1. The physical feel of the device is amazing. Every knob feels and looks both smooth and incredibly sturdy. It's like the difference between driving a Mazda and a Porsche. Madza might be more versatile, practical, and cost-effective. But which one of them is more fun to use?
2. Simpler design. Sometimes less is more, especially at DJ gigs. The article kind of hints at this, but part of the feel is not just the quality of the parts but how little (visible) parts the device has. Just compare how the Xone (one of the most respected lines of mixers) looks: https://i.pinimg.com/474x/35/52/dd/3552dd4fbb206be6a4425523e... to the DJR-400:http://www.electronique-spectacle.com/media/DJR400.jpg Yet the tools in DJR-400 are just fine. I definitely wouldn't want a DJR-400 for a 10-hour minimal techno set, but for blasting out house music in a packed club there might not be anything better at that price point.
3. You can do amazing tricks with the above mentioned Xone mixer (you could argue that it's almost a musical instrument of its own), but the way of operating reminds me more of a computer than an analogue device. There's a reason why so many DJs still prefer vinyl. The digital XDJ stations are even "worse" in this aspect with their LCD touchscreens and endless configuration options behind menu trees. After a long day sitting on a computer, the last thing I want is to feel like going to stand next to another computer.
4. If a problem occurs on an analogue device there are only a few things that could have gone wrong; there's some dust where there shouldn't be, some cable is loose, there's problems with electricity or some part is physically bent. But with these increasingly digital tools it's more like debugging and fixing a computer with proprietary software. There's an endless amount of error modes and although the reliability of the high-end models is still excellent, it's just another thing to keep in the back of your mind when you're trying to focus on your music and expression. The new rotary mixers are a statement against this trend of increasing digitalisation that has entered the mixer market, too.
Utterly tangential, but this is why some of us still love shooting 35mm film.
No screen. It has a wind lever! (I asked in the shop, it just functions as a thumb-stop. Shame it doesn’t have a true Leica fabric shutter...)
By the way, the article is at fault, as it mentions it was released in 2010. This is false - it was released around 2003/2004 I believe.
In https://www.deejayforum.de/threads/32604-djr-400-rotary-mixe... (a thread from 2006) one forum user mentions the delivery of a DJR400 in 2004.
The article made me doubt it for a little while, but I'm quite sure I ordered mine before 2010 ;)
I love the EQ section's silkscreening with Bode plot-like representations of each filter. They even indicate how the filters overlap in their transition bands.
With that said -- not going to lie, still remember the sets I've done on the Radius 4 or Rane's. The feeling creates a totally different experience and it changes the way you mix. Casual, fun - "closer" to the audience somehow.
How do you choose what input is in your headphones?
You mean Honda? Bit of an odd comparison when the Mazda MX5/Miata is one of the most well-known fun drives.
I feel like neither Mazda nor Honda are appropriate here, anyway.
(not that they're bad cars)
I'm a victim of this cult myself, and like everybody else I know who has one, ours gets used probably three or four times per year, max. It's such a cumbersome appliance to deal with that most of the time, I just use a fork and mixing bowl.
edit : also the noise is awful -- can't use it after bedtime unless I wanna wake the bambino
Where all of this becomes relevant is when we consider digital controllers. If we accept knobs without any visual and physical markings at all we gain an important feature - we can save and recall pot positions. Visual feedback can be regained with a display or a ring of LEDs around the knob or both. With a physical fader all of this is hard to achieve. You need motorized faders, which exist, but are expensive and have a bunch of disadvantages.
Also with faders it's easier to do audible mistakes (especially when not sober) since smooth linear motion seems harder to control, than a mapping to rotary motion. And they're harder to accidentally move, (and kids stay away from them, since they dont know what to do).
Let just look at the recently announced Denon Prime 4 all in one solution. Looks great on concept, specs and useful features, but still manages to look like a flashy plastic toy in.
I wish that included the kind of DJs that can't resist driving their isolators hard every 30 seconds.
I think that's more a case of what you're used to because I used to make more mistakes on rotaries than I did on faders.
> First it signal's "I don't do superfluous effects and scratches even if I wanted."
In fairness it really depends on the style of music you play. However I do agree with you that less is more - generally speaking.
(As opposed to a knob, which does not work right without the physical form.)
Once someone invents a display with programmable shape, there's your programmable true fader.
What about the iPod circle? That is basically a digital pot.
In fact that idea is used on a bunch of Bluetooth speakers including Harmon Kardon and Google Home to control volume.
I used to be a progressive house or trance dj, though and I was playing 10 minute records with 3-4 minute transitions and I tended to have my hands on the mixer all the time making minute adjustments, so a rotary mixer with the finer control made more sense.
All the nonsense about sound quality is just bullshit. Nobody at a night club gives a shit about sound quality, as long as like your record needle is clean and you aren’t doing obvious bullshit like pushing the sound into the red.
I was a DJ for five or 6 years— I played everything from dive bars to mega clubs for thousands of people. I’ve talked to hundreds of DJ’s about djing, including very well known names. I’ve never once had a conversation with any of them about audiophile stuff in the context of a club. Some of them are into it in their home studios, but when you’re talking about mixers and turntables— it’s only about user interface issues (or the quality of the effects add ons)
There are far too many clubs that have good quality speakers, but than have sound bouncing off the back wall or some other critical issue.
Granted, those parties and that music are designed specifically for "the heads", so they're few and far between in the larger picture of club culture, but they do manage to throw a lot of festivals (see: Sunwaves) with thousands of people that have impeccable sound.
Maybe the best rotary mixers being built today are by a guy in Adelaide, Australia (1). You'll have to wait 3 months (at least) for him to build it.
Your point about build quality is the crux of the matter. These things are essentially just clocks and like with clocks you could buy a £5 budget wrist watch or a Rolex. People who wear and use their watch daily will justify the price tag of decent watch because it’s sturdier, prettier and they can afford it. But that doesn’t mean one watch tells the time differently to another. And equally a sturdier built MIDI sequencer doesn’t make a blind bit of different to the sound quality of hardware it triggers. Which was the point I (and the former poster) was making.
Now I’m not criticising those who do want nice audio equipment - we do the same thing in IT with dev laptops and give a whole plethora of “reasons” why. Like I said earlier, if you’re going to use something regularly then why wouldn’t you want to use something nice?
It's not just about the build quality. It's about the interface. It's a very elegant and thoughtfully designed sequencer and there's nothing else quite like it.
The Rolex comparison is ridiculous, because Rolex watches don't even keep good time. They're overpriced jewellery. The Cirklon is not even expensive for what it is.
Technically it does. In the very literal sense. Perhaps what you meant to say is that this is more than just a MIDI controller? In which case I'm still waiting for you to example how (without referencing "build quality", which was never in dispute).
> In fact, you can use it entirely without sending MIDI messages at all (with its control voltage interface).
VC is just what people used before MIDI was a thing. Does anyone actually still use VC or does this device just support it for compatibility with 40+ year old hardware? In any case, citing VC as a reason it's not a MIDI controller isn't a hugely convincing argument given the two are equatable and MIDI superseded VC decades ago.
> It's not just about the build quality. It's about the interface. It's a very elegant and thoughtfully designed sequencer
Personally I'd still class that as part of the built quality if you're just listing off qualities like "elegant". But I will concede that there is a lot of profession gear out there with software that would make most techies scratch their head in confusion.
> and there's nothing else quite like it.
But what is it about that sequencer that is so unique? I’ve not played on that device so happy to take your word for it if you had but from what I’ve seen on their blurb it doesn't sound like it offers anything I wasn't already doing on my Atari ST in the 90s - let alone any of the hardware I've owned since.
Honestly, I'm not trying to be argumentative here. I fully embrace people buying nice hardware if want. And I agree that 1.5k isn't significant for high end gear. But my point was that you can accomplish the same thing for a fraction of the price (with no dip in sound quality either) if you're not fussed about build quality. You claim you couldn't - and you might be right about that. But whenever you're pressed to give examples you just keep coming back to build quality, which was the one thing that was never in question.
> The Rolex comparison is ridiculous, because Rolex watches don't even keep good time. They're overpriced jewellery.
I don’t buy watches so you’d have to excuse my ignorance there but I do feel you’ve completely missed the point of what an “analogy” is meant to be (ie they’re not a literal like for like in ever detail).
Huh? This is the first time I've been asked to give any examples.
The build quality is fantastic, but it's the workflow (the interface design) that makes the Cirklon special (and so sought-after). There are plenty of other sequencers that can get you the same result, but music is all about the process of getting there.
> VC is just what people used before MIDI was a thing.
You should look at what's happening in the modular (specifically Eurorack) scene. Control voltage is back, with a vengeance. Most Cirklon users I know primarily use its CV interface.
It seems like you're just really out of touch. Look up some reviews or youtube videos if you want to learn more.
> I'm not trying to be argumentative here.
You're failing ;-)
Yes, I completely relate to that. I tried for a long time to make Linux DAWs work for me but I just hated the process.
> You should look at what's happening in the modular (specifically Eurorack) scene. Control voltage is back, with a vengeance. Most Cirklon users I know primarily use its CV interface.
> It seems like you're just really out of touch. Look up some reviews or youtube videos if you want to learn more.
Yes, does sound like I'm out of touch. Thank you, I will do.
You could also go down the software route - which i know is a dirty word to hardware enthusiasts but you would pick up your choice of sequencer for £200 or less. Obviously you do then need to buy computer (if you don't have one already), a "proper" sound card / USB interface etc (these don't need to be expensive either, but you do want to avoid Creative and other mass consumer gear. Software wise, maybe even go with Propellerheads Reason if you wanted that hardware feel?
What I've recently started getting into is using my ST (which is why I've mentioned it a few times). It isn't without it's issues and I certainly wouldn't recommend it to other people but I'm a nerd and it's fun. Plus it's gotten me back into producing music again.
However I will openly admit that not having used the Cirklon, I might have missed some killer feature. And this is what I'm asking. Aside build quality, which is it that sets Cirklon apart?
I've been waiting for a guitar effects pedal for almost 2 years at this point. Best overdrive in the world!
PS - was kind of surprised this RA article didn't mention Condesa. Huge miss.
I used that DJM-300 from probably 99-2014. It was an absolute tank. Aside from two crossfader replacements, it didn't have any issues. If the RCA's didn't get smashed in as result of a drop, I'd probably still use it.
Since then, it seems like anything under $1000 is going to have extremely poor quality potentiometers and channel faders. Even with big names like Pioneer, their low end mixers are almost guaranteed to have scratchy pots and faders in under a year. And, brands like Numark will have scratchy pots in two months.
Which, is hard for me to understand. I built two mixers for my eurorack modular setup probably 5 years ago, and used alpha pots (which are considered cheap, and cost $1/piece). No scratchy pots at all; and they get considerably more usage than my DJ setup.
I've been passively looking for something to diy, but none of the offerings are aimed at a 3-band EQ DJ setup. I'll probably break open my current mixer and replace all the pots, but it's sad that I need to do such a thing. Especially considering the retail cost of parts will be $10.
The sound is beautiful, the EQ/Filter is extremely smooth, though some prefer more bite to their EQ's (a la Technics SH-EX1200), this EQ is quite transparent. The build quality is high and solid, the pots feel weighty in a good way, plus I find the FX routing to be intuitive and flexible (which is one of my bugbears about DJ mixers).
Yeah OK, they're not as cool as the DJM-400;) but for my setup it's a joy to work with. They build to order, so it can be a few weeks wait, well it was for me. Luckily I live close by their workshop and got chance to go in to check on the build. Oh, they also make a 6 channel version too.
I also didn't get the article's meaning of 'mixer' until I actually opened it. I was wondering about cement mixers.
Not really sure how you would make a non-rotary mixer TBH.