with host talk-to-guest and PFL to guest), mic channels with monitor mutes, dual inputs on stereo channels, external monitor input (for air monitor), USB audio in/out and other additions like speaker dim, switch closures for external gear control, on-air light outputs, etc.

Connecting

We like the programmable “On” switches on each channel. Level LEDs and PFL for each channel take a lot of guesswork out of what’s happening, level-wise. Each channel has an aux feed (we use reverb on our mics) and three bands of EQ, which we use to clean up bad feeds and for effects every day.

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With XLR, 1/4-inch and RCA connectors, these boards set up quickly and are suitable for small studio and remote applications. Plugging in an iPod or other consumer piece is easy; the connectors are on top of the board. The USB audio out is great for recording phoners and other off-air bits. The USB audio in is like getting a free computer soundcard for another playback source. The telephony channels are way cool for phone calls and studio-to-studio interactions.

We have studios in Minneapolis; Raleigh, N.C.; and Myrtle Beach, S.C., and we’re able to do jock crossovers like we’re together in the same studio. We also use the telephony channels and Skype to let announcers in one studio participate in interviews with guests in the other studios hundreds of miles away.

We think Allen & Heath has come up with a real winner for Internet radio stations, college stations, LPFMs, etc. who need a small rig at an unbeatable price.

The author is program director and engineer for QRockRadio.

For information, contact Allen & Heath/American Music & Sound in California at (800) 431-2609 or visit www.allen-heath.co.uk or www.americanmusicandsound.com.

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