Great multi-purpose mixer for all styles
Pros: Versatile,Easy To Use,Accurate Controls,Compact,Excellent Sound
There aren't many 3 channel mixers out there period. If you want to talk professional grade, high quality, high end 3 channel mixers, your choice comes down to 2 options; Rane Empath and Ecler Nuo 3.0. Everything else out there is not suitable for long term professional use. I've owned both of them. The Empath has a few extra bells and whistles, but is also more expensive and, to be honest, some of the knobs and switches are luxury items that are nice to have, but unnecessary. For example, there are several combinations of buttons and switches that allow you to cue your music in different ways depending on your preference. That's great, but once you find which way works best for you, the other combinations become useless. Empath has lots of flexibility if you want it, but most DJs don't really need it. It's also an older design that's been around for quite a while and hasn't changed over all these years… but there's a reason for that! Because it's a really good mixer!
So why did I change to the Ecler? Because it's a much cleaner layout and does exactly what you need it to do. I simply found it easier to work with. Some of the things I like about it… For starters, the EQ knobs are big, which makes fine tuning the hi, low, and mid frequencies easier and more accurate. EQ kills are nice too. I also like the LED sound level lights for each channel as well as for the L+R mix. Of course, it comes with all the standard options: fader curves adjustment, pre and post FX eq adjustment option, full featured FX loop (I don't use FX, but if you're into that you'll love this section), fader reverse, etc, etc. The faders are high quality VCAs that feel good and seem durable. It also has XLR and RCA master out, U.S. and Euro plugs, and an output for portable recording devices in case you want to record your live mix. Nice! And unlike Empath, all knobs and sliders are buttery smooth (again Emapth is great, but just old... and it shows)
Most importantly, you get an upgradable crossfader. The stock crossfader that comes with this mixer will work fine for most DJs who do a lot of mixing, but it's not good enough for advanced scratching techniques. The cut-in is too blurry and you can't really do crabs and twiddles. However…it's fully compatible with the Innofader and the Eternal crossfader, which, in my opinion, is the best crossfader in the industry. It's a plug-and-play fader, and since I'm becoming more of a scratcher, I went ahead and upgraded to the Eternal. It's not cheap ($130 to $200 installed), but if you plan on being a scratch DJ, it's worth the investment. The Eternal is a no-contact magnetic induction fader, which basically means that there is no physical contact between the fader slide and the actual electronic unit that controls the music. That means zero friction, which means it's physically impossible for it to wear out. Upgrading does put it almost at the same price as the Rane Empath, but you get a much, much better crossfader for the money that will last forever.
Cons… there aren't many. I already mentioned the stock crossfader, which isn't necessarily bad, it's just not designed for the scratch DJ. The only other minor issue is that the faceplate openings for all 4 faders have somewhat sharp edges. I have never cut myself on any of them, but when I do a lot of scratching, it gradually starts to chafe away at my fingers. Not enough to draw blood or anything. In fact, the only reason I mention it is that the thought of accumulated skin shavings just seems a little unsanitary. I used a very fine grade of sandpaper to smooth out those edges a bit and now it's not a problem at all.
Aside from that, I really can't think of any other negatives on this mixer. The sound quality is very warm and clean. The bass is rich and there is absolutely no distortion or noise; even when you crank the volume up pretty loud. In my opinion, the Ecler is a better value and sounds every bit as good as Empath. Upgrade the crossfader and the Nuo becomes a far superior scratch mixer while still being a little less expensive.
If you're in the market for a professional mixer... and you need more than 2 channels for flexibility (iPod, full featured mic channel, etc) but want to maintain the narrow footprint of the battle mixers, I highly recommend the Nuo 3.0.