Before the big DJ craze hit the rest of the nation with games such as DJ Hero and all in one DJ controller technology. Especially before celebrity wanna be DJs began a second career spinning music. We had 2 turntables and a mixer. The “Mixer” is the gear that brings audio from different sources together with faders. Faders are more like volume knobs that adjust the loudness of sound. Being apart of a culture called Hip Hop DJing or “Turntablism”, a mixer preference can matter more than the turntables depending on your style.
Since first learning to DJ when I was 15 years old, I have bought and played on a number of mixers throughout the past 2 decades. Here are those “toys” that helped form my skills of today. (Many spouses call these tools of the trade our “toys”.)
Realistic 32-1200C – This Radio Shack mixer had what DJ’s wanted at the time to start out. My cousin Anthony “DJ HAZ” first owned this mixer and I always wanted to play on it. Plenty of inputs but no EQ. This is what sparked my career today.
Radio Shack SSM-1000 – I still remember putting up $250 for this huge rack mixer. Pretty cheap in price considering the fact that it came with many inputs. The mixer also included a broad 2 channel EQ for sound adjustment and ECHO!! Had a lot of fun with this unit as I started doing mobile gigs.
Gemini PMX 7 “Techno Master” – This was the first 2 channel mixer ever owned! I remember seeing my Mix Syndicate brother DJ E-Flexx with his Gemini “Scratch Master” mixer and thought that was one bad ass unit. I admit that I wanted one pretty bad. It just so happened that I won this Gemini mixer from my second DJ battle I ever entered! This was the mixer that I practiced on the most.
Vestax PMC 05 MK IV – Not too many people know about this mixer because it was short lived on the market. If you could not afford the PMC 05 Pro, this was the alternative. The faders were poorly made and wore out in a week. I took it back after just 2 weeks and saved up for my next upgrade.
Vestax PMC 06 Pro “Mixtick” – After the pioneering 05 Pro hit the scratch seen, which featured the first adjustable crossfader curve. (This could make the sound slowly fade from one channel to the other or made the sound turn on and off with the slightest movement.) Vestax released a new slimmer version which made doing tricks from one turntable to the other a lot quicker with less space between the wheels.
I’m pretty proud to say that I was the first one in Salt Lake to own this mixer when it dropped in 1998. Bold statement I know, but a store here named Wagstaff Music in Murray, UT was the main distributor of Vestax products at the time. The manager of the DJ department informed me that they were the first to stock that mixer. I saved 2 paychecks and bought that mixer as soon as it came to the store. This brought my scratch game to newer heights, and helped me win my next DJ battle which was the Cinco De Mayo Car Show in 1999. I won a new Technics 1200 turntable at that battle. The value of that prize was $600. My PMC 06 Pro had humming audio issues which could not be repaired and eventually became my 2 year old son’s toy. (My son Ian is one hell of a scratch DJ today.) Ahhh memories!
Stanton SK-2F “Focus Fader” – This mixer sparked my interest after I heard it featured the first Optical Fader, designed and engineered by Arizona’s own DJ Focus. This was the smoothest and lightest crossfader out at that time. I loved it! Eventually, my friend Dylan and I swapped out the fader and modified the mixer to have a new Penny & Giles fader. Nerd talk I know.
Stanton SK5 “Allies All Star Beatdown Mixer” – This was the “First All Fader” mixer that was the official mixer used in the “Allies All Star Beatdown” DJ battle. It was fitted with Penny & Giles smooth faders and was the next step up from the SK-2F from Stanton. I eventually sold the unit to invest in my next baby.
Rane TTM56 – This mixer was the premier battle mixer that gave Vestax a run for their money. The mixer had a clean sleek layout and the fader technology was innovating too. These mixers were laced with new magnetic faders which could with stand millions of cycles without sign of audio bleeding. A solid mixer that helped me become a DMC USA DJ finalist in 2004 and one of the very first U92 All Star Mixers! I bought the mixer in 04 and used this unit for over 12 years. It still performed like the very first day I bought it. I recently sold the unit on KSL. GREAT MIXER!
Rane TTM57 – I was a late bloomer when it came to laptop DVS, other wise known as SERATO. I had to use a separate sound card called the SL3 for almost 5 years. I eventually bought a used Rane TTM57 which has the Serato sound card built in the unit. This was a great mixer that did it’s job and now has been passed down to my son Ian.
I bought this one used and it still remains solid! This was my favorite, until I witnessed what the Pioneer DJ company released a year ago… I had to get it!
Pioneer DJM-S9 – This is my newest baby. So many features that are built in to one compact mixer. Built in EFX box and double Serato sound cards. The fader it self is something that most mixers don’t have which could adjust to any DJs style. The Magvel Fader Pro has a contour curve and feeling adjustment. I love this beautiful beast and will be holding on to it for awhile. If you want the best, sometimes you have to pay for it. Worth every penny so far! It’s like having everything that can be bought separately, under one price.
Looking back, the technology from when I was a kid and the evolution of the scratch DJ has come a long way!