History of the DJ Mixer

xone92
While everyone knows that DJs use turntables for mixing and scratching records, DJ mixers have been criminally underappreciated over the years. The DJ mixer is the seldom mentioned piece of gear that usually sits in between two turntables in the classic DJ set up. What makes the mixer so critical is that it allows the DJ to combine multiple audio sources into one signal, and to fade between different audio sources with ease. If turntables and records are a DJ’s ingredients, then their mixer is their oven; sound goes in a mixture of parts, and is sent out to the speakers as a finished product (Well, actually that’s where the sound engineer steps in, but there’s just not enough room in this analogy for them).

Two turntables and a microphone,” might be the most famous saying in DJ culture, but what about the mixer?

Just like turntables, DJ mixers have evolved quite a bit over the past few decades. By the time the first DJ mixers were being developed, similar mixing interfaces had been around for a while for recording and radio broadcasting. The difficulty was in making a product that was portable enough for mobile DJs, but with the features consumers wanted and good sound quality.

One of the first mixers made for a DJ was a one of a kind piece named “rosie“, made special for DJ Francis Grasso (The guy who invented beatmatching) around 1965. Around the same time, Bozak was starting to make the first “commercially-available” mixers, however they weighed about 25 pounds making them inaccessible for mobile DJs.

bozakdjmixer

These first mixers featured knobs to control the individual channels volume, as opposed to faders which are far more common now. Some mixers today still feature knobs instead of channel faders, as knobs usually produce better quality signal and last longer, however they are more expensive than faders. As Mike Fotais, production manager for Movement: Detroit Electronic Music Festival, recalls, rotary mixers were too expensive for most, so it wasn’t until the use of faders that mixers were able to be mass-marketed to mobile DJs.

“An original Urei rotary DJ mixer was something I had never seen. It was like a unicorn,” he laughs. “It was like $3,000 in 1980s money. You didn’t even think about it.”

djm600

Where does the technology develop from here? For more, head to Cuepoint.

Want to see a mixer in action? DJ Rugged One is giving a free seminar tonight! RSVP:

The Most Influential Tools of Modern Music

the most influential tools of electronic music

A few weeks ago, we asked the question: What came first, the musician or the machine?

This week, we got an all new perspective on the subject with a great new article from Gear Patrol.

According to the mag, the expansion and evolution of electronic music styles can be traced alongside the technological advances in production tools. That is, after new product launches and updates, artists seem to find innovative and unique means of using the new tools at their disposal.

The article builds off this stance to explore the most influential tools of music throughout the past 40 years.

The writers at Gear Patrol break down the years’ most iconic music production tech into three basic categories: synthesizers, drum machines/samplers, and turntables/CDJs.

Did your favorites make the cut?

Synthesizers:

Minimoog

minimoog

First released in 1971, the Minimoog was the very first fully integrated synthesizer. This new technology overcame classic limitations with its groundbreaking portable design and supremely high sound quality.

The Minimoog’s smooth and versatile sounds are a staple in Kraftwerk‘s 1971 album, “Autobahn”

Roland TB-303

roland tb-303

Roland’s Transistorized Bass 303 was released in 1981 as a means to play bass accompaniments for solo guitarists. The 303 started getting seriuos face time when early Chicago house DJs began to experiment with its signature wonky bass sounds so characteristic of albums like Jesse Saunders‘ “On and On”

Drum Machines and Samplers

Roland TR-808 & TR-909

roland tr-808

Another 80’s Roland favorite, the Transistor Rhythm 808, was created to replicate the sound of a drum kit with up to 32 possible patterns. Shortly after, the Roland TR-909 succeeded the 808, raising the bar with digital samples for cymbals and hi-hats, as well as additional functionality that increased pattern capabilities up to 96 possible combinations.

As for the quirky synthpop sounds that we love in classics from artists like Yellow Magic Orchestra, we have the TR-808 to thank.

Akai S1000 and MPC Series

akai s1000 mpc

Just seven years after the TR-808 came the Akai S1000 sampler. The S1000 gave producers the ability to splice, crossfade, and trim music in new and improved CD quality. Then, another three years later, Akai’s release of their Music Production Center (MPC) sampling sequencer quickly gained a massive following. With features like sampling, manipulating, storing, and sequencing music, the MPC allowed for all new levels of production ease and efficiency.

