Richie Hawtin finally unveiled the Model 1 analog DJ mixer, the first product to come under his new PLAYdifferently brand.
A quick disclaimer that there is no intention to discredit the work Richie has made for the electronic music scene in the last couple of decades; Massive contributions are reflected through his dj/production work, record labels, events and other projects. As most of my blog posts, this one is more like an opinion from a different angle, which I believe is missing in the music scene today.
What do we actually get from the product like Model 1?
I am not going too deep into the technical specifications of Model 1 DJ mixer, you can find those all over the net.
In this case we are talking about DJ mixer and not a piece of studio component, so the main focus is stage performance. The first thing that crossed my mind is: Do we, as DJs and producers need among the current models, another DJ mixer (for the price of more than 3000$)?
Model 1 is produced by Allen & Heath, so the mixer shares many features with original manufacturer’s models. It is a robust, analog based, piece of equipment, just like other Allen & Heath mixers. However, here we have some other features for which Richie thinks are something that will open up creativity of a DJ.
Here, I would like to point out something we all know about creativity versus capability of equipment: the more options you have – the less experimentation you do. Usually, creativity is left behind in this case. This is the fact and has been stated by the musicians over and over again.
However, it is yet to be seen will those extra features really be enough to push the mixer into the orbit. No question that names involved in the promotion and the image of a manufacturer, are guarantee that Model 1 will have all the attention in the beginning when entering the market.
From the economical point of view, Model 1 is a product that most of the DJs can not afford to buy. This is already a spoken fact on the Dj scene – how to expect success on the market under those conditions?
It is no doubt some well known clubs will purchase the mixer right away but is this enough to bring back the investment? According to Richie, it took around two years to develop the mixer to its fine stage.
Model 1 comparing to similar project in the past
Situation with Model 1 kind of reminded me of the revolutionary Final Scratch (later Serato).
Around the year 2000, Richie Hawtin was one of the key individuals in launching and promoting this new way of playing music. This newly developed DJ tool allowed manipulation and playback of digital audio sources using traditional vinyl and turntables. It enabled versatility of digital audio and the tactile control of vinyl turntablism. Sounds great, right? So, how come something revolutionary like Final Scratch never had the expected success? Even Richie himself is not using this technology anymore.
Is it really worth to develop some piece of equipment that will be replaced within couple of years with something “new and revolutionary”?
Personally, I would be more impressed to see people focus on the music itself; sound synthesis, compositions, etc. Let’s not forget how character of a sound is important in electronic music. However, it would be wrong to underrate the mixer right in the beginning but you do kind of wonder how often an average DJ would have a chance to use it. Even if you find it in some venues and lay your hands on this state of art, would that be enough?
How to use full potential of equipment without being able to buy it and master the craft?