A bad workman always blames his tools

A bad workman always blames his tools
You don't have to search for beauty, it's usually under your nose!Matt Clover, VSD.

It’s very easy to blame your tools for poor or sub-standard mixing. I myself am the worst culprit I know, so therefor highly qualified to comment on the subject.

For many years I seem to have been on a mission to own all the major mixers ever manufactured. I try to justify this in many ways, either by telling myself I am searching for the perfect mixer that suits my style or saying I need new mixers to freshen up my idokodo.com DJ desk for photographs as I own the company. If I am truly honest though these both contribute to the need for change, but the overriding reason is believing I will mix better with a different mixer.

A classic example of this was only a few weeks ago. I purchased a mint used Rane MP2014 rotary mixer from a friend in Italy. We went through the payment and getting the thing over here, which is not as simple as it sounds. Then there is the worry that it may arrived damaged or not arrive at all. Anyway the mixer arrived in superb condition and looked fantastic in the desk etc etc.. I mixed for a total of 1-2 hours on it before deciding I couldn’t mix well on it. I promptly sold it to my co-contributor to this very website who was already in possession of the 4 channel version the MP205 and swears by them.

I know to some DJs perfect beat matching almost every mix comes very naturally. I am not one of the lucky ones however. For me consistently tight mixing requires many ingredients to come together. I need to be focussed, completely focussed, not worrying about pressing record or adjusting cameras and stream details. Maybe it’s a multi tasking issue I have! Anyway, another ingredient is sound level, it needs to be fairly loud for me to get in the zone. Another element is dancing! I have to have a bit of a boogie to loosen up and become one with the music. I feel I hear much more when really diggin what I’m playing. So for me, I am looking for the perfect storm. Oh and another issue I have is too much experimenting in the mix. I have developed many ways of blending mixes and like as many mixes to be a different technique as possible. Mainly because mixing on two desks can become a little boring unless I am playing to a crowd of course.

About a year ago I was ‘between mixers’ so had a dig around to see what I could find in the shed and dug out an old super simple, super sketchy Gemini scratch mixer that has shall we say seen better days. I cannot remember a time where no1 I enjoyed mixing so much and no2 my mixing was so tight, thus proving the title of this post.

In a world of overloading information and seeing how amazing other peoples lives are and to die for dj setups they have it is very easy to want the next best thing. My advice is and something I learned from a dear friend of mine is to stick with what you have until you have completely mastered it and it becomes an extension of your arm. My afore mentioned friend Scott Hudson, a Hip Hop producer that got more out of an Akai S950 sampler and an Atari ST1040 running cubase that anyone else I have ever met. He produced tracks so far ahead of their time that would grace the Hip Hop stage today. Knowledge is power! Read the manual more than once, experiment and most of all have fun! That is what it’s all about my friends.

You may have noticed, the only tools I have actually been referring to are mixers. Keep an eye out for an upcoming article entitled ‘it’s all about the mixer’.

Tell us your experiences below. Right, I’m off to pick up my Varia Instruments RDM20 mixer from Parcelforce. Here we go again!

Matt Clover
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