While I will be the first to admit I do like controllers, the touch of vinyl and the feel of the crossfader is the reason why I fell in love with DJing – and to this day it’s still my favorite way to play. So when Mixars presented me with the opportunity to review its latest Serato DJ-enabled mixer (DUO) and turntable (LTA), I immediately jumped at the chance.
When reviewing these two pieces of technology, I wanted first to look at them individually, then discuss how they work as a collective unit. The initial focus will be to tackle the Mixars’ DUO two-channel mixer, then concentrate on the LTA high-torque, straight-arm Scratch Turntable, finally focusing on the two products as a collective offering.
DUO: Jumping into the layout, the Mixars DUO comes equipped with two channels and four hot-cue buttons located on the left and right side of the of the volume faders, respectively. Each hot-cue button is RGB backlit, easily assignable and feels great. A multi-functional button and turn knob are present at the top of the mixer with load and sync buttons to each of the two channels.
For someone who isn’t a beat juggler, I found the hot-cue buttons on the side of the channel faders to be an absolute game-changer – let me say that again, game-changer. For the first time, I was able to play vinyl, perform finger drumming, layer effects, and filters all at the same time. Never before have I had this much flexibility and ease of use. It took my DJing to the next level and made me think about playing sets in a whole new light.
The DUO comes with an aux audio input. Most companies have chosen to put these features on the back side of the mixer. It was an excellent decision from Mixars to place this particular feature on the front side of the mixer, which makes it easy to connect an iPhone or iPod for those slow starts and never-ending nights where you just need a break.
It is important to note you can use the shift button to turn the two channels into four channels accessing the full power of Serato via a compact mixer. If there were two things I wished Mixars would have done differently it would have been to swap the Sampler knob with the Track selection knob. Some might see the value of the Sampler knob more closely located to primary mixer functionality. Easier Track navigation allowing for the ability to jump from track to track, playlist to playlist, is something I just prefer, as it makes my workflow faster and easier.
The second thing I love… three knobs for effects. In Serato, a user can select and assign various effects parameters in the Serato software. Due to most controllers coming standard with three effects knobs, I have come to like and expect that all mixers and controllers will come standard with three physical effects knobs to match the three digital-effects controller parameters available in Serato. If there’s only one control knob for effects, I feel like I’ve been cheated.
If you are not a big effects person or just like having big fat filter knob, then the Mixars DUO will meet the need. Both the desired features I mentioned are less of an issue and more of personal preference based on my workflow. With that said, being that this a battle mixer, users should focus on the DUO’s hyper-exact crossfader, hot cue buttons, and ease of use when paired with Serato.
LTA: OK, onto the LTA high-torque, quartz-controlled, direct-drive turntable. When I first opened the box, I was surprised to see a straight-arm turntable, as I had never used one before. This monster truly delivered. With its 4.5KG motor, it provides the ideal feel for scratching and was responsive as all hell.
The high-resolution pitch (plus/minus 8-percent, 16-percent and 50-percent) allows for a precise mix and perfect matching. What does that all mean? When I stacked this turntable up next to my Technics SL-1200, I found myself using the LTA. Why? The responsiveness of the platter, but also because it didn›t give me that awful humming noise I often hear from 1200. But that is all table stakes. Where this LTA shines is the exclusive feature of two RCA outputs, allowing you to connect one turntable into two mixers at the same time, perfect for scratch battles.
The System: OK, let’s talk about these units as a whole. For years, DJs have been living in a hybrid world of legacy mixers and turntables all hooked up to modern technology, i.e. – a laptop. The Mixars DUO ($1,299 list/$949 MAP) matched with the LTA ($799 list/$599 MAP) is a significant step towards bringing a synergistic experience to the digital and analog worlds.
As I mentioned before, having the cue buttons on each side of the channel faders has to be my favorite feature on DJ equipment in years. The ability to play records all while adding drum patterns and samples on top of records is something I would have only dreamed of years ago. The bonus of not having to lug around a controller in addition to my mixer is one less thing to worry about.
Mixars made a statement with the DUO mixer and LTA straight-arm turntable combo. For someone who prides himself on knowing the ins and outs of Serato DJ, I must say that the integration between software and hardware was exceptionally high. If you are a DJ or turntablist, you will love this combo and will be thrilled to have all this functionality in two pieces of cutting-edge gear.