Stanton have always held a place in my heart. Being the cartridge purveyor of choice since the dawn of my DJ time, I've always looked forward to seeing what they'll come up with next. They're certain never afraid to experiment, innovate and generally push boundaries. But it's their core range that has always proved to be on the money too.
Stanton's mixer range has stood the test of time, with even their old low end scratch range still being highly regarded. But the new M.207 builds upon the solid foundation of their 2 channel range, and in line with DJs wanting a little more creativity
A small rant
I intend to break a popular misconception - one that I totally understand, but one that equally needs to stop right now. What am I talking about? Well it's the way that 2 channel mixers are perceived as only being useful for scratching (thus referred to as battle or scratch mixers) and that you can only mix with 4 channels.
Granted - turntablists need just 2 channels to scratch and juggle, but equally DJs tend to only mix 2 tracks together at a time, yet have been indoctrinated to believe that tracks just can't be mixed unless there are 4 channels. This of course is utter tosh. I've mixed all sorts of music together for over 2 decades and never needed more than 2 channels.
Now there are scratch or battle mixers and there are 2 channel mixers. But can we please stop assuming that all 2 channel mixers are just for scratching please?
In a nutshell
The Stanton M.207 is a 2 channel mixer, with scratch friendly curve and reverse controls, full kill 3 band EQ and a full 3rd mic/aux channel too (shame it can't be assigned to the crossfader). The icing on the cake is an effects section, with a decent selection of post fader effects as well as a sampler. This particular feature borrows from the SCS range in having a small but useful touch slider.
Unmistakably Stanton. They've developed and evolved a house style that is all their own - a mixture of black and grey with liberal amounts of large well lit buttons. Gone are the distinctive but doubtlessly costly raised sections, and from a usability perspective, this is a better approach for a 2 channel mixer.
Quality-wise, It's about what you would expect for the cash. The Piano Black case gleams while the matt Grey middle section stops reflections under harsh house lights. I have doubts over the longevity of the silk screened elements around the faders, but I suspect most users won't care too much if they lose the markings.
This is where we'll have to agree to differ, but I love the simplicity of the rubberised knobs. They feel solid, have a very smooth turn and just enough centre detent to make them highly tactile. For some they may be a tad close together but you'll adapt. It's not what I would call a deal breaker. At least they're not as scrunched up together as the Vestax 05 series.
Even the toggles are rubberised and flexible enough not to break when pushed a tad to heavily. One thing I do like is the lack of screws - just 6 screws and 4 fader caps to pop off and you're into the belly of the beast.
Moan: I wish the pan control had been positioned a bit further down, as I kept thinking it was an EQ knob until I got used to it.
One thing that might put some scratch DJs off is distance between the line faders. Making space for the central effects section has pushed the channels further apart than some would like. That said, a simple adaption of dual fader handling style still make it a viable technique. A nice side effect is that I can now easily do one handed chirps.
Overall, the M.207 is a great looking mixer, with a quality that keeps all but Rane owners happy and laid out in a logical and efficient way.
Having established that this isn't necessarily a full on battle mixer, I know for a fact that potential buyers will want to know how the M.207 feels out of the box, and also just what can be put inside it.
Screwdriver time - the M.207 comes with a 45mm long body Alpha crossfader and a pair of slightly more mix DJ friendly 60mm short bodied line faders (good luck replacing them with an 3rd party replacement though). The faders have a 3 pin connector, so while a Pro X Fade does fit inside, it'll require a cable mod. The Innofader however doesn't physically fit, but can be shoehorned in with a degree of hackery. Still makes my blood boil that manufacturers haven't started making products 3rd party fader compatible as standard.
One thing is for sure - unlike other mixers of this kind, the case is full to the brim with circuit boards. No room for anything else in there - the digital heart of the M.207 is a big thing indeed.
All faders have full curve and reverse controls too which is very useful, albeit pretty awkward to see at a glance where they are actually set. The crossfader curve is weird - turn all the way anti clockwise and you would normally expect a linear 0-100% dipless curve on most other mixers. The M.207 however exhibits a strange 0-10% volume to the middle of the fader and then 10-100% in the remaining half. You're going to need to find the curve that suits your mixing style with this fader for sure.
It's interesting to note that while the crossfader has a perfectly useable if slightly soft curve at the bottom end (you can still crab with it though), the line faders have a much sharper slope free curve for crabbing perfection. All faders have a lag of around 2mm, although I suspect it's easily fixed with a credit card mod for more fussy turntablists. Rounding off the fader controls are the fader starts switches and a full channel reverse switch too - both useful although possibly never touched by most DJs.
So while the scratch performance of the fader isn't quite as good as dedicated battle mixers, it's more than good enough for the majority of the potential market. I wouldn't expect super long life from the faders if turntablism is your thing though.
In this day and age, and above a certain price point, sound quality is largely accepted as being good enough for professional use. You should be able to hook any mixer worth its salt up to a sound system and get decent audio quality.
Having 3 band EQ, with full kills in all bands and a healthy +10dB as well, the M.207 delivers a solid audio performance. It's very lively on the ear. The mid EQ certainly does most of the work as well. And even when maxed out into perma-red territory, it only shows a tad of distortion.
Monitoring is handled via 10 very bright and clear LEDs per channel (6 Green, 1 Amber and 3 Red) on a post EQ pre master basis. Headphone cueing is very nice as well - the M.207 has controls for pre fader, post fader and master cueing, as well as a pan between channels. I do miss having a split cue though - this should be a standard feature on 2 channel mixers in my humble opinion.
Usefully (even though we haven't got there yet), you can cue the effects as well. Get your effect just right in your headphone and disengaging the FX CUE button makes it live.
The Almost Third Channel
Normally, the mic/aux channel gets a cursory mention in 2 channel mixer reviews. But the M.207's almost third channel deserves a special mention. Obviously it has an RCA input for a line level source, as well as a regular mic jack input (round the back mind you) as well. But having the same 3 band EQ AND effects puts it head and shoulders above almost every other 2 channel mixer.
Almost every other? Well yes. I adore the Rodec Scratchbox, because the mic/aux channel because it can be routed to the crossfader. This is a killer feature, and I can't help but think that this was a missed trick on the M.207 - almost but not quite a full channel. Still, having full EQ and effects is still pretty hot for what is normally an ignored channel.
Up to now, the M.207 has been holding its own against other 2 channel mixers. But now we hit the effects, which does rather elevate it to look down upon its peers - at least to a degree.
In a nutshell - you can apply one single effect to one or both channels, with full control over wet/dry as well as a mixture of manual and BPM based effects. The M.207 gives you a menu of effects, filters and a sampler, all of which can be made to work on 3 band EQ basis as well. And lets not forget that you can half time or double time the BPM effects at the press of a button. It's a nice if complex selection that I can't remember finding in a single 2 channel mixer before.
A short note about the BPM detection - it's not very good. I found myself tapping in the BPM manually most of the time. Quite annoying as the music I was playing was Hip Hop and breaks. The M.207 seems to struggle unless dealing with a definite 1-2 House style beat.
Controlling all this is a subset of established Stanton touch tech. The FXGlide™ technology takes over where traditional pots and faders leave off. It's like having an SCS.3 unit grafted into the faceplate and does work extremely well.
Effects are assigned 2 per button - selecting the second function requires holding it down for a second. Obviously this doesn't bode well for instant effects changes. I'll break them down without reproducing the manual verbatim:
The M.207 comes with auto sweeping BPM based filters (from 16 beats to 1 beat) as well as manual, hi pass and low pass filter too. Pressing the PARAM button effects the resonance of the auto filter, and of course you can adjust the wet/dry. It's a highly effective set, but don't be expecting Allen & Heath style filters in a £400 mixer.
Nothing out of the ordinary here. Both work with BPM and can be switched to manual control, with full wet/dry as well. A really useful side effect of the touch slider is that you can play the effects like notes. A sweep can become a stepped tonal effect as well.
P.S. Is it just my puerile UK sense of humour that finds a "FLANGE" button hilarious?
Echo works as expected - the repeat is either BPM based, or manually set on the slider. You can also step the interval from 4 to 1/4 beats (and step it up or down with the 1/2 or 2x buttons. PARAM adjusts the decay of the echo and wet/dry changes the amount.
Note: because the M.207 works post fader, the echo doesn't clip when the fader is closed. Yay.
Strobe is something quite different. This is like a beat slicer or loop roll - it samples the moment you press one of the strip buttons and repeats it based on the BPM from 1 to 1/16 beats. PARAM and wet/dry are the same thing with Strobe too. Even though this is BPM locked, I found it to be quite imprecise, and pressing a button didn't seem to engage it when I expected. I found it workable for the serious crunching to a buzz use, but trying to get it to properly slice to a BPM was very tough indeed. 5/10 - must try harder here Stanton.
Aside from the manual pan knob, you get it as an effect as well. Matched to the BPM, you can also adjust the pan curve (from instant to smooth) and also adjust the wet/dry too. Trans is the familiar on and off sound. Like Pan, it's BPM locked and you can use PARAM to adjust the gap length as well as the wet/dry.
Generally, they work well is used sparingly. But they both get a little clicky if pushed hard and don't always stay BPM locked either.
This useful little tool helps you stop the audio car crashes that happen when you try and mix tracks that haven't got the same key. When you switch the M.207 on, it has a key range of +/- 9%, but this can be turned down to 5% or right up to 16% with the param button. Obviously, this isn't actually stepping keys so you'll have to mess around to get the right amount, but it is immensely useful. The one thing it doesn't do is keylock a playing source - change the pitch and the key changes too.
Aside from being a useful mix tool, it does double up as an effect when combined with wet/dry. Scratching single notes with wet/dry at 50% creates some crazy chords, and using with harsher synth sounds produces some really freaky results.
Again, it can get a little dirty and clicky when pushed, but it's still a corker of an effect.
Even more filters
Wait there's more. There are 3 filters at the top of the effects. These enable you to use filters as effects - much like pressing using the manual filter effect. You can do this with any or all of the filter buttons as well as tweak the wet/dry as well as the parameter for the threshold on each filter.
This can also be used to tweak the frequencies on the effects too. Imagine the source signal remaining the same but the filters just working on the effect. Again - you get control over the parameter and wet/dry too. Clever stuff.
This is a useful feature but engaging the filters is a tad fiddly (you need to press a filter and param or wet/dry). Its power is often hidden behind its complexity. And on occasion I was forced to reboot the M.207 as it had got itself confused to the point of not engaging filters.
BPM effects cycle depending on the BPM of the playing track and the way you set other parameters too. But interacting with the FXGlide slider can also be recorded. Be it the on/off touch or sliding up and down, you can record these movements from 1 to 16 beats for some pretty cool creative techniques. Imagine spinning a tone and automating the slider to mess with the key effect. That's just one of many I came up with. Sadly when switched off, it's gone - it's a one hit wonder.
Overall, I found the effects to be very highly featured, but don't expect to understand them without running through them with the manual. A lot of power has been put into this section - maybe a tad too much that makes them a little confusing when you first start to play. Get to know the effects section and it will be a very creative tool for you.
My advice is not to push them too hard in a mental button bashing slider fest or they may fall over and you may be forced to reboot mid set. Be gentle - use sparingly, and you'll be rewarded.
Having already shoehorned a tremendous amount of functionality into the effects section, Stanton have also managed to squeeze a 5 bank sampler in there too. This on the fly sampling that can be looped or simply played as single sounds (think overused sirens).
Sampling is done either as a manual 8 second one shot, or BPM matched to specific beat measures, and can be played back in much the same way as well. You can also erase current samples and overwrite existing ones - which is a good idea as hitting those loops is often a tricky job.
This is a true post EQ and post fader sample, so you can record a short funky scratch and loop it. But sadly doesn't include effects. And just like everything in the M.207, the samples don't survive the power switch.
I do like the functionality, but again it's a tough nut to crack.
Ins and Outs
While the top of the M.207 is full of surprises, the back doesn't offer anything out of the ordinary. In fact, it offers less than people would really want. but it does have enough going for it.
What do I mean? Well while it does offer balanced master output from 1/4" jacks, there's no XLRs. I can hear the M.207 being scratched off many a shopping list because of this, but I do balance this by saying that the 2 channel industry standard Rane 56 didn't have them either. So put the M.207 back on your list and stop complaining about no XLRs. Of course, it has unbalanced RCAs as well as a handy line level RCA pre-master REC output. Topping off the outs is the single 1/4" headphone socket.
Inputs are exactly as you might expect - RCAs for line/phono per channel and an RCA aux input as well. This is supplemented by a 1/4" mic socket, and these are switched on the top face for the nearly third channel. And topping off the back panel is the fader start. Seems like a standard fixture these days.
Stanton have always been successful in the 2 channel mixer market, and I feel the the M.207 will be no exception. Having properly fallen off the bike in recent years, they seem to have picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and got right back on it again.
The M.207 takes the 2 channel mixer and adds a generous serving of stuff that most mixers in this class don't have. On a single generic level of servicing the needs of DJs, it does a really good job. Not a perfect job you understand, but good enough for all but the pickiest of scratch heads. But when you throw in the effects and sampler, the M.207 does lift itself above the crowd. I feel that usability has been compromised in the search of features a little, but there absolutely no doubt that more boxes have been ticked than any other in this price bracket.
For some, the M.207 is a total failure. Those people however judge all 2 channel mixers as if they were to be used at DMC. This mixer is a general purpose 2 channel mixer, that caters for casual scratchers, but perhaps aimed more at creative mix DJs who only need to rock 2 channels. If you only have 2 turntables or CD decks, you don't need those extra channels, and in this case the M.207 fits the bill perfectly.
It's exactly what you would expect for the money. Hardcore scratchers will no doubt break the faders in double quick time though.
Nothing sounds bad these days, and the M.207 sounds pleasing to the ears. Just don't push the effects too far.
Features and Implementation
Stanton have squeezed quite a lot into this box. A few miss the mark, but most are bang on for the money.
Value For Money
If there was one box that the M.207 ticks, then it's this one. For the money, there's so much right about this mixer.
The bottom line
Offering the features that are most in demand, and without breaking the bank, the Stanton M.207 is one of the most complete 2 channel mixers on the market.
I dispensed with fancy lighting and went for the warts and all "in use" syle studio shots. Click on the gallery below to be transported to the full sized pics.