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October 13, 2010

Pioneer DJM-2000 Mixing Console Review

With its 11 rhythm effects, multi-band frequency mix crossfader, RJ45 port to connect CD players, four-channel stereo sound card, and 5.8″ color touchscreen, the new Pioneer DJM2000 mixer is very appealing. And we obviously wanted to find out what it hidden under the hood. Let’s go!

Test Configuration

Pioneer DJM-2000

I put on my prettiest sneakers, grab my good old CDJ-100 CD players (yes, I know, they are not as nice as the CDJ-2000…), a small Shure mic, my MacBook, a pair of headphones, a Sennheiser mic, and a fat RCF sound system to shake the ground under my feet. I am now ready to welcome the new Pioneer jewel… The picture on the box doesn’t look very attractive, but as soon as you open the box, you know that you have a serious mixer in your hands: 18.7 lbs of technology in a rather big housing (15.7″ x 16.9″). The package also includes 28 pages of operating instructions (the bare minimum, considering the device), a CD-ROM with PC and Mac drivers for the sound card, the power cable, a USB cable, and four rather unusual RJ45 Cat5e cables for DJ equipment. We will come back to this later…

It doesn’t include any software, but on Pioneer’s website you can download Rekordbox for free — like I did. Installation was a breeze with my Mac Book Pro but the software was quite useless for this review: it cannot read more than one channel simultaneously and it is quite limited if you have no CDJ-2000/900.

The Concept

Pioneer DJM-2000

Pioneer tried to pack as many technological innovations as possible into this new high-grade mixer. Some of them have been inherited from other products. With this mixer, Pioneer successfully implemented into a hardware product some unique features that you usually find only in computer software. The mixer is very well manufactured. It has a very nice and professional finish, pursuing the spirit of previous Pioneer products, especially through the classic level meters with peak indicators. Almost every button is backlit, some of them flash to show their status while others have different lighting intensity. We just miss the possibility to adjust their brightness more precisely.

You obviously have a headphones output to monitor all channels and effects, a mic input with a two-band EQ and talk-over (that attenuates the level of the master signal when the mic level increases), and a master zone with stereo meter that allows you to adjust the output volume and balance. We won’t spend much time describing these features since they are quite standard on mixers in this range.

Instead, we’ll focus on the four channels and their multi-inputs, the great crossfaders, numerous effects, and the sound card that make this mixer one of the most versatile in its category.

Channels

The four channels are placed to the sides of the center LCD. You can use the outer channels (1 & 4) to connect your turntables and the inner channels (2 & 3) for your favorite analog players. Each channel features an S/PDIF input and another digital input through the internal USB sound card.

Each channel has exactly the same features:

  • A trim control to adjust the input level
  • An almost standard three-band EQ with an “isolator” mode, which allows you to extend the range of the rotary controls to be able to cut the respective frequency band up to -40 dB instead of -26 dB. Thus, if you turn all three controls fully counterclockwise, you won’t hear anything anymore.
  • A “filter” control that allows you to adjust the level of the INST FX for the channel.
  • A CUE button dedicated to the pre-listen function in your headphones.
  • A fader to adjust the channel volume. You can choose the fader curve to be either linear or logarithmic. Perhaps I’m wrong, but it doesn’t seem possible to change the faders, in spite of the three visible screws (there is no information about this in the operating instructions).
  • A convenient selector that allows you to freely assign the channel to one side of the crossfader (see crossfaders section below).
  • A 15-segment level meter with peak detection.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Let’s be clear: this is a great piece of gear! Well thought-out, nicely finished and with a great sound, it offers countless possibilities to allow the most demanding DJ’s to have endless fun. This definitively high-grade mixer was conceived by Pioneer to work with several CDJ-2000 or CDJ-900. If you want to get the most out of it, you’ll have to buy them as well.

And this results in the biggest problem for most of us: the basic setup (DJM-2000 + two CDJ-900) would amount to about $5,100… it’s hardly what you’d call cheap! With this product, Pioneer targets night clubs with big budgets who want to offer the best to their DJ’s. The latter will have the possibility to prepare their sets before performing, and to come to the club with only a CD or a USB key — no need for a computer.

