We’ve all got them: audio devices with headphones outputs. I bet you’ve got one on you this second. If you carry a mobile phone, or an iPod, or an iPad, it’s pretty much certain you’ve got music on you that potentially you could be DJing with, right there in your pocket or bag.
So, what if you bump into another DJ who also has some music on his or her iPhone, iPod or mobile phone, and you fancy an impromptu mix while you sit in the park, wait for a bus or kill a long lunch hour? That’s where the inventors of the Pokket Mixer think they can help.
First impressions/setting up
The Pokket mixer is a tiny hand-made device, from a boutique company in Berlin. The one they sent us for review has serial number 505, so it’s certainly a rare item. It weighs hardly anything and comes in a small drawstring velvet case, packed in a tiny cardboard box with two short audio cables for connecting two devices with headphones outputs to it.
You’ll need to find something to amplify its output with. Each channel has hi, mid and low EQs, and there is a master volume control as well as a pretty good little crossfader. There’s an EQ sensitivity button, a PFL select to decide what come out of your headphones, and a headphones volume.
Finally, there’s headphones adjust control should your headphones happen to be anything but 30 ohms (it’s explained on the website; you probably wouldn’t need to touch this control, which is why you need a screwdriver to change it and it’s hidden around the back).
The unit is made out of metal, with metal knobs. (They scratch the mixer’s surface a little bit on turning, though you can pull them up their spindles a tiny bit to stop that happening.) It has sturdy rubber feet on it, so as long as you have a stable surface to use it on, you don’t need to hold it with one hand while you’re operating the controls with the other, despite its size.
The thing to remember about this little device is that it is “passive” – there is no power involved in it. It doesn’t “take” power from your iPod, iPhone etc, and it has no battery or power supply of its own.
Thus it is working with whatever input your headphone outputs on your mobile devices can give it. For it to work well, you need to use it with devices that have similar volume outputs, and that “go” reasonably loud.
The best way to use it is to plug two similar devices into it, turn them up to full, and make sure you’re playing loud MP3s. If the input devices are at different volumes, it affects the operation, and in strange ways – the EQ won’t work as it should and the volume may alter when you don’t expect it to. This is a product of the fact that it is designed to work without batteries or power from any other source.
As such, it isn’t intended for real DJ mixing – you can’t plug record decks into it, and you can’t plug line inputs into it such as those that come from CD players. It is strictly meant for devices with headphones outputs. If you use it within these limitations, it does the job.
I can see this being great fun if you’re off on holiday and want to pack a DJ mixer “just in case”, so you can have a bit of fun round the pool or at your hotel bar – all you need is this, the music in your collective pockets and a lead to plug it into any available sound system and you can curate an evening’s music in situations where you simply couldn’t otherwise.
Plainly, you are not going to be beatmixing with this, and the passive limitation affects both sound quality (don’t expect dramatic EQ alterations from those hi, mid and lo controls) and what you can plug into it. But equally, you can put it in your bag and forget about it, only to whip it out at an opportune moment and surprise everyone with your resourcefulness.
I don’t know of any other passive DJ mixers, or any other mixer this small. It’s not to be taken too seriously, but at the same time, it’s a neat gadget that’s undeniably cool, well-made and pretty unique. It’s certainly not cheap but nonetheless would make a good gift for the DJ who has everything.
Can you see yourself DJing halfway up a mountain or on a long car journey with the Pokket mixer? Or is this a step too minimal for you? What is the most portable DJ set up you know of? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.