Two-channel mixer primarily designed for scratch DJs who want to use Serato DJ software with timecode vinyl, right out of the box. It has a 24-bit/96kHz audio interface, and is supplied with control vinyl. It has a Pro X fader although you retrofit a Mini Innofader if you prefer. Although Serato optimised, advanced users can custom map most mixer controls to many other third-party audio software.
It is relatively cheap, it is truly plug and play, and highly optimised for scratch DJs. I’d like to see a slip control, and there’s a question mark over the Pro X fader that will come with later models instead of the Innofader (purely because we haven’t tested it yet), but that aside, this is a great little mixer for scratch DJs, or indeed anyone else who wants Serato DVS plug and play without breaking the bank.
First Impressions / Setting up
This is a full-sized, but stripped-down mixer – all clean lines and logical layout. It is totally metal, and feels precision made. Anyone familiar with the Traktor Kontrol Z2 mixer will see the design similarities – two full channels, two sets of four rubber RGB pads arranged vertically, and so on. Scratch DJs or anyone who wants a mixer that doesn’t feel too busy will definitely like it. The simplicity of its first impression hides a lot of functionality, though, as we’ll soon see.
It doesn’t need drivers for Mac (there’s the usual need for an ASIO driver for Windows), so it really is a case of installing Serato DJ (supplied), plugging your laptop and existing decks into it, and getting started.
The front panel has a large number of scratch-friendly controls; curve and reverse controls not only for the crossfader but for both channels, and a unique crossfader cut-in control that decides how far you have to move the crossfader from its extremities before it starts doing anything. Also here we find a split cue switch, a combination XLR / TRS mic input that’s switchable with an RCA aux input (well-placed for a backup music source) and dual 1/4″ and 1/8″ headphone sockets.
Round the back are XLR / RCA master outs, TRS / RCA booth outs, and an RCA record out, which, strangely, duplicates the master out rather than bypassing the master volume control. Each of the two channels also has switchable phono/line and line inputs and a ground pole. As well as the expected USB-to-PC socket, there is – as with the Traktor Kontrol Z2 – a dual USB hub. There is an on-board mains electricity transformer, so the power socket is a kettle-style one.
Each channel has a line volume, analogue filter (meaning it will work with non-Serato inputs too), backlit headphones cue button, three-band EQ, and input switch (phono / line, line or Serato).
As far as the Serato-specific controls go, there is a loop control encoder with loop roll when used with the shift button (again, similar to Traktor Kontrol Z2), a single knob FX control (with FX select via the shift button), two beats buttons for FX beat sync, and the aforementioned four RGB pads, which are easily switchable between cue and sample functions via a toggle switch in the middle of the mixer. Also for Serato are a library select area, that has an encoder, push-to-switch for moving between folders and, and load buttons. Two small sync buttons lurk nearby too.
One noteworthy omission when compared to the Traktor Kontrol Z2 is a slip (or “flux”) button, the buttons on this mixer in those positions being 1-4 and 5-8 cue / sample bank switches. I guess you could lose the bank switch functionality by remapping these buttons if slip mode is important to you, but it would be good to see Serato finally enabling mapping using the modifier button (ie shift), allowing you to do this elsewhere on the mixer without sacrificing built-in features.
Finally on the top panel, we have a sample volume knob, headphones volume / cue mix knobs, and booth and master output controls.
I spent a couple of hours testing the mixer, and although I’m not a scratch DJ, I work with a great one (ie Steve Canueto) who stepped in to test the scratch-specific functions, and gave them an impressed “thumbs up”.
Sound quality is excellent, as you’d expect the crossfader is buttery and smooth (it is damped at the far left and right so no metal-on-metal “click”), and the line faders are relatively loose compared to some mixers. VUs work well, and the master VUs complement the channel-specific ones, so you can set gain separately for each channel. Being able to switch banks is a good compromise over the alternative, which would have been somehow squeezing in eight cue / sample pads per side.
The level of effects control, while rudimentary (you can only control the wet/dry of the selected effect, or the first effect when you have combi effects selected), will be fine for the majority of DJs, especially as there’s a big fat analogue filter on a separate button, too. There’s no way of controlling Slicer, but again, I don’t think that will be missed by most, and even the omission of a slip function is somewhat negated by loop roll being present, which performs the same task – at least for loops.
In short, I thoroughly enjoyed using the mixer; it reminds me of the “old days” of DJing with two decks and a simple two-channel mixer, with the Serato elements nicely integrated to be there when you need them, and as they promised, setting up was indeed truly a doddle.
The Mixars Duo deserves to do well, because it fills a clear niche. It is relatively cheap, it is truly plug and play, and highly optimised for scratch DJs, who you’d presume are by far the biggest remaining market for turntable DJing.
For any Serato scratch DJ who has thought about or actually gone ahead and Midi mapped a Traktor Kontrol Z2 to Serato and paired it with, say, a Denon DJ DS1, this is much more elegant and comes in at around the same price. Incidentally, the Mixars Duo is also Midi enabled, so were you to want to use a more complex Midi set-up, it has you covered (don’t forget the two spare USB sockets too).
I suppose a near equivalent might be the (admittedly more capable) Rane TTM57 Mk2, but that comes in at nearly twice the price, as does the Pioneer DJM-S9. If you were really on a budget you could look to the Voxia M70 mixer and add a Denon DS1, but the saving wouldn’t be huge and you’d again be dropping the elegance of true plug and play.
I’d like to see a slip control, and there’s a question mark over the Pro X fader that will come with later models instead of the Innofader (purely because we haven’t tested it yet), but that aside, this is a great little mixer for scratch DJs, or indeed anyone else who wants Serato DVS plug and play without breaking the bank.