It seems like the DJ mixer market has been pretty stale over the past few years. Sure you’ve had some notable models from the usual players like Rane and Pioneer, but nothing has broken the mold? They’ve added a few more bright lights and flashy buttons, but the concept remains the same: a 10” 2 channel or a 12” 4 channel tank style mixer with some effects and digital/analog capabilities. They do the job and sound pretty decent, but some DJs out there may want a little more.
Maybe one way to innovate in this modern era of digital DJ culture is to go back to the roots of the analog tradition- all the way back. And that’s exactly what David Meza and Scotty Coats have done with their new four channel Model Zero Rotary Mixer, which just hit the market this month.
It’s a no frills, all thrills mixer for the purist DJ, audiophile, or music lover. And it’s the Model Zero’s lack of frills that sets it apart from its “industry standard” counterparts. No EQs, no midi-control buttons, no touch screen display – just four channels, solid construction and engineering, and the best sound out there.
When we saw the first few photos of the mixer, we knew we were looking at something special. We wanted to know more- and the designers/engineers David and Scotty were happy to oblige. They took a few moments to discuss their background, the Model Zero’s design process and their insight as veterans of the underground dance music scene.
What was the inspiration for the Model Zero?
David Meza: Dancing to good music. Really. I’ve been going to underground parties in LA since 1992 and collecting records since 1989. I never stopped going out and still get excited to dance all night. There’s magic on the dance floor when people lose themselves to the music. I want to build audio equipment that facilitates this energy.
Scott Coats: I think its a combination of things and mine vary from David’s, but here you go. I went to sound school in the 90s and learned on analog consoles. Around the same time, digital boards were available, and there was a learning curve for each one because it was so new. I was so used to analog that it was discouraging having to learn each new console for each event that I eventually hung up my audio hat. Now that the growing pains have been worked out there is more of an industry standard, and the technology has come so far it’s amazing. I came from the school that if you can drive a stick shift, you can drive any car, and the same goes for an analog board. The same goes for DJing. When Serato came out, more and more people were using it and clubs were not tuned for vinyl any longer because there was no feedback. For me, the main reason for this mixer is to bring it back to what got me into my line of work and that’s MUSIC. We wanted to make a simple mixer that sounded amazing and was a vessel for the music. We wanted better, not more.
Describe the design process for the Model Zero. What was the first step? When did you know you were done?
DM: I imagined a DJ mixer that only had the bare essentials for keeping the party going. The music itself is the main priority, so the job of the DJ mixer is to get out of the way. This meant leaving out anything that could pose as a distraction from the music and the party itself. I wanted to maximize space for a full-size pair of adult hands and minimize any visual clutter from the controls. I knew I was done when I couldn’t take anything else away from the layout.
Did you come across any snags when building the first model?
DM: Plenty. Too many to bother listing. The audio circuit design is solid, thankfully, so obstacles have been approached with a smile.
How did you both come to work together? Did you both have different roles in developing the product?
DM: Scotty and I have been navigating the same circle of friends for some time. All of our friends are connected through music, so meeting each other was inevitable. Scotty and I have invested our lives into keeping the music flowing, so the Model Zero concept resonates well, and he’s been rallying with me to bring it to life.
What type of DJ do you imagine is best suited for playing on this mixer?
DM: The type who has an excellent selection of music available along with the knowledge and experience to keep people dancing all night long.
SC: Really anyone who cares about how their music is presented. Also, you don’t have to be a DJ to use this, and that’s the beauty of it. You can be a record collector, audiophile or just a music fan and have fun mixing records together because of the simple design.
What sets the Model Zero apart from other mixers in this category?
DM: The combination of design, quality components, and circuit design is unmatched by any DJ mixer built to date.
There is currently a 6 to 8-week turnaround from date of order to actually receiving a Model Zero. Is each one custom built?
DM: The current wait time is based on the build time for the first run of mixers. They’re all being done at once, so the actual build time may be much less. We’re building the mixers in batches, so there’s nothing custom during this time.
SC: We assemble everything in LA by hand, so each one gets the quality control treatment from either David or me.
What makes a minimal rotary mixer a better option for DJs as opposed to some of the more commonly seen DJ mixers out there?
DM: Rotary is fun because it’s intuitive to turn a knob for control. We have rotary control in cars, stereos, stoves, washing machines, etc. so the action is instinctive. Having a minimal rotary mixer compounds this instinct with enjoying the music. Less control over the music allows for the music itself to take control.
SC: I wouldn’t say better because that’s subjective and some folks like faders. I think it’s about having options, and we would like to be one of those options. I still have scratch sessions, and I won’t be using my Model Zero for that.
If you’re a DJ concerned about sound quality, what should you look for in your other audio components headphones, needles, speakers, cables, etc.?
DM: Don’t look for anything. Listen to the music!
Any other products currently in development?
Where can we buy one?
The Model Zero is available from the Mohawk General Store for an MSRP of $2500.