At just £389, the TRM-202 is by far our cheapest selection; German brand Omnitronic is best known for budget products rather than high-end audiophile kit. The sound of the TRM is certainly a step below any of the more expensive options and the build quality is also lower (although aftermarket wood kits are available, which make the whole thing much prettier). However, it fits the bill as a first rotary mixer for DJs who are unsure whether they’ll enjoy the feel of rotary faders. You may not get the full hi-fi experience, but the ergonomics are similar to mixers four or five times the price.
Retails for $318/£389.
2MasterSounds Radius 2
The UK’s MasterSounds is at the cutting edge of turntable tech, offering record weights, studio monitors, modified Technics turntables and various other vinyl-themed goodies. The two-channel Radius 2 is its entry-level DJ mixer. You definitely don’t get many features for your money, but that’s pretty much the point: no bells and whistles, just ultra-high sound quality. High-pass filters on each channel and a three-band master EQ/isolator provide the sonic options. For best results, it’s designed to team up with the MasterSounds FX unit (£495), which adds analogue-modelled reverb and delay effects, plus true analogue filter and distortion circuits.
Retails for $1,455/£1,150.
Aside from maybe the UREI 1620 of the early 80s, the 1970s Bozak CMA-10-2DL is the definitive rotary mixer, originally hacked together from public-address-system mixers by Rudy Bozak, under encouragement from New York club-sound system guru Alex Rosner. Modern Bozak mixers might be a few steps removed from those classic originals (they’re now produced in the UK by a new company with the rights to the name) and the AR-6 isn’t identical to the classic CMA, but a lot of the DNA is clearly visible, from the no-nonsense front -panel layout (which might charitably be described as functional) through to the discrete analogue circuits inside.
Retails for $2,020/£1,599.
It’s a measure of the global popularity of rotary mixers that brands have sprung up around the world to meet demand for subtly different options. Australia’s Condesa Electronics is one of the more boutique brands, offering a small range of handbuilt mixers with a nice level of customisation as part of the order process. The Lucia is in the middle of the range, aimed at travelling DJs or purists thanks to its small, portable format (the cheaper Allegra is a rackmount model, while the larger Carmen models add more features). We’ll take ours in blonde wood with black anodised faceplate and the optional travel case, please.
Retails from $2,074/£1,624.
Little brother to the more retro AR-6, the AR-4 is a four-channel desktop unit with a broadly similar layout and featureset to other contemporary mixers. It’s maybe a little surprising that it’s actually more expensive than the more fully featured AR-6, but you’re paying a premium for the nicer case, wooden side cheeks, VU meters and slicker fit and finish, as compared to the rough-and-ready utilitarian 19-inch rack enclosure of the AR-6. Neither mixer is a bad choice by any means, with similar electronics at their heart. A solid option, with a link back to a 70s icon.
Retails for $2,145/£1,695.
6Can Electric Taula 4
Barcelona’s Can Electric currently offers just one product, but the Taula 4 is a real winner. By now, you can probably guess the setup pretty well: four channels, each with two-band EQ and an effect-send control, plus a big three-band isolator section above. Standard stuff for a boutique rotary mixer, maybe, but the sound quality is the focus here and the Taula delivers in spades. As a single nod to variety, you can specify the exact colour you’d like the faceplate when you order, to be matched using the RAL colour standard.
Price on application.
7MasterSounds Radius 4V
The flagship model in the MasterSounds range, the 4V is the bigger brother of the Radius 2 in every way, with a pair of extra channels, three-band EQ per channel, an assignable crossfader and LED-based level meters for each input. As a complete package, it maybe doesn’t quite match the versatility of more conventional options from brands like Pioneer or Allen & Heath, but the sound quality is on another level, thanks in part to a valve circuit which buffers the VCA stage and provides ultra-subtle compression to smooth the signal. You can also add the optional LinearPOWER power supply (£249), which upgrades the sound quality even further.
Retails for $2,515/£1,985.
8E&S DJR 400
The recent flurry of interest around rotary mixers can be attributed in large part to Parisian electronic engineer Jerôme Barbé of E&S. Originally commissioned by DJ Deep to repair his vintage UREI mixer, Barbé took on board his creative input and developed a new mixer from scratch, with the intention of updating the classic rotary mixer sound for modern use. A few design iterations later, the DJR 400 is the flagship model in E&S’s small range. It’s a portable, four-channel unit with built-in isolator and effects loops. A relatively minimal approach by some people’s standards, but it does everything most DJs need. More importantly, it sounds amazing.
Price on application.
Manufactured in the UK by Formula Sound, the DN78 is available in a few different specifications, but the overall approach is common to all models: super retro in design (you can even spec Bakelite knobs if you fancy a bit of a steampunk vibe), but with modern high-end sound quality. The unique selling point here is the ‘phantom valve’ output stage, designed to add classic valve warmth to the signal. Unlike the MasterSounds 4V, which uses valves as a very subtle buffer, the DN78 pushes the saturation a bit harder, but allows you to bypass the valve stage if you don’t want to colour the signal.
Retails for $2,847/£2,250.
A lot of big names have made rotary mixers over the years – including the likes of Pioneer, Allen & Heath and the now-defunct Vestax – but the balance of power has shifted recently, leaving smaller upstarts in charge of the majority of the market. The one exception is Rane, whose MP2015 remains the last real option from the bigger commercial brands. Notably different in approach to the boutique models, the four-channel MP2015 includes digital inputs for CDJs, plus USB ports for Traktor/Serato compatibility. An interesting halfway house, but we suspect many rotary devotees will prefer a more simple analogue approach.
Retails for $2,899/£2,315.
11Alpha Recording System Model 1000
As well as crossovers, EQs, speakers and amps, Tokyo brand ARS produces Bozak-inspired rotary mixers of various different sizes and formats. The company’s Model 9000 desktop mixer and 4100 rack unit are probably the most conventional products in the line-up, but they also offer some slightly more unusual options. The limited-edition Model 1000 is the baby of the range, but don’t think for a minute that it’s a budget offering. It’s a stripped-down two-channel affair, with three-band isolators per channel plus a three-band master isolator. Other than effects sends, that’s about all you get; all the work has gone into the sound quality, which is absolutely top notch.
Retails for $2,535/£2,399.
12Alpha Recording System Model 6700
If you’re looking for the ultimate, this might just be it. As the flagship of the ARS range, the 6700 initially looks similar to a classic Bozak mixer, but closer inspection reveals that it’s a much more advanced affair. Other than ARS’s self-proclaimed “handmade Japanese precision engineering”, the real selling point here is the presence of dedicated three-band isolators on each channel, plus a five-band master EQ. The Model 6700 is like a Bozak on steroids, built to an insanely high standard and with unparalleled sound quality. It’s big, bold and beautiful… the only downside? That price tag. Ouch.
Retails for $6,178/£5,849.
For more buyer’s guide, check here.