DJM-900NXS vs Xone:92: Which Has Better Audio?

This week we spotted an amazing video posted by Josh Billings on YouTube, a resident DJ in the Orange County area. He’s taken two mainstays of the DJ mixer world and analyzed the signals produced by each to find what the audio quality is of each.

Viewing guide: Josh shares a very helpful viewing guide in the video description if you want to skip to any individual test:

  • :35 Setup Overview
  • 1:49 1khz sine wave tone (Harmonic Distortion)
  • 6:58 19khz sine wave
  • 9:00 Filters
  • 13:07 Clipping
  • 16:00 Conclusion”

DJM vs Xone

These two mixer product lines have been at each other’s proverbial throats for years – but specifically these two models seem to be the ones that stand the test of time.

Perhaps most important in this test is pointing out the relative age of both models. Pioneer DJ released the DJM-900NXS in 2011, while Allen & Heath put out the Xone:92 in 2003, almost 8 years earlier. It’s not too surprising that Pioneer’s mixer does substantially better.

For me, beyond the substantial harmonic distortion present on the Xone mixer, the most fascinating revelations are surround the filters:

  • Simply turning on the filters on the Xone:92 (without adjusting the wet/dry) has a dramatic result on the output
  • The DJM-900NXS has a very high resonance filter (the follow-up mixer – NXS2 – has a parameter control color effects that help with that)

Issues With This Testing Process?

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out a few issues with Josh’s test that might explain the results – here’s a few thoughts (we’re sure there will be even more issues taken with this video in the comments ? ):

  • Only two units used? We have no way of knowing the relative age and use/abuse of each mixer used in this test. To get a more scientific process, it would be great to use at least a few fresh-out-of-the-box mixers of each model and compare the average results.
  • CDJ/Digital Source only? A lot of Xone:92 users love their mixers and love mixing on vinyl. Since Josh only uses a digital source, there could be dramatically different results with an analog input signal…
  • Bias?  It does look like Josh has a bit of a Pioneer DJ connection (see his NAMM badge in the opening shot with Pioneer’s name on it) – but we believe that it doesn’t change the results of the test.

Spot something we didn’t – or have an idea for a test like this in the future? Leave a comment!
Allen & Heathaudio qualitycomparisondjm-900DJM-900NXSpioneer DJXone:92
Comments (42)
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  • Reticuli

    Are you sure it wasn’t the Behringer inputs squaring?!

  • Matti

    Personally prefer the sound of the Xone 92, though not by much. If I were to fantasize about what mixer I’d have for my own little club in my dreams, I’d personally take an ARS Model 9000 over either of these (or any other mixer I’ve tried, digital or analog), to be honest. Best sounding mixer I’ve tried, by some ways too.

  • Fuze

    Not only do you get pleasant distortion, but in my opinion digital processing of audio somehow loses something that i cant put my finger on, its like taking a digital picture, sure its hi def but it seems to lack soul, ive seen a documentary somewhere on mp3 encoding and how it has affected the music industry, taking away some invisible feature that only realtime analog can transfer to our ears. my xone sounds fat and my pioneer sounds flat, but flat is good for a work mixer. Especially if i want to abuse it.

    • Reticuli

      Pioneer digital DJM bass sounds bloomy and bloated in comparison to better digital DJ mixers. You want to hear a flat phase-accurate digital DJ mixer, try an MP2015.

  • Sven van Bavel

    Can this test be done with a Denon dn-x1700 since it was for a very long time Denon’s flagship mixer.

    • Reticuli

      Most musical-sounding mixer I’ve ever heard.

      • Sven van Bavel

        The x1700 or the xone?

        • Reticuli

          x1700 in 96khz resampling mode. MP2015 is more detailed, faster, has better bass quality, and measures the best of any DJ mixer out there, but x1700 has something special going on in that mode. Possibly interpolation like Burmester uses.

  • Nico100coins

    I think it could be interessting to add a challenger like the last Formula Sound F4.2
    IMO the pioneer is like a boosted digital controller and the xone 92 are a “cheap” electronic composant version of a old UK legendary mixers (and they are a lot of models)


    Let’s think about this for a second, these mixers are in completely different worlds when is comes to audio quality, effects, and so forth,
    the DJM 900 is digital, the Xone 92 is analog
    DJM 900 has Tons of effects, and while the 92 has only filters, it some with a lot of Sends/Returns.
    it ultimately depends on the type of DJ, and what the DJ plays….. and whether they’re an audiophile, like me

  • AuralCandy.Net

    The problem with debates like this is that people mix apples and oranges very easily. Spectrum analysis is indeed a very unbiased and absolute testing method. “Sounds better” on the other hand is a very subjective thing. Unfortunately people have tendency to turn their personal preference into a universally applicable fact.

    I currently own a Xone:92. My previous mixer was a Denon DN-X1600. The DN-X1600 sounded really good, but it also sounded clean and clinical up to a fault. To *my* ears the Xone:92 sounds better, but I would not be terribly surprised, if a spectrum analysis would reveal that the DN-X1600 performs better.

    Signal quality measurement and subjective perception of sound quality don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

    • Luiz Zen


    • Bc8410

      Agreed. I laughingly imagined someone telling a young Jimi Hendrix “that sounds all distorted–here, play this acoustic, it ‘sounds better'”.

    • Rick

      yeah… I loved the sound of the 4D, and had to get used to the more clinically clean sound of the DB4 when I changed from the 4D

  • Dirtylooks

    Wow. I love this, been debating djs for years on this and I’m so grateful that someone took the time to do a quantifiable A/B of this…… one thing that he didn’t go into (and isn’t particularly relevant anymore) is the phot pre amps of each. The only real argument I’ve heard is that the A&H is better for vinyl and Pioneer is better for….everything else. I’d like to see the nxs2 done here as well as I think it sounds much better than the 900nxs but that could be subjective (especially considering parameter control over color FX and build in isolater for effects makes it all so much easier on the ears) thank you for this video!!!!!

    • Reticuli

      A&H’s phono preamps on their analog mixers are dog crap, though. The only positive thing about them is that they are not revealing.

  • Todd Jensen

    People LOVE the sound of records, tube amps, and zone mixers for the same reason. Pleasant distortion.

    • Reticuli

      Analog also has randomized distortion. Digital gear sometimes has non-random distortion that is more easily picked up by the brain. The Pioneer exhibited some distortion with distinct periodicity and temporal pattern.

  • zendoo

    I had an experience with an Urei mixer like that. It was OK for playing MP3s through Traktor, nothing special. But hooked up to a turntable and an actual record, it *sings*.

  • ????? ?????????

    Im not owner from any of these mixers, i own a xone42 and i had and a djm700 some years ago and i changed with xone42. I remember the highs it sounds terrible.

  • Ed Martinez

    I only need to see the video one time to see this is very biased and full of bullshit. Don’t get me wrong I like the DJM 900 but I know from personal experience xones sound better. Filters sound better as well. Faders are better.As a mixer is better, as a space age mixer meets effects machine DJM 900 is better

    • Gavin Varitech

      Always love the “I just know” personal anecdote over actual data argument.

    • Mark Smith

      Allen & Heath filters blow away the Pioneer “High Resonance” ear cutting filter on the 900 Nexus. As for the 900 Nexus 2 I have not played with one yet to be able to provide an opinion.

  • Stas Gusev

    MODEL1 by Richie Hawtin XD

    • Damien Sirkis

      I offered Josh to do the same with my Model1. He and I are locals.

  • loupass

    thank you, great stuff.

    about the X92 filters:

    that ‘filter on’ effect on the overall sound you demonstrate starting @ 9:29 – because of this, i sent my mint unit, purchased from a local A&H dealer, back & forth to UK 3 times, they swore they’re sending me a brand new replacement every time. some day finally this “activity” caught the eye of the A&H higher management, who then contacted me directly, apologised, admitted they have this problem ever since manufacturing moved to China. They also promised to personally make sure I get a legit unit without this flaw. Which is what they sent me with the 4th time asking, so I’m happy.

    its just not worth for them to fix it, as just like you, the vast majority of owners, djs etc just accept its the way it’s supposed to be..

    Try the same test with some silver ones, uk made, properly maintained

    • Scott Frost

      Do you have a contact for their management? I’m having an issue with my DB4 and just can’t seem to get through to tech support.

      • loupass

        this was 3years ago, i was communicating with the dealer up until the point i was sending the third mixer back. only then i finally got a call from a&h, then response from the tech support. no contact anymore

      • Paul Cooper

        I had huge problems with my db4 I had three replacements all went back to be fixed then sent back with diffent problems it took 8 months and no mixer to use.
        In the end I acedently received emails from audio Technica that was meant for a&h joking that me the customer had a vivid imagination

        I then told a&h they had 24hours to get control of this situation or I would take them to court

        I then received a new mixer from the factor.
        A week later I emailed a&h with facts and had asked to speak to there manager, which no one replied to.

        When I called I was diverted to there support team who I were extremely short and rude.

        I’ve used a&h for years and I’m now looking to sell the db4 as a refuse to been seen using any of there equipment

        If you have any luck getting to speak to someone who will listen your welcome to use this info, all the best .

      • Rick

        what issue?

        Ive had a guy work on my Xone 4D
        when it needed some fix, and Id also serviced it. good job as well.
        (eventually retired the 4D mixer for a DB4)

        • Rick

          its for sale if anyone wants to buy my 4D (still works fine, sensible offers please, located in UK)

    • loupass

      found the actual email from a&h, year 2014

      “As a result of your email our design engineers are testing the stock we currently have in stock in the warehouse.

      The initial VCA chips used in the Xone:92 were no longer after the Japanese Tsunami as the factory producing them was damaged, so we had to seek an alternative supplier.
      Filter circuits using the new chips were designed to sound as close as possible to the the originals.

      It is not possible to use different makes of VCA chips in the same unit, the different responses of the filter would suggest that a manufacturing error has occured.
      This is what is under investigating..”

      • Damien Sirkis

        This is very interesting. There are actually two ‘filter on’ issues (that I know of) in the 92 but neither ones are the one you describe. Fascinating.

        First one is the fact that there is no setting for the filter to give a flat response (like the Model1). The lowest resonance is ‘Mild’ and the lowest frequency is 30Hz. So yeah, when I switch the filter on its going to affect sound. It’s applying a filter and it doesn’t promise to be flat.

        The second one (and that one bugs me the most) is the lack of ZCD when the filter engages. Worse, it actually inserts a very small zero signal in the middle of the audio. I used a similar setup as Josh and could visually see the glitch. This makes the audio click which sounds horrible. Some people have learned to ‘time’ it but they are just being lucky as the zeroing is not even consistent. This is apparently a A&H feature as their recent like the PX5 still displays the issue.

        • B

          And how is that with the Model1 wich is build by AH?

          • Damien Sirkis

            How is what? (Just trying to make sure I understand the question)

          • B

            The filter issue, the pops when on/off or it affecting the output, cause its weird, i read a piece about the px5 where a&h them selves say its hard to fabricate a mixer without that.
            But the model1 is made by them, and that mixer seems to have no problems with that if the specs are to be believed.

          • B

            Correction, the piece was about switching the filter toggle when the filter is engaged..
            Anyway, how is the model1 in those regards?

          • Damien Sirkis

            Well A&H are being a bit cheeky on this because of course it’s not impossible. The Model1 is not only built by them, it was also designed by the same guy who designed the Xone when he was working for them (ARJ).

            It just requires Zero Crossing Detection (ZCD) which is not something that would have been the norm over 10 years ago when the 92 was designed. It’s also more expensive.

            So you’re looking at here is one mixer which is over 10 years old and cost $1000 and once that’s recent and costs $3500.

          • B

            Yes, but i am also talking about the px5, wich still seems to have that thing.

          • Damien Sirkis

            The PX5 does still have the click on the filter you are right. That’s why I was joking that it’s an A&H ‘feature’.

            It comes down to cost. The PX5 is not in the same price range as the Model1 so they have to cut corners somewhere.