Did Rane just make the best mixer ever made? My thoughts on this beast.

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With all the bright lights and USB cables running about the DJ marketplace, Rane has taken the new and blended it with a huge chunk of the old.  This recipe lends to the immaculate conception in the world of DJing, the Rane MX2015 ($3499).  I have been spinning records for over 30 years, and I can tell you that when it comes to house music, disco, funk, or any other genre with the exception of a hip-hop influence that requires the need for the cross fader, there is nothing better than mixing blends with knobs.

Before scratching was an art form, and way before Gemini made an affordable 2-channel block party mixer, many disco DJs were using knobs in all the finest clubs.  Before the everpopular Urei 1620, you had the Bozak.  The Urei was actually a clone of the defunct Bozak, and it added the same level of quality pots with some tweaks with the master channel eq and the ability to modify the number of phono inputs with optional phono cards that you slided in.

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Why did the knob mixer become less popular?  Mainly, they were too damn expensive.  Either model was in the $1200 range, and in the seventies there were way less DJs, and DJing was never really thought of as a career for bedroom DJs or vinyl buyers, so the market for mixers was very small and $1200 was a lot of money in those days just to go from record A to record B.  Another major factor, the DJ was never a superstar but merely a backdrop tucked away in the shadows of clubs, dancing to the beat with the big hair and the polyester shirt.  People back then flocked to hear the music and have sex wile drunk or stupid.  For honorable mention, only a few DJs had that superstar quality but never met commercial status because the “superstar DJ” was an underground thing.  Remember, only a few DJs actually matched beats, so the experience of hearing a mix set was oddly different from today.  In all, less DJs meant less mixer sales for the companies, so they needed an alternative to sell more mixer units.  Fader mixers were around, but were never taken seriously.

When rap music, later known as Hip-Hop, arrived in the form of block parties and clandestine jams, the early 2 channel fader-controlled-model mixers were popping up everywhere and transcended the entire art form of mixing.  Also, the price for a startup mixer dropped to under $200 thanks to mass production.  Early models were made by GLI, Numark, Gemini, and a few other obscure brands.  Growing up in NYC, it was pretty easy to score one at a multitude of mom & pop electronic shops.  A haggle here, a haggle there, and you were jammin’ in no time.  Records were cheap too!  LPs were about $5 – $6, and 12-inch singles started at about $1.99.  Import vinyl was pretty rare, but in the 80’s that changed drastically.

gemini

gemini-dac-x2000-mixer

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Mixer photos courtesy of [djWorx]

In the late eighties and mid nineties, I can safely say that hip-hop saved vinyl.  About 75% of vinyl sales were hip-hop in the early nineties, and the digital format was slowly gaining popularity but could not technologically match the feats hip-hop battle DJs showcased using vinyl.  But as technology caught up, it began to annihilate  the use of pre-recorded vinyl for DJs, so it slowly drifted away from mass production and vinyl sales plummeted.  Companies like Vestax still had a stronghold with their analog popularity with many DJs, and Allen & Heath kept a footing with many electronic DJs in the club circuit.  As for knob mixers, the quality just wasn’t the center of attention for the marketplace.  Many garage DJs and serious house heads sought the Urei model 1620, and many clubs showcasing house music usually had one on board in the booth, but finding one online and in a brick and mortar store was highly unusual.

About a decade ago, Rane pretty much seized the blueprint for the Urei model and released the Rane MP2016 for a hefty asking price of about $1800, which looked like a Urei, but to my hands did not feel like one.  To meet the demands of the tri-band eq popularity and isolators, they also tacked on an optional add-on eq pre-amp accessory coupled with a cross fader for about another $800 more.

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With the devastating rise of the midi controller market, the Rane model seemed like an expensive bucket of bolts, and Urei enthusiasts were not impressed by the sub par effort to replicate a hardware masterpiece.  A few years later, the Urei model 1620 was re-released with some tighter hardware specs with a pretty hefty asking price of about $2200, but by then, DJs were light years away from the analog world and were evolving into live remixing, looping, and dropping some serious mind altering effects with the aid of Traktor and Serato.  The only way an analog mixer could survive on the market to the high techy demands of the digital world was to incorporate a USB cable as a midi control option.  (Adapt or die!)

