This was my first mixer — what was yours?

Where it all started for me

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.

  1. This was my first mixer as well. I inherited it from my older brother who abandoned his DJ equipment and records for the fast life of the streets. The turntables that he had were belt drives and I kept breaking the belt so I begged my mom to buy me a pair of Gemini DJQ-1200 direct drive turntables. And that’s where the fun began.

  2. My first actual mixer was a Soundout Sound Centre mixer as part of a larger homemade (not by me) twin deck console. I then used the decks from that (BSR belt drive fixed speed units) with a Phonic MRT-60 purchased second hand (or maybe 3rd hand!) from Youngs Disco Centre in London. At the time this was the most popular DJ mixer as it had a crossfader (stiff and unadjustable), line/phono switches and a graphic equalizer on the output.
    Looking back it brings back great memories but also reminds me how lucky DJ’s were in the 90’s and 00’s when they had a huge choice of mixers from companies like Gemini, Numark and Vestax alongside all the other generic mixers available.

  3. My first mixer was a Hercules DJ Control MP3 LE. And it was so much fun to play with… I used a second one to control 4 decks.
    After that I bought an American Audio VMS4 – a bad decision and a even worse device…
    I got rid of it and replaced it with a Pioneer DDJ-SX which was brand-new at that time. That one’s still in use and I’m still happy with it.

  4. I always wanted an Intimidation Blue or Blue Dog. I was amazed when I saw those blue LEDs for the first time and kill switches… it blew my mind.

    First ever DJ item was an old FAL Mono Deluxe disco console as my dad knew I wanted to DJ. There was no variable speed turntables and I just had to blend creatively and it lived in the shed until a few years ago. I’ve seen people turn them into coffee tables online and I’m tempted, even if it is for the spare room.

    Then when I’d blown that up (the amp inside) I got my first stand alone mixer, the Realistic SSM-50 (I can only find the Radio Shack version on Google but was a UK purchase from Tandy in Chesterfield).

  5. Well now. This simple bit of gear that by rights should take me no time to draw is trickier than I suspected.

    Yes, its’s small. Yes, it’s hardly got any controls. And yes, there’s a bare minimum of ins and outs.

    But the top face and back panels are at an angle, so you get to see the top and sides of all controls. And the top view has the ins and outs in perspective too.

    …rubs hands together and relishes the challenge…

  6. My first mixer wasn’t branded. It was a 4-channel mixer with DIN-outputs. No crossfader. The cue function had no volume, so you better sharpen your ears if the main was a bit louder.

    This should’ve been around 1990-1991.

  7. Newer gen DJ here, my first mixer was a Pioneer DJM S9. I caught a deal on Amazon where I accidentally got two PLX 1000 turntables as a bundle for free because the ad mismatched the price. Felt like being a DJ was meant to be cause of that bundle

  8. The first mixer I actually bought, rather than piecing together Frankenstein style from components, was a TUAC Disc Mix – all of £39.75 in 1976 (I was still at school).

    I used to buy electronics project magazines, and in the back would be adverts for DJ equipment and the guts to make your own.

    The mixer was just a front panel with a PCB behind. You had to wire your own connections on, and fit it into a case.

    You can see the type of ads and the TUAC products here

  9. It’s funny. For the longest time I was thinking the Numark DM-1775 was my first mixer, but it was was the first mixer I bought as a mobile DJ. My first mixer was also the Realistic 32-1100a. I use to go down to Radio Shack and dream of the day I could own it. In fact, I purchased the same belt drive Technics turntables as you as well. The very first 2 12″ singles I got was ‘It’s Like That’ by Run-D.M.C.. That was literally eons ago.

  10. My first mixer was Numark’s DM950, which I got through their BattlePak v2. Second one was a Native Instruments Kontrol Z2, because I couldn’t afford the Allen&Heath Xone:92 I wanted, and I didn’t want to have to wait several more months to be able to afford such.

    I ran that DM950 through it’s courses over and over, until I literally killed some of the potentiometers….

  11. I first had a mixer similar to the Realistic but the VU Meteres were on the left side with the cue buttons. I can’t find the model or photos online but I really liked it.

    Then eventually Phonic MRT 60 Stereo DJ Mixer (Dual headphones was very handy when DJing with friends). Followed by Numark DM2002X DJ Mixer, then DJX700 and now Ecler Nuo 2.0.

    I’ve played on many mixers through the years but the simple ones always stick in my mind. One in particular was a tiny 2 channel mixer from Reloop. I think it’s called the Reloop Killer. The Black and Yellow version with the chevron pattern. It was a lot of fun to play with and I find you can be creative with very simple mixers.

    Ha ha that was a trip down memory lane for me thanks 😀

  12. I started with ETP belt drive turntables and ETP mixer… it was a fancy thing with analog VU meters.

    Like this one but a 12″ 4 channel mixer.$_84.JPG

    Quickly upgraded to a DJM-600 and CDJ800’s and a pair of Reloop RP2000’s and those turntables I had for over a decade. Still bummed I sold those, especially with the limited series neon orange Traktor vinyl. But marriage and kids resulted in some “grownup” choices….

  13. Mine was a Vestax PMC 05 Pro III, first upgraded with a Pro X Fade (what happened to them?) then to 3… THREE… Innofaders… Which in hindsight… Is pretty overkill… And I have to say, all of these purchases were made HEAVILY INFLUENCED by Skratchworx articles… 🙂

    1. Pro X Fade is still available although not actively marketed anymore.

      Coincidentally, I’m doing some brand consultancy for one of the Pro X Fade guys. We’ve become very good friends over the years.

      1. That’s awesome! I was always more a fan of their branding than others. They had a good thing going. And that brown fader cap was quite something. Couldn’t tell if I hated it or loved it! Wish I hadn’t given the fader away haha.

  14. Reloop RM-2000 Pro Blue.
    I don’t have pictures of it anymore, but this video of an attempted disassembly:

    Steve Caroll (of Intimidation) hit me up on a forum and asked me to open the mixer because he wanted to see the inside of one of the ripoffs of his famous “Blue” mixer.
    I failed to open the mixer and shipped it to Steve. Got a brand new Apex Gold in return from him.

  15. My first mixer was a Gemini PS-525. Hoooboy, that was a bad mixer! The EQ knobs were to tiny and crammed together that you practically needed tweezers to operate the damn thing.

  16. My first mixer was a Citronic MSX-2, 2 channel with beat counters (that i taped up after a couple of weeks, best decision i ever made). Used it for a few months then upgraded to a DJM-600, which is still one of the all time greats in my opinion. It cant hold a candle to the high end mixers but for features and accessibility nothing beats it.

  17. The classic Numark BlueDog, secondhand from a pawn shop, mixing between a minidisc player on one side and a Discman on the other. Soon I got actual turntables and a Gemini PMX-something? At which point I read about the Scrape Mod and it all went downhill from there….

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