Advantages:

  • Finish and sturdiness
  • Sound quality
  • Number of ins/outs
  • Integrated eight-output sound card (four stereo outs)
  • Seven crossfaders per frequency band via touchscreen
  • Real-time, BPM-synced effects and sidechain remix.

Drawbacks:

  • Price (about $2,500)
  • BPM counter works too slowly and not precisely enough
  • Only one BPM counter
  • Not Traktor ready

To read the full detailed article see: Pioneer DJM-2000 Review

May 18, 2010

7 Things You Should Never Do While Mixing Live Sound

Filed under: Live Sound, Mixing reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 10:40 am

Top 7 tips to learn and live by when you are behind the mixing console at a live show.

7. Just because you’ve been doing something “this way for 20 years” doesn’t make it the right way or even a good way.

True, maybe no one is complaining, and you’re getting hired plenty, so who’s the real expert here?  Hopefully we can all stand to learn new things and do a better job.  It’s my experience that many of us are still a bit shy on some of the fundamentals. Know your signal flow? How about proper gain structure? The theory of formants and how they affect your mix?

Maybe you can answer “yes” to the first two, but how about that last one? Ever wonder how some shows sound terrific, but you can’t put your finger on why that is? There’s always a “why,” and we can all benefit from learning the “what” behind the “why” more often.


6. Maybe your mix does sound good – I’m big enough to admit it. Or at least, at the console it sounds good.

But do you walk around the venue and listen to the system from various seating areas? If not, you might be fooling yourself. It’s true that measurement tools can help us a great deal in setting up, tweaking and tuning these fabulous systems at our disposal today. Yet no matter how great the tool, it still can’t tell the difference between good and bad sound. Only you can do that.

I’m not suggesting leaving the console mid-show to go out to the highest seating area in the arena. However, before the show starts, you should have a good handle on coverage and how it sounds out in the house. Your audience certainly will.

A couple of summers ago, I took my daughter to see Rush at the Journal Pavilion outside of Albuquerque. It really struck me that even from the lawn, the sound was fantastic. Hats off to whomever was mixing that show.


FOH Beck tour

5. Speaking of tools, we have tons of gadgets that have meters, blinking lights, tri-colored LEDs, plasma displays and all kind of ways to measure, indicate and extrapolate the audio information into visual data.

Do you mix with your eyes? Sure it’s great to have a clip light, since most of us have trouble hearing when our system is getting pushed over 5 percent THD.  But it’s a mistake to think that just because the meters tell us everything is O.K. that the mix sounds good.

Want to know how much compression to add to the vocals? Use the meters to get in the ballpark, but then listen to the result and determine if it might need just a skosh more or less.

It starts with reading spec sheets, doesn’t it? How many times have you decided on a piece of gear based on the technical specifications? I’m not saying that’s bad, necessarily. The specs can help us a great deal. But if we haven’t listened to that piece of gear, in context, there’s no way to know how it will really behave when we need it.

To read the rest of the article please visit Live Sound Mixing

December 24, 2009

SSL X-Desk: Art for All?

Filed under: Mixing reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 12:29 pm

SSL X-Desk Review

2009 was a year of changes and Solid State Logic got it perfectly. More than ever, the British manufacturer wanted to perpetuate its leading position in the professional analog mixer market launching a new product, the most refined of all: the X-Desk, a compact, 16-channel, analog line mixer developed for project studios. This human-sized mixer aroused our curiosity…

Even though acronyms have changed a lot with the advent of the internet, SSL (simply think “Oxford, England”…) still remains a synonym for professional quality to any audio enthusiast – both for sound and technical aspects. After many years of having become one of the indispensable products in professional studios all over the world, the British manufacturer started to show interest in modular solutions with its X-Rack Series, allowing (almost) anybody to enjoy their legendary sound if they had the need and the budget. In 2008 they presented the Matrix, which confirmed the manufacturer’s will to win new clients over with a new analog mixer concept. Equipped with 16 inline channels, 40 inputs with digital routing and DAW control, it combines the best of both the “out-of-the-box” and the “in-the-box” worlds. Now, SSL moves even further in that direction with the X-Desk. No more jam-packed mixers: 16 line input channels, no mic preamps nor EQ, but enough mixing and connection possibilities.

SSL X-DeskAt first sight, the mixer’s extremely compact size (17.1″ x 12.2″ x 4.7″) will surprise you, considering it’s an SSL, even if the Matrix had already started with the trend… You can now have the Oxford sound directly in your home studio, even if it’s more a home than a studio – like in this review!

Nevertheless, just look at the mixer and you’ll know it’s a real SSL. First of all, you’ll notice the typical sturdy manufacturing. Reliable production, clear silkscreen and a well thought-out design that makes the workflow easier. The mixer has the same 25-pin D-Sub connectors you’ll find on most professional products. Moreover, all ten D-Sub sockets on the rear panel are recessed, ensuring an easy integration of the X-Desk in your production environment. No connector will be outwardly exposed, therefore reducing the space needed to set up the mixer. We all know that connectors can take up a lot of space and SSL dealt with that issue properly.

The small mixer looks nice and it promises a lot of flexibility and ease of use. But what about the technology inside?  Let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

SSL struck a decisive blow with the X-Desk by offering an expandable mixer that focuses on the real needs of today’s professional music production. This compact device concentrates all the brand’s know-how and philosophy to provide all the essentials for quality mixing. It surely doesn’t have anything to envy its competitors – does it have any competitors, considering its price?

SSL fans will enjoy the typical SSL sound energy. For all the rest who always wanted to work with SSL products, the X-Desk is the best opportunity to realize their dream at an affordable price.

Advantages:

  • Clean but biting SSL SuperAnalogue sound in a compact mixer
  • SSL typical versatility and philosophy
  • Routing, summing and monitoring possibilities worthy of a large mixer
  • Precise functions that make the X-Desk a fully reliable mixer
  • Cleverly designed stereo Cue bus providing 16 summing channels
  • Expandability that allows you to link up to eight X-Desks and use all outboard combinations you wish
  • What a price!

Drawbacks:

  • Talkback sound
  • CUE ST level control without push-push switch (like on the 4000!) to cut/activate the signal without loosing the level setting
  • Cables must be bought separately…
  • No “X-Desk XPander” version without monitor and FX send/return functions to optimize X-Link chaining…

To read the full detailed review see:  SSL X-Desk Review

September 2, 2009

Behringer – DJX-750 DJ Mixer

Filed under: DJ, Mixing reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 7:36 am

Behringer presents the DJX-750 DJ Mixer which features the capability of altering FX parameters in real time.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.

August 28, 2009

Behringer – Xenyx XL Series Mixers

Behringer presents their Xenyx XL series live mixers.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.

June 2, 2009

Fostex – LR16 & LM16 Mixers

Fostex introduces two new mixers, the LR16 and the LM16.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.

May 21, 2009

Behringer DJX-750 Mixer

Behringer presents the DJX-750 DJ Mixer which features the capability of altering FX parameters in real time.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.

April 3, 2009

Musikmesse: SSL XLogic X-Desk

SSL presents their new XLogic X-Desk

ssl-xlogic

For more Musikmesse videos and news visit Audiofanzine Musikmesse

March 11, 2009

Video Demo: Midas Pro6 Digital Mixing System

Filed under: Mixing reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 9:55 am

Jay Easley shows us the new Midas Pro6 live digital audio networked system.

To watch all NAMM 2009 video demos visit us on Audiofanzine NAMM 2009.

March 10, 2009

Video Demo: Allen & Heath iLive-T Series Mixing Console

Presentation of the iLive-T series of live digital mixers from Allen & Heath.

To watch all NAMM 2009 video demos visit us on Audiofanzine NAMM 2009.

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