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By 2010, only a few models of mixers maintained high levels of hardware standards and build quality.  Plastic knobs, faders and LED screens have dominated the market that we know today.  There was a quiet lull in the analog mixer market as companies like Ecler and Vestax went under.  And the grandmaster of turntable design, Technics, shelved the SL-1200 turntable.

In the last few years, vinyl has been steadfastly held as a collectable format for listening to music.  The public was so saturated with the digital world that they most likely felt a need for authenticity to truly appreciate their iconic album of choice.  Sure it costs more, but it’s a once in a lifetime purchase, and every now and then all you need is to do is dust it off and keep it it a nice warm place to entertain friends.  It seemed like analog still had a pulse in the vinyl consumer market.  Some DJs even played analog vinyl sets.  Record sales dropped but vinyl sales went up.  Pressing plants were overwhelmed and marijuana was legalized in many states.  A change is a comin’.  But what about for hardware?

Rane went back to the drawing board and created the MP2015 model, which will set you back a few grand, but has every intent on being the last mixer you will ever have to buy.  Can you perform crazy tricks on it? No.  Can you remix on it?  No.  Can you add to it?  No.  Other than these few issues, it will deliver the finest listening experience for a DJ mixer, and it is built like a tank. I cannot determine if this model will be a success for Rane, but if I had a few grand and a reason to depart from my Urei, this is definitely the answer.  I would love to see it many clubs, oh and IT DOES HAVE 2 USB CONNECTIONS.  I am glad something like this exists in the market and is not just a wet DJs dream!  You might need that piggy bank after all.

Just look at these specs:

Analog Inputs
Four Analog Deck Inputs: Each is Phono-CD-S/PDIF switchable
….Analog Stereo RCA jacks: Phono (RIAA) or CD (line-level)
……..Phono Response: RIAA +0.1/-0.2 dB, Gain: 31 dB at 1 kHz, Butterworth 3rd-order Infrasonic (rumble) and 2nd-order Low-pass Filters
……..Max Phono Input: 126 mV
……..Max Line Input: 4 Vrms, all unbalanced inputs
Analog Aux Input: Line Level, stereo unbalanced RCA jacks
Session Analog Input: Line Level, stereo unbalanced RCA jacks

S/PDIF
Deck Input S/PDIF RCA jacks: Input 16-bit or 24-bit PCM only
……..Dynamic range of 128 dB with ultra low jitter and 16:1 SRC conversion range.

Session S/PDIF Input / Output: RCA jacks (Dynamic range of 128 dB)
….Input 16-bit or 24-bit PCM only, sample Rate 16 kHz to 144 kHz

ADCs
24-bit @ 44.1, 48, or 96 kHz

DACs
24-bit @ 44.1, 48, or 96 kHz

Dynamic Range
Digital/USB Input to Line Output: 116 dB A-weighted
Line Input to Digital/USB Output: 116 dB A-weighted
Line Input to Line Output: 113 dB A-weighted
Digital Signal Processing
32-bit floating point.

USB Audio
Seven stereo record, Five stereo playback, Each Port, 32-bit floating point @ 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz or 96 kHz.
Class-compliant, no driver needed for Mac OSX.
ASIO driver provided for Windows.
FlexFX
Stereo unbalanced ¼” TS (tip-sleeve) jacks, Send and Return.

Mic Input
Balanced ¼” TRS & XLR combo jack with Mic / Line switch and +48V Phantom Power switch.

Line Outputs
Main is on balanced XLR jacks
Booth is on balanced TRS 1/4″ jacks
Session is on unbalanced RCA line level or S/PDIF digital RCA jacks
FlexFX Loop Send is unbalanced RCA jacks.
….Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz ±0.25 dB
….Unbalanced jacks (Session & FlexFX): Max 4 Vrms
….Balanced jacks (Main & Booth): Max 8 Vrms

THD+N
0.0009%

Internal Universal Power Supply
100 to 240 VAC, Max 20 W, 50 Hz to 60 Hz.

Unit Size
35.5 cm x 33.3 cm x 8.3 cm [14˝ H x 13.1˝ W x 4.3˝ D (includes knobs)]

Weight: 5.7 kg or 12.6 lb.

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mp2015_rear

You can also check out this showcase video at Namm

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