Prefuse 73‘s early 2000’s glitch-hop abum, “One Word Extinguisher” is a classic sample of the Akai MPC’s wobbly grooves and funky samples throughout its highly structured pieces.

Turntables and CDJs

Technics SL-1200 Series & Pioneer CDJs

technics sl-1200

As Gear Patrol puts it:

The backbone of any DJ setup has always consisted of turntables and a mixer. A minimum of two decks are used to layer beats in real time, but great DJs can mix up to four.

Classic turntables like the Technics SL-1200 series have been a staple in DJ setups for nearly 40 years since they began production in 1972.

However, top-tier Pioneer CDJs have slowly but surely become the mainstream solution for DJs and Producers globally, coming as a simplified alternative for the heavier equipment and vinyls necessary to rock the classic turntables.

For more details and essential gear, visit Gear Patrol’s full article here.

Want to learn more about music tech? Try Mmmmaven’s Music Production and DJ Programs. It’s fun to learn with other people…

Serato x Boston Workshop [FRI 2/5] #FREE

Serato x Boston Workshop [2/5]
RSVP on Facebook/Reserve your tickets on Eventbrite!

Each and every Friday, we’re proud to open the doors of our music school in Central Square for a FREE seminar, demo or meet-up. Hell, we’ll even throw a classical music concert or two. What’s in store this week? Let’s find out:

Join Sevnthwonder and Serato specialist Matthew ‘Recloose’ Chicoine for Boston’s first Serato Workshop, at Mmmmaven, Feb. 5, 2015 from 7-9pm!

Chop it up with the cream of the scene while we present the latest Serato DJ software and hardware:

– Serato DJ 1.8- key detection, key shifting, key sync, MIDI mapping
– In depth look at Pioneer’s new DJM-S9
– Creative uses of Serato DJ features for both performance and production (including Flip, Beatjump, Slicer, Pitch N Time DJ, FX)
– Beatgrids, Sync
– “Club Kit”- allowing you to use a range of mixers plug and play (including the Pioneer DJM-900 Nexus and new Rane MP2015 rotary)
– Popular controllers like the Pioneer DDJ-SX2 and the DDJ-SP1
– Serato Video

All invitees will be in the drawing to receive a 2X Serato DJ licenses of their choice!

Make sure to be there, we will be giving out some free prizes from Serato!

Serato X Boston Workshop #FREE
Friday Feb 5th 7pm-9pm
Mmmmaven
614 Mass. ave #203
Central Square Cultural District
Cambridge, MA
Make sure to RSVP, and reserve your tickets!

FAQs
What can I bring to the event?
Bring yourself, but if you feel inclined bring your laptop and/or music. We will have CDJs and turntables to jam on.

Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?
Email Matthew ‘Recloose’ Chicoine from Serato or Sarah from Mmmmaven, or call 617.849.9321

Interested in learning Serato? We use Serato in our DJ lab! Sign up for a free introductory lesson and read about our DJ program, plus make sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter so you can stay up to date with new events!

What Will The Next Pioneer CDJ Look Like?

SONY DSC

With the Pioneer CDJ Nexus recently turning 3 years old, medicine it makes sense to look toward the future.  What will the next line of Pioneer CDJs look like?  Our friends over at DJ Techtools seem have a good idea of what they want in a redesigned Nexus, healing listing their 5 most wanted changes to the next generation of CDJs:

Beat Move

  1. Beat Move/Loop Move: Being able to jump around by 1, prescription 2, or 4 beats was first introduced on XDJ-1000, and despite our hopes we haven’t seen the feature added to any of the other players. We’re willing to bet this feature will make a strong appearance in the next player – ideally with an expandable move range to 8, 16, or 32 bars!

    Dual Deck Control

  2. Dual Deck Control: When you start pairing players only with digital music files, there’s no reason you can’t have the ability to control multiple playing decks with one controller. Add an A/B deck selector like on the DDJ-SX, and a screen that can show both decks (like the Kontrol S8 or Kontrol D2).

Visit the full list and more on djtechtools.com