Advice on buying mixers/equipment
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  1. #1

    Default Advice on buying mixers/equipment

    Hi all,

    I started learning how to DJ a few months ago and am looking to buy some equipment. I plan on getting two Technics along with a mixer. I'm looking for some advice with respect to mixers (and implicitly software, since the two are intertwined).

    Here is some background info:
    - Historically I've used Serato Scratch Live with the Rane 62 or basic mixer + Rane SL2 set up
    - I'm still somewhat of a beginner, so most of my time is focusing on practicing mixing and scratching
    - I'd like to buy equipment that I can "grow in to" and that will last me several years
    - I'll mostly use the equipment at home, but I'll do house parties, rooftop and backyard parties / bbq's in NY, etc
    - I play mostly hip hop and top 40 type stuff, some house, and cross genre mashups

    It seems to me there are three primary options:
    - Stick with Serato and get a Rane 62 mixer (which runs at a minimum of $1,500 on Craigslist)
    - Stick with Serato and get a basic mixer with a Rane SL2 (something like an Allen & Heath 23 costs $300 and then an SL2 on Craigslist is about $300, so $600 total). Could also throw in a Midi controller to improve the set up
    - Switch to Traktor and get the Z2 mixer (which is about $500 on Craigslist)

    If cost were not a consideration, I'd go with Serato and Rane 62. But it's just hard for me to justify paying 3x the price compared to a Z2.

    In terms of software, I'm not strictly opposed to switching to Traktor. I like the simple and intuitive layout in Serato, but it seems to me that Traktor technology and features are more advanced.

    The other consideration is that while I'd use the equipment mostly at home, occassionally I'd like to DJ outdoors and not sure if it's a good idea to bring an expensive mixer like the 62 outside.

    Would be helpful to hear suggestions / advice on how to best proceed! Thanks guys.

  2. #2
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    check out the AKAI AMX. its the most portable mixer that can accept time code (but you'll have to purchase the upgrade)
    Technics 1210 / Pioneer plx 1000 / Xone 42 / Adam a3x / UA apollo twin / Maschine mikro / Ableton live 9 / Maschine 2 / MBP Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015

  3. #3
    Tech Guru SlayForMoney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheProfessor View Post
    It seems to me there are three primary options:
    - Stick with Serato and get a Rane 62 mixer (which runs at a minimum of $1,500 on Craigslist)
    - Stick with Serato and get a basic mixer with a Rane SL2 (something like an Allen & Heath 23 costs $300 and then an SL2 on Craigslist is about $300, so $600 total). Could also throw in a Midi controller to improve the set up
    - Switch to Traktor and get the Z2 mixer (which is about $500 on Craigslist)
    Add a fifth:
    - Stick with Serato and get a scratch mixer + Denon DS1 card (same as SL2) at $300
    Denon X600 - 2x Denon SC-2000 - AKG K181DJ - NI Audio 2

  4. #4

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    Thanks Killing Time and SlayForMoney for both your suggestions!

    The Akai AMX looks really appealing. Especially when paired with the AFX, its cost/features/portability look quite attractive. I'm a little concerned about the USB power, but I think I'll play around with it at my local Guitar Center to see how I like it.

    The Denon DS1 also looks like a really nice alternative to the SL2.

    A few more beginner follow-up questions from me...

    - One thing I don't fully understand is what can a high end mixer like the Rane 62 do that a combination of a more basic mixer and Midi controller can't do? I know the 62 can support 2 USB inputs which is nice for switching DJ's, but it's not so much of an important feature for me

    - Is the Akai AMX the only "digital" mixer (as opposed to analog) supported by Serato? Is it true that Traktor products such as Z2 are cheaper partly because it relies on internal mixing?

    - My preference before was to get a mixer that was already Serato enabled, rather than getting a box, but the Denon DS1 seems like a good option. This is kind of general, but any suggestions on the best setup costing around $750?

    - Is the Akai AFX the controller of choice for Serato users?

    - How do people record their mixes? I'm if I'm on an SL2, I currently use my MBP's line-in to record. What determines whether Serato is able to record from within the program?

    Sorry these are pretty basic questions, but the feedback so far has been helpful!

    Thanks!

  5. #5
    DJTT Mapping Ninja Moderator Stewe's Avatar
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    AMX sounds really nice and it has enough power to rock smaller parties even though it runs off the USB only. If you however want to hook it up to some bigger sound system then you would need some headphone pre amp or club mixer in order to give more power to your phones.

    AMX inputs works as a Serato Mixer only. Check out this DJTT review if you already didn't


  6. #6

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    Thanks for the input. I checked out the review, it was pretty helpful. One thing that may not have been mentioned is recording - I assume this can record via Serato since the mixing is done internally?

    Also I didn't notice if the reviews mentioned this, but can this mixer can handle playing both cue and master on the headphones (I imagine it can...)? I've used the DJ-Tech DIF-1s mixer before, and not being able to hear the master on headphones was a big annoyance.

    Can you also shed some light on what things typically get better as someone goes from an AMX/AFX setup to a 62 setup? I'm still a little confused as to what all that extra $ goes towards (I imagine the build quality is better, but it seems like a big difference is outsourcing the mixing from hardware to software).

    Also do mixers that rely on internal mixing require more powerful laptops? My MBP is pretty dated; it's worked fine in a DVS setup using the 62 and the mixer + SL2 setup, but I've yet to try using an internal mixer.

    Thanks again!

  7. #7
    Tech Guru SlayForMoney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheProfessor View Post
    - One thing I don't fully understand is what can a high end mixer like the Rane 62 do that a combination of a more basic mixer and Midi controller can't do? I know the 62 can support 2 USB inputs which is nice for switching DJ's, but it's not so much of an important feature for me
    Comparing it to something like Rane 57mk1 + Akai AFX + Rane SL2/3?
    Well, as you said - 2 USB sound interfaces. Overall simplicity of all in one unit. Onboard mixer FX synced to the BPM via MIDI. Recording.
    I prefer a modular setup - more USB cables but you don't depend on one thing, standalone sound interface enables not lugging your mixer to every gig, easier to sell one by one, easier to upgrade.

    If 62 is too much money for you what about 57mkII?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheProfessor View Post
    - Is the Akai AMX the only "digital" mixer (as opposed to analog) supported by Serato? Is it true that Traktor products such as Z2 are cheaper partly because it relies on internal mixing?
    Yes but it's not a digital mixer but a midi controller.
    Kontrol Z2 is cheaper than - what? Non NI 2ch mixer with soundcard inside? Don't think so. Compare it to DJM-T1, X600.
    It basically comes down to the traktor certification + free TSP2 licence & timecodes (which is something like $130 standalone).

    Quote Originally Posted by TheProfessor View Post
    - My preference before was to get a mixer that was already Serato enabled, rather than getting a box, but the Denon DS1 seems like a good option. This is kind of general, but any suggestions on the best setup costing around $750?
    New or used? I think a good scratch mixer of any age paired with a SL or DS card is a good choice.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheProfessor View Post
    - How do people record their mixes? I'm if I'm on an SL2, I currently use my MBP's line-in to record. What determines whether Serato is able to record from within the program?
    People with controllers who use internal mixing record within the Serato, others route a record out to the free input on the SL cards (if you use timecode that limits you to SL3 and SL4 cards) or as you said, record out from mixer to line-in on the laptop (if it doesn't have a crappy soundcard inside) and record in 3rd party software (audacity or similar).
    Denon X600 - 2x Denon SC-2000 - AKG K181DJ - NI Audio 2

  8. #8

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    First off thanks SlayForMoney for the comprehensive response to my questions. Both this feedback and the previous responses have been super helpful for me! Definitely learned a ton over the past few days looking into this stuff. Just wanted to follow up with some questions/comments.

    Quote Originally Posted by SlayForMoney View Post
    Comparing it to something like Rane 57mk1 + Akai AFX + Rane SL2/3?

    Well, as you said - 2 USB sound interfaces. Overall simplicity of all in one unit. Onboard mixer FX synced to the BPM via MIDI. Recording. I prefer a modular setup - more USB cables but you don't depend on one thing, standalone sound interface enables not lugging your mixer to every gig, easier to sell one by one, easier to upgrade.

    If 62 is too much money for you what about 57mkII?
    Totally agree - I think I favor a modular set up for the reasons you mentioned as well. I didn't really consider the 57MKII just because I kind of grouped it together with the 62 (I think a used 62 is cheaper than a new 57KII; either way tough for me to justify that kind of cost given my stage of DJ skill, haha).

    Quote Originally Posted by SlayForMoney View Post
    Yes but it's not a digital mixer but a midi controller.
    Kontrol Z2 is cheaper than - what? Non NI 2ch mixer with soundcard inside? Don't think so. Compare it to DJM-T1, X600.
    It basically comes down to the traktor certification + free TSP2 licence & timecodes (which is something like $130 standalone).
    Ah ok, thank you for clarifying. I was naively comparing the Z2 and the Rane mixer options as "equals" just because they are mixers that natively work with the software. I see your point though about comparing the actual properties of the mixer (now that I kind of understand what they are).

    Quote Originally Posted by SlayForMoney View Post
    New or used? I think a good scratch mixer of any age paired with a SL or DS card is a good choice.
    I'd probably get a used mixer if possible but open to new. I was trying to see if I could find a 2 channel mixer supporting post fader effects and either booth out or preferably USB out in order to record. I thought the DJM-350 looked like a good choice but seems like they aren't so easy to come by. I came across the Behringer DDM4000 and its ridiculous list of features, but I feel like there are some lukewarm comments about sound quality, so I'll probably pass on that. Denon X600 looks like it might be a good option.

    Would love to hear people's thoughts on those or suggestions for options I am leaving out.

    Unless I find a really compelling option, seems like the AMX/AFX combo is a pretty good bet too (price, size, post fader support, supports internal recording; haven't actually tested it out yet though).

    I welcome any additional thoughts, but thank you everyone for all the helpful feedback!

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