Part of my future endeavours is to pay homage to DJ gear history via the medium of printed words and pictures. And my particular journey started in 1983 with the Realistic 32-1100a mixer.
Not this particular unit you understand — this just arrived from eBay, primed for me to clean, measure, and turn into a technical illustration. But for a great many people, the Realistic mixer range was where it was at if you wanted to get started and didn’t have deep pockets.
Available from UK high street retailer Tandy (that’s Radio Shack to most), they were cheap and cheerful but delivered what most beginner DJs needed. If memory serves, no matter how obscure, there wasn’t a cable they didn’t stock. 5 pin to everything and back again.
For me, the Realistic 32-1100a was a temporary fixture. Matched with a pair of Technics SLBD22s, it allowed me to start learning how to mix. But obviously, it lacked an essential feature for a fledgeling scratch DJ — a crossfader.
Old man is old
This is where my memory starts to get hazy. I preface this by telling you I had a car accident in the early 90s with a head injury that robbed me of key memories. It seems that I cannot accurately recall which model of mixer I bought next.
I remember real VU meters and definitely having horizontal toggle switches over the channels. I know this for a fact because I kept breaking them while trying to emulate Jazzy Jeff’s transformer techniques. I always joke about sending him an invoice for solder and switches.
As for the exact make and model… I believed it was a Realistic 32-1200, but they have sliders and not toggles. Pretty sure I had one at some point though. Everyone did.
I’m looking down at my hands, trying to skip back through my broken memory banks, and I’m getting nothing. Just a blank space. I can see everything around me — Roland TB303, Korg KPR77 drum machine, Fostex X15 four track, Atari ST… but the mixer is a blank. And that’s so annoying.
I’ll be picking up more old units, and will be looking to get some on loan too because it’s unlikely that a Bozak will appear on eBay for £50. But when I’m done, this Realistic mixer will look amazing as a limited run technical illustration on your wall.
The question is this
I might as well open this up to the floor. What was your first DJ gear? Do you remember? Do you still have it? Don’t be shy — we all started somewhere.