The mixer is Traktor Scratch certified, which means all you need to connect your computer is a FireWire cable for up to four-deck digital scratching. Although unsupported it works with practically every other DVS system too.
Intriguingly, Ecler drafted in design gurus Giugiaro to work on this mixer. With 40 years experience, Giugiaro have worked on the design of 200 cars, including Ferrari, and more recently product designs for Apple, Sony, Nikon and more.
The EVO5's clear and uncluttered layout respects the needs of the DJ and the touch-screen area almost looks like a dashboard integrated car stereos. The unit is reassuringly solid with a brushed black aluminium faceplate that is only let down by slightly sharp edges. All controls feel rugged and we are warming to the larger dials, which can sometimes split camps.
The mixer is huge and takes up nearly as much space as a turntable, but this means all controls are nicely spaced out. But then again, faders are verging on the telescopic side.
ON SCREEN On paper the EVO5 seems like one of the most complicated mixers on the market so are Ecler being too ambitious? Do we really want control over every last nuance?
Oddly enough, it seems that the Giugiaro design partnership has gone some way to buffer Ecler's desire to put every last parameter under a DJ's nose. As a result, elaborate concepts have been tamed and its complex innards are controlled through a rather tidy colour screen.
The EVO5 keeps things simple and enables obsessive-compulsive types to re-configure the parameters of almost every last control and effect. There's real-time control over the EQ frequencies and you can choose kill or regular EQ mode. It's not quite as varied as the Korg Zero mixers, but still a cut above the rest and sounds great.
Each channel can operate in audio, Midi or Traktor Scratch (TS) mode - selected by the screen menus. The audio mode is standard, for dealing with phono, line and FireWire soundcard inputs. Midi mode switches off the channel's audio completely, but all controls send Midi regardless. Finally, the TS mode redirects the timecode audio from the mixer channel straight through to the soundcard.
IN EFFECT The EVO5 has 10 excellent effects with in-depth configuration to tune them to your taste, such as diverse oscillation patterns that add groove to otherwise plain sine wave sweeps on filters and flangers. These effects can be chained together in pairs to create elaborate new sounds.
All the basics are covered and they all sound very good. As with the NUO5, there's a crossfader to mix between wet and dry signals and the curve can be adjusted to suit. The fader lends itself to some effects better than others; for example, we think filters are better suited to knob control. But then it's perfect for cutting wet and dry delay and making timelier cuts so it comes down to personal taste.
Two parameter dials are on hand for the most common adjustments, but the controls around the screen allow more precise fiddling. Here you can also choose which parameters are available on the dials, which is great for customizing but potentially confusing for other DJs using the mixer because there are no fixed common effects presets locked down to revert to easily. Instead, DJs save their own presets in any of the 64 spare slots. And there's a bank of six quick access effects that can be customized so that your faves are always near.
The effects routing is very flexible on the mixer with an FX send button and level control on every channel to feed the processor. Preview the effects using the PFL button before applying them with the launch button and crossfader.
The BPM system is really tight, even on complex beats. The two parameter dials are on hand (they double up as buttons) to tap in your setting if it goes wrong. And to lock the effects on the down beat, hit parameter two at the right time to lock it down. This offers very comprehensive control and it all works with the Midi clock to synch external gear and sequencers.
During our review a new Firmware became available that added our beloved Bitcrusher effect to the arsenal and it sounds quite dirty, but apparently there are no more in development.
DIGITAL DJ Overall, the DJ equipment scene moves fairly slowly, especially on the professional circuit, and DJs generally have to make do with what's in the DJ booth - mainly CDJs and decks - unless a big enough name that promoters actually pay attention to the rider.
The main issue here is plumbing in your soundcard interface. NI have made some progress with their splitter cables, but a better option is to put the interface in the mixer itself. Along with Korg and A&H, Ecler have done exactly that with the EVO5 - this time with a FireWire soundcard, which sounds lush.
This is by far the easiest way to interface your chosen digital system into the DJ booth, be it with Ableton Live or literally any DJ software and DVS. The only catch is you need to have the drivers installed beforehand, but we're looking forward to the day when all club mixers have standardized audio interfaces.
EVO5 owners can buy Traktor Scratch without the interface at £225, which is under half price. A further £75 upgrade to Traktor 3 empowers you with four-deck control from timecode CD or vinyl. But then you'll need to buy another pair of your preferred discs. Nearly £320 later - and assuming you have four CDJs or decks - you can get down to serious mastermix sessions.
We tried Traktor 3 running on 64 samples (1ms) and managed to get four decks going on our MacBook Pro 15" 2.33 GHz laptop. It coped with it surprisingly well with looping and effects thrown in. Our brain was a little taxed though, but then Traktor's tempo matching saved the day on that front!
Ableton heads are equally catered for with Midi and audio and the EVO5 comes with pre-mapped files. Using the TS mode a laptop can be integrated for external VST effects, which works like a dream with negligible latency. However, in TS mode the channel's gain changes both the soundcard return and CD/deck input.
IN THE MIX The EVO5 is a seriously advanced mixer - and clearly a DJ mixer at heart. It attempts to bring some kind of uniformity to clubs DJ booths in these changing times. DJs are increasingly using digital vinyl systems and laptops as their source of music, so anything that goes some way to reduce the need to rip apart the DJ booth is a good thing.
* Four phono/line channels, plus mic channel
* Six stereo in and out soundcard
* Three-band EQ can be edited
* Long life digitally controlled crossfader
* Adjustable fader curves
* Bright TFT colour screen
* Eight basic and 64 custom effects
* Effect dry/wet crossfader
* Auto/tap BPM and Midi clock in/out
* Midi enabled controls
* Midi input and output
* FireWire hub
* EQ frequency and range can be fully edited (Off to +10dB by default)
* Screen is 320 x 240 pixels (3.5")
* Basic effects include delay/echo, filter, bit crusher, flanger, phaser, transformer, panoramic, pitch, reverb and vocoder
* Two effects can be chained with 64 custom presets
* Auto BPM counter
* Oscillation patterns
* Dry/wet crossfader shape adjust can be edited via software
* 69 Midi controls and 64 layouts
* Mic EQ three-band (can be fully edited)
* Talkover release time and attenuation can be edited
* Noise gate and compressor on mic can be edited
* Size 370 x 433 x 80 mm
Has unrivalled parameters that can be edited for most controls, amazing soundcard and Midi integration for digital vinyl systems, plus studio quality effects manipulation.
It's rather huge with sharp edges and it takes a bit of time to master the effects.
Build quality: 4.5
Ease of use: 3.5
Value for money: 4
Sound quality: 4.5
The EVO5 takes big steps towards standardizing digital DJing without compromising DJ control. Its effects control is also revolutionary